Q. After watching "Matlock" for some time now, I wonder why he always wears the same suit? Will they ever change it? I hope! - FAN, Atlanta.
A. Nope. The suit's part of the character. As Andy Griffith explains it, it started out as a seersucker suit, but that didn't photograph well. Now, it's plain gray, and he has a batch of them, all the same. Since the last "Matlock" has just been filmed, with Andy gray-suited as usual, you'll just have to bear it.Q. I seem to remember Shelley Long played Olive Oyl in `Popeye" years ago. My son says, no. If she did, tell me who played the male part and what year. - H.B., Salt Lake City, Utah.
A. Wrong Shelley. It was Shelley Duvall who was Olive to Robin Williams' Popeye in the 1989 movie.
Q. Is Cynthia Geary, of "Northern Exposure," related to Anthony Geary of "General Hospital"? Tell me about Cynthia. - Mrs. K.L.S., Wixom, Mich.
A. The Gearys aren't related. Cynthia, 27, is a native of Jackson, Miss., who studied ballet and voice as a youngster. After she attended summer school at UCLA, she decided to move to Los Angeles. She started in commercials and got her first acting experience in theater in L.A. Next came guest roles on "The Young and the Restless," "Adam 12" and "Divorce Court" and small roles in the features "Rich Girl," "Dangerous Curves" and "For the Love of Mike." She was in this season's TV movie "To Grandmother's House We Go" on ABC. She's single.
Q. I've seen Joey Lawrence on "Blossom" and I hear he has an album coming out. Tell me about him and where I can write him. - R.M., Somedale, N.J.
A. Lawrence was born in Montgomery, Pa., and he'll be 17 on April 20. He's been a song-and-dance guy since he was a toddler and in TV since he was 5. A singing appearance on the "Tonight" show landed him an NBC contract and appearances on "Diff'rent Strokes" and a regular job on "Gimme A Break." He still does commercials, recorded a Romper Room Album, and his first pop album was released last fall. Write: Touchstone Television, 500 S. Buena Vista Blvd., Burbank, Calif. 91521.
Q. Settle a bet: Is Christine from "Coach" the same Shelley Fabares who hit the top of the charts in the 1950s as a successful singer? - J.S., Philadelphia.
A. It is, but her hit single, 1962's "Johnny Angel," was a one-shot deal, and no one was more surprised to find herself on the charts than Fabares. It came when she was a teenager starring in "The Donna Reed Show."
Q. I'm a fan of reruns of the western series "Alias Smith and Jones." I read that the star Pete Duel committed suicide because they didn't renew his contract. My dad says he lost a leg in a motorcycle accident and then shot himself. Give me the real story and some background on him. - T.L.M., Chicago.
A. Duel, who simplified his name from Duel in mid-career, was 31 when he shot himself in 1971. He left no note and friends and associates were at a loss to explain his action. Neither of your "reasons" are valid or truthful. He had a successful movie and TV career, but he was a perfectionist who always wanted better scripts. He did two other TV series, "Gidget" and "Love on a Rooftop." Your dad has Duel confused with actor James Stacy, who lost an arm and a leg in a 1973 motorcycle accident but who returned to acting several years later and continues to work.
Q. Where can I write Jerry Seinfeld? - Mrs. R., Northville, Mich.
A. Write: NBC-TV, 3000 W. Alameda Ave., Burbank, Calif. 91523.
Q. Last season on "Married . . . with Children," both Katey Sagal's and Amanda Bearse's characters were pregnant. Then, Katey Sagal was absent and Amanda Bearse's character was still pregnant. Then Katey Sagal was back and no one was pregnant. What happened? Do the writers think the audience is stupid and no one notices? - K.L., Tucson, Ariz.
A. This one's been answered before: After Katey Sagal, who was pregnant in real life, lost her baby, it was decided that continuing the story line would be too painful for her. The whole thing was dropped - a nice case of thoughtfulness in an industry not noted for it.
Q. Was Jamie Farr in "Blackboard Jungle"? The credits listed a Jameel Farrah. - B.S., Arwida, Colo.
A. That's Toledo's Farr at 21 in the 1955 movie, before he decided to drop his real name for a less ethnic version.
Q. What happened to the man who played Mr. Green Jeans on "Capt. Kangaroo"? I think he's dead, but a friend says he's in jail. - J.P., Adrian, Mich.
