Billy and Marilyn -- They Do Not have Those "Wedding Bell Blues"

"SOMETIMES we are sitting around the house, and I'll say to Marilyn, 'You know, we need to get out more, see more people. Young people!" And she'll say, 'Okay. Let's do that.' But, we never do! I guess we are pretty content with ourselves."

•THAT'S Billy Davis Jr., talking about his long relationship with Marilyn McCoo. I had a fast, energizing phone call with the couple, who just celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary. The pair -- he was the founder of The Fifth Dimension group, she was its lead singer -- feel it is significant that they will be working in The Orleans Showroom in Las Vegas over Valentine's Day.

Marilyn said: "It's corny to say, but it is special. We still have so much joy in one another, and I know it communicates to the audience." Asked what the "secret" was to such a long marriage, they both chimed "Compromise!" Billy says: "What do you really 'win" when you 'win?' Is that how to approach issues? We've never thought so, and so far it's working."

Marilyn adds: "What is a marriage? It's not being in the same room all the time, or always agreeing. But how great to able to walk into a room and say, 'Did you hear that on the news...did you read this?...what do you think about such-and-such? Talking, bouncing ideas back and forth, companionship, friendship.

•DAVIS and McCoo finally went on their solo as a duo, recording many hits, all of which, including their Fifth Dimension work, they still perform. Both of their voices hold up remarkably well. I said: "You're not a rickety old nostalgia act." Marilyn said: "Well, probably not, but I suppose it depends on what you call 'rickety.' We are certainly not going to retire, and I'm always offended and astounded by people who ask or assume that, after you've reached a certain age. I'll retire when I don't like what I'm doing anymore!

They are excited that Sony Records has released a new CD of The Fifth Dimensions Greatest Hits, and that another label has re-issued the group's rare last album, Earthbound. And they are "in talks" about recording another CD themselves. "We'd love to get back in the studio."

And when I mentioned Marilyn's famous hosting of TV's Solid Gold musical show back in 1980s, she said, "Oh, I loved that! And you know the two people I met and interviewed that I never forgot? Janet Jackson and Bette Midler. Both so different, but just fascinating. Those two stuck in my memory."

If you happen to be in Las Vegas, stop in and see Billy and Marilyn at The Orleans. They are still "Up, up and away!"

•AS you probably know, some adventuresome people have already signed up for a great amount of money to go to Mars. They agreed even though they know if they go, it will be a many years trip and they will never be able to return to Earth. (I suppose some of these brave souls feel that such problems will be solved before they go. But there are others who don't believe that's the case. So let's leave aside the question of legal suicide for a moment.)

If the intrepid still plan to go, thinking they might live safely on Mars, I urge them to consider the "Miscellaneous Best Seller " list in the New York Times last Sunday. At number 6, there is listed a novel titled The Martian by Andy Weir from Broadway Publishing.

I have been urging and pleading with my readers and pals to give this thrilling, funny, horrific novel a chance. It is full of seeming scientific detail and is not a mere sci-fi thriller. You'll never forget it.

This might change your mind about the adventure of going to Mars to repopulate that planet. I am gratified that so many smart readers are paying attention to what is still an impossible dream.

Also, this novel is a great read!

•OH, please! Please, you friends of readers and editors, reviewers and publishers everywhere:

Don't keep writing about Harper Lee's newly revealed fiction of the grown up heroine of To Kill A Mockingbird.

Please don't tell me what you think...what good or bad it is. Just let it be and let readers world wide discover for themselves. I am not going to read one other word about Go Set a Watchman before I buy it (the least I can do) and can sit down and read it for myself. And I'll bet a lot of fans feel the same way.

•ANOTHER MOVIE icon gone to that big set in the sky. I do mean Lizabeth Scott, often referred to as the "ultimate film noir woman." Apparently, no other actress appeared more often in these dark tales of desperate men, treacherous women and the convenient gun pulled from the pocket of a mink coat. Scott was 92 and had had, apparently, a pretty good life. Maybe because at a certain point she kind of gave up on her career. From 1957 onward her appearances were sporadic. That was the year she co-starred with Elvis, in Loving You. (Perhaps she saw the noir-ish handwriting on the wall!) She did a lot of charity work, and agreed to occasional interviews, but the fire of ambition had been doused.

Looking back at her performances, one might assume that fire never blazed very high. Scott was a blonde beauty with a tough, determined look and a famously husky voice. But there was an odd, resentful sleep-walking quality about her, as if she could never quite rouse herself to high emotion or investment in her characters. Viewed today, this reticence is more appealing than it was to many critics of her time. Scott is seen to best advantage in films such as The Strange Love of Martha Ivers...Too Late for Tears...Stolen Face...Dead Reckoning and Desert Fury. (The latter is one of the few noirs filmed in glorious Technicolor. It co-stars Mary Astor as Scott's tough-as-nails "casino owner" mother. Great stuff!)

I expect Robert Osbourne to be hosting a night of Lizabeth Scott on Turner Classic Movies very soon.

•SPEAKING of blonde beauties with deep voices and an air of mystery, Kim Novak has a busy 2015 upcoming. In March, Novak will attend The Febiofest International Film Festival in Prague. She is to be feted and petted and three of her best films will be screened -- Vertigo, Picnic and Middle of the Night.

This month, Kim is sailing on board Cunard's Queen Elizabeth as a guest speaker. She will speak, naturally, about her career. As revered as Kim is for her 1950s Lavender Blonde heyday, I do hope some savvy movie-lover asks the star about the super-campy The Legend of Lylah Clare from 1967 (Notable for, among other things, Cora Browne's wicked take on gossip writer Radie Harris.) And/or 1980's The Mirror Crack'd.

In Mirror Novak, co-starring with Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson Angela Lansbury and Tony Curtis, gives the comic performance of her life. Every line is classic, including her diss about Hudson, playing a movie director: "Did you see his last one? I could eat a can of Kodak and puke a better movie!"

The scenes of rivalry between Kim and Elizabeth, as screen stars past their prime, are also ripe: Kim: "I'm so glad to see you've not only kept your gorgeous figure, but you've added soooooo much to it!"

Taylor: "What are you doing here? I thought the plastic surgery seminar was in Switzerland?"
Another note to Mr. Osborne -- run this entertaining little gem on TCM.