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CLIMBING TO THE TOP AGAIN
John Papanek
October 15, 1979
Out for a year with injuries, a reflective, more temperate Bill Walton has changed the style—if not the substance—of his life as he starts anew in San Diego
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October 15, 1979

Climbing To The Top Again

Out for a year with injuries, a reflective, more temperate Bill Walton has changed the style—if not the substance—of his life as he starts anew in San Diego

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"Fourteen-hundred-dollar suits?"

"If I'm going to go out and talk to people, I might as well look good. Maybe I didn't care so much about that before. But...people change."

Next stop: the famous DiFabrizio Bottega, where Walton is having shoes made A mold of his foot—size 17—will join those of Frank Sinatra, Cher, Barbra Streisand, Wilt Chamberlain et al. displayed on DiFabrizio's wall. "Great shoes," says Walton. "New size for me."

"You mean your foot has grown?" says a puzzled DiFabrizio.

"No. I used to wear 17, but at UCLA my feet started sliding in my basketball shoes, so I went down to 15. My toes were all curled up, but I didn't slide."

"Didn't they hurt?"

"Sure. But I thought everybody's feet hurt."

Then it's over to the NBC studios in Burbank, where Walton is taping—will his radical, flag-eating friends from the old days believe this?—The Hollywood Squares. Backstage, Walton is greeted by the outstretched hand and pancaked face of Peter Marshall, the show's host. "Hiya, Bill! So glad to have you. Hope you have a lot of fun with us here on The Hollywood Squares."

Walton shakes hands and smiles thinly. A moment later he turns to Kolker and says, "Who is that guy?"

The questions asked in the game are written specially for each "star." In Walton's case, they aim straight for the stereotyped themes that have been hung on him by the press and public for years, and each one evokes the hoped-for giggles from the garden-club and tea-group ladies in the studio audience. For instance: "True or false. The late, great anthropologist Louis Leakey once stated that one of the reasons that mankind survived down through the ages was that he smelled so bad that other animals did not want to eat him." ( Walton correctly answers true.) And "Hippocrates had a favorite medicine, Bill, that he prescribed more than anything else. You probably have it in your kitchen cupboard, or your refrigerator. What is it?" ( Walton says mustard; the right answer is honey.) And "True or false. In Shakespeare's England, the average guy took a bath once a year." ( Walton correctly replies true.)

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