Jessica Shaw
March 22, 1996 AT 05:00 AM EST

He may have a Braveheart, but Mel Gibson, 40, apparently had an inflamed appendix. On March 9, the Oscar nominee underwent an emergency appendectomy at New York Hospital — Cornell Medical Center after experiencing sharp abdominal pains on a flight to New York, where he’s filming Ron Howard’s Ransom. Gibson was released from the hospital one day later and ”is feeling fine,” according to his spokesman. Although some of his scenes in Ransom will have to be rescheduled, Gibson still plans to attend the Oscars next week, where he’ll undoubtedly get plenty of ribbing about his lethal loin…. While posing for photos March 10, jazz musician Herbie Hancock, 55, fell off a platform in front of the Taj Mahal. After getting 16 stitches above his left eye, Hancock continued his present tour in India wearing dark sunglasses before continuing on to Thailand. ”He’s doing fine,” says a spokeswoman. ”He was fine right afterwards. He just got his stitches and went about his day in typical Herbie style.” Hancock is currently on tour promoting his latest album, The New Standard.

Much to their surprise, Natasha Richardson, 32, and Liam Neeson, 43, are expecting their second child this August. The unexpectedly expectant Richardson had to temporarily put on hold plans to begin filming The Moving Earth in China this summer. ”She’d like to get back to work, but her only project is pregnancy right now,” says a spokeswoman. The couple also have a son, Micheal, 1.

The Zen master is taking a missus. Andre Agassi, 25, and Brooke Shields, 30, have announced their engagement after a two-and-a-half-year courtship. No date has been set.

There must still be someone left for Howard Stern, 42, to offend, because the shock jock/ bestselling author announced on the air March 5 that his contract with Infinity Broadcasting had been renewed for another five years.

Business has been booming in Hailey, Idaho, for Bruce Willis, 41, and Demi Moore, 34, but it’s a different story in nearby Ketchum. Just one year after the Dyn-O-Mite, a local bar owned by Willis, hosted a bash to celebrate the boss’ 40th birthday, the watering hole was closed down. A spokesman for Valley Entertainment Group, the company behind the bar and all of Willis’ Idaho business ventures, claimed the shutdown was planned: ”The Dyn-O-Mite Lounge was conceived as a two-year project.”… And the No. 1 reason why Robert ”Morty” Morton won’t be producing David Letterman’s Late Show is — he’s got a new home office. Morton, a fixture in Letterman’s inner circle for more than 15 years, left his executive-producing gig March 8. According to a Worldwide Pants spokeswoman, ”Robert had expressed an interest in doing more prime-time projects” and will now oversee the recently relaunched CBS series Bonnie, an upcoming Adam Resnick series for HBO, and other projects. A source close to Late Show says the change was made ”because of the day-to-day pressures of producing Late Show.” Morton will be replaced by former Letterman head writer Rob Burnett, who quit The Bonnie Hunt Show prior to its airing last fall owing to creative differences with its star.

Vince Edwards, 67, of pancreatic cancer, March 11 in L.A. Bing Crosby discovered Edwards and cast him as the crusading Ben Casey in the ABC medical series that Crosby’s production company produced. Though he was the Dr. Doug Ross of his era, Edwards never reached the same level of popularity after Casey’s 1966 cancellation…. Producer Ross Hunter, 74, after a long illness, March 10 in L.A. Hunter produced such films as Imitation of Life and Pillow Talk, but he received the most recognition — and an Oscar nomination — for 1970’s Airport, the mother of all disaster films…. Comic great and America’s leading cigar aficionado, George Burns, 100, March 9 at his home in Beverly Hills ….Tom McDermott, 83, March 6, of prostate cancer in New York City. Predominantly a stage actor in plays such as 1989’s Mastergate, McDermott’s final performance will be in the upcoming Winona Ryder/Daniel Day-Lewis adaptation of The Crucible…. Whit Bissell, 86, March 5 in L.A. Bissell appeared in a 1936 Broadway production of Hamlet, but it’s as the voice of reason in such sci-fi films as Creature From the Black Lagoon and I Was a Teenage Werewolf, as well as the 1966-67 ABC series The Time Tunnel, that Bissell’s best remembered.

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