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CELEBRITY Q&A: MICHAEL LANDON'S AGE

Q. A question about Michael Landon's age: In an interview, he said he was 54 and that his oldest child was 42. If that's true, he was a father at 12. I don't believe it. - K.H., Wichita Falls, Texas.

A. Landon has caused many a double take over the years when he has talked about his family, including oldest son Mark, now 42. Mark is the son of Landon's first wife by a previous marriage. He was adopted by Landon and continued to be close to him after the divorce.Q. Did Daniel Hugh Kelly, of "The 100 Lives of Black Jack Savage," play in "Hardcastle and McCormick"? My husband insists he didn't. - V.R., River Rouge, Mich.

A. He was McCormick to Brian Keith's Hardcastle from 1983 to 1986. It was his third series. He's also been in the daytimer "Ryan's Hope," "Chicago Story" and "I Married Dora." "Savage" marks his return to TV after a successful sojorn on Broadway in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" with Kathleen Tuner and "Born Yesterday" with Madeline Kahn.

Q. Please help. I'm dying to know that happened to "Booker" and what Richard Grieco is doing now? - J.A., Northridge, Calif.

A. "Booker" didn't cut it as a series after it was spun off "21 Jump Street." But Grieco, 26, didn't really mind. He made it into feature films in "If Looks Could Kill."

Q. Does interviewer David Frost, the male Barbara Walters, worry about his TV image?

A. He claims not. "I think TV only works by being yourself," says Frost, the British personality whose new PBS series, "Talking with David Frost," has been funded through 1992. "I don't think it is possible to project an image different from what you are, because in moments of laughter or even anger, you do reveal yourself. . . . One of the most important things I've learned as an interviewer is to know when to shut up."

Q. Did the pop group Chicago ever perform by the name The Exceptions?

A. No. The band was formed as The Big Thin in 1968, then changed its title to Chicago Transit Authority until hometown officials became touchy about a pop band using the title of the city's mass transportation system and initiated legal action to force the change. Incidentally, the group is still hanging in there and has recently released "Chicago Twenty-1" (Reprise). They contend that they're having more fun than ever. "It's a musical playpen we can be happy in for the rest of our lives," says woodwind player Walt Parazaider.

Q. How come "Pee-wee's Playhouse" isn't on Saturday mornings anymore? When is it coming back? - N.S., Charlotte, N.C.

A. The Saturday morning kid show is still on CBS. Check with your local CBS station on the reason for the pre-emption. But this will be the last season for the show, as popular with adults as with kids. Paul Ruebens, a.k.a. Pee-Wee Herman, star and executive producer, has decided to end it.

Q. I'm having an argument with one of my daughters, regarding the birthdates of Raymond Burr and Barbara Hale. - T.E.S., Winnipeg, Canada.

A. Burr was born May 5, 1917; Hale, April 18, 1921.

Q. We watch "All in the Family' reruns but cannot remember the episode in which Edith dies. Was it in "All in the Family" or "Archie Bunker's Place"? - S. and P.H., Silverdale, Pa.

A. Actually, Edith didn't die in any episode of the series. "Family" turned into "Archie Bunker's Place" in the 1979-80 season. That was the season Jean Stapleton, who played Edith, asked to be phased out of the series. In the first show of the 1980-81 season, it was revealed that Edith had died suddenly of a stroke. Archie, and young Stephanie, a niece the Bunkers had adopted, mourned her passing in the season premiere.

Q. My sister says Richard Dreyfuss played Norman in the TV series "Peyton Place." I disagree. - Mrs. Y.D., Redford, Mich.

A. Dreyfuss wasn't in any of the versions of "Peyton," from the 1967 feature to the 1972-74 daytime serial or the 1985 TV movie. Christopher Connelly was Norman in the prime-time serial seen 1964-69 and the 1985 movie. He died at 47 in 1988.

Q. Tell me why Jesse White stopped being the Maytag repairman on TV. - J.H., Mount Angel, Ore.

A. White, now 73, spent 22 years as "Ol Lonely" the repairman and decided that was enough. He retired in 1989 at a special ceremony given by the grateful sponsors. The ads made him a wealthy man, much wealthier than his years as a movie featured player and cast member of three TV series, "Private Secretary," "The Danny Thomas Show" and "The Ann Sothern Show."

Q. Tell me where Raven-Symone, of "The Cosby Show," is from and how she got to be on the show. Where can I write to her? - T.P., Newman, Ga.

A. Raven, who was 5 last Dec. 10, is an Atlanta native and started her career at 2 modeling for local department stores. Her folks moved to New York, where she continued modeling. She tried out for a role in the Cosby movie "Ghost Dad." She was too young but caught the attention of the Cosby TV series writers, who cast her as Olivia.

Q. What has happened to "Over My Dead Body" with my No. 1 man Edward Woodward? - K.H., Detroit.

A. It's a dead show.

Q. Tonya Lee Williams is adorable as Olivia in "The Young and The Restless." Tell me something about her. - D.A., Altadena, Calif.

A. Williams will be 33 on July 12. She was born in England, grew up in Jamaica and Canada. She started modeling in Toronto, then went into acting. She made her TV debut in Canada. She's done guest spots in "Matlock," "Falcon Crest," "Hill Street Blues" and a brief role in the soap "Generations." She's separated from her actor husband Robert Simpson, who stayed in Toronto when Williams headed for California three years ago.

Q. Recently, "Days of Our Lives" showed flashbacks and I was sure I saw John Ritter. Who did he play in the series? - M.B., Lakewood, Colo.

A. There's no soaps in Ritter's acting past. He did guest roles and one regular spot, Rev. Fordwick in "The Waltons," before "Three's Company" and stardom.

Q. I saw Jackie Gleason in "Follow the Girls" on Broadway in 1943 or 44. Nowhere is this great musical mentioned in articles about Gleason. Why is there a cover-up? This was one of the greastest musicals ever. - J.K., Bandon, Ore.

A. What cover-up? Gleason's CBS biography mentions that 1945's "Girls" as one of his early stage hits. ("Girls" was a product of its time, a wartime romp, but critics don't rank it with the great musicals. Gleason also was in "Hellzapoppin,"' a better-known 1940s Broadway show.) Gleason's subsequent career in TV and movies so overshadowed his early work that it often gets short-shrift. He had moved into TV by 1949 in "Life of Riley," became a star with "Cavalcade of Stars" in 1950 and had his own show by 1952. The rest is TV history.

Q. I was a fan of Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy when I was a teenager. How old were they when they died and what did they die from? Was there ever a romance between them? - Mrs. H.T.K., Haverdown, Pa.

A. They were the movies' "singing sweethearts" from "Naughty Marietta" in 1935 to "I Married an Angel" in 1942, but it was strictly on screen. MacDonald died of heart problems at 64 in 1965; Eddy was 66 when he died of the effects of a stroke in 1967.

Q. In "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House," who played Mr. and Mrs. Blandings? Where was it filmed? - E.S., Tigard, Ore.

A. The Blandings were Cary Grant and Myrna Loy at their comic best. Eric Hodgins' novel, on which the 1948 movie was based, was set in suburban New York but the movie was strictly Hollywood-made.

- Send your questions to Celebrity Questions, Detroit Free Press, Detroit, MI 48231.