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Dear Matthew Alice:

A friend of mine swears that Sylvester Stallone appeared in a movie with Ingrid Bergman. Apparently he made it before he became "Rocky." Of course my friend doesn't know any other details, but he's sure he's right. Can this possibly be true?

-- Idon'tthinkso, San Diego

I know you've been worried, but everything's okay. The elves are fully Y2K compliant. Well...more accurately...they're still about as compliant as they were two weeks ago, which is to say, not very. Since this year looks pretty much like last year, we'll devote our first column to goofy things people believe; that's been the underlying theme of our little fiesta for the past six, seven decades. And what better question to start with than Idon'tthinkso's. It contains all our favorite elements: rumor, innuendo, pie-faced gullibility, and Hollywood stars. One of those questions that inspire people to fire off nasty letters claiming I make these things up.

No. Sly and Ingrid do not appear together in any film. And none of us can believe that either you or your friend would even entertain the notion. But it shouldn't be a total loss, let's play the Kevin Bacon game and see what we come up with. "Six Degrees of Ingrid Bergman" we'll call it. Stallone was in Capone with Harry Guardino, who was in Sirocco with Humphrey Bogart, who was in Casablanca with, ta-da, Ingrid Bergman. Too easy. How about PeeWee Herman and Ingrid Bergman. Herman was in Mystery Men with Louise Lasser, who was in Bananas with Sylvester Stallone, who was...etc. Howard Cosell and Ingrid Bergman? Cosell was also in Bananas, so patch together your own list.

But wait. How about Pauly Shore and Ingrid Bergman and Ingmar Bergman. Impossible, you say? Hah. Child's play. Pauly Shore was in Bio-Dome with Patty Hearst, who was in Serial Mom with Sam Waterston, who was in Mindwalk with Liv Ullmann, who was in Autumn Sonata with Ingrid Bergman, directed by Ingmar Bergman. There. That's the best we can do for you.

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