By People Staff
February 09, 1981 12:00 PM

Erik and Beverly

Beverly Sassoon’s divorce from Vidal could yield her $5 million, but does that matter to Erik Estrada? “He has dated lots of women who didn’t have a dime,” says a pal, denying that Estrada, fresh from a costly divorce of his own, is eyeing the extra chips. Will the couple (seen kissing at George Burns’ 85th-birthday bash in L.A.) wed on March 16 as rumored? “It’s a key date,” Estrada’s flack admits, “but only because it is his 32nd birthday.”

An immortal woman

Finally the French Academy, the august body that safeguards the mother tongue, has broken with tradition and inducted a woman, novelist Marguerite Yourcenar, 77, as a member. In her acceptance speech to her fellow immortels, the naturalized American was not chiding. But she did note that “French custom placed a woman on a pedestal, but did not offer her a chair [in the Academy].”

Heat of the night

Wendy O. Williams, the outrageous lead punker of the Plasmatics, who likes to perform clad only in shorts with electrical tape and shaving cream on her bosoms, also put Milwaukee’s vice squad in a lather. Cops in the audience at the Palms Club arrested Williams (top, with sidemen Richie Stotts, left, and Jean Beauvoir) on charges of obscenity—she fondled a sledgehammer suggestively after using it to smash a TV set. Williams says that once outside, she slapped a cop after he touched her indecently, and that the officers threw her down and beat her (inset). She needed seven stitches over her eye and spent the night in jail. The Plasmatics played Cleveland next, where Williams was arrested again—for “pandering obscenities.” But at least this bust was peaceable.

Swanson on Spacek

Because she was vacationing in Hawaii, Loretta Lynn could not present the New York film critics’ Best Actress Award to Sissy Spacek, her alter ego in Coal Miner’s Daughter. So Gloria Swanson subbed. The 81-year-old actress, who is footloose since her sixth husband is off writing in Europe, explained, “I wanted to see what she looked like.” When Swanson did, she exclaimed to the 30-year-old Spacek: “Why, you’re just a baby.”

3 Hemingways 3

Papa Hemingway’s granddaughters seldom get together nowadays; their projects are far-flung. So when (from left) Mariel, 19, Muffet, 30, and Margaux, 25, arrived for a family reunion in Ketchum, Idaho, they broke out a bottle. Not Chateau Margaux, the vintage “Babe” touts in Europe, but a heady Armagnac.

Sugar substitute

When a Broadway smash changes leads, but all hands are old pros, the transition can be easy. Take Sugar Babies. The replacement of Mickey Rooney, 60, by the six-inches-taller Joey Bishop, 63, is only temporary

—Mickey needs four weeks off to wrap a CBS film. But co-star Ann Miller, 57, won’t be thrown by a little re-choreographing. Illustrating the problem hammily, Mickey demonstrates that the ankle is connected to the shinbone, while Joey seems reassured that the knee’s connected to the thighbone.