People

Judith Timson May 21 1979

People

Judith Timson May 21 1979

People

Why settle for reality when you can get a television actor instead? That seemed to be the prevailing opinion of the 145-member graduating class of Columbia University’s school of medicine when it chose actor Alan Alda, who plays the irreverent Dr. Hawkeye Pierce in the M*A*S*H comedy series, as its guest speaker at the annual convocation this week. The College of Physicians and Surgeons broke tradition by inviting someone who is not a doctor to address them. But the students took a poll in which 80 per cent of them voted for Alda because, said a spokesman, they thought “he’d have something interesting to say.” If Raymond Burr (Perry Mason) could lecture to lawyers and Lou Grant to journalists, why not Alda to doctors? Perhaps he could inspire them with his own brief brush with the real world of medicine before he opted for acting. As he once said, “I tried to be a doctor, took a pre-med course in chemistry and got a very low grade, like a 10 in the final exams, because I really didn’t want to do it. I slept through classes because I was trying to avoid being sucked into medicine.”

f f ^he’s the most exciting actress I’ve Oever met in Canada, and even though no one knows her she’s going to be a big star,” says Montreal film producer Robert Lantos (In Praise of Older Women), whose company has $1.5 million riding on the performance of Toronto-born Jennifer Dale. Selected from several hundred hopefuls, Dale will star in Suzanne, an all-Canadian production

under the able directorship of Robin Spry ( The October Crisis, Drying Up the Streets). Based on Ronald Sutherland’s novel Snow Lark, about an 11-year period in the life of a young French-Canadian girl growing up in the ’50s, the film is being billed as “a sensual and passionate excursion into the coming of age of a woman.” Full-star treatment for the leggy Dale, 23, begins this week at the Cannes Film Festival where ads z featuring her and co-star Winston Reg kert caught in torrid eyespeak are being ! used to develop international interest in « the unknown leading lady. Though she ï has a classic theatrical background, in1= eluding two years at the Stratford Fes§ tival, Dale has only been before the £ cameras once—as a stripper in the * soon-to-be-released thriller Stone Cold Dead — and she is feeling the pressure of the glitter machine: “It’s a big responsibility, but how do you say no to someone who offers to make you a star?”

Singer Dan Hill may sing squishy love songs (Sometimes when we touch, the honesty ’s too much) and perform in his stocking feet, but when it comes to a certain sideline of his he presents a much tougher image: he’s known

around Toronto as a Ping-Pong hustler. Having played the game since he was 14—he actually made a living out of it in high school—Hill is still picking up a little walking-around money by challenging “only rich people” to Sunday afternoon matches, where the bets

range from $100 to $1,000 a game. “I give 10 to 1 odds, then I rally with my wrong hand and switch after the bets are made,” confesses Hill. Recently his manager, Bernie Fiedler, got stung for $2,000. Hill, who is currently taking a break from the music scene, doesn’t figure his passion for Ping-Pong will find its way into any of his mushy music: “The imagery of Ping-Pong doesn’t seem to lend itself to song,” he explained. “I mean, can you imagine a song that goes I took this girl out and slammed her down?”

During the televised Watergate hearings, he had heavily arched eyebrows and a supercilious sneer, but now John Enrlichman’s days as a heavy seem to be over. Sporting a thick, greying beard and a casual corduroy jacket, the convicted felon and former aide to Richard Nixon looks rather like an elder statesman of the counterculture as he tours North America promoting his second novel, The Whole Truth. After shedding his wife of 29 years and marrying a 30-year-old woman, Ehrlichman, 54, has happily settled into an easygoing existence in a 200-year-old adobe house in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he spends his time writing, painting, fishing and staring at the sunset. “There has to be something very substantial happening for me to miss a sunset,” he says, with an acknowledgment that he is no longer interested in procedure, what people wear, what other people approve or disapprove of. Of course, much of the “substance” (read cash flow) of Ehrlichman’s new life comes from re-hashing the activities of his old job: his new book details the inside workings of a White House cover-up. But Ehrlichman does not apologize for capitalizing on his past misdeeds. He quickly offers a counter-

culture platitude on the subject of his critics: “If people think what I’m doing is wrong, that’s their trip.” Far out, man.

