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Smith stays strong thru cancer surgery

GOOD MORNING: “The sooner people acknowledge it — cancer — the better off we’ll all eventually be,” Alexis Smith bravely told me as she arrived home from Cedars-Sinai where she’d undergone surgery for a brain tumor. She’s undergoing radiation and said, “I’m in no pain and I feel absolutely wonderful. But,” she admitted, “it’s a crap shoot — and in four weeks they’ll re-evaluate.” The ever-beautiful, statuesque Alexis, who won a Tony for “Follies” in ’72 and starred in so many WB movies in the halcyon days of Jack Warner, said she cannot walk alone yet — but she is, as always, supported by her longtime, handsome husband Craig Stevens … The power of television became apparent to David Niven Jr. after he appeared on last Friday’s “America’s Most Wanted.” Niven re-enacted (“I was divine,” he admitted) the Oct. robbery at his home where thieves, at gunpoint, robbed him of the valuables he’d been guarding for “Madame Alex” Adams. The LAPD received more than 180 calls from people identifying the one remaining thief (the other was already caught, given a 7-year jail term). The tips led police to his apartment at 10 ayem, Saturday. In the gun duel that followed, the suspect was killed. Reflecting on the public’s immediate and immense response, Niven noted, “People are just fed up with violence.” On a happier note, Niven and Barbara Alexander will wed June 19 … Jane Seymour and James Keach will marry Saturday in Santa Barbara. They met when he directed her in the USA Cable’s “Sunstroke.” Since then they’ve teamed producing “Praying Mantis” and he’s directed her in several “Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman” CBSegs … Kirk Kerkorian’s team of attorneys, led by Patricia L. Glaser is back from three weeks in Paris taking depositions from Credit Lyonnais. Kirk’s leagles brought along retired Judge Tom Johnson to make sure California rules, not French rules apply — thus saving time and money for his side. Glaser told me,”We are pushing for a trial date as soon as possible — hopefully by the end of the year … Roseanne Arnold wired all ABC affiliates: “… Please understand that this recent upsetting news is between myself and the New York management … I just felt I should let you know that this next season I will deliver the same quality show you are used to, no matter what happens with the New York management of ABC.”

EVEN CIRCUS AERIAL ACTS have a net — but not the ladies of SHARE, whose 40th anni show finale reprised an earlier show with the ladies hanging on ropes and ladders and twirling from the ceiling of the Santa Monica Civic. And these aren’t teenagers — many are grand, and I mean GRANDmothers. The show, produced by Gary Smith, choreo’d by Miriam Nelson Meyers and musicked by Ian Fraser, included “pro’s” Barry Manilow, John Raitt and Bonnie Raitt (two standing ovations!), Steve Kelley, Scott Record and Montie Montana, but, as I’ve been saying for these 40 years, it’s the SHARE ladies who are the stars. Rosemarie Stack was the show chair, Marilyn Katleman Grossman the evening chair. Pam Korman is outgoing president, Abbe Lane, incoming prez, and Corinna Fields, chairman of the board. And Roni Sue Malin, member of the year. The evening raised a million $ for their various charities, last year, $ 850,000 was distributed. Marjoe Gortner conducted the auction fundraiser, David Horowitz handled the raffle. Four founding members on hand to take a bow: Gloria Franks, Sheila MacRae, Miriam Nelson Meyers and Jeanne Martin. Milton Berle, Henry Mancini, Sheila MacRae and Natalie Cole intro’d the acts … Gary Smith winged out the next ayem for N.Y. for the Tony Awards nominations and his producer chores. His biggest concern: the two-hours-only allotted by CBS for the June 6 show. The scenes from the four nominated dramas will be incorporated into one act with their principal players. There may be a problem assembling the already-shuttered “Song of Jacob Zulu”… Larry Grossman and Buz Kohan have written the theme, “Celebrate B’way” for Liza and Lorna to duet — first time since 1963 when they chirped together on Judy Garland’s Christmas Show for Gary Smith.

CLOSE CALL FOR VINCE GILL during Sunday rehearsals for tonight’s Academy of Country Music Awards at the U Amphi — he didn’t move downstage when told to — and a light tumbled to the spot where he would have been standing … Mickey Rooney, who bows tomorrow night in “Lend Me a Tenor” at Chi’s Apollo theater, says he’s having as much fun as he had in “Sugar Babies.” Asked how far he strays from the written words, he said, “You have to inject your own personality — these lines aren’t written in blood!” He’s still talking a B’way outing in “Maggie and Jiggs”– now with Cloris Leachman … Mothers at Matteo’s for Mother’s Day got their share of laughs with this group on hand: Milton Berle, Jack Carter and Don Rickles. Also there, Cyd Charisse and Tony Martin, Richard Dreyfuss, Helen Gray, and John Ferraro celebrating his birthday with wife Margie and pals … Producer Mike Wise and wife Crystal welcomed their first, son Joseph David W. at Santa Monica hospital, May 7 … We are all saddened by the death of Bob Dingilian who loved this biz and worked tirelessly for its people and product. He’ll be sorely missed.