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Q. Why has comedian Buddy Hackett been so inactive lately?

A. Hackett, 68, recently returned to his usual Las Vegas and Atlantic City hotel-casino engagements, although he cut way back on his schedules of old. He said he worked only six nights in 1991 and nine in 1990, by choice, during a separation from his wife, Cherie.Q. During my youth, I was devoted to Linda Darnell and Tyrone Power. I've lost track of these wonderful people. What are they doing now? - J.H., Murray, Utah.

A. Darnell, unfortunately, went from tragedy to tragedy after her Fox contract ended in the 1950s. She did minor movie and TV roles, suffered from alcoholism and died in a fire in 1965. She was 44. Power's career also waned in the 1950s, although he kept working onstage and a few major productions. He was filming "Solomon and Sheba" in Spain when he died of a heart attack in 1958. He was 45.

Q. Some time ago, I tuned in on the tail end of a movie starring Richard Chamberlain and Glenda Jackson, based on the life of Peter Tchaikovsky. Name the movie and where it is available on tape. - Mrs. M.B., Farmington Hills, Mich.

A. The movie was Ken Russell's 1971 "The Music Lovers," which critics found overacted and historians inaccurate. It's not on tape.

Q. I've always admired Freddie Batholomew. I've only seen him in movies as a child and as a teenager. What recent roles has he played? Tell me about him. - D.A., Austin, Texas.

A. Bartholomew's movie career ended when he was 27 in 1951 with "St. Benny the Dip." He did a bit of TV, then switched to the advertising business, where he was a successful executive who refused to talk about his years as a movie star. He was quoted as explaining that the boy superstar bore no resemblance to the grown man he had become. Bartholomew retired from the ad business and was living in Sarasota, Fla., when he died of emphysema in January. He was 67.

Q. Just who is this hot new country music star Billy Ray Cyrus?

A. Country music fans are divided over Cyrus, the 30-year-old star whose "Achy Breaky Heart" became the biggest Top 40 hit of any country song since Willie Nelson and Julio Iglesias' "To All the Girls I've Loved Before" in 1984. His "Some Gave All" album even leapt past Kriss Kross and Def Leppard to No. 1 on the pop chart in only two weeks and became the fastest-rising LP since 1963. Cyrus is a former car salesman who has driven himself to exhaustion and split from his wife of five years on his obsessive path to stardom. The multi-step "Achy Breaky" has become a hot dance-party line routine. But not everyone in Nashville is pleased; singer Travis Tritt declared that Cyrus' Elvis-like gyrations demean the country tradition. "Enjoy your blessings while you can," Cyrus counters, "because you never know when it can all be gone."

Q. Did actor Robert Duvall become more sympathetic to Joseph Stalin after playing him in the upcoming HBO movie "Stalin"?

A. No way. Stalin was "about 97 percent bad," said Duvall, who compared the late Soviet dictator to a crocodile that devours its own. In fact, during the purges when Stalin persecuted everyone who could dispute his image as the perfect hero, he was "worse than Hitler," because he killed even his loyal cronies. Duvall had turned down the role of Stalin for Andrei Konchalovsky's "The Inner Circle" last year. "It didn't seem to me to be an interesting part," Duvall said. Now he appreciates the Soviet dictator differently. "If Shakespeare were alive today, he would write about Stalin, and he would write about Hitler, too. . . . (Stalin) had a kind a persistent magnetism that took over, bit by bit."

Q. When is the "Star Trek: The Next Generation" spinoff series supposed to start?

A. Watch for the "Deep Space Nine" spinoff series in January. It will include crossovers by some "Next Generation" stars. The lead character reportedly will be a single dad with a 12-year-old son.

Q. Where did Damon Wayans come up with his Homey D. Clown routine for "In Living Color?"

A. "That's probably what I am, an angry clown," says Wayans, who is no longer on the Fox Television show. His signature lines are repeated by kids everywhere: "I don't think so. Homey don't play that," he snapped when children asked for a typical clown gag, then bopped them over the head. Wayans was the fourth oldest in a family of 10 kids who grew up in a New York housing project. "I enjoy being a clown, but I wanna do it on my own terms," he says. "I don't wanna be the No. 1 star. I'd rather just be No. 16 and say and do what I feel. . . . The depressing thing about show biz is that there was a time when I did this for free. All I wanted to do was make people laugh."

Q. Years ago, I saw a show on TV starring Katherine Hepburn and Laurence Olivier. He played an English barrister. I seem to be the only one who saw it. Am I right? - B.M., Keary, N.J.

A. You are and the fact you're the only one who remembers it is one reason why TV is mired in the cheap and violent. Audiences ignore the really good things. "Love Among the Ruins" starred Hepburn as an aging actress sued by a young man for breach of promise. She is defended by Olivier, a barrister (English lawyer) who was once her lover. The 1975 comedy was directed by George Cukor, his first for TV, and won Emmys for the stars and the director. It has been released on tape but you'll have to hunt for it.

Q. I love the cast of "Real World" on MTV. Where can I write them? - A.B., Sacramento, Calif.

A. The "Real World" cast has returned to the real world now. But you can write them at MTV, 1515 Broadway, New York, NY 10036.

