It has been a creeping awareness developed through several hits, but theatergoers are now onto the fact that New York Playwright Neil Simon has this hangup about sport. One half of The Odd Couple was a sportswriter, the heroine of The Star-Spangled Girl was an Olympic swimmer and a character in Plaza Suite has a number of things to say about jockeys and the Los Angeles Rams. Now, Simon's new musical, Promises, Promises, contains the song, She Likes Basketball, sung by male lead Jerry Orbach as he waits for his girl outside Madison Square Garden before a Knicks-Celtics game. She does not show, the Knicks lose 129-128 and the hero sighs, "Well, it doesn't sound like we missed much." And, with his secret out in the open at last, Playwright Simon confessed to being a wild sports buff and said what he missed: "All I wanted, if I ever became rich enough, was to see every Giants home game. Then I did get rich enough, and the Giants moved to San Francisco."
Australia's Prime Minister John Gorton swimsuited up for the opening of an enlarged surf-lifesaving headquarters in North Bondi, a suburb of Sydney. Vigorous beyond most U.S. political leadership standards, he took part in a swimming relay and later rowed stroke in the local club's lifesaving boat. The occasion was cheerful and pleasant but also served as a sober reminder that the efficiency of such clubs cannot be taken lightly in a country that lost Gorton's predecessor, Harold Holt, in a sea-bathing accident last year.
An Olympic decathlon champion certainly sounds like just the man to play Tarzan, but Bill Toomey, when asked if he'd like to take on the movie role, is reported to have said, "I'm not the type. Besides, I can't even climb a tree." His mother says he can, too.
Remember Charles Atlas? He is still going, you should pardon the expression, strong and so are sales of his body-building courses. Apparently, so many European men are still having sand kicked in their faces that Charles Roman, Atlas' business partner of some four decades, has just arrived in London to find larger office quarters and an increased staff to handle the growing European demand for the courses. It is true that the body of Roman himself, a former Atlas student, was built up only to 140 pounds, but the story that Mohandas Gandhi took the Atlas course and remained the slight figure he had been is not true. Twenty-six years ago the Mahatma was offered a course free, and his reply was, "I have met some inventive Americans, but Mr. Atlas takes the first prize. Mind you, I would be delighted to have him work on me—if I could find someone to pay his passage to India."
Everyone knows that all the world loves a winner, and there was 18-year-old Penelope Plummer, Miss Australia, at a party, meeting Dave Hemery, who had won a gold medal in the 400-meter hurdles at Mexico City. Winner Dave promptly dated her up for a ball at Cambridge University and another dance at the London Hilton. But Penny went on to win the Miss World title, and her sudden lineup of social obligations eliminated Dave. Moral: a man's best friend is his medal.
Warriors Forward Bill Turner eats his dessert first and goes on from there. He likes dessert, he explains, and wants to eat it with full appreciation—if he had the rest of the meal first, it might spoil his appetite. This fact is not going to make life any easier for parents across the country who are busily telling their kids, "Eat your spinach or no ice cream because you want to grow up big and tall like daddy, don't you?" Daddy is probably 5'7". Bill Turner is 6'7" and weighs in at 220.
If the current jogging craze does not seem to do it, follow the lead of Haroun Tazieff, considered one of the world's foremost volcanologists, a science carried on inside craters. The Belgian-born Tazieff trained to swim the English Channel as a teen but couldn't get over 10 miles, then took up boxing, running (1,500 to 3,000 meters), cross-country, skiing, golf and weight lifting. All of which were fine, "but the sport I love best is Rugby," Tazieff says. He took that up at 40, still plays front-row forward with a Paris team and three or four times a year joins an "old boys" team—once returning from a volcano in Chile for a match against the Welsh. Tazieff clearly is not an office type but he offers hope to us all, since he is now 54 and still healthy enough to climb back out of any old' volcano he can climb into.
Quang Van Sao is the 7-year-old son of Nguyen Van Sao, Hanoi's man in London, and he is learning cricket at his school in Hampstead. He has carefully explained the game to his parents, and his mother, who writes for a home-town newspaper while dad is off at the Paris peace talks, says that for all she knows the boy may try to introduce cricket to North Vietnam. Fine. If pop's team loses at the negotiating tables, perhaps young Quang can revise that old English adage about sport and win a little peace on the playing fields of Hanoi.