Six degrees | South China Morning Post
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Six degrees

Kenny Hodgart

 

Zhang Zilin, mainland beauty and Miss World 2007, married investment banker Nie Lei, in Phuket, Thailand, last month, following a three-year courtship. Zhang, who has revealed that her favourite animal is the giraffe and who is known to her Chinese fans as Purple Sweet Potato, has modelled for Giorgio Armani and Dolce & Gabbana, among others. She was a "smile ambassador" for the 2008 Beijing Olympics and also recorded a song for the Games, Welcome to Beijing. The 2007 Miss World pageant was co-hosted by Mexican Renaissance man Fernando Allende …

The actor, singer, film producer, director and now painter, became a teen idol as a telenovela star in his home country in the late 1960s. After living in the United States for many years, in 2001 he and his wife, Maria Mediavilla, moved to her native Puerto Rico, where he is now a judge on Objetivo Fama ("objective fame"), a television show whose format the producers of American Idol ripped off wholesale. The couple are friends of Britain's Prince (and Princess) Michael of Kent …

The prince (whose wife's name is not Michael but rather Marie Christine Anna Agnes Hedwig Ida, née von Reibnitz) was named for Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich of Russia, the first cousin of three of his grandparents; but his Russian connections do not end there: he has come under close scrutiny over payments made to one of his businesses by late oligarch Boris Berezovsky, whose death in London last year by hanging was described by police as "unexplained". Numbering among Prince Michael's several illustrious godparents when he was christened, in 1942, was United States president Franklin Delano Roosevelt …

FDR, whose many fine achievements as leader of his nation included repealing the prohibition of alcohol, is widely held to be among its greatest presidents. In 1933, Roosevelt escaped an assassination attempt by an Italian émigré, Giuseppe Zangara, whose shots killed Chicago mayor Anton Cermak instead. In his confession, Zangara stated: "I have the gun in my hand. I kill kings and presidents first and next all capitalists." After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the president's security was unwittingly aided by another Chicago bigwig, Al Capone …

The chubby crime boss, whose murderous syndicate counted Cermak's predecessor, William Hale Thompson (a man who made Chicago "a byword for the collapse of American civilisation", according to the Chicago Tribune), among its abettors, had his bulletproof, armoured Cadillac Town Sedan seized by the US Treasury Department when he was arrested for tax fraud in 1931. On December 8, 1941, Roosevelt was driven in the vehicle to the US Capitol in Washington to ask Congress to declare war on Japan. A more recent poster boy for Cadillac cars is Chinese star athlete Liu Xiang …

At the 2004 Athens Olympics, the 110-metre hurdler became the first male Chinese track and field athlete to win an Olympic gold medal. After pulling out of the Beijing Games at the 11th hour due to injury, he was favourite to take gold again in London last year before falling at the first hurdle in the heats, prompting on-air tears from CCTV commentator Yang Jian. As a youth, Liu trained with talented hurdler and triple jumper - and future Purple Sweet Potato - Zhang Zilin.

 

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