"Hey," said the publicity man, "I hear you got a farm." It was news to Sammy Davis Jr., but confirmation came a few days later when bills began to arrive—$6,000 for lumber, 58,800 for yearlings. That, Davis told the House Select Committee on Crime last week, was the payoff on a proposition that had been put to him months before by a man he met through a nightclub acquaintance called Tommy. In exchange for the use of his name, Davis would get stock options in a New Jersey horse farm. Davis forgot all about it until the invoices arrived. Told that Tommy was really Gaetano (Corky) Vastola, a New Jersey crime figure, Davis observed, "I've met a lot of Tommys in the nightclub world."
Perhaps trying to get Wilt Chamberlain's greaseless stuff off his mind, Jerry Lucas plans to spend his summer working with smaller fry. The Knicks' center, whose big ambition is to become America's leading prestidigitator, is all set to host a children's educational TV magic show, on which he will do card tricks, mental gymnastics and memory teats. To this end, he's now memorizing The Godfather (he has already memorized 500 pages of the Manhattan phone book) and is perfecting more than 100 card tricks. They won't help him on the Knicks' plane next season, however; the team won't let him play cards with them anymore.
"I am a bloody wreck...for the last year all I have done is drink." With that testament, mercurial British soccer star George Best announced last week that he is quitting. As the game's most exciting modern player, Best said in a story from Marbella, Spain that he has been under constant pressure from cranks and "giggling girls who rang at 3 a.m." Soccer, said the 26-year-old athlete, has become work "instead of the sport I have always enjoyed and would play for nothing." But not, evidently, for less than nothing.
He was horn in nineteen forty-three/ And right away I knew he'd make history/ Cause he opened his mouth on the day he was born/ And instead of crying he scud, "Move that pawn..."*
So goes The Ballard of Bobby Fischer, a new hillbilly-style LP that portrays the American chess genius as folk hero. Singer Joe Glazer and his backup group, the Fianchettoed Bishops, depict Boris Spassky as already defeated and shipped off to Siberia, although the championship does not begin until July 2. On the flip side Joe sings Ping-Pong Diplomacy.
Would you drive in a used-stock-car race with this man? Millionaire Country and Western Singer Marty Robbins, who likes to indulge his passion for speed despite a history of heart trouble, was down in Talladega, Ala. last month, driving his 1972 Dodge in the Winston 500 Grand National stock-car race. Suddenly Robbins felt this surge of power and began steaming past the rest of the field at 190 mph. Accounting for the burst was a slipped carburetor sleeve, a device required by NASCAR to keep the beefed-up stocks from getting out of hand, powerwise. Robbins knew the caper would get him a disqualification, but he said he couldn't resist the thrill and drove on to finish. "I just wanted to see if I could handle 190 mph." And what if he couldn't?
That noise you hear from Munich these days is the sound of a housing crunch. Hotel space for the Olympic weeks of Aug. 26 to Sept. 10 has been sold out for months, and all those celebrities who gravitate toward important events aren't helping a bit. The Munich-bound showbiz contingent is headed by Richard Burton and Liz Taylor, the Bing Crosby family, Steve McQueen and Kirk Douglas. John Connally is coming out of Texas retirement to be on hand, as, are the mayors of London, Paris, Rome, Athens and New York. Even a few crowned heads will be occupying Munich pillows—Prince Rainier and Princess Grace at the Hilton, along with Prince Philip, who is planning to attend even though Princess Anne is doubtful as a member of the British equestrian team.
The Detroit Red Wing iron-man, Gordie Howe, who has retired after 25 years, spent a busy couple of days last month tidying up some loose ends of a distinguished career. In Baltimore one Friday, Howe got a call from the White House, inviting him to a party that evening, where he rubbed elbows with the likes of Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra and Vice-President Agnew. The next day he flew up to Lansing, Mich. for a go-cart race. Then on Saturday night Howe was honored by the University of Detroit with its President's Cabinet medallion, here being awarded by the university president, lather Malcolm Carron. Impressed by his dad's celebrity, 17-year-old Mark Howe commented, "You should have quit earlier."
In Oakland, baseball's most exciting star of 1971 returned to action after a layoff of almost eight months. I he extended rest didn't seem to help erstwhile holdout Vida Blue, however, as lie gave up two walks, two hits, a wild pitch and two runs in an inning of relief against the Angels. He was charged with the 6-5 loss. At this point last year he was 10-1.
The U.S.-Soviet détente takes in more than nuclear weaponry. In Laurel, Md. last week it was announced that the Russians are coming to the Washington, D.C. International race this year, for the first time since 1965. Joseph T. Cascarella, a vice-president of the track, and Alexander Konygin, a Soviet agriculture official, closed the deal, and the invitations will be sent out for two Russian horses.
* Copyright 1972 by Joe Glazer, used by permission.