Plus Melanie Griffith, Bob Hope, and more stars making news the week of September 25, 1995

By Jessica Shaw and Casey Davidson
Updated September 29, 1995 at 04:00 AM EDT
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LAWSUITS
Hair today, no job tomorrow? Claiming wrongful termination and breach of contract, Bob Hope‘s ex-butler Jeffery Branum filed a suit Sept. 14 against the 92-year-old comedian, alleging that Hope and his wife, Dolores, 86, fired him after he refused to shave off his beard. Says a spokesman for Hope: ”It’s in the hands of his lawyers.”…Melanie Griffith, 38, is vehemently denying drug-abuse charges leveled by concert promoter Greg Kovner in papers filed in L.A. Superior Court Sept. 5. Alleging breach of contract and seeking unspecified damages, Kovner’s suit claims Griffith ”failed to perform her obligations…” during a two-day benefit concert and party for Tippi Hedren (Griffith’s mother) and a nonprofit animal-rights group called the Roar Foundation ”because she was too high on cocaine.” Griffith’s lawyer, John Lavely, says the actress is ”very upset at the false statements made about her” and intends to sue Kovner for defamation.

RECOVERING
Elizabeth Taylor, 63, after being hospitalized Sept. 14 for treatment of an irregular heartbeat at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica, Calif. She was released after three days. ”She’s fine, but she did get a bit of a fright,” says a spokeswoman for Taylor. ”Her doctors want her to rest as much as possible.” Estranged husband Larry Fortensky reportedly visited Taylor during her hospital stay.

DEATHS
Popcorn pioneer Orville Redenbacher, 88, apparently of natural causes, at his Coronado, Calif., home, Sept. 19. Redenbacher, who had degrees in agronomy, personally developed the hybrid kernels that were the basis of his snack food. Until this year he had served as the product’s homespun TV pitchman. ”Orville’s name, face, and personality were an asset to the brand,” says a spokeswoman for Hunt-Wesson, which bought out the line in 1976. ”Everyone trusted him.”…Journalist and author Geoffrey Stokes, 55, of cancer in Boston, Sept. 12. Stokes spent 17 years at The Village Voice. His books include Pinstripe Pandemonium, about the New York Yankees; Starmaking Machinery, about the marketing of a rock & roll band; and The Beatles…. British actor Jeremy Brett, 59, best known to Americans for playing Sherlock Holmes in PBS’ Mystery! series, of heart failure in London, Sept. 12….John Megna, 42, known for his childhood role as Dill in 1962’s To Kill a Mockingbird, of AIDS in Los Angeles, Sept. 4. He acted until 1978, when he began directing local L.A. theater.

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