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The Reading on Gleason: Far Out

The late Jackie Gleason’s reading tastes give new meaning to the phrase he immortalized on “The Honeymooners": “To the moon, Alice!” About 1,700 of the books in the comedian’s 3,700-volume library dealt with UFOs, parapsychology and the occult. The collection has been donated to the University of Miami library by his widow, Marilyn. “Some of these books are kind of crackpot. Things like ‘I Rode in a Spaceship,’ ” University of Miami librarian Jay Kalvan said. “He went out of his way to collect books on the occult. He was just personally interested in any unexplained phenomenon. He didn’t just collect it, he read it.” After being catalogued, the books will be available for inspection by the public by appointment. Gleason’s friend, publicist Hank Meyer, said Gleason was a “voracious” reader who went through three or four books a week. “He was a very bright person and he had a photographic memory,” Meyer said. “He would recall every passage he read. That’s why he never rehearsed (scenes from his shows). He’d read a script once and have it memorized.” Gleason’s collection includes joke publications, books about shooting pool and playing golf and many entertainment books, including volumes autographed by Tiny Tim, Bob Hope, Ethel Merman and George Jessel.

--The first 100 ghosts and goblins at Tom Reid’s door on Halloween can don still another guise the following day--that of stock owner. Reid, who lives in the Toronto suburb of Oakville, plans to hand out one common share of Irwin Toy Ltd. along with the traditional candy. It’s his way of trying to teach youngsters about the capitalist system. Last year’s October stock market collapse prompted him to give away 100 shares of Canadian Tire Ltd. When word got out about the giveaway, children and their parents, some from 60 miles away, began lining up at his door, and the shares were gone in 27 minutes. This year’s offering, Irwin Toy, is currently valued at $4.60 ($5.75 Canadian) a share. Reid, a 49-year-old public affairs consultant with five daughters, will also supply letters explaining to parents “the benefits of a diversified investment portfolio.” Reid’s treat is apparently no trick. Jason So, a broker with Toronto’s Midland Doherty Ltd., confirmed that he carried out the order for the 100 Irwin Toy shares.

--Royal blood apparently doesn’t carry the clout it once did. A request by King Carl Gustaf of Sweden for special parking permits to speed the collection of his dry cleaning and groceries has been rejected by Stockholm city officials. The Swedish court applied for six permits, saying that special parking dispensation was necessary to collect laundry, groceries and presents and to run other errands for the king, Queen Silvia and other members of the royal family. The city parking office turned down the request, saying it would create a precedent. Perhaps if he threatened to cut off their heads . . .


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