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Marilyn’s birthday party gets stamp of approval

GOOD MORNING: Lew Wasserman, who usually shuns the limelight, took the stage at the Flintstones Theater at Universal Studios Hollywood Thursday ayem. MCA’s chairman-CEO was brought on stage with a warm welcome from Marvin Runyon, Postmaster General of the United States, and hefty applause followed from the SRO theater audience. Wasserman took his place on stage with Universal Studios Hollywood exec VP and general manager Felix Mussenden, Anna Strasberg, Don Murray, Eli Wallach and yours truly as the commemorative stamp of Marilyn Monroe was unveiled. Wasserman was in great spirits, and in spirited conversations earlier backstage with us on all topics ranging from early reminiscences of Monroe to the previous night’s attack on showbiz by Bob Dole. Wasserman, a knowledgeable veteran and strategist of political wars, doesn’t see Dole as a threat to Clinton — it’s Pete Wilson. When Runyon talked about the post office’s business being in the black, but fearing the summer slowdown before going up at Christmas, Wasserman told him about summer and Christmas movie biz. Wasserman didn’t talk like anyone who is planning to leave showbiz — even though he’ll be 83 on his next birthday … The audience in the Flintstones theater joined in singing “Happy Birthday” when a giant cake was wheeled out to salute Monroe’s 69th … Next celeb stamp will be Louis Armstrong and upcoming is one for Lucille Ball — when the 10th anniversary of her death is remembered. (That’s the postal regulation) … Each of the actor participants Thursday told stories about working with Monroe. I recalled the location at the Hotel del Coronado where, after waiting hours for Marilyn to show up on the sand, I asked Billy Wilder why he put up with her. He said, ‘I could get my Aunt Tillie for the part — she’d be an hour early every day — but no one would come to the movie!” Eli Wallach recalled on “The Misfits,” Clark Gable was getting $ 50,000 a week as the movie went into overtime. When Monroe again arrived late and apologized to him, Gable smiled and said, “Don’t you worry about a thing, honey!” Don Murray, Oscar-nominated for his role opposite her in “Bus Stop,” said Marilyn told him she didn’t want to be rich, “She didn’t want to be a movie star –‘All I want to be is wonderful!’ she said. And that’s what she was, is and always will be — wonderful!” Others on hand who worked with MM and took a bow from the audience: Zsa Zsa, Tommy Rettig, Hope Lange, Darryl Hickman. Also there: Sheree North, Steve Allen and Jayne Meadows, Charles Dierkop and Marilyn’s stand-in, Ellen Moriarty. Wednesday, a Postal Service-hosted party was held at a former Monroe house in the Valley, now the H.Q. of Hispanic Entertainment Specialists — they’ve built a theater on the site, named the Marilyn Monroe Theater … On hand to take a bow at this event was artist Michael Dees, who painted Marilyn’s likeness for the stamp. Postmaster Runyon said 400 million Monroe stamps are in the first printing. Elvis sold 500 million. “But we can always print more,” the Postmaster smiled … The day after Marilyn died, Aug. 6, 1962, my column, which usually leads off with GOOD MORNING, began, “It’s not a GOOD MORNING.”

THE BIZ IS SADDENED by the tragedy of Christopher Reeve, probably one of the best-liked performers. When we were taping “Celebrity Daredevils” for ABC in 1982, Reeve soared in a glider for us and said the state of mind he developed up in the blue was useful in his “Superman” “flights.” He is also an expert sailor and danger never frightens him … Producer Robert Halmi, for whom Reeve recently completed CBS’ “The Black Fox” miniseries, calls him “the most intelligent actor I ever met.” Reeve was to start “Kidnapped” for him next week and had flown to Ireland last week to look at a house for his family, a house next to a stable of horses. Halmi told him, “Please do not ride while we’re shooting.” He says Reeve answered, “If I have to choose between riding and acting, I’ll give up acting.”

“GOD GRACED ME WITH A SECOND CHANCE,” Corey Feldman told me from the Vancouver location of “Tales From the Crypt: Bordello of Blood.” After a four-year battle with drugs, including nine months in the Cry Help program, Feldman is back. “It’s been a hard struggle,” he admits. “But I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I hadn’t gone through it. I think I can be a big inspiration for people who don’t have hope.” He’s grateful to many in the industry, including Dick Donner, who have given him the second chance and encouraged him. He next starts the CBSeries “Dweebs.” In the sitcom, he wears shades and a goatee. “It’s me of the past,” he laughed … Kelly Stone (Sharon’s sister) and fiance Danny Maltzman decided to postpone this weekend’s wedding — until a “later, more private” date and setting, Kelly told me. … Add stamp news: Bela Lugosi Jr. is the Hollywood Horror Heritage Foundation guest Sunday when the audience will be encouraged to petition the issuance of a Horror Legends stamp honoring Lugosi, Boris Karloff and Lon Chaney Jr.

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