Stars Walked Among Us!

During the past ten years, Phoenix was Hollywood squared

Valley autograph hounds must have thought they'd been put to sleep and gone to heaven. Simply put, the town was lousy with stars in the Eighties. And as we forge into the Nineties, it's time to tick some of them off.

Guess who came to dinner? How about Laugh-In bench-warmer RUTH BUZZI and Happy Days has-been DONNY MOST, just two of the stellar power-diners who broke bread with PETER LAWFORD's widow during a star-studded supper at Scottsdale's La Relais back in 1985? There was plenty to celebrate. Hoisting a glass of wine midway through the boozy fete, the Widow Lawford announced plans to write a memoir about her late husband. "It's going to be a schmucky book," she vowed, shortly before taking a catnap--right at the table. And after reading the tome (which, among other things, chronicled her valiant struggle to wean her Peter from the dread Acujack, an electronic ejaculation aid), few readers would disagree.

Stressed to kill? Take a tip from the formerly problem-prone DESI ARNAZ JR. In town to promote a 1987 self-help seminar, Lucy's lad shared several secrets of his newfound nirvana. Now full of bliss and vinegar, the actor explained, "People worry over the absence of worry, which is like thinking the end of the storm means the end of the sky . . . Letting your life be taken over by another person is like letting the waiter eat your dinner." To paraphrase his pop, "Desi, ju gotta lotta 'splainin' to do!"

Look! . . . up in the sky! It's a bird! . . . it's a plane! . . . it's DONNY OSMOND! Or at least that's what audiences might have seen if the Osmonds had followed through with the big entrance they'd dreamed up for their 1983 Fourth of July show at ASU's Sun Devil Stadium. According to the original plan, Donny would wave to fans as a low-flying helicopter buzzed the venue. Then the whirlybird would circle back for a return greeting--only this time, Donny (or at least an identically dressed dummy) would fall from the 'copter and plummet to earth. Unfortunately, the prank never got off the ground-- possibly because the Osmond siblings realized concertgoers might feel cheated once they discovered it was only a hoax.

Jessica H. Christ! Fleeing from their Palm Springs pleasure pad after the PTL scandal broke, fugitive fundamentalists JIM and TAMMY BAKKER parked their U-Haul in Phoenix long enough to wolf down at a Waffle House on I-17. Praise the Lord and pass the syrup!

What's my line? Don't ask MARY MARTIN. During a 1986 tour of the play Legends!, the actress had such a hard time remembering her dialogue that she resorted to wearing a shortwave receiver that cued her speeches. But she was finally forced to get the bug out of her ear when the show hit Symphony Hall--Martin ditched the device after she claimed she was picking up radio-dispatched taxi calls.

Hollywood harvested the crime of the crop of Arizona lawbreakers for a trio of made-for-TV movies during the past decade. Inspired by a prison break gone seriously awry, 1983's A Killer in the Family starred ROBERT MITCHUM as the big bad dad of the carnage-crazed Tison clan. In 1984, Scorned and Swindled found PETER COYOTE making marry as convicted career bigamist Giovanni Vigliotto, with TUESDAY WELD as the wife who marched him to the altar of justice. And in 1989 FARRAH FAWCETT continued her thespic descent into domestic violence in Small Sacrifices, the saga of murderous mom Diane Downs. What's next? TIFFANY as self-styled "kidnaping victim" Shantih Schmid?

"Aw, Beav, ya little goof!" During a 1983 radio promotion held at the Ramada Townehouse, former child star JERRY MATHERS slipped a pair of underwear--no, they weren't Miss Landers'--over his head and spouted catch phrases from Leave It to Beaver. Maybe Eddie was right.

Over at the now-defunct Hollywood Cafe, nightclubbers really had to mind their p's and q's (not to mention their t's and a's) when noted linguist JESSICA HAHN hosted a spelling bee in 1988. But the year's most highbrow hoe-down came to a merciful end when a couple wearing Jim and Tammy masks suddenly materialized, dancing around the baffled Bible bimbo to the tune of "Like a Virgin."

"I was framed!" Or so sex murderer JOHN WAYNE GACY might have hollered after a Phoenix nightclub hosted a 1988 exhibition of his jailhouse paintings. The local artist who set up the ghoulish gallery praised the "childlike" quality of Gacy's work and claimed that the amateurish dabblings revealed "another side of the man" who'd buried more than thirty boys in the basement of his Chicago home.

Say it isn't so, Joe! Community-spirited GAIL FISHER, the Emmy- winning Gal Friday on TV's Mannix, slipped into town in 1985 to officiate at a Gay Bartender of the Year awards ceremony at Hotbod's Desert Dance Disco.

1984's most anticipated coming attraction? Try porn czarina MARILYN CHAMBERS, who was scheduled to do a publicity tour of the Valley (including a guest shot on Rita Davenport's TV cooking show) to promote the smut pic Up 'n' Comin'. But the much-ballyhooed visit never happened, leaving a bad taste in at least one other person's mouth. After Chambers began demanding luxury perks that would have cost $7,000, the downtown porn theatre owner who was footing the bills simply blew her off.

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