A. Gentle Mr. Green Jeans in jail! How could it be? It isn't. Hugh "Lumpy" Brannum died in 1987. He was 77.
Q. Is country-music star Vince Gill really a "sensitive man?"
A. You mean does he cry easily, like President Clinton's brother, Roger? "All of his emotions seem easily accessible to him, which is unusual in a man," says Rosanne Cash of Gill, his longtime friend. "I've been known to choke up," Gill himself freely admits. In fact, he specializes in classic sad songs, melodies like "When I Call Your Name" or "I Still Believe in You." "The sadder, the better for me," says Gill, 34. "I even like a little death in there once in a while." Not that he has anything to be sad about. Gill has won six Country Music Association Awards and two Grammys and recorded four top-selling albums.
Q. Isn't Tim Daly of NBC's "Wings" from a well-known show-biz family?
A. He's the son of the late actor James Daly and the brother of actress Tyne Daly. His parents were divorced when he was 9, and he spent his high-school years in a Vermont boarding school. After acting in 20 plays at Bennington College, he landed a role in Barry Levinson's "Diner." He and his wife, actress Amy Van Nostrand, have an 8-year-old son and a 3-year-old daughter. Incidentally, Daly played Alex Haley's great-grandfather in the CBS miniseries "Queen" last month.
Q. Does former anchorwoman Linda Ellerbee feel that she sacrificed too much for her career?
A. She wishes she could have "struck a better balance" in her life. "I know this may make me sound anti-feminist, and I'm not," says Ellerbee, whose children are now 22 and 23. "My daughter ran away from home when she was a teenager, and that was a pretty big sign that something was wrong in our house. I tried to scale back my work hours then, but she was almost fully grown. It was too late." Ellerbee, who had breast cancer surgery last year, writes a syndicated newspaper column. "If you teach yourself to expect the unexpected," she says philosophically, "you're way ahead of the game. And better able to field future curveballs."
Q. How did cartoonist Matt Groening come up with "The Simpsons" characters?
A. In high school he wrote a "bad semiautobiographical novel" called "Mean Kids." His main character was Bart Simpson. Years later, when the chance to do television cartoons came up, he named his characters after his family. Groening's mom is really Marge, his father really Homer, his two younger sisters really Maggie and Lisa. "It was an animated cartoon about a crazed suburban family," he says of "The Simpsons" concept. By the way, he subsequently named his own son Homer.
Q. Give the background of Chris O'Donnell, co-star of "Scent of a Woman." - J.R., Pittston, Pa.
A. He's 22, from Winnetka, Ill., and is studying marketing at Boston College. He started out in commercials and modeling at 13. At 17, he made his movie debut as Jessica Lange's son in "Men Don't Leave." He's also done "Fried Green Tomatoes" and "School Ties."
Q. My Dad and I are arguing over Mel Tillis. I say Tillis has always stuttered and he works to overcome it. My Dad says his stuttering is an act to make him popular. - R.T., Omaha, Neb.
A. Tillis, 61, didn't reach stardom by making fun of a speech defect. He has said he started stuttering when he was three after an severe illness. He doesn't stutter when he sings, which isn't unusual. He was a major country songwriter before he started singing in the 1950s, but for years he refused to talk on stage because of the stutter. Fellow performers urged him to talk to his audiences.
Q. I'd like to know more about D.B. Sweeney of "The Cutting Edge." How old is he, what else has he done, and lastly, what do his initials stand for? - C.H., Huntington Beach, Calif.
A. Daniel Bernard Sweeney is 31, a New York native who attended Tulane and New York universities. He started in TV commercials and made his feature film debut in "Gardens of Stone" in 1987. His other features include "No Man's Land," "Eight Men Out," "Memphis Belle" and the TV miniseries "Lonesome Dove."
Q. Straighten me out between Van Johnson and Van Helfin. I believe one of them was a native Oklahoman and attended the University of Oklahoma School of Drama. - E.J., Tulsa, Okla.
A. Emmett Evan Heflin Jr. was born in Walters, Okla., and attended the Oklahoma and Yale schools of drama. He died in 1971 at 61. Charles Van Johnson, now 77, is a native of Rhode Island and is still active in show business.
Q. I really like "Another World" and the actress who plays Frankie. Tell me something about her and what else she has been in. - T.S., Tampa, Fla.
A. Alice Barrett is Frankie. She's a New Yorker, graduate of Hunter College and was active in movies, off-Broadway theater and soaps "As the World Turns" and "Ryan's Hope" before she joined "AW" in 1989.
- Send your questions to Celebrity Questions, Detroit Free Press, 321 W. Lafayette Blvd, Detroit, MI 48231.