Even the Kansas City Kings of the NBA got into the act. President and General Manager Joel Axelson made Jenner the team's seventh-round draft choice this year, a whim to be sure, but another sign of his marketability. "Right now there is a trend toward the all-American look," Jenner told a group early in the week. "That healthy look. The Farrah-Fawcett look. I think we're getting back to it."
The only door that has not opened wide for Jenner is the one to movie stardom. After the Games he did a screen test for the role of Superman. Jenner flew to Rome and, wearing a cape and ski pants, his hair slicked down with mineral oil, read for the part. The verdict was that he photographed too young. "I never said I wanted to be a movie star," says, Jenner. "I never even was in my high school class play. But after the test was over, I said, 'Hey, that was fun. The Kid enjoyed it. I want to do it again.' " To that end Jenner is thinking of taking acting lessons, simply because he never is going to do anything that he cannot do well. "People would like to see you fail," he says matter-of-factly. "They're waiting to take a shot at you all the time, so I have to be careful."
This is how careful: a tennis neophyte, Jenner refuses to play against women, even his friend Linda Elliott, the girl friend of pole vaulter Dave Roberts and the girl Chrystie roomed with at Montreal. Jenner played a celebrity doubles match with Rafer Johnson against Ethel Kennedy and her sister-in-law Jean Kennedy Smith at Forest Hills last year, and Ethel hit him with an overhead smash when he tried to poach. Then when he attempted to hit her with the ball, the crowd booed. Jenner did not think it fair.
Jenner also considers it unfair to compare him with Spitz. "I certainly didn't look at his success or failure and do it any differently," he says. "I would have done things the same way if he had not even been in the 1972 Olympics."
Jenner was once an aspiring water skier, but he did so badly in a national competition in 1966 that he dropped the sport and switched to the decathlon. His latest transition seems to have gone just as well. "When I was training," he says, "I was my own boss. I got up when I wanted to and I trained when I wanted to and I got the job done. Now for the rest of my life I can be my own boss. I can determine what I'm going to do and I don't have to work for anybody."
And, with few exceptions, the Kid is pulling it off—and wowing his audience. Recently, while hurrying through the Los Angeles Airport, he jostled a matronly lady who scolded him furiously. Then she recognized the object of her ire. "I saw you in the Olympics and I liked you," she sputtered. "I see you now and I hate you." But then, that's show biz.