It may be true. Duke may really be dead. But, it's still not definite. "Doonesbury" cartoonist Garry Trudeau, whose strip appears elsewhere on this page, isn't talking. When asked, he only says, "You just have to read the strip like everyone else." For the past few days, Trudeau's character, the hard-drinking, drug-abusing Duke, has been sprawled on his bed with a fly crawling on his nose.
Duke, who has been running one of those Caribbean medical-degree mills called the Baby Doc School of Medicine, has been found dead by his woman companion Honey. Advanced strips through Feb. 1 do not show Duke coming back to life, and Lee Salem, a spokesman for Trudeau's Universal Press Syndicate, says, "It appears that he's really dead. There will be eulogies given by friends, by assorted people." The Duke character, supposedly modeled after now-passe' gonzo writer Hunter Thompson, was at best a questionable character for the more responsible, anti-recreational-drug-and-alcohol-oriented '80s. Low-Cost Class
Two Washington promoters, Eric Yaverbaum and Jonathan Sawyer, were so successful in getting nationwide publicity last summer when they formed "Strike Back," a citizen-action group opposing the threatened baseball strike, they have a new idea. They are planning a book titled "How to Be Cheap With Class" and are promising to make coauthors of anyone making a contribution to their book.
The idea has hit a responsive chord. In only two weeks of letting the idea get around the country through their Jerico Promotions firm, more than than 1,000 suggestions have come in. One man said he stopped at a cologne counter in a store to use the free samples before going on a date. A Wisconsin man said to give a lady one rose as a symbol of love "instead of sending a real gift." A lot of people have been fooled by that one rose. End Notes
It's really mean of a reporter to attempt to force a public official into supporting such mindless films as "Rambo," "Red Dawn" and "Rocky IV" and the upcoming television mini-series "Amerika." At a press conference yesterday, U.S. Information Agency Director Charles Z. Wick was asked by a Tass reporter if he thought "Amerika," the story of a Soviet takeover of the United States, was "trash." The reporter, Alexander Shalnev, pressed hard for an answer in a good-natured give-and-take. Wick, who just returned from meetings in the Soviet Union where he was involved in cultural exchange discussions, was not about to come out in favor of "Amerika" or the correspondent's "trash" definition. He gave the Tass reporter a lesson in capitalism: "All I can tell you, Alexander, is that under our system, the final arbitrator is the public, and a film that costs $3 million or $15 million that can gross $150 million, as some of these have -- who is to say whether it's trash?" . . .
Gary Taylor, the Cambridge University scholar who discovered a poem in November believed to have been written by William Shakespeare, has signed a contract with Catholic University to teach Shakespeare and English drama this fall as an associate professor . . .
The autobiography of Chrysler Corp. Chairman Lee Iacocca continues to make publishing records for general-interest nonfiction books, with 2,610,000 copies in print. "Iacocca: An Autobiography" entered its 51st printing this week, 15 months after going on sale. Only two hard-cover books have been more successful, "Gone With the Wind" and the empty "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" . . .
President and Nancy Reagan dined last night at the Northwest Washington home of Washington Times Editor in Chief Arnaud de Borchgrave . . .
There were sightings of Princeton student, fashion model and starlet Brooke Shields about town Wednesday. She lunched at Duke Zeibert's and later in the day was with her mother Teri Shields for a yogurt snack at TCBY -- The Country's Best Yogurt, above Dupont Circle. A short time later they walked into the Chesapeake Bagel Bakery nearby. And they were carrying shopping bags from Victoria's Secret, that expensive, risque' lingerie shop . . .
San Francisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein and a party of eight city officials had a working dinner Wednesday at Filomena restaurant in Georgetown, eating and working undisturbed at the private table in the kitchen Joanna Filomena reserves for celebrities . . .
Buckingham Palace has reacted with a quick denial that Princess Diana recently bought fox furs for a new hat. It would not be in line with her expressed dislike of the royal family's strange obsession with blood sports. A palace spokesman said: "The princess does not buy real furs and never has and never will" . . .