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People: Mar. 29, 1982

4 minute read

There’s no popcorn machine in the lobby or X-rated fare on the screen, yet the movie business flourishes in China. On a ten-day State Department-sponsored visit to Peking, Shanghai and Canton, Hollywood Veteran Kirk Douglas, 63, found that interest runs high—even in his own old swashbucklers. He screened three of his pictures (Spartacus, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral and Lust for Life) for small but enthusiastic audiences. Douglas also took a meeting with the cast of Teahouse, an epic film currently under production. “Let’s not waste any time,” said Douglas to Wang Yang, head of the Peking Film Studio. “We have everything we need to make a movie together.” The Communist government sees that films with suspect political sentiments or open displays of physical affection wind up on the cutting-room floor. Even so, the Chinese turn out at their local Bijous in the kind of mega-numbers a Hollywood executive would trade his Jacuzzi for. Last year Chinese film attendance was close to 74 million people—a day.

Her name is Maria Victoria Walesa, and since her birth on Jan. 27 the infant daughter of Solidarity Leader Lech Walesa, 38, has received more attention than any other child born in recent Polish history. From just about everyone, that is, except her father. Interned by Polish military authorities—at a villa near Warsaw—since Dec. 13, Walesa has missed the early weeks of life of his seventh child. News of Maria Victoria’s scheduled christening this past weekend near Gdansk was followed closely by millions of Poles. To perk up her own spirits—and maybe even Baby Maria Victoria’s—Walesa’s wife Danuta held her daughter for a pre-christening photograph in front of a portrait of her famous father.

It was a landmark decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that permitted Allan Bakke, 41, a white engineer, to be admitted to medical school at the University of California at Davis. Bakke, who claimed he was a victim of “reverse discrimination,” had sued the university on the ground that he had been passed over in favor of less qualified minority applicants. The decision, issued in 1978, approved affirmative action but rejected rigid quotas based solely on race. This June, Bakke will graduate from Davis and move on to a residency in anesthesiology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Bakke did not discuss his appointment with the press. Fellow class members, however, gave him the loudest cheer at the ceremony in which 101 seniors picked up their future assignments.

Two of Sweden’s most handsomely crafted exports are the medium-powered Volvo and the high-powered entertainer Ann-Margret, 40. Volvo is the Latin word for roll. Ann-Margret, on the other hand, increasingly stands for rock. If there were any doubt, the strawberry-blond performer from Valsjöbyn (pop. 150), Sweden, dispelled it last week when she returned to her homeland for her Swedish debut. Ann-Margret relied on a hip-grinding medley of contemporary rock favorites and old-fashioned Las Vegas showmanship, unpackaging an act containing seven male dancers, three back-up singers, a 26-piece orchestra and six costume changes. The singer also threw in some vintage hokum when she joked with the audience in a Swedish dialect. “It makes this girl a little nervous to come to the big city,” said Ann-Margret, who left for the U.S. when she was five years old. “It’s always been my dream to sing here—this is my tribe.”

—By E. Graydon Carter

On the Record

Albert Gore Jr., Representative from Tennessee, responding to Michigan Representative John Dingell’s charge that “the little yellow people” were hurting the U.S. auto industry: “Those ‘little yellow people’ have built a plant in my district that is giving jobs to a lot of white and black people.”

Orson Welles, 66, on why he does not pray: “I don’t want to bore God. God is an artist”

Quentin Crisp, 73, author (The Naked Civil Servant), on why he is listed in the telephone book: “Otherwise, you’re stuck with just your friends.”

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