PEOPLE

TV bride thought contest was all a joke

Associated Press

Who Wants the Millionaire Story To End? Alas, the sordid, sorry tale of love’s labor lost still draggeth on, but an end may be in sight once the talk show stage is over. Here, in an almost embarrassing parody of female tackiness, Diane Sawyer on “Good Morning, America” looks at Darva Conger’s ill-gotten ring. More in today’s People.

Let us review. Fox splatters “Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?” on prime-time television, and 23 million suckers tune in. Then, Mr. Moneybags of the Feb. 15 special, Rick Rockwell, returns from his Caribbean honeymoon solo. He admits a former girlfriend had filed a restraining order against him, although he denies the 1991 accusations of violence (but cops to deflating her tires once). Fox promptly announces “Marry a Millionaire” will never air again.

Now the little woman speaks, namely one Darva “don’t call me Mrs. Rockwell” Conger. She appeared on “Good Morning America” Wednesday to admit what the world already knows: I’m an airhead. OK, so what the nurse and Gulf War veteran said was, “I don’t think I was thinking clearly I committed an error in judgment.”

See, all she really wanted was a Las Vegas vacation and to wave to her family on TV. “Never in a million years did I ever think that I was going to be selected,” said Conger. She claims a “friend” entered her name in the contest “and somewhere in the back of my mind I thought, OK, if I am selected by the man to be his bride, he’s got to take it in the same way that I do. It’s a TV show.'”

Conger also said she was taken aback when her husband-to-be kissed her on the lips, but went along with the wedding because she didn’t want to disappoint the producers. The two barely spoke on the honeymoon, she felt “very uncomfortable” and added “he’s just not a person … that I would ordinarily have even a friendly relationship with.” Ouch she sure isn’t promoting the professional side of her soon-to-be-ex, a comedian and a motivational speaker.

Meanwhile, the reluctant bride said she didn’t get any financial gain during or after the show (aside from a $35,000 ring and Isuzu Trooper), and that she supports her mother and brother with no one’s help, thank you very much.

“I have worked my whole life to be a credible person, a person of integrity. I think my resume does speak for itself. Unfortunately, in two hours I destroyed much of that credibility. And that’s one of the reasons that I’m here. I’d like it back,” she said. “I’m just a girl who works in an emergency room who made a mistake.” Then again, mistakes in emergency rooms or marriages can be messy, messy affairs.

A HARDING LIFE: In unrelated but equally tawdry news, former Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding was arrested Tuesday night after allegedly hitting live-in boyfriend Darren Silver in the face with a hubcap and punching him repeatedly, police said.

According to a Camas, Wash., Police Department report, she attacked Silver because he was holding her on the ground. Silver and three other witnesses claim Harding started it. Police said alcohol might have played a part in the incident. Harding was charged with domestic violence assault, a misdemeanor and was released on her own recognizance.

DOES BARBIE KNOW ABOUT THIS? John F. Kennedy, former president and military hero, will soon be an action figure doll. No release date has been set on the $30-$35 figure, part of a GI Joe collector’s series celebrating American military heroes and famous battles. Toymaker Hasbro, which worked out an agreement with the Kennedy Library Foundation in Boston to make Kennedy products, has offered to donate royalties to the foundation. The doll, incidentally, will be clad in PT-109 fatigues and carving a message into a coconut shell. No word on whether the plastic Kennedy comes with kung-fu grip.

PAYING LAST RESPECTS: Stevie Wonder, Eric Clapton and Lauryn Hill joined friends and fans of the late Curtis Mayfield at a two-hour song and prayer service Tuesday honoring the soul and funk musician. Mayfield died Dec. 26 at age 57, after suffering a prolonged illness stemming from a 1990 accident that left him a quadriplegic.

Mayfield’s pivotal songs included “Keep on Pushing,” “People Get Ready” and “We’re a Winner,” all of which incorporated civil rights into soul music during a time when love songs and dance tunes dominated black radio.

“Any time you have a love for someone’s music, they’re going to affect what you do and how you do it,” said Wonder, who recalled he began to dream of being a musician after hearing Mayfield’s 1961 hit with the Impressions, “Gypsy Woman.”

Actor Danny Glover said after the service at First AME Church in Los Angeles that civil rights musicians such as Mayfield inspired him. “They were enormous for me, you can’t imagine how enormous,” he said. “Those are the people that kind of pulled me through.”

Today’s People Column was compiled by Vera H-C Chan from staff and wire reports. Comments? Write to us c/o the Times, P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596-8099. Or call 925-943-8262, fax 925-943-8362, or e-mail spin@cctimes.com.

Milestones

Suit filed: By the Smashing Pumpkins, against former manager Sharon Osbourne on Tuesday for fraud and breach of contract for allegedly abandoning the rock band at the start of its European tour. There were no telephone listings for Osbourne or her West Hollywood-based Sharon Osbourne Management Co., which was also named as a defendant.

Birthdays: Actor Abe Vigoda (79), actor Steven Hill (78), movie composer Michel Legrand (68), actor John Vernon (68), opera singer Renata Scotto (65), actor James Farentino (62), actor Barry Bostwick (55), actor Edward James Olmos (53), singer-writer-producer Rupert Holmes (53), Fox News anchor Paula Zahn (44), country singer Sammy Kershaw (42), singer Michelle Shocked (38), actor Billy Zane (34), rhythm-and-blues singer Brandon Brown of Mista (17).

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