Jailed Mob Boss John Gotti Has Throat Cancer

Posted: September 24, 1998

Imprisoned New York mob boss John Gotti has throat cancer and will undergo surgery soon, his lawyer Bruce Cutler said yesterday. He called the condition ``serious, it's life-threatening,'' but added: ``Everyone feels he's going to lick this.'' Cutler noted that docs ``feel it's treatable, and they're optimistic.'' They found a tumor at the back of his throat near his tonsils and lymph nodes. ``As I understand it, it was cancer of the tonsils and then metastasized,'' Cutler said. ``It's been difficult to get precise information from prison authorities. . . .'' Gotti's daughter, novelist Victoria, was expected to fly to Springfield, Mo., yesterday to be with her father at the U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners. He was transferred there Sept. 1 from the Marion, Ill., federal prison where he's been since June 1992, doing life for murder and racketeering. Victoria said her father's condition ``came as a shock.'' Cancer doesn't run in their family, and he quit smoking cigarettes in 1967, though he has an occasional cigar. Cutler said Gotti, 57, complained to prison officials of a sore throat, but the condition went untreated for 8 to 12 weeks. He added that a previously ignored Gotti gum infection four years ago ultimately required 54 stitches. Authorities say that Gotti still heads the Mafia, but that his son, Junior, runs day-to-day operations.

MARKINGS * John D. Rockefeller, who lived from 1839 to 1937, was the richest American ever, according to American Heritage. In a ranking in its Oct. 12 issue of the 40 richest, the mag says Rockefeller was worth $189.6 bil in present-day dollars. Bill Gates, at $61.7 mil, weighed in at No. 5. Locals Stephen Girard ($55.6 bil) and Cyrus Curtis ($26.1 bil) placed No. 6 and 21.

Bruce Springsteen, 49 yesterday, was nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame next year. Other worthies up include: Billy Joel, Curtis Mayfield, Del Shannon, Ritchie Valens, Gene Pitney, Staples Singers, Dusty Springfield, Black Sabbath and Steely Dan.

Gates aspirant Jim Clark, founder of Netscape and Silicon Graphics, last weekend launched his brand new $30 mil, 155-foot, aluminum-hulled yacht. The Hyperion also features a 193.6-foot, single-piece, carbon fiber mast, a 700-CD jukebox and a wine cellar with temperature controlled by computer. ``It's a luxurious RV,'' said Clark, worth about $600 mil. ``And it's the most complex, non-industrial automation system that's ever been built.'' Until next week!

COUPLES * Forget about the agony Hurricane Georges has wreaked on mere mortals. It has caused Spice Girl Mel B to cancel secret honeymoon plans with Jimmy Gulzar. Yes, the newlyweds had planned on two weeks in Antigua, but canceled 10 minutes before their London flight was to take off Tuesday after getting news of the killer storm.

Bob Packwood, who resigned from the Senate three years ago amid accusations of unwanted gropings of many women, plus trying to get lobbyists to give jobs to his ex-wife, Georgie, will wed at Christmas. To Elaine Franklin, 58, his ex-chief of staff who stuck with him to the end. Packwood, 66, once praised Franklin as the best housecleaner of all his Senate aides. But when asked by his ex in 1993 if he'd ever marry Franklin, he said: ``I have thought about it and rejected the idea. She's far too tough for me.'' It'll be the second for both. He's now a D.C. lobbyist, and she's a political consultant in Portland, Ore.

Shannen Doherty, unfondly recalled as the baddest member of the Beverly Hills 90210 TV cast, has split with movie director Rob Weiss after a four-year date. Her most famous emotional commitment was a six-week marriage to Ashley Hamilton in 1996.

ON THE BOARDS * Outside an Off-Broadway theater Tuesday night, more than a hundred protesters greeted the New York opening of Terrence McNally's Corpus Christi, but there were no inside incidents where a sold-out audience of 299 had to submit to a metal detector and personal searches. ``This play offends the very root of Christianity which is the sacredness of Christ,'' said protester Margaret Devlin, who added that she based her opinion of the play on media reports about its Christ-like lead character's being depicted as gay. Said theatergoer John Friedman:``It may not be for everybody, but I thought it really brought out the transcendental nature of Jesus. It emphasized that He was an outcast.'' Added theatergoer Candace Simon: ``It's all about free speech. They have the right to protest. The theater has a right to stage it. I have the right to see it.''

Movie star Holly Hunter (The Piano, Raising Arizona) is in Beth Henley's new play, Impossible Marriage, opening Off-Broadway Oct. 15. The comedy went into preview performances yesterday at the Laura Pels Theatre.

Movie star John Turturro (Rounders, The Big Lebowski) will star in a 50th-anniversary production of Samuel Beckett's Waiting For Godot. Set to run Nov. 10 to Dec. 20 at Manhattan's Classic Stage Company. ``I've never actually seen the play,'' says Turturro. ``But I've been reading it to my 8-year-old, and he's been laughing, so I think that's a good sign.'' Nothing to do!

SPORTS OF ALL SORTS * Prince Harry, 14, who entered Eton on Sept. 2, scored two goals in his soccer debut as his team whipped Highgate School, 3-2. Reported a witness: ``He was easily the best player on the field. He nonchalantly accepted the congratulations of the other players . . . after each goal, but there was a big smile on his face.''

Sportscaster Mike Adamle will compete in the Oct. 3 Ironman Triathlon in Kona, Hawaii, which consists of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run. Said the ex-pro football player, who turns 49 the day after the race: ``This is unlike any challenge I've ever faced, but I'm looking forward to more than just finishing.''

THE MOVIE SET * Leonardo DiCaprio is reported a possible show at tomorrow's opening of the New York Film Festival at Lincoln Center. The tie-in is Woody Allen's new movie, Celebrity, in which the Titanic star plays a movie idol who can't go anywhere without being mobbed. Who says he has no range?

All Claire Danes movies may go unseen in Manila, Philippines, after the city council votes on such a ban Tuesday. The upset's over her bad-mouthing the city after a recent visit to shoot scenes for the movie Brokedown Palace. The Romeo and Juliet movie star said the place ``smelled of cockroaches, with rats all over, and there is no sewerage system and, the people do not have anything - no arms, no legs, no eyes.'' Offered Jun Juban, producer of the Manila shoot: ``I cannot apologize for Ms. Danes' acerbic tongue. I can only hope she chokes on it.'' Aaack!

LOCALLY CONNECTED * Josephine Foo opens the 1998-99 Laughing Hermit Reading and Poet Series at 2 p.m. Saturday at Kelly's Writer's House, 3805 Locust Walk. Admission by donation.

TV newsie Marc Howard and Daily News chief Zack Stalberg will be among the panelists on the free, open discussion ``Spinning the Scales of Justice: Media's Influence on the Law,'' at 7 p.m. Monday at the Wilma Theater. Tix: 215-546-7824. It's in connection with the theater's opening production, George F. Walker's Love and Anger.

Nancy Falkow, local heroine at the Lilith Fair, performs at 8 p.m. tomorrow at Barnes & Noble in Devon.

Talia de Lone will discuss her book Love, Loss and Healing: A Woman's Guide to Transforming Grief at 7:30 tonight at Princeton's Barnes & Noble. She should know. In a single year, she had to deal with the deaths of her parents and husband, plus her daughter's leaving for college.

Center City's Dolly Beechman-Schnall, mother of late Broadway star Laurie Beechman, will address the first Ovarian Cancer National Alliance confab today and tomorrow at D.C.'s Embassy Square Hotel. Laurie died this year after a long battle with the disease.

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