February 16, 1987 12:00 PM

The next letter Wheel of Fortune’s Vanna White turns could be E for embarrassing. After Bristol-Myers underwrote a health-and-beauty video featuring America’s sweetheart, the company discovered a blot in her past. Before Vanna became a woman of letters, it seems, she did some lingerie modeling warm enough to make Bristol-Myers blush, and Playboy snap up the photos. Playboy plans to run the pictures in its May issue, and the producer of the video, Karl-Lorimar, is looking around for a squeaky clean Vanna replacement.

Producer David Geffen’s Little Shop of Horrors hasn’t blossomed at the box office, but David hasn’t given up playing Johnny Appleseed. He will soon try transplanting another stage hit to the screen—this time Dreamgirls. The story is that Whitney Houston, arms laden with American Music awards, has been practicing One Night Only.

Close friends say that although 78-year-old Bette Davis has recovered from the stroke she had in 1985, she will never get over daughter B.D. Hyman’s book My Mother’s Keeper and its humiliating slap in the face—an open letter to her mother. Now Davis’ forthcoming memoir, This ‘n That, has gone out to reviewers with two blank pages reserved for Davis’ reply to daughter dearest. A spokesman for publisher G P Putnam’s explains that Bette wants the letter to remain secret until the book is released in March: “Miss Davis does not want one word read out of context, and she has been very firm about this.” B.D., meanwhile, is penning a sequel to her book and wondering what, having sown, she will reap.

Christian fundamentalists have brought Warner Bros, to its knees. When the influential cable-evangelist crowd was just a little put off by The Mission, Warner’s brightened up the bleak ending. Although the movie still concludes with a massacre of missionaries, a consoling bit of Scripture has been tacked on to imply that somehow God’s will will be done. The change has brought earthly rewards at the box office. The Rev. Jerry Falwell rented a theater for four showings to his large flock, and the Campus Crusade for Christ is pushing the film.

Cupid has had a rough year, what with AIDS and cancellation of The Love Boat, but Valentine’s Day is with us again, along with the latest newsbreaks and heartbreaks….

After catching Dixie Carter’s wedding bouquet on an episode of CBS’ Designing Women, actress Jean Smart is engaged to actor Richard Gilliland, who plays Annie Potts’s boyfriend on the show….

Curbing rumors of impending divorce, Elton John and wife Renate are renewing their wedding vows on Valentine’s Day, their third anniversary….

Tom Selleck’s Magnum ex is Don Henley’s real-life present. Dana Delaney and Henley may be building the perfect romance….

On skids row, meanwhile, Penny Marshall and Saturday Night Live’s Phil Hartman have gone their separate ways, and Julian (the lovestruck young man in A Room With a View) Sands recently introduced his wife, Sarah, at a party by saying, “This is Mrs. Sands—for another three days….”

Will the earth—or, for that matter, Raymond Burr—move when Perry Mason, embracer of the law but never of a woman, bestows his very first onscreen kiss during an NBC movie of the week, Feb. 23? The willing recipient will not be Perry’s loyal Woman Friday Delia Street (Barbara Hale) but Jean Simmons. “It’s no wimpy kiss either,” says one jurisprudential insider.

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