• U.S.

People, Dec. 4, 1972

5 minute read

Is there anybody out there? Probably, agreed a symposium of scientists at Boston University. But would they want to have anything to do with us? “With our magnificent record with the Indians, the Chinese, the Filipinos, you can imagine what will happen,” declared Anthropologist Ashley Montagu. Added Harvard’s Nobel-prizewinning biologist-professor George Wald: “However horrifying and destructive, you can’t think of anything so horrible that somebody would not feel elated at carrying it out.” As a matter of fact, said Cornell Astronomer Carl Sagan, other civilizations may already know about us because of our high-frequency radar and military messages. “That,” said Sagan, “may explain why nobody has been here.”

“My father loved classical music, symphonic music, especially Bach, Verdi, Puccini. He played the violin, and he was very glad to see that I started to play the piano. My father was very kind, very gentle with me…” A reminiscence by some young Einstein? Not at all. The speaker was Romano Mussolini, son of Italy’s Fascist dictator, Benito Mussolini, arriving in New York on tour as a jazz pianist. Young Mussolini, who bills himself as “a legendary name in Italian jazz,” says he is a disciple of Duke Ellington and offers a repertoire ranging from Summertime to a syncopated version of O Sole Mio.

It took five stitches to sew up the slit over his left eye, and he bled for the first time in his professional career. Still, with a 41-lb. weight advantage. Heavyweight ex-Champion Muhammad Ali succeeded in clobbering Light Heavyweight Champion Bob Foster in Stateline, Nev.—knocking him down seven times and finishing him off with a knockout in the eighth round. “All through the fight, he gave me trouble,” Ali admitted. “I got bruised and I got cut, something Joe Frazier or nobody else could do.” But as he held an ice pack to his eye, Ali added: “It’s worth $250,000.”

For 40 years, no one built a new legitimate theater on Broadway. Now there is one: the Uris Theatre, with 1,896 seats, at the base of a new 50-story office building. To celebrate its opening, a crowd of Broadway luminaries—including Ethel Merman, Thornton Wilder, Fred and Adele Astaire and a five-year-old girl named Tallulah Bankhead 2nd (the star’s great-niece)—showed up to watch a new musical, Via Galactica. They also searched a gold-lettered list to see who was among the 123 names on Broadway’s first hall of fame. First on the list: Playwright-Director George Abbott, 85, who observed: “That’s not talent, just alphabet. The only people who can beat me are named Aaron.”

Richard Speck, the half-mad drifter who murdered eight student nurses in Chicago, was sentenced to death five years ago, but in the wake of Supreme Court rulings against capital punishment, he cannot be executed. His odd prediction: “As sure as having Jesus Christ on one side and the devil on the other, and a wheelbarrow filled with four or five million dollars in the middle, I’m going to get 500 to 1,000 years.” Judge Richard J. Fitzgerald went even further. He imposed a sentence of 50 to 150 years for each murder, consecutively, a total of 400 to 1,200 years.

“Jesus says, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers.’ I want to bring peace everywhere I go.” So said Evangelist Billy Graham on the occasion of his latest crusade for Christ in the rebellious Indian province of Nagaland. His message fell on stony ground. Just three miles away from the site where Graham was speaking to 60,000 people, Naga guerrillas ambushed an Indian army convoy, killed one soldier and wounded four others. The evangelist called off the last day of his revival and flew back to rest in New Delhi, where he had scheduled a meeting this week with Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. “I love the United States and I love India, and I would like to see them better friends,” said Graham.

It all started when a San Francisco policeman stopped a car for having a noisy muffler. Then he found that it was not registered. Then he called up the warrants bureau and found that there were 59 parking violations (totaling $1,217) charged against the driver, Thomas R. Alioto, 25, who makes a living as a professional astrologer. Alioto is also the son of Mayor Joseph Alioto, and when word of the unpaid tickets reached the Mayor, according to an aide, “he just blew his stack.” Alioto ordered a check on the rest of his family. The results: eight different Aliotos—including the Mayor himself, his wife and four of his sons—owed $422 on 22 tickets. Alioto promptly sent the money to the Hall of Justice—by chauffeur.

Robert Moses, 83, after a long career as New York City Park Commissioner and Lord High Everything Else, still has a crusty comment or two for the public ear—specifically on the commissioning of art: “Banks and corporations recently have turned from the impressive portraits of potbellied benevolent former chairmen to abstract daubs and rusty, anfractuous metal angleworms and pretzels, palsied mobiles and amorphous gargoyles.”

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