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Son Gains Control of J. R. Ewing Estate--in Houston

November 30, 1987

After seven years, a lawyer has located the heir of J.R. Ewing--not the character in television's "Dallas," but a merchant seaman who lived in a squalid Houston rooming house but left a $150,000 estate. Charles Ewing, 51, who lives in Boston, telephoned Houston lawyer Edward Gillette after reading an article in the Boston Globe about the case. Gillette, who was appointed administrator of J. R. Ewing's estate after the seaman died in 1980, went to Ewing's trash-strewn room in hopes of finding $200 for a burial. Instead, the lawyer discovered $150,000 in cash and uncashed checks stuffed into paper bags. "We almost went into shock when, going into the paper bags, we started finding cash, certificates of deposit, uncashed checks and payroll checks," Gillette said. He began a search for Ewing's family that was often hampered, Gillette said, because many people thought he was playing a joke based on "Dallas." Charles Ewing, a painter and wallpaper hanger, had had no contact with his father since 1955.

--Mary Beth Whitehead, who made headlines in the Baby M custody case, has married a New York accountant, one of her attorneys said. Whitehead, 30, who bore a baby girl through artificial insemination for William and Elizabeth Stern of Tenafly, N.J., attempted to keep the baby. But she has lost two court rulings in her fight to keep the child, nicknamed Baby M in press accounts. Whitehead divorced her husband, Richard, two weeks ago after announcing that she was pregnant and planned to wed her lover, Dean Gould, 27. The couple have been living in Gould's East Brunswick, N.J., town house for three months.

--A motel in Michigan City, Ind., doesn't offer the usual amenities to travelers. But that's because its 420 guests are unwanted cats. "People have a bad taste when they say animal shelter," said Hans Fried, who operates the motel with his wife, Lucille. The couple, who emigrated from Berlin in 1939, decided to open an animal shelter in Michigan City when they retired. However, the building burned down. When they found the vacant motel eight years ago, the Frieds sold their home and most belongings and moved in with their cats. They continue to take in all types of felines, including blind cats and cats with missing limbs. "Our whole lives are cats. I have 12 of my own," Lucille Fried said.

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