Pilot and Author Richard Bach, known for his bestseller Jonathan Livingston Seagull, had trouble with his own wings recently. While en route from Florida to California in his P-51 Mustang, Bach hit a tower during a landing at the Midland, Texas airport. Police said the writer apparently overshot the runway. He was uninjured, and his plane is repairable.
Glen Dodson, a barrel-chested mustachioed man who plays trombone with the Philadelphia Orchestra, looks like the late Ernie Kovacs and has the same sense of humor. Packing for the orchestra's tour of China, Dodson slipped two dozen 69� Frisbees in his luggage. Once arrived in Peking, he waited for a leisurely Sunday afternoon and announced, "It's Frisbee time." While Conductor Eugene Ormandy napped, trumpeter Don McComas, trombonist Dee Stewart and Dodson went down to a concrete courtyard and began tossing. Soon about 200 children were on the scene and red and yellow and green Frisbees were flying everyplace. Dodson taught the kids to say "frees-bee," but when traffic began piling up he decided to retreat. "Keep 'em," he shouted as the musicians sprinted for the hotel. "Gift of America." It wasn't that easy, though. Fifteen minutes later the kids appeared outside the hotel looking grim. An interpreter had to explain that they were presents before the children would accept them. "Then it was like fish after bait," Dodson said.
How did Johnny Unitas go wrong as a parent? How could he have a son whose best talent is interceptions—a son who plays safety and makes life miserable for opposing quarterbacks? But there he is: John Unitas Jr., age 17, scanning the sky for an errant pass. He is, or was until last weekend when he fractured a rib, on his way to being named All-Maryland safety for Calvert Hall High School in Baltimore. It may have been retribution, a reminder that sometimes safety is in the quarterback's pocket.
J. Paul Getty, a contender for the title of World's Richest Man, went a couple of rounds with Jack Dempsey recently at Getty's English home—and reminisced about J. Paul's little-known and understandably brief boxing career. Getty once served as Dempsey's sparring partner while the Manassa Mauler was preparing for his world title defense against Tommy Gibbons, and it was Dempsey's convincing right hand that told Getty his future lay in finance rather than fisticuffs. Dempsey recalled that Getty told him not to pull any punches. "I wanted to see if I had a future in boxing," Getty says. He survived the first round, but in the second Dempsey connected twice—hard. "He held me up after the first one, but I insisted he keep trying," Getty remembers. "So he hit me again, and that was that. I went back to oil."
Robert DeNiro, the actor who plays Bruce Pearson, the fatally ill catcher in the remarkable baseball movie Bang the Drum Slowly, acquired his Southern accent by touring the South. "I went through the towns in Georgia my character was supposed to be from and I would go over the script with people there," DeNiro says. "I wanted to get the accent exactly right. You know, kids say certain words one way, and older folks say them differently. They would really help me. They'd say. 'What's his name has a great Southern drawl. Why don't you go talk to him?' They knew exactly what I was looking for."
In order to pedal across Canada on a four-foot unicycle he built himself, Wally Watts of Edmonton, Alberta took a three-month leave of absence from his job as a Canadian National Railways carman. Traveling eastward from Vancouver, Watts covered 4,550 miles in 94 days and 2.4 million revolutions of the unicycle wheel, wearing out four bike seats and five pairs of trousers on the way. When he arrived back home, he found that someone had broken into his garage and stolen $1,200 worth of tools. "It was all that publicity I got," Wally said mournfully. "Someone knew I wouldn't be around for a while."
Honest, it wasn't staged. The histrionics started when a burglar felled Sir Laurence Olivier from behind as the actor entered the darkened library of his home in Brighton, England. The blows knocked Olivier to the floor, shattered his glasses and bruised him around the eyes and nose. But Sir Laurence, who had once played a very athletic Prince Hal, rose to the occasion. He jumped up, seized a heavy metal drama award and chased the burglar out of the house. Wielding the trophy and "hurling invective in my most heroic voice," Olivier challenged the thief to come back. "But the blighter ignored me and went on running," Olivier reported. "I can't say I blame him."
Fred Schletter, secretary of the Ducks Unlimited Committee in Burlington County, N.J., reports that his group held its annual dinner at—where else?—the Mallard Inn in Mount Laurel, N.J. The entr�e was roast stuffed breast of capon. No duck? "No duck," said Schletter. "Some members just don't like the taste."