Celebrity gossip, famous birthdays and other tidbits, compiled from Seattle Times news services.

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Uma Thurman has gotten engaged to Swiss financier Arpad “Arki” Busson, the New York Daily News says. Busson popped the question Wednesday in London. A two-time divorcée, Thurman was married to Gary Oldman from 1990 to 1992. Her subsequent, six-year marriage to Ethan Hawke produced a son and daughter. For his part, Busson fathered two boys with Elle Macpherson during a long engagement that ended when they split up in 2005.

The Madonna divorce

The latest round of rumors claiming that Madonna is poised to divorce Guy Ritchie got a fresh coat of credibility Friday with a report in the Times of London that Madonna has, indeed, consulted Prince Charles‘ divorce lawyer, Fiona Shackleton. The paper says Ritchie has seen his lawyers at the law firm Forsters.

Sophia’s plea

Actress Sophia Loren, who grew up outside Naples, is imploring its people to clear the garbage off the streets of her beloved city, the Italian daily La Repubblica reported on Friday. Since December, Naples and its surrounding areas have been plagued by tons of garbage because collectors said dumps are full and residents have protested against new ones.

Sign of the Times

Burned by gas prices

A German man doused his BMW with gasoline and torched it Friday in protest at skyrocketing fuel costs, police said. The unemployed 30-year-old drove the black 1995 BMW 3-series sedan onto the lawn outside Frankfurt’s convention center and set fire to it, police said. In Germany, regular gasoline costs about $9.40 a gallon.

The cost of the crown

Buckingham Palace accountants insisted Friday that the cost of maintaining Queen Elizabeth II and the royal family is a bargain for taxpayers: 66 pence ($1.30) for each British subject. Palace officials said public spending on the monarchy has increased from 38 million pounds ($76 million) to 40 million pounds ($80 million) for the year ending March 31 compared with the year before, but accountants said this was because of rising travel and maintenance costs, not a free-spending lifestyle. The anti-monarchist group Republic complained that the queen and her husband, Prince Philip, spent more than $44,000 to take a helicopter to the Kentucky Derby during a U.S. visit.


Ira Tucker Sr., 83, the lead singer and irrepressible showman of the Dixie Hummingbirds, an electrifying gospel group credited with inspiring such entertainers as James Brown, Jackie Wilson and the Temptations, died of congestive heart failure Tuesday in Philadelphia.

Pianist Leonard Pennario, 83, a best-selling recording artist who made his concert debut with the Dallas Symphony at age 12 after learning Grieg’s Piano Concerto in a week so he could play it from memory, died Friday in La Jolla, Calif., after a long illness.

John Foster Dulles, 95, a noted Brazilian history scholar and the eldest son of the former secretary of state, died of kidney failure Monday in San Antonio, Texas.

Today in History

1838: Britain’s Queen Victoria was crowned in Westminster Abbey.

1914: Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife, Sophie, were assassinated in Sarajevo by a Serb nationalist, triggering World War I.

1919: The Treaty of Versailles was signed in France, ending World War I.

1950: North Korean forces captured Seoul, the capital of South Korea.

1978: The Supreme Court ordered the University of California, Davis, Medical School to admit Allan Bakke, a white man who argued he’d been a victim of reverse racial discrimination.

Today’s Birthdays

Comedian-movie director Mel Brooks, 82. Actor Bruce Davison, 62. Actress Kathy Bates, 60. Football star John Elway, 48. Actress Mary Stuart Masterson, 42. Actor John Cusack, 42. Actor Gil Bellows, 41. Actress-singer Danielle Brisebois, 39. Jazz musician Jimmy Sommers, 39. Actress Tichina Arnold, 37. Actress Camille Guaty, 32. Country singer Kellie Pickler, 22.

Seattle Times news services