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Original Issue


It's a bit of a drive from Liverpool to Newmarket, but nevertheless there was Ringo Starr, M.B.E. and everything, mingling with the snooty at Tattersalls' December Bloodstock Sales. Never before evincing particular interest in racing, the Beatles' drummer was taking in the top-drawer people more than the horseflesh, yet neither made a lasting impression. Hohummed Ringo, patting a yawn before popping off in a ruddy red Rolls-Royce: "I don't know anything about horses, and I don't intend to get one. The only thing that'll make me remember the sales is that I got up at 9 a.m. to get here."

The fact that they were loitering self-conciously around the Davis Cup in Sydney, Australia did not mean they had won it; it did not even mean they knew very much about tennis. In fact, the most charitable thing to be said was that Jack Nicklaus (below, right) and Mark McCormack, the legal brain of millionaire athletes (below, left), had played a set or two on the White City Courts where the Davis Cup Challenge Round between Spain and Australia will take place later this month. And if they didn't look like much more than a golfer and his lawyer, one had to make allowances. As one of the local papers pointed out, they were, after all, the only Americans who would be seen on the center court at White City this year.

Author Nelson Algren had promised to come all the way to Kansas City, Mo. next spring to talk about his craft, and that called for something real special. Casting about for ideas, his hosts wondered if maybe he wouldn't like to drop by Harry Truman's while he was in the neighborhood. Or—say, good idea—how about a nice visit with artist Thomas Hart Benton? All very thoughtful, truly it was, Algren wrote back, but would anybody mind terribly if he made a suggestion himself? What would really please him, he said, would be a couple of hours set aside to chew the fat with baseball's ageless pitcher, Satchel Paige.

Pretend you're going to dribble to your left. And pretend you're going to dribble to your right. And if you keep it up long enough it won't get you very far in basketball but, promises Oscar Robertson on his new rock 'n' roll record, you'll be able to dance something called The Big O. The dance, the song, the whole thing is the concoction of some Cincinnati musicians who find the Royals' Robertson an inspiration. But it hasn't turned his bashful head. "I don't think it's a hit yet," says The Big O, mildly.

When Leo Durocher went off to manage the Chicago Cubs, a spot opened up in California for the Angels' Jimmy Piersall—on Durocher's old call-in radio show. That brings Outfielder Piersall's jobs to three (he sells paper, too, in the off season). "When you've got nine kids, you've got to keep busy," said Piersall redundantly.

The problems besetting TV's Dr. Kildare (a pool-hall habitué with heart trouble is done in by a tournament) made for turgid melodrama, but the pool was cool. Thanks for that belong to Leading Man Fred Astaire, who, being as nimble with a cue stick as he is with a walking cane, insisted there be no fakery or cutaway shots from the time he hit the ball until it plopped in a pocket. "I wanted to be authentic, so we had to show the execution of the shot, the follow-through and the progress of the ball," said Astaire, not noticeably dissatisfied with the final effect. "I'd say we did the best thing ever done on pool."

Back in Washington again after a tour of duty, at home, France's new ambassador, Charles Lucet, was ready to pick up American baseball where he had left off six years ago. At that time he played with other diplomats and military men, he explained, and although "I'm not an athlete and never got a home run, I did have a few triples." How about football? somebody wanted to know. Ah, ça, alors, said the ambassador, with a wave of his hand. "I don't understand its rules."

Bill Sharman learned a lot of things from Bob Cousy when they both played basketball for the Boston Celtics—not the least of which was that Cousy could beat him six ways to Sunday on the golf course. He did not give up, however, and now his persistence has paid off: Sharman is vice-president, secretary and general manager of a corporation taking over Palm Desert Golf Club in California. For sale: memberships ranging in price up to $4,000.

You know how it is, being a big movie star. Somebody always wanting to be friends. Count Philippe de La Fayette, a descendant of our general, tried that on Peter O'Toole in a Paris discoth√®que, thinking he knew the Irishman from somewhere. Strictly from nowhere, judging from O'Toole's reaction, which was to apply the boxing techniques he sometimes practices at home—where, in fact, he was photographed (below) just the other day by fellow actor Peter Sellers. Laying one or more punches upon the count's countenance, O'Toole wrapped up the proceedings butting the fellow in the face. La Fayette said he might just charge his old pal with willful assault. Nonsense; the count is a gentleman, said O'Toole, so why not settle the thing like—well, like gentlemen.