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Hermit Slips Mickey Into His Fight for Outdoor Life

March 22, 1987|LARRY PRYOR

Bill Britt, who calls himself the "Happy Hermit of Chestnut Hill," is looking forward to being a little bit happier, even though he may be evicted from the wigwam he has been living in for 18 years near a reservoir in the well-off section of Boston. He says he will let Mickey Rooney portray him in a TV movie for $29 a week for life. "I can live anywhere on $29 a week as long as I have outdoor living," the hermit said. If he loses his legal battle over his eviction, which he plans to wage more vigorously with Rooney's promise of help, he dreams of moving to a shack on the coast of Massachusetts, perhaps on Martha's Vineyard. He would also like a motor scooter with a sidecar for the "big collie dog" he would like for companionship. Rooney, who is in Boston starring in a stage role, has not commented on specific terms of the agreement, but said his production company will put together a two-hour special on Britt's life. "This is something the world should see, realize and know," Rooney said. "There are so many avenues of pain and so many avenues of hope . . . (in Britt's story) that I believe it will probably be . . . one of the most powerful pieces in which I will ever have the privilege to appear." For his part, Britt, who hopes his eviction battle will call attention to the homeless and hungry, said: "I'm thrilled. I think he will be excellent in the role."

--A drugstore in Sydney, Australia, called police Constable Douglas McKenzie to arrest a man for forging prescriptions. The suspect produced a birth certificate, university card, two bank books and health care card, all identifying him as Douglas McKenzie. "I just stared at him," the constable said. "I couldn't believe it. Finding someone who has taken over your identity leaves you with a pretty strange feeling." He said the documents disappeared from his car two years ago while it was parked. The suspect was charged with three counts of forging prescriptions and two of having stolen goods.

--Another celebrated loner, Sam the Hermit, an abandoned and injured German shepherd that lived along a country road 30 miles west of Fresno, shunned human contact and survived on donations from well-wishers across the nation, has been nabbed by the county dogcatcher. Eunice Bandoni plans to keep him. Sam, she said, had been chasing cars and lying in the middle of the road, and authorities got complaints that they were ignoring the stray. But some people think Sam should go free. "If he wanted or needed to be confined for the rest of his life, he wouldn't have kept his distance from people for so long," said Jennifer Quails of Berkeley, who said her children were among those who had sent a total of $3,000 to keep Sam in a lifetime supply of dog food.

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