Celebrity news from the week of Oct. 30, 1998

Births Natasha Henstridge, 24, and her fiance, actor Liam Waite, 25, welcomed son Tristan River Waite, 8 pounds 12 ounces, Oct. 12, in Beverly Hills. It’s the couple’s first child.

Engaged Her heart’s gone on. Titanic heroine Kate Winslet, 23, will take the plunge with director Jim Threapleton, 24, next year. It is the first marriage for both.

Lawsuits The law firm of Frankfurt, Garbus, Klein & Selz filed a breach-of-contract suit against Ally McBeal‘s Calista Flockhart, 33, Oct. 9, in New York City. The attorneys allege that Flockhart failed to honor her contract with them when they negotiated her series, and are seeking 5 percent (currently an estimated $39,000) of her Ally earnings. A spokesperson says the actress ”denies the validity of the lawsuit.”

Accused L.A. Laker Shaquille O’Neal, 26, of battery, by Disney World employee Kim Grant, 23. According to an Orange County, Fla., sheriff’s report filed Oct. 13, Grant claims O’Neal grabbed her by the neck and held her by the arm at Disney’s Pleasure Island resort. She was not injured. No charges were filed. ”The accusations are completely false and without factual support,” says O’Neal’s agent, Leonard Armato.

Announced Geri Halliwell, a.k.a. Ginger Spice, has been named a U.N. goodwill ambassador. As an advocate for the Population Fund, Halliwell will raise awareness about reproductive health and family planning for women in developing countries. ”As a Spice Girl she spoke a lot about girl power,” says a U.N. spokesperson. ”She’s graduated to women’s empowerment.”

Deaths Actress Joan Hickson, 92, of unannounced causes, Oct. 17, in Colchester, England. A film veteran, Hickson played Agatha Christie’s sleuth Miss Marple in a TV series during the 1980s…. Writer and animal-rights advocate Cleveland Amory, 81, of an aneurysm, Oct. 14, in New York City. A former critic for TV Guide, Amory published three books inspired by his cat Polar Bear, including The Cat Who Came for Christmas…. Polka king Frank Yankovic, 83, of heart failure, Oct. 14, in New Port Richey, Fla. In the 1940s, Yankovic had two million-selling hits, and in 1985 he became the first musician to win a Grammy for polka…. TV writer Adrian Spies, 78, during heart surgery, Oct. 2, in L.A. Spies wrote for numerous shows from the 1950s through the ’70s, including the ”Miri” episode of the original Star Trek.