Movie icon Kirk Douglas has just released an autobiography that has some pretty gritty details about his bout with depression following his stroke. A synopsis of the book, "Stroke of Luck," appears as the cover story in Sunday's Parade magazine, distributed with major newspapers across the country. In the book, the venerable movie star gives intimate details of his thoughts of suicide after suffering a debilitating stroke in 1996. At one point he was so despondent that he took the gun he had used in the movie "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral," loaded it and put it in his mouth. The barrel of the gun hit a sore tooth. Douglas says he pulled the gun from his mouth and laughed, realizing that a bad tooth had, in a curious way, saved his life. He credits his family and friends with aiding in his recovery and notes that when the Oscar people honored him with a special award just months after his stroke -- it was the first public appearance he made after the incident -- he felt a wave of "thunderous applause engulfing me. I couldn't believe it." Douglas is now 85 (his birthday was Dec. 9) and has been a tireless crusader for the elderly, people with Alzheimer's and people who have had strokes. Additionally, he and his wife of 47 years, Anne, have donated their time and money to build playgrounds in Los Angeles. "Stroke of Luck" will be on store shelves by the end of the week.
ROCKERS CHICAGO STILL GOING STRONG
For decades the innovative rock group Chicago has been one of the world's most popular ensembles, with a string of mega hits. Now, the eight-man group -- after more than 35 years of packin' 'em in -- is appearing in Las Vegas in the major room at the Stardust. The Casino says that the group has scored 26 consecutive hit albums, selling more than 120 million units. At a time when many rock groups were getting by with skimpy electric guitar-driven arrangements, Chicago was using huge orchestrations and driving rhythms, also winning them fans among jazz aficionados. Four members of the group have been with Chicago since day one: Lee Loughname, James Pankow, Walt Parazaider and Robert Lamm. The group will perform many of its most famous hits, including "25 or 6 to 4," "Saturdays in the Park," "Just You and Me" and "Hard to Say I'm Sorry." The group is in the midst of a weeklong run.
DAZZLING DUO HEADED FOR U.S. VENUES
One of the world's fastest-rising young violinists and his accompanist of 10 years are about to embark on a major North American tour. A publicist for 35-year-old German-born Christian Tetzlaff says that the virtuoso's tour will begin on the 17th of this month in Chicago. The itinerary includes recitals in The Twin Cities, Vancouver, B.C., Seattle, San Francisco, Aspen, Colo., Philadelphia and New York (in Avery Fisher Hall). The program will include the difficult Bartok Sonata No. 1 (premiered in 1921); the Beethoven Violin Sonata No. 2 in C Minor and Schumann's Violin Sonata No. 2. Tetzlaff's accompanist is Lief Ove Andsnes. The pair has been performing together since first meeting a decade ago at a concert appearance in Finland.
AFI HANDS OUT FIRST-EVER AWARDS
Add another major movie and TV awards show to the yearly agenda. The venerable American Film Institute, known by most movie fans as the AFI, has given out what it says is just the first batch of awards that will become a yearly event -- like the Oscars or the Golden Globes. Hosted by Dustin Hoffman, the three-hour program was aired Saturday night on CBS. Ironically, the group -- known for its contributions in preserving the art of the cinema -- gave a huge number of its initial awards to television projects. HBO's "The Sopranos" was named Drama Series of the Year. The cable net's comedy series "Curb Your Enthusiasm" won Comedy Series of the Year honors. James Gandolfini and Edi Falco from "Sopranos" won acting honors. "Band of Brothers," another HBO creation was given the award for Movie or Mini-series of the Year. Oh, yes, some traditional Hollywood types were also honored. "The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring" won Movie of the Year. Denzel Washington, Sissy Spacek, Gene Hackman and Jennifer Connelly won acting honors. The AFI's award is as of yet nameless.
BARKER BRINGING 'PRICE IS RIGHT' TO 'VEGAS
Bob Barker, the long-time host of "The Price is Right," one of the most popular audience participation programs in the history of television, will be taping the 30th anniversary broadcast of the series in Las Vegas. The Review-Journal confirms that Barker and his production team will be setting up in the Rio's Samba Theater in the coming weeks for the broadcast, which will be recorded on Jan. 17. The publication says it will be the program's first-ever non-Hollywood taping. Some 900 tickets to the show will be made available, but only on the morning of the broadcast at the casino's main box office. They will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.
WAYLON JENNINGS' SURGERY EXPLAINED
It's been two weeks since country star Waylon Jennings underwent surgery in a Phoenix hospital. Now the details are being released. Jennings' publicist confirms that the Hall of Famer had to have his left foot amputated. The surgery was deemed necessary after a diabetes-caused infection set in. Jennings remains hospitalized and could, though, be released by week's end. The singer-songwriter is quoted as noting that he was hobbling for more than two years, but now -- with the loss of his foot and the fitting of a prosthesis -- he can walk again. He plans to resume touring in several months. "Get well" cards are being accepted by his Nashville office: 1117 17th Ave., South, Nashville, TN 37212.
UPI DAILY SURVEY QUESTION NO. 241
Last night, while listening to the Yesterday USA site on the Internet, I heard an episode of "The Lux Radio Theater" from the 1940s. It was the radio version of "Casablanca." Interestingly, the original cast was not available. The Bogey part was played by Alan Ladd. Seductive actress Hedy Lamar took the Ingrid Bergman part. "We'll always have Paris!" Makes me wonder how many people also enjoy programs from the so-called Golden Days of radio. So, today's question: "Do you regularly listen to old radio programs, either through Web sites or on tape?" Put GOLDEN in the subject line and send to firstname.lastname@example.org.
RESULTS OF QUESTION NO. 236 (NEW YEARS)
Last week we wondered if you had ever done any really weird things on New Year's Eve. The replies were few, but many of those who did respond said they traditionally slept across midnight, missing the celebrations altogether. As far as myself, New Year's Eve has never had much thrill. For five years running, when I lived in Washington, the family in the apartment above mine staged a loud party, complete with flamenco dancers. It seemed that each year this happened I already had a headache. Trying to shake a migraine a floor below a flamenco review is impossible. GBA.