Q. Now that Cybill Shepherd has turned 40, is she thinking about plastic surgery to maintain her great looks?
A. "I don't want to say never, but I'm very disturbed by the prevalence of it," the former model says of cosmetic surgery. "I'm somewhat disturbed by young women doing it to be in the Miss America Pageant or whatever. . . . It's like you're dealing with people as things." Meanwhile, Shepherd, whose new movie is "Texasville," is producing her own film, "Memphis," for Turner Network Television and has finished vocal tracks for her first pop album.Q. Who was the famous actress who shaved off her eyebrows so well that they never grew back?
A. Lana Turner was a Hollywood starlet in an era when eyes and lips made up a blank canvas to be filled in by makeup artists. Her eyebrows completely disappeared after she shaved them off early in her career, and for the rest of her life, they had to be drawn in with pencil.
Q. Was Cher really seriously ill earlier this year?
A. Cher has finally revealed that she suffered from Epstein-Barr, the energy-zapping virus that seems to seek out overworked celebrities. She discovered it back in 1986 while filming "The Witches of Eastwick," but she wasn't fully aware of its debilitating nature until she was working on her latest film, "Mermaids." "I was so sick, I thought I was going to die," says Cher, 44. "I went to doctor after doctor." Eventually, she shook off the fatigue and these days appears to be staying on the mend.
Q. Does soul singer Luther Vandross' wildly fluctuating weight come from a poor self-image?
A. Sort of. "I'd lose it when I fell in love and then, when the love failed, gain it back," says Vandross, who, at 6-foot-3, has gone from 190 to 320 pounds and back at least seven times. "Weight doesn't affect my voice, just my moods." On the slimmer side these days, Vandross insists that he's learning to cope better. "I no longer believe that excess weight means worthlessness."
Q. In her obituaries, it wasn't mentioned that Pearl Bailey did a sitcom in the 1950s. She played a maid. It was the start of her popularity. - Mrs. A.B., Lincoln Park, Mich.
A. Bailey made her TV debut on Milton Berle's first show in 1948 and did many variety shows after that. Her popularity was based on a long, distinguished stage career. She had her own variety series, "The Pearl Bailey Show" in 1971, but her only sitcom was "Silver Spoons," 1984-85.
Q. Why has Jim Hall, whom Sonny Rollins called "the greatest guitarist in jazz," kept such a low profile?
A. Hall, 59, has recorded since 1955 in some of the most challenging jazz groups, including the Chico Hamilton Quintet and the Sonny Rollins Quartet. But he is modest about his skill. "The guitar is really hard for me," Hall says. "I have to stay after it." He is a tortured perfectionist who can't bear to hear his old work. Last year, Hall finally put his own quartet together and recorded the album "All Across the City" (Con-cord).
Q. What's the story on Marcia Gay Harden, who co-stars in the gangster movie "Miller's Crossing"?
A. Harden, who makes her screen debut as Verna in the movie, is a military brat who lived in Greece, studied in Greece and Germany and at the University of Texas, and worked in community theater in Washington, D.C., before moving to New York, where she pursued drama at NYU. At 31, she accepts the value of her intoxicating looks. "When you're an actor," she says, "your office is your body."
Q. Who really is the dance-funk group Was (Not Was)?
A. Don Was and David Was were born Don Fagenson and David Weiss. They met 25 years ago as Jewish intellectuals in the anti-Vietnam War movement. Don was doing Dylan. David, who had played virtually every orchestral instrument but the violin, was a woodwind specialist. They drew their jazz- and Motown-influenced pop style from Detroit. Besides their own records - the latest is "Are You Okay?" - individually they have produced hits for such singers as Dylan, Bonnie Raitt, the B-52s, Michael McDonald, Elton John and Bob Seger.
Q. A little background, please, on Peter, Paul and Mary. - S.B., Elma, N.Y.
A. Brooklyn-born Peter Yarrow, now 52, was a teacher of folk music when it was suggested he form a group. He saw a picture of Mary Ellin Travers, now 53, daughter of a pair of New York City political writers and activists, and asked her join him. Together they found Noel (Paul) Stookey in a folk club. Stookey, from Birmingham, Mich., had a folk group at Michigan State University. The trio had a string of hits including "If I Had a Hammer," "Blowin' in the Wind" and "Puff, the Magic Dragon" before they broke up in the late 1960s. They tried solo careers and have gotten together for several reunion tours.
Q. I have seen Lou Diamond Philips in a couple of movies, "Stand and Deliver" and "Dakota." What's his age, married? Where does he live? - L.S., Birmingham, Mich.
A. Philips, 28, has been busy since he did his first movies in 1984 in his native Texas. His big break was 1987's "La Bamba" in which he played rocker Rickie Valens. Currently, he can be seen in theaters in "Young Guns II." He married actress Julie Cypher in 1987. They live in Los Angeles.
Q. Were Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton married to each other when they made "Sandpiper" in 1965? - A.M., Downingtown, Pa.
A. They were. It was the third of 11 movies the two made together from the infamous flop where their romance started, 1963's "Cleopatra," to "Divorce His/Divorce Hers," a 1974 TV drama. The pair married in 1964, divorced in 1974, remarried in 1975 and divorced again in 1976.
