Mold killed dog, made him sick, so McMahon sues Ed...

PEOPLE AND PLACES

April 11, 2002

Mold killed dog, made him sick, so McMahon sues

Ed McMahon has filed a $20 million lawsuit against his insurance company, claiming he was sickened by toxic mold that spread through his Beverly Hills home and killed his dog.

McMahon and his wife, Pamela, said a pipe burst in July, flooding their den with water. Mold was found in the den a month later, the lawsuit says. And from there it spread to other parts of the house, including the air conditioning ducts.

They claim they became seriously ill and their dog died from mold-related illness.

The lawsuit, filed Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court, names American Equity Insurance Co., two insurance adjusters and several environmental cleanup contractors.

A spokeswoman for the insurance company declined to comment.

The fruits of terrorism

Oprah Winfrey missed the South African launch of O, The Oprah Magazine, Tuesday, and Mary J. Blige has canceled a concert in Milan next week because of concerns over terrorism.

In a videotaped message, Winfrey said she regretted being unable to attend the launch, but didn't repeat what she said in a Sunday Times article that she "started feeling uncomfortable about traveling. My instinct says things aren't right in parts of the world."

Asked whether she was referring to parts of South Africa or the United States, the talk-show host said, "All parts -- and to get from my part to your part I'd have to travel over other parts."

Meanwhile, Blige is heeding a State Department warning of "possible threats" to U.S. citizens in the Italian cities of Milan, Venice, Florence and Verona. Officials have refused to give details about the threats.

The 31-year-old hip-hop soul singer is on tour, promoting her latest album, No More Drama. Blige's performance in Milan was to have been her only show in Italy.

Diva Las Vegas

VH1 is once again celebrating female power singers with its annual "Divas" concert, but this year, the live special will take place in Las Vegas instead of New York.

The lineup may sound familiar: Mary J. Blige, Celine Dion and Cher have been featured in past "Divas" concerts. Additional performers will be announced later.

The concert is scheduled to air live from the MGM Grand on May 23. Proceeds will benefit VH1's Save the Music Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to boosting music education in schools.

Taking a crack at it

A bank safe locked for decades has been sent to a convention of expert safecrackers in Nevada who say they're confident they can open the rusted, century-old box.

The two-chamber safe was installed in the basement of the First State Bank of Eagle Point, Ore., in 1911 and remained there until 1954. It was donated last year to the Eagle Point Museum by a private collector who had only one of the combinations.

Organizers of the Safe and Vault Technicians Convention, meeting this week in Reno, Nev., were among security specialists across the nation and in Canada -- all on the right side of the law -- who contacted museum curator Barbara Hegne asking for a crack at the safe.

The 2,000-pound safe is known as a "cannonball" for its spherical shape of the upper chest, created to prevent outlaws from using explosives to blow it open.

"They will surely get it open," Hegne said of the large pool of experts waiting in Nevada.

Statlers end tours

Decades after first taking the stage, the Statler Brothers have announced their final touring dates.

The band is scheduled to play Oct. 24 in Huntsville, Ala.; Oct. 25 in Asheville, N.C.; and Oct. 26 in Salem, Va.

The Statler Brothers -- none of whom is named Statler -- decided in January to retire from touring at the end of the year. Johnny Cash discovered the band in the mid-1960s. Hailing from Staunton, Va., the foursome -- Harold Reid, Phil Balsley, Lew DeWitt and Don Reid -- began performing under the name The Kingsmen until another group by the same name appeared on the scene. They sat around a hotel room trying to figure out a new name and, legend has it, a box of Statler tissues inspired them.

In 1982, Jimmy Fortune replaced an ill DeWitt, who died in 1990.

Today's birthdays

Brenda Starr creator Dale Messick is 96.

Fashion designer Oleg Cassini is 89.

Former New York Gov. Hugh Carey is 83.

Ethel Kennedy is 74.

Actor Johnny Sheffield is 71.

Actor Joel Grey is 70.

Actress Louise Lasser is 63.

Syndicated columnist Ellen Goodman is 61.

Movie director John Milius is 58.

Actor Peter Riegert is 55.

Actor Bill Irwin is 52.

Country singer Jim Lauderdale is 45.

Producer Daryl Simmons is 45.

Actor Lucky Vanous is 41.

Country singer Steve Azar is 38.

Singer Lisa Stansfield is 36.

Rock musician Dylan Keefe (Marcy Playground) is 32.

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