In the endgame of life, Boris Spassky

and Anatoly Karpov are considered to be Russian royalty. But even in the rarefied atmosphere of grand-master chess, king and crown can occasionally tumble down. After recently competing in a month-long, $110,000 Montreal chess competition, Spassky (world 2 champ from 1969 to 1972) and the cur^ rent world titleholder Karpov checked | into Toronto last week for a round of ÏÏ simultaneous exhibition matches piti ting a minimum of 18 players against 1 each champion. While Karpov con“ trolled the boards amidst capitalists at the Eaton Centre, Spassky handled all comers atop the CN Tower. After two hours of play and a flurry of 15-second moves, the outcome was similar to a Canada-Soviet hockey showdown. Score? Russians 51, Canada 1, with four draws. The lone Canadian victor over Karpov, 26-year-old Toronto chess champion Byron Nickoloff, was less than humble in the post-game analysis, saying: “I knew I was going to win.” As for Spassky, a 42-year-old Russian émigré now living in Paris, only one thing mattered: “When do I get paid?”

Actor Michael Murphy is fast becoming everyone’s favorite adulterer. First seen sneaking around on his movie-screen wife (played by Jill Clayburgh) in An Unmarried Woman, Murphy has now surfaced in Woody Allen’s smash hit Manhattan, this time playing a handsome husband who steps out on wife (actress Anne Byrne) to meet girlfriend (actress Diane Keaton). In both movies Murphy, a 39-year-old bachelor who believes that adultery has become a way of life for many Americans, has projected, with some success, a combination of anguish over hurting his loved ones and a boyishly selfish determina-

tion to get what he wants. But despite the praise he has garnered for such role-playing, Murphy protests he does not want to be typecast as The Adulterer: “I think it’s a major problem and I’m not going to do these parts anymore.” Instead, Murphy, who lives in New York and is a close friend of Woody Allen, wants to explore other, less sophisticated roles: “It’s time for me to play a sailor or a ballplayer and get out of those Brooks Brothers suits and stop playing the heavies.”

Actress Nonnie Griffin first wowed Canadian theatre people with her burgeoning talent back in 1956 when she auditioned for and won a part in the first live television adaptation of Anne of Green Gables. She played Diana Barry, Anne’s best friend, and she impressed director Norman Campbell as “a knockout in auditions.” Nonnie had something else burgeoning as well— a bosom so ample that it had to be flattened with a Playtex rubber girdle. Since then she has become a regular on

the well received children’s television show The Polka Dot Door and has also won critics’ praise in recent Toronto productions of The Sea and Waiting for the Parade. But she has also branched out into the world of television commercials announcing with a smile into the camera: “My Harry thinks my full figure is a knockout, but for me it’s a problem.” The product she’s advertising is a Playtex 18-hour seamless bra. While she acknowledges that some might consider bra commercials a little lowbrow for a serious actress, Nonnie says she does them to stay financially afloat and that she takes her work very seriously. “I think I’m extremely believable on them.”

Nobel Prize-winning author Isaac Bashevis Singer was ordered by his doctors to take a rest after the excitement of being recognized as one of the world’s “master storytellers.” But Singer, who turns 75 in July, slowed down only briefly before he resumed an alarming schedule of speaking engagements, popping up in Los Angeles one day, Montreal the next and oif again to Austin, Texas. “Winning the Nobel Prize hasn’t changed my life at all,” he said in an interview. “I still write everyday between breakfast and lunch. Lots more people run after me but it’s still the same nonsense.” Singer’s novel The Slave is being made into a $6.5million movie, a Canada-France co-production by Montreal’s Harry Jakobs and Paul Krivicky of Atrium Films. To be directed by Moshe Mizrahi, Academy Award-winning director of Madame Rosa, the film will start shooting in September on location in Canada and Eastern Europe. The subject of Singer’s lively lecture in Montreal was the survival of the Yiddish language. Poohpoohing suggestions that Yiddish is a dying language, Singer said the Jewish people would not forget it: “Jews suffer from many diseases, but amnesia isn’t one of them.”

Edited by Judith Timson