Things Fall Apart

Things Fall Apart

Things Fall Apart

A summary of what's been in the tabloids.
May 13 1999 3:30 AM

Things Fall Apart

Pamela Anderson's breasts cannot hold.

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"All collapsed, and the great shroud of the sea rolled on as it rolled five thousand years ago." Perhaps Herman Melville was not covering the removal of Pamela Anderson's breast implants when he wrote that line, but collapse is everywhere in the tabloid world this month, from celebrity lives, to health, to marriages, and even to body parts.

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Former sitcom child actress Dana Plato, 34, died last weekend of what is being described as an accidental overdose of prescription drugs, one day after declaring on Howard Stern's radio show that she had been sober for a decade. The tabloids had been anticipating her death for years, the National Enquirer as recently as a few months ago. Hers was a Hollywood Babylon life with arrests for robbery and for forging prescriptions for Valium--singer Wayne Newton bailed her out of jail on the latter charge. Plato starred on the television show Diff'rent Strokes, which went off the air 13 years ago. Both the New York Daily News and the New York Post say the show had a "curse," as Plato's two child co-stars, Gary Coleman and Todd Bridges, have each found little work, but trouble with the law, since the show ended.

This week the Enquirer continues to assert its Medusa-in-reverse powers. In Greek mythology, mortals who looked upon Medusa's face were turned to stone. In the case of the tabs, they put ailing celebrities on the cover in the apparent hope of predicting a star's imminent demise. According to the Enquirer, former Tonight show host Johnny Carson is suffering from irreversible lung disease and depression, which are complicating his recovery from a recent heart attack. The New York Daily News reports that NBC, Carson's former employer, is thoughtfully filming interviews with the TV legend's friends. A video get-well greeting? No, they're preparing his obit.

In their coverage of a recent on-set mishap involving Leonardo DiCaprio, the tabs seem to be longing for another James Dean--a young star who dies at the height of his beauty and fame. While filming a scene on board a boat for his next movie, The Beach, in Thailand, it seems that the weather turned treacherous. The Star reports that DiCaprio and his co-star abandoned the boat, which promptly sank, for a rescue ship. But the rescue ship's engines malfunctioned and DiCaprio and the others were told to jump overboard and wait for yet another rescue vessel. Perhaps imagining the tabloid coverage of the death by drowning of the star of Titanic was what gave Leo the strength to keep his head above water until help arrived.

While not in mortal danger, many celebrities seem to be having trouble staying conscious this month. The Enquirer reports that during a food fight scene on the set of his latest movie, actor Ben Affleck slipped on mashed potatoes, whacked his head on a table, and was knocked senseless. Perhaps imagining the tabloid coverage of such an ignominious demise, Affleck recovered without incident. And at his 73rd birthday party, the Enquirer says, Hugh Hefner, while dancing with girlfriends Mandy, Sandy, and Brande, collapsed and had to be carried to his bedroom. In this case, it's safe to assume that the aged playboy was able to make a quick recovery because he realized that when he makes his final exit, he doesn't want to be carried to bed, he wants to be there already.

Emily Yoffe Emily Yoffe

Emily Yoffe is a contributing editor at the Atlantic.

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B oth actor Mickey Rourke and singer Michael Jackson were taken to emergency rooms--Jackson because he felt "unable to breathe" and Rourke because he was "dizzy," according to the Globe. The publication does not report if these attacks were precipitated by the men reviewing the state of their careers. After sitting in the emergency room of Cedars-Sinai for two hours, Rourke began to feel better. His publicist blames the episode on that old standby: "an allergic reaction to some cough syrup." Jackson was given a tranquilizer and diagnosed with sleep apnea. But the Globe also alleges he has been distraught over rumors that he's a child molester. Perhaps it's just a coincidence that in the preceding issue, the Globe reported on the friendship Jackson has developed with two South African brothers, ages 13 and 11. Jackson met the boys two years ago when he was visiting the country and they asked for his autograph. Since then he's attended the bar mitzvah of the elder and taken them both to a water park. In defending the relationship between the singer and her sons, the mother of the two offers the quote of the month, "We're very protective parents and if we had any suspicions about his motives, we wouldn't be friends with him. ... He is a wonderful person who is so normal."

Now that the two-year marriage of actress Brooke Shields and tennis player Andre Agassi has disintegrated, it's possible to look back and see the end was coming. In December she met "hunky Hollywood hotshot" Chris Henchy, a comedy writer and producer who wrote a comic speech for her to deliver in Washington, reports the Enquirer. Soon afterward, the two were violating taboo by taking Tae Bo classes together. But it's the Globe that shows the marriage was doomed. It reprints a letter Agassi paid to have published in the program for the Golden Globe awards when Shields was a nominee. He wrote, "It is wonderful just to watch you when you don't even know that I'm looking, and to count how many times you smile." How humiliating for Shields to know that everyone who read that thought in unison, "or watch as you scratch your private parts." He miscalculated even more when he added, "In all of my excitement of growing old with you, I will never forget this day." Andre, Andre, Andre, no one in Hollywood is excited about growing old.

Also over is the 13-year marriage of singer Diana Ross to Scandinavian shipping magnate Arne Naess, who is "worth at least $700 million," according to the Globe. You know there's no hope of reconciliation when your husband blurts out the news of your impending divorce on Good Evening Norway. And according to the Enquirer, the marriage of actor Nicolas Cage and actress Patricia Arquette is kaput. But how would anyone know? The publication reports that the two have always maintained separate residences and that "[f]or most of the marriage, Nic was either off making a movie or off with another woman."

Finally, the collapse of an era--or is it? Yes, Pamela Anderson has had her 36DD breast implants removed, returning her to a 36C, according to the Enquirer. They quote Anderson's reason for the reduction of the asteroid-sized breasts: "I was getting self-conscious about it." (But, Pam, isn't having people stare at your chest the reason you get implants like that in the first place?) The Star reports that Anderson has deflated from 36D to 34C and says the reason for the reduction was that the silicone sacs, which the publication says weighed 1 1/2 pounds each, were giving her back pain. The Globe agrees the actress has gone from 36D to 34C but reports that the implants weighed a pound each. The publication also says that Anderson's assertion that she's all natural now is suspect. A "friend" of the actress told the Globe, "Pam got new implants called 'shapers.' Doctors had to do something because she had such big implants that when they were removed, her breasts would have sagged."

The attention caused by Anderson's surgery has supposedly inspired Jenny McCarthy and Demi Moore to consider having their implants removed, according to the Enquirer and the Star, respectively. They may want to consult an astrophysicist as well as a plastic surgeon. Such a sudden collapse of so much mammary matter could possibly result in some kind of Hollywood black hole. Not everyone is deflating however. Besides the widely reported increase in the bust-line of teen singing star Britney Spears, Gwyneth Paltrow is planning an expansion, reports the Star. The possible surgery was prompted by "fashion critics [comments] on her lack of cleavage in her pink Oscar dress." Gwyneth, there's a cheap, painless alternative: Take the dress to the dry cleaner and have it altered.