Feature

People: Donatella, a Munchkin, and Jenny McCarthy

Donatella's frenetic life, a Munchkin gets his due, and Jenny McCarthy's battle with autism

Donatella's frenetic life

Donatella Versace is the queen of camp, said Lauren Collins in The New Yorker. The sister of famed designer Gianni Versace, murdered outside his Miami home 10 years ago, is frequently imitated by comedians for her husky voice, exaggerated accent—“love” becomes “loaf” and anything she likes is “faabulose”—and her startling appearance. Her hair is straw-colored and stick-straight, her lips are thick and pouty, and her face is a drawn, deeply tanned mask. As for her wardrobe, it would suit any dominatrix, with towering stiletto heels and skintight, monochrome dresses and pantsuits. “But never red!” she says. “That’s Valentino.” Since her brother’s death, Donatella has tried to keep his legacy alive by running the family’s fashion house. The pressure makes her so hyper, she admits, that even yoga couldn’t calm her down. “I don’t have the passion to do yoga, because I keep talking. I never shut up and breathe at all!” A divorced mother of two, she socializes with Elton John and other celebrities, but has no real personal life. “I’m too busy. And then I think, Oh my God, who wants to date me? People have a low perception of me, men especially. They think, This woman, she’s a nightmare.”

A Munchkin gets his due
Karl Slover had an important role in one of the most popular films in history. But only now, nearly 70 years later, is he finally getting a taste of fame, said Bo Emerson in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Slover, a midget, was one of the Munchkins in The Wizard of Oz, and in November, he and eight of the surviving little people will be honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame reading, “The Munchkins.” “A lot of people have said that should have been done a long time ago,” says Slover, 88. Born in Hungary, Slover grew up in a time and place when dwarfism was little understood, so his father asked four men to yank on his arms and legs, to stretch him. “One of them told my dad, ‘You’re going to kill that little fellow before he grows up.’ Dad wouldn’t listen. One of my bones made a noise and I let out a yell and they said, ‘Uh-oh.’” At 9, he left home to join a vaudeville troupe of performing midgets; in 1938, he and about 120 midgets were hired for Oz. Slover was paid $50 a week to play several roles in Munchkin Land, including a herald who plays a trumpet for the mayor. In recent years, he’s become something of a celebrity, singing “We’re Off to See the Wizard” in his tiny, Munchkin voice at Wizard of Oz conventions, which draw up to 50,000 people. Back in Europe, Slover says, his sisters find his newfound fame hard to believe, since they have never even seen the movie. “They don’t understand what all the fuss is about.”

McCarthy’s battle against autism
Jenny McCarthy is obsessed. Ever since her son, Evan, 5, was diagnoses as autistic, the actress and comedian has devoted her life to helping him connect to the world. “I believe my son is trapped inside,” she told the neurologist who broke the news. “I’m not settling for this. I’m gonna get him out.” She enrolled Evan in an early intervention program designed to lessen the symptoms of autism, and though doctors scoffed, removed wheat and dairy from his diet. Evan’s progress has been “miraculous,” she tells People. Instead of retiring into silence and flapping his arms like a bird, the boy now engages and speaks in short, complete sentences. McCarthy’s marriage to director John Asher, however, was a casualty of her preoccupation, and she figured that she’d be alone from there on. “Who’s going to love me and my autistic kid?” But then she started dating actor Jim Carrey. At first, Carrey just listened to Evan, taking the boy’s cues; they quickly established a connection. “He speaks a language Evan understands, and Evan feels safe with him,” McCarthy says. “He’s actually helped Evan get past some obstacles I couldn’t. I sometimes call him the autism whisperer. [It’s] a beautiful relationship—and I’m glad to say there are three of us in it.”

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