The Fifth Dimension, a five-member rock group, won a Grammy Award last year with an out-of-sight air about a "beautiful balloon," called Up, Up and Away. Last week while they were doing their thing at the Iowa State Fair, a publicity-seeking balloonist offered the Dimension a brief ascension. It really turned out to be their scene, as they upped, upped and awayed to beat the balloon man with his own bag. It seems that the title of the song had inspired them to become balloonists for real. Said Fifth Dimensioner Florence LaRue: "When it became a hit, someone in the group wondered out loud one day about what it really was like to go up in a balloon, and suddenly we were all at this school in Connecticut taking lessons. Now we know what it's like."
Interrupting his quest for 30 victories, Detroit's Denny McLain gave an organ recital in New York last week and discussed his choice of careers. "I never thought of baseball seriously," he says, "until the baseball people started coming around offering money. The organ people didn't. When I was a kid I used to come home from school and practice the organ first, then go out and play baseball." One of his New York recital selections was Don't Give Up, the Tigers' theme song, he says. "If we do give up," he quipped, "they'll run Mayo [Smith] and me out of town on the same horse." If McLain does win 30 games he undoubtedly will add Meet Me in St. Louis to his repertoire next month.
As winner of the Lady Byng Trophy for sportsmanship the past two years, NHL All-Star Center Stan Mikita is a man repelled by the more violent aspects of his sport. Last week Mikita was in character as he spoke out against a decidedly nonsporting form of violence, the Soviet invasion of his Czechoslovak homeland. "It's a horrible shame," he said. "Those people just want to be left alone to govern themselves." Stan's mother and sister are visiting him in the U.S. now, and he hopes to get an extension of their visas—on the reasonable expectation that it may not be easy to get out of Czechoslovakia again.
"Mr. Insult" is what they call Comedian Don Rickles, and in his latest caper he takes on Sugar Ray Robinson, Joe Louis and Rocky Graziano with as much impunity as a TV script affords. For a forthcoming segment of The Kraft Music Hall, Rickles is Dynamite Don, a promising fighter. Graziano jokes at the prospect, and Rickles replies, "Keep it up and I'll have Tony Zale dump spaghetti and meatballs all over your driveway." Sugar joins them, and Dynamite jabs him: "One more crack out of you and I'll erase the soul brother sign off your liquor-store window." Louis points out a punching bag, and Don snaps, "No kidding—I thought it was a football with a gland condition.... I always wanted to play the violin but my mother wanted a boxer." Louis says of him, "He looks more like a cocker spaniel with a sprained mouth," and Rickles asks, "Is that from your book The Wit and Wisdom of Joe Louis?" Oh well, nobody gets hurt.
Once our prettiest, swiftest skier, Jill Kinmont broke her back in a skiing accident in 1955, long before she could achieve her potential in the sport. Though almost completely paralyzed, she went on to earn her college degree and teaching credentials, and this summer she sits smiling in a wheelchair, teaching reading—without pay—to Indian children on a Bishop, Calif. reservation. There, the Rev. Sidney H. Byrd compares her to his people. "She really had nothing," he says. "All the things she had against her she was able to beat by sheer determination and guts. She is able to show others that whatever their handicap, they can achieve."
At 71, Novelist and former Sportswriter Paul Gallico now lives on the French Riviera and looks 40, perhaps because, as a fencer, he has remained a vigorous participant. "I got my first taste of it," he said the other day at Antibes, "when I was rowing on the Columbia crew. We used to train on rowing machines in the gym and, after training, our coach, Jim Rice, used to say, 'O.K., now run 20 laps.' One day I hid in the fencing room while the 20 laps were being run. I got very interested in fencing. I still do three hours of it every week. No more foils or saber—they're too fast at my age. Epée is slightly less strenuous. You can bluff, fiddle around a bit, take a rest and stay farther away from your opponent. I can still beat kids of 21." Gallico compares fencing to chess. "It's mental as well as physical," he says. "You're always thinking three or four moves ahead, how to lead your opponent into a trap and how to stay out of his." A half century ago as captain of the Lions' crew, Gallico weighed 198; he's barely 10 pounds over that today.