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7-Foot Creature Visits Stars Helping Ailing Project : Monster Boosts ‘Hands Across America’

Times Staff Writer

Barely lurching along itself, troubled “Hands Across America” got an unexpected hand in the San Fernando Valley on Saturday from a master: Frankenstein’s monster.

The seven-foot-tall movie creature lumbered up to a table of television soap opera stars who were gathered at Universal City to deliver a group of excited tourists to organizers of the cross-country campaign.

Until Frankenstein’s monster showed up with his fans in tow, the TV stars had all but gone unnoticed by visitors on the studio tour.

A similar anonymity is vexing Hands Across America, which so far has apparently signed up only a fraction of the 6 million to 10 million people it needs to hold hands in a line from coast to coast on May 25 in a bid to raise $100 million for the homeless.

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California Figures Given

About 25% of the 400,000 people needed to form the human chain in California have “expressed an interest” in participating, organizers acknowledged Thursday as they revealed this state’s 346-mile route. It is earmarked to loop through the Valley along Ventura Boulevard.

Hands Across America may be having even less luck recruiting participants elsewhere in the United States, some visitors to Universal Studios indicated Saturday.

Lakewood, Colo., tourist Susan Pennington snapped up autographed pictures from stars of her favorite soap, “Days of Our Lives.” But the 19-year-old college student turned down a Hands Across America sign-up form from actor Michael Weiss.

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“I really haven’t heard anything about it,” Pennington said. “It seems kind of impossible to do what they want to do. I don’t think I’d spend $10 to do it.”

Vicki Henry, a computer operator from Atlanta, said the line of hand-holders won’t pass close enough to her home for her to participate.

‘Memphis Is Closest’

“Memphis is the closest. I don’t know if I can work it in or not. But it’s a good cause--there are a lot of hungry people in our country,” Henry said.

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Other visitors promised the stars they would contribute $10 and stand in line, however.

“I’m going to get a bunch of people at work to come with me. We’ll get a group and all stand together,” said Barbara Petitt, a grocery checker from Diamond Bar.

Insurance company worker Linda Santo of Santa Ana promised to bring her boyfriend, Huntington Beach carpenter Dale Smith, with her on May 25.

“I can’t see myself doing it,” Smith said. Santo shot him a glance and he reconsidered. “Now that I think about it, it will be awesome to do it,” said Smith.

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When the Frankenstein monster stalked off, TV stars Danielle Briseboise, Arleen Sorkin and Page Moseley fanned out to lure other tour visitors to the table.

Moseley borrowed a tour guide’s portable public address speaker to urge participation in Hands Across America.

“It hit me today that maybe I haven’t done enough for this,” he said. “I told my wife that people don’t know that much about this. We’re not doing enough to get the word out.”


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