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AP fetes golden anni of vet Bob Thomas

GOOD MORNING: Bob Thomas, the Associated Press’ ace Hollywood writer, will be feted by the wire service with a fiesta Sunday as he celebrates his 50th anni with ’em. The AP is his first and only employer. Bob actually started with the AP May 23, 1943, but who counts? Thomas, in his illustrious career, has also written 30 books, topped by “King Cohn” and “Disney, An American Original.” His “Hollywood Star” TVer is also nearing its 300th show. Bob has been married to wife Pat for 45 years. They have three daughters and a grandson. The perennially youthful Thomas now writes three or four columns a week. In the “old days,” we used to write seven a week. I say “we” because it was Bob who interviewed me when I was fresh out of the Navy in 1945 and, thanks to him, I started my career writing with Thomas in the AP’s Hollywood bureau in the old Hollywood Citizen-News building. We laughed recalling writing the advance obits for the wire service. The AP required us to get approval of the “bios” we’d written from the subjects. “I forgot to change the tense when I sent his to Monty Woolley,” said Bob.”He wrote me back, ‘I’m not dead — yet!’ ” Has Thomas any thoughts of retiring? “I’ll retire the same time you do,” Bob told me –“same day.” Don’t hold your breath for either of us to do so. Happy anniversary, Bob … Burt Reynolds’ filing for divorce from Loni Anderson took everyone by surprise. She was served Thursday in the house they share in Florida. Both are (understandably) very upset — Burt cried, I was told. Loni’s back here now and readying to start her NBC “Nurses” series while he winds “The Man From Left Field” CBS vidpic in Florida. They had a prenuptial agreement, but it was voided when they adopted son Quinton. They’re hoping for an amicable resolution, both lawyers told me … Jennifer O’Neill had her December marriage to Neil Bonin annulled. Just back from Mexico and her fourth USA Network cable show, “The Cover Girl Murders,” O’Neill’s off to Vancouver to co-star with Bob Mitchum and Roger Daltrey in the bigscreen “The Stranger.”

NICOLE KIDMAN AND TOM CRUISE surprised students at Australia’s Theatre for Young People in Sydney today (they’re a day ahead, y’know) when Oz-born Kidman announced she plans an exchange program for young Aussie and American thesps as thanks for her start in the biz … Dodd Darin, son of Bobby D. and Sandra Dee, married Audrey Tannenbaum, daughter of Tom and Barbara T., June 5 … Vikki Carr and San Antonio doctor Pedro De Leon also were married June 5 … Matthew Ansara , son of Barbara Eden and Michael Ansara, weds Julie Hoefer July 24 … Carolyn Johnson, daughter of Anne and Frank Johnson (he’s Price Waterhouse’s managing partner — and handles the Oscar envelopes), marries Scott Hampton Saturday … Marjoe Gortner (he’s a minister, you recall) conducts the wedding ceremony of J.P. De Joria and Eloise Broady Sunday … Newlyweds May Britt and Lennarl Ringquist, prez of Four Star Intl., were toasted by friends at the Bel-Air C.C. … Evelyn Karloff, widow of Boris Karloff, died of cancer June 1 in England. She requested no services … Thursday was the 71st anni of Judy Garland’s birth , and the Garland starrer “The Harvey Girls” (MGM, 1944), its director George Sidney and Cyd Charisse, who made her second movie appearance in it, were honored last night at the Santa Monica Heritage Museum. Sidney also directed parts of Charisse’s first, “The Ziegfeld Follies.” Roger Mayer, president of Turner Entertainment Co., made the presentations. Sidney said he felt at home “because L.B. Mayer had raised me from 14 years old, and now another Mayer owns all my films, shorts and cartoons.” Jennifer Diener turned the Heritage Museum into a Fred Harvey House showing the pic twice daily this summer. Sidney told me “Harvey Girls” was originally set for Gable (John Hodiak took over) and Ann Sothern (Angela Lansbury won out). Sidney, who also shot Judy’s screen test, said, “We look over the rainbow to wherever you are and — happy birthday, Judy.”

THE BIGGEST PREMIERE in Columbia’s history. That’s the promise of Sunday’s dual Village and Bruin theaters bow of “Last Action Hero,” with 10,000-20,000 fans anticipated in Westwood …”Hosted By …,” debuting on KNBC Monday with exec producers Dottie Archibald and Eddie October, adds Maxine Waters, Bobcat Goldthwait and Emma Samms as hosts. Host Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is set to interview Quincy Jones. When host David Steinberg talks to Jay Tarses, will the latter discuss his problems with NBC over “Black Tie Affair”? … Add Uli Edel, Tova Leiter, Bob Rehme, RKO’s Dina Merrill and Ted Hartley at the American Cinematheque’s St. James’s Club toast to Bob Wise tonight … Auction! Lorenzo Music auctions opera-related valuables at Saturday’s onstage gala at the Pavilion, with Barbara Cook concerting … Bill Schallert hosts a political-cartoon auction at Sunday’s ACLU Garden party at the Stanley Sheinbaums’ home … Earl Holliman and Julie Sommers judge a Jonny Cat look-alike contest benefiting Actors and Others for Animals at the Intl. Cat Show this weekend at the Anaheim Convention Center.