Q. There was a British comedy named "Fawlty Towers." Tell me about the show. Is there any way I can see it again? - A., Sterling Heights, Mich.

A. "Towers" starred Monty Python's John Cleese as a Basil Fawlty, who managed - or mismanaged - a country hotel. It was seen in Britain in 1975 and revived there in 1979. The U.S. saw it first in 1980 and it's been seen on and off ever since. Twelve episodes are available on tape from the catalog for public TV. For information write: Signals, P.O. Box 64428, St. Paul, MN 55164-0428.

Q. Frank Gorshin played The Riddler on the "Batman" TV series. My mom says he's dead. I say he's not. - B.H., Newton, Conn.

A. He isn't. His TV appearances are infrequent but he's out there, doing clubs and dinner theater.

Q. I've been watching episodes of "L.A. Law" from the 1989-90 season. Back then, the name of the law firm was Mackenzie, Brackman, Chaney, Kuzak and Becker. Who is Chaney? I've never seen him on the show. Who plays the role? - A.U., Aurora, Colo.

A. Chaney, poor chap, died on the premiere show in 1986. He was found slumped over his desk in the opening scene. Arnie Becker and Doug Brackman fought over who'd get his office, setting the tone of the scrappy law firm. (Becker won.)

Q. For my own peace of mind: Is Polly Bergen the daughter of Edgar Bergen and is Candice her daughter or her sister? - E.T.A., Houghton Lake, Mich.

A. Polly, whose real name is Nellie Paulina Burgin, isn't related to Edgar Bergen or his daughter Candice.

Q. Can you tell me why Bea Arthur left "The Golden Girls?" What will she be doing? Is there a replacement for her? - B.R.M., Tucson, Ariz.

A. Arthur decided she wanted to return to the theater. She has no definite vehicle yet. She won't be replaced in the revised series, which has moved to CBS. Now it's "The Golden Palace" and the remaining ladies - or old broads, as co-star Betty White calls them - will turn into Miami hotel operators. Cheech Marin joins White, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty in the show, to be seen Fridays.

Q. May I have the mailing address of Andy Griffith, star of "Matlock" and other good stuff? - H.J., Huntington Woods, Mich.

A. Write: Viacom, 10 Universal Plaza, Universal City, CA 91608. ABC picked up "Matlock" after NBC dumped it because its audience was "too old." It's in the wings as a midseason replacement.

Q. Help settle this: David Cassidy is the son of Jack Cassidy's previous marriage. Shirley Jones is not his mother. She is the mother of Shaun and Patrick Cassidy. How old are they? - M.G., Pine Hill, N.J.

A. Right. David, now 42, is the son of Cassidy and his first wife, actress Evelyn Ward. Jones and the late Cassidy were the parents of Shaun, now 34, Patrick, 30 and Ryan, 26.

Q. I'm a fan of Jay Leno, who's doing a great job taking over for Johnny. Is there an address where his fans can tell him? - B., Philadelphia.

A. Write Leno at NBC-TV, 3000 W. Alameda Ave., Burbank, CA 91523.

Q. I recently saw Barbara Hale in a Perry Mason movie. She's still remarkably young. How old is she? I understand William Katt is her son. Was he born before the "Perry Mason" TV series? - M.J., Lilburn, Ga.

A. Hale is 71. Katt, who is really William Katt Jr., was born to Hale and her husband, actor Bill Williams (real name William Katt), in 1950. The "Mason" series ran from 1957-66.

Q. Settle an argument between my husband and myself: He says Brooke English of "All My Children" is at least 50 years old. I say she's around 35. What is her real age? - E.J., Rochester Hills, Mich.

A. Julia Barr, who plays English, is 40. She's been playing Brooke 16 years except for 15 months, 1981-82, when she took time out to do a movie, a play and get married.

Q. Give me some information on Beth Ehlers, who plays Harley Cooper on "The Guiding Light." Where can I write her? - J.R., Philadelphia.

A. Ehlers, 23, is from Queens, N.Y., and attended Syracuse University for a year. She made her acting debut at 13 in the 1983 vampire flick "The Hunger" with David Bowie. In 1985, she was a regular on the short-lived prime time series, "The Best Times." She joined "GL" in 1987. She's married to medical student Bill Parsons. Write: CBS-TV, 51 W. 52nd St., New York, NY 10019.

Q. Give some information on Ray Liotta, including his credits. - D.S., Youngstown, Ohio.

A. Liotta is 37, single, born in Newark, N.J., attended the University of Miami, where he trained for the theater. His first professional break was in the soap "Another World" where he played Joey Perini, 1978-81. He did prime-time guest roles in the feature "Lonely Lady" and TV series "Our Family Honor" before switching to features full time. Credits since then have included: "Something Wild," "Dominick and Eugene," "Field of Dreams," "Article 99," "Goodfellas" and "Unlawful Entry."

- Send your questions to Celebrity Questions, Detroit Free Press, 321 W. Lafayette Blvd, Detroit, MI 48231.