• U.S.

People: May 21, 1984

3 minute read
Guy D. Garcia

When Sugar Ray Leonard, 27, announced last December that he was returning to the ring after two years in retirement, fans of the former welterweight champion were divided between celebration and concern. Some doctors warned that the fighter, who has had operations on the retinas of both eyes, was recklessly risking his vision. But despite success as a TV personality, Leonard “missed the actual competition.” Last week he took on Kevin Howard, 22, in Worcester, Mass., and stopped him in a ninth-round TKO. But the ex-champ was knocked down once, the first time in his pro career, and decided his comeback was no go. Minutes after the fight, he announced, “That’s it, and that’s it for good.”

Without benefit of egg, he was born 50 years ago this week in a movie called The Wise Little Hen, and Donald Duck is still in fine feather. To celebrate the birthday, Walt Disney World near Orlando, Fla., has planned a summer-long salute to the irascible star, featuring 50, yes sir 50, real live ducks that will waddle along with Donald through the Magic Kingdom on at least three outings during the next month. Of course, it takes an odd duck to be fooled by a fellow in a funny suit. So the Disney folks painstakingly trained the Pekins to accept the costumed canard as the next best thing to Mom. Last week Donald proudly led his faithful followers past squealing crowds of early-morning guests to a giant birthday cake decorated with peas, corn and carrot candles. Unfortunately, the web-footed wonders were too busy quacking up to go for the goodies.

The English set was all dressed and ready for her nude shower scene last week when Actress Julie (Educating Rita) Walters, 34, suddenly announced that everyone else had to strip. She was simply invoking the new Actors’ Equity rule that required all technicians present to be in the buff too, Walters explained. Adrian Hughes, the producer of She’ll Be Wearing Pink Pyjamas balked, but Walters gave him the phone number of an Equity representative who confirmed her claim. The red-faced cameraman obligingly overexposed himself while others compromised by stripping to their underwear. The scene then went off without a hitch—or in some cases a stitch. Walters had no trouble summoning the laughter called for by the script. The naked truth: the Equity official was really an actor friend helping her pull off a naughty joke.

It has been a dozen years since he last danced, but Fred Astaire, who turned 85 last week, still cuts one of the most stylish silhouettes in show business. Or any business for that matter. Invited to a birthday dinner party by his legendary dance partner Ginger Rogers, 72, the natty octogenarian thanked “Ging” but opted for a quiet evening at home, explaining that turning 85 “is special enough.” He still reads scripts, pursues his acting career, feels well and says, “I couldn’t ask for anything more.” Well, there is one thing: “I would like to have been able to do very good golf. I love the game.” The hoofer-duffer may not be the pro on the fairway that he wants to be, but it is inconceivable that his swing could be anything but smooth.

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