People, Dec. 26, 1955

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Manhattan-born Soprano Maria Meneghini Callas, recent victor in a high E-flat free-for-all with an octet of Chicago process servers (TIME, Nov. 28), plunged a legal fork into an Italian macaroni company. On the tines of her suit: Maria's ex-physician and husband's brother-in-law, Dr. Giovanni Cazzarolli, the Pastificio Pantanella Co. and Prince Marcantonio Pacelli, who is Pastificio's legal eagle as well as a nephew of Pope Pius XII. La Callas, 31, weighing in at a svelte 135 Ibs., charged that Dr. Cazzarolli had issued a false certificate, ballyhooed by the pasta firm in ads, stating that she had shed an unsvelte 44 Ibs. by gobbling quantities of Pastificio Pantanella's dietetic, "no-cal" macaroni. Maria fumed a scornful phooey on "the physiological pasta." The prima donna, who once declined singing Madame Butterfly because she scaled an unlepidopterous 212 Ibs., now complained: "The public wants Callas to be noble and delicate . . . Woe betide if, opposed to this idealistic spirituality, the public should discover a behind-scenes maneuver whereby a dainty Butterfly is achieved only through a cure with special macaroni." Six Roman Catholic Holy Name Societies in southern New Jersey protested because a new $100 million bridge between Philadelphia and Camden, N.J. is named after a longtime Camdenizen, earthy Poet Walt (Leaves of Grass) Whitman. Reason: Whitman portrayed "the common man" as "homoerotic," i.e., hankering perversely for other common men. A rebuttal came promptly from the former head of the public agency that built the bridge: "We could find [no] evidence that Walt Whitman was homosexual. A genius sometimes does things that some people think is a little peculiar . . ."

Special cops were on duty to untie traffic snarls converging on a San Fernando Valley mansion near Hollywood. The Yuletide cynosure: a rooftop Santa Claus, made of bamboo, hammering away at a wrought-iron piano garnished with a twinkly candelabra, while loudspeakers blared hi-fi recordings of the schmalziest music on the far side of Bethlehem. Beamed the spectacle's beamish mastermind, Liberace: "I just love Christmas!"

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