Q. Several years ago in the theater, I saw a remake of "Wuthering Heights" with Timothy Dalton as Heathcliff. Will this ever be telecast? Is there any way I can get a copy? - R.F., Decatur, Ill.
A. The 1970 film with Anna Calder-Marshall as Cathy to Dalton's Heathcliff has been on TV many times. Check with your video store. It's listed as on tape but may have to be special ordered.
Q. I just saw "Romeo and Juliet" again and it made me wonder about my all-time favorite actor Leonard Whiting. I haven't seen him in a long time. What is his next movie? - Ms. R., North Little Rock, Ark.
A. Whiting was 18 when he co-starred with Olivia Hussey in Franco Zeffirelli's 1968 "Romeo and Juliet." "It was the most important thing I've done," he said recently. He did a few more movies, did some stage work, all in his native Great Britain. For the past 12 years, he has been writing scripts.
Q. Is the actress who plays Marlon Brando's daughter in "The Freshman" a newcomer to film?
A. No, but for some reason Penelope Ann Miller frequently goes unnoticed, even at premieres of movies she appears in. Maybe that is due to Miller's ability to transform her appearance radically for each role, such as in "Biloxi Blues" (a soft-spoken convent girl), "Big Top Pee-wee" (as Pee-wee Herman's fiancee) and the forthcoming "Awakenings" (as Robert De Niro's flame) and "Kindergarten Cop" (as Arnold Schwarzenegger's lover). "I like being anonymous," says Miller, 26, who notes that fans ignored her recent romance with "Cheers" star Woody Harrelson. "As long as directors and producers know who I am, that's fine." (Us, Aug. 20)
Q. Is former film siren Kim Novak gone from the screen forever?
A. Not yet. Novak, 57, has completed her work on "Liebestraum," her first movie in years. She plays a woman dying of cancer who meets the son she gave up for adoption. "She looks ravaged in many of the scenes," says filmmaker Mike Figgis. "I think she'll shock people." (Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smith, 8/2)
Q. How did Ingrid Chavez meet Prince and become his latest protegee in his movie "Graffiti Bridge"?
A. It sounds easy - they met through friends. "It was destined to be," says Chavez, the 25-year-old musician who plays Aura in the film. "They asked me to come in and do a screen test. And I got the part. But it wasn't my intention. I never intended even to be an actress." (Interview, July)
Q. Has Bonnie Bedelia chosen to make a career of playing wives who are memorable but never in leading roles - or has someone else stereotyped her that way?
A. Many critics think that moviemakers have goofed in hiring her mainly for supporting roles, such as the spouses in "Presumed Innocent," "Die Hard," "Die Hard 2" and "Fat Man and Little Boy." Bedelia, who began as a precocious ballet student of George Ballanchine at age 7 and a Broadway performer at 10, also is disappointed. "Nine out of 10 pictures," she notes, "star two men, with the woman as a tertiary character."
Q. Is it true that Bob Newhart's wife was a hooker before she married him?
A. Absolutely not, but that didn't stop Don Rickles from saying so. But did Newhart get mad when the honor of his wife, Ginny, was called into question by the acid comic? Not at all. Rickles accuses many Hollywood wives of being former call girls. That's just part of his charm.
"The first time I met Don, in '63 or '64," says Newhart, who considers Rickles to be one of his closest friends, "Ginny and I had dinner with him. We were sitting at the table, and Don was talking about his daughter Mindy, who was just a year old, and how he hated being on the road. After he'd left, my wife turned to me and said, `That is the most darling man I've ever met. You just want to hug him.'
"And then we saw the second show, and here's Rickles saying, `Ladies and gentlemen, Bob Newhart is here with his wife, a former hooker from Bayonne, N.J."'
Is Rickles insane? He is certainly considered as such in some foreign countries, observes Newhart. "The most fun is to go to a foreign country with him. They just don't know what to make of this screaming man. There's no counterpart in any other culture. They think he must be deranged."
Q. Do actors ever worry about putting themselves in physical danger during filming?
A. Acting can be dangerous for both actors and stuntmen, says actor Charles Grodin. "The number of deaths and injuries in the movies is just horrendous," he says. "My stuntman from `Midnight Run' is dead. He died in a Chuck Norris movie . . . in a helicopter that wasn't functioning properly. One of our cinematographers on `Catch-22' fell out of the airplane and died." Grodin blames directors. "They lose touch with reality," he says. "They start behaving as if making a movie is like finding a cure for cancer. . . . You have to know you're dealing with another species."
Q. How does Carrie Fisher feel about Meryl Streep's playing her in her autobiographical film "Postcards from the Edge"?
A. Although Fisher wrote the screenplay based on her first book about her own drug rehabilitation, she contends that it isn't really autobiographical. And even if it were, she couldn't play herself. "Like the monologue Meryl did: If I had done it, it would have been completely bizarre," says Fisher, 33. "But this elegant, luminous, poised person spewing this eccentric mash, it's a nice dichotomy."
- Send your questions to Celebrity Questions, Detroit Free Press, Detroit, MI 48231.