People: Jul. 28, 1986

Since 1981, recipients of MacArthur Foundation grants, the "genius awards" that permit five years of financial freedom, have included poets and composers, scientists and even a mime. But a prestidigitator? Last week James Randi, a.k.a. "the Amazing Randi," whose sleight of hand has exposed psychic gimmicks, hoaxes and claims of the paranormal, was among this year's 25 winners, picking up $272,000 for his crusade to protect sick people from unscrupulous faith healers. The award came as a total surprise. "You can bang your head against the wall, call Sophia Loren or take it soberly," he notes. "It takes about 48 hours...

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