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"Essence' honors 8 women

Essence magazine celebrated its 20th anniversary by honoring six African-American women at a star-studded gala. Honored at the ceremony before 6,000 people at Radio City Music Hall in New York were singer Whitney Houston, actress Diahann Carroll, gospel singer Shirley Caesar, dancer and anthropologist Katherine Dunham, singer Patti LaBelle and diva Leontyne Price. Bill Cosby was host of the event. Singer Stephanie Mills, talk show host Oprah Winfrey, the Dance Theatre of Harlem and singer Freddie Jackson joined him on stage.

Special tribute was paid to Winnie Mandela and the late Sarah Vaughan. Mandela, wife of South African anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela, received standing ovations as she stood onstage, her arm raised in the black power salute.

"Even though they had taken away her freedom, they couldn't take away her spirit," Cosby said of Mrs. Mandela.

Et cetera . . .

Comedian Andrew Dice Clay has signed a contract worth about $1-million with Bally's hotels in Las Vegas and Reno, his agent said.

Actor Kirk Douglas will be the 1991 recipient of the American Film Institute's lifetime achievement award.

For the first time in its 63-year history, the jury in the prestigious Chopin piano competition has refused to award a first prize. The three-week contest in Warsaw, which has launched many of the world's top concert pianists, ended Friday with an announcement by the international jury that none of the competition's 140 young contestants had reached the required standard.

A part-time musician and teacher has outshouted the competition to become the first town crier in York, England since 1872. Brian McKusker will work 18 hours a week shouting the news headlines in the city's four squares. York had 20 applications for the job, which pays $7,200 a year.