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Bert Parks, Swimsuits . . . and May the Best Man Win

December 20, 1987|ANN CONNORS

It had everything expected in a beauty pageant--flashy production numbers, a swimsuit competition and even the inimitable pageant host of hosts, Bert Parks. But the shapely legs parading down the runway were rather hirsute and the winner made his triumphant runway march in a tuxedo instead of a gown. Capturing U.S. Man of the Year honors in Atlantic City, N.J., was Mr. Missouri, William Billings Jr. of St. Charles, in a contest billed as a "role model" pageant. "We feel men should be role models other than Rambo," Parks said. The 30-year-old Billings is a hospital management specialist who provides hospitals with programs to combat drug and alcohol abuse. He and the other contestants competed in tuxedo, leisure wear and swimsuit divisions--boxer-style. And, instead of a talent division, contestants were asked to respond verbally to how they would handle an "everyday life situation." First runner-up was Mr. California, Mark L. Harris, 24, a Modesto contractor. Second runner-up was Mr. Arizona, William A. Fritsch, 30, a Mesa model. Mr. Nevada, Larry Stevens, 25, a Las Vegas sales representative, was third runner-up. "The first thing I'm going to do is celebrate with the other 50 guys," Billings said. "Then I'm going back home to find out how much work is on my desk." Among the winner's prizes were five one-week resort vacations, a designer tuxedo and a gold diamond ring.

--Not only is Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev making points in U.S. popularity polls, but in Britain he has been tabbed the man the island nation's citizens admire most. Among women, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher edged out Mother Theresa, with Queen Elizabeth II voted third and her daughter, Princess Anne, fourth, according to a Gallup poll published by the Sunday Telegraph newspaper. Among the men, Irish rock star Bob Geldof was second, with Church of England envoy Terry Waite, who has been missing in Lebanon for 11 months, third, followed by the heir to the British throne, Prince Charles.

--Still among the unemployed is former steelworker and sometime Contra supply runner Eugene Hasenfus, who has had no luck finding a job in the year since his return to Wisconsin after being pardoned on a gun-running conviction in Nicaragua, his wife said. "Absolutely nothing has changed in any way, shape or form," Sally Hasenfus said at the family's Marinette home. "Things are pretty turned around here." Hasenfus parachuted to safety when his Contra supply plane was shot down by Nicaraguan forces on Oct. 5, 1986.

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