May 19, 1980 12:00 PM

Petit among the angels

To raise funds for the never-ending construction program at New York’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine (work began in 1892), daredevil aerialist Philippe Petit suggested a tightwire walk high in its arches. The church fathers reluctantly overruled the proposed $100-a-ticket performance. Petit went ahead anyway. There were no cops among the surprised spectators, so Petit’s only reckoning is with a higher authority.

Fonz faces fatherhood

Henry Winkler turned up at the Variety Clubs International awards dinner in L.A. to toast Frank Sinatra for his efforts on behalf of children. That fit neatly with the point Henry wanted to make about wife Stacey—that she is five months pregnant. The baby should arrive shortly after they move into their new home in Toluca Lake, Calif. The beard? Henry has sensitive skin, and happy days are those when his TV series isn’t filming and he doesn’t have to shave.

Sly’s nightcap

While shooting his new film, Hawks, in Paris, Sylvester Stallone caught the Paradis Latin act of Jean-Marie Riviere, the French entertainer he considers “the best showman in the world,” and the two did an antic turn involving Scotch-bottle caps. Speaking of noses, Sly just turned up his own twice-broken one at an $8 million offer to make Rocky III. Why? “Because then I’d have to be Rocky all my life.”

Hats Off to Bette

When Bette Midler autographed copies of her best-seller, The View from a Broad, at a B. Dalton bookstore, crowds queued up on Fifth Avenue. Even after two and a half hours, during which fans overturned bookcases to touch her, the singer remained the picture of literary chic in a typewriter hat of her own design. She sold 750 copies, bettering at least one of Sophia Loren’s stats. Sophia’s Dalton record: 375.

A fragile felon

Auto heiress Christina von Opel, 29, was haggard as French police led her into court in Aix-en-Provence. She is appealing a 10-year sentence for financing German hashish smugglers. One was Michael Karg, her lover and the father of her daughter, Vanessa, 5. According to testimony at her trial, Christina was befuddled at the time because she was drinking two bottles of vodka a night. She now says she knew the people involved, but not their plans.

Belles des lettres

Lauren Bacall, who attended the publishing industry’s first American Book Awards dinner to read the list of contenders for best biography, came away with a prize herself—for By Myself, the best hardcover autobiography. Like other winners, she received a Nevelson—a design of sculptor Louise Nevelson. “I’m so honored to be considered an author,” bubbled the actress, as she mixed with the likes of Erica Jong (left) and Betty Friedan. An impressive array of authors—including William Styron, the winner for hardcover fiction—boycotted the Oscar-like awards as too commercial. But Friedan gave the spoilsports the back of her hand. “I’m opposed to letting snobbism deter me,” she said. “Getting books read is a good thing.”

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