Thursday, May 30, 2019

Seeing Stars: Part Three

One can usually tell when my personal life is filled to the brim with activity because that's when the posts turn more towards collections of screencaps than in-depth articles and tributes. And, yes, it's happened again what with Memorial Day weekend activities and other commitments. So, in order to keep things brewing for the time being, we give you another of the televised All-Star Party celebrations such as we previously covered for Clint Eastwood and Lucille Ball. This one, the twelfth of such galas, was to honor Joan Collins who, considering other honorees such as John Wayne, Frank Sinatra, Ingrid Bergman and others, was in fine company indeed! The hour-long broadcast contained tributes in story and song for our Miss Collins while a crowd of celebrities peered out from around rows of voluminous poinsettias.
Presided over, as always, by Monty Hall, the evening was kicked off by introductions of the people who would be participating in the night's entertainment. The event then ended with the dedication of a hospital wing named in honor of the evening's honoree.
Escorted to her seat by previous honorees Clint Eastwood and James Stewart, Joan's boyfriend at the time was one Bill Wiggins.
Wiggins was only with her for about a year, but his relationship with her is immortalized in this 1987 broadcast.
As is always the case, the attendees are made up of mind-blowing combinations of people who one just wouldn't expect to be hobnobbing together. Here we find handsome Andrew Stevens at the same table as Brian Keith.
Robin Leach, of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, gave a speech to Honor Joan. (When Leach died in August of last year, several media outlets ran footage of a show he did with Collins, typifying the glamorous lifestyle he shined a light on.)
Peppered in the audience are Scott Baio, Barbara Eden and Joan's Dynasty co-star/screen husband of the time, the utterly charmless James Healey, with a typically deranged expression on his face. Six years after this, he was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon! He served probation and did community service in order to avoid a two-year jail sentence.
Popping up like Cabbage Patch dolls from amid all the foliage, one can spot folks like Miss Jill Ireland, costume designer Nolan Miller and Ireland's husband Charles Bronson in attendance.
Behind a festive Bea Arthur we find one of our personal favorite people, Leann Hunley, then costarring on Dynasty herself.
Rich Little got up and went into a Johnny Carson impersonation. (Behind him towards the left you will see Cesar Romero and Michael Nader.)
As an bit of an in-joke, Little directed the early part of his monologue to the wrong Miss Collins! He was addressing Joan's sister, romance novelist Jackie Collins.
Joan found this "mix-up" amusing.
Little continued to impersonate a variety of notables from Jimmy Carter to then-President Ronald Reagan and, as seen here, Jack Nicholson.
He also did Jimmy Stewart, which seemed to baffle the actual Stewart, but his longtime wife Gloria appeared to appreciate the similarities...!
Next up came Michael Feinstein and Michele Lee, who performed a medley of complimentary songs like "You're the Top" and "Too Marvelous for Words."
Though fully ensconced in the prime-time soap Knots Landing by this time, Lee still had considerable pipes from her Broadway musical days and sounded quite terrific in her own brassy way.
Bea Arthur and Mr. Stewart engaged in a highly-forced and only moderately amusing bit of comedic repartee together.
Stewart was sporting those huge eyeglasses so popular at the time. In truth, I don't think there could possibly have been another period in history during which eyeglasses tended to be so big and ugly (and many people in this room had them on!)
Even though they were quite friendly with one another, it's not every day you see Joan and Clint at the same table.
Ms. Arthur very clearly did her own hair and makeup for the occasion as it is demonstrably lighter than what she was wearing on The Golden Girls.
Spotted in the crowd also is Dallas' Steve Kanaly. For a moment I thought that was his costar Priscilla Presley next to him, but it was his longtime wife Brett, who apparently liked the hairdo she saw on Pris each Friday night!
Another oddball pairing of celebs. The People's Court's Judge Joseph Wapner nearby Michael York! Bill Wiggins, in the foreground, must have loved Joan's scrambled eggs because he visibly gained weight over the course of their relationship...
In the dark glasses is none other than Alan Thicke. Who did he think he was?!
On hand to sing (or, if I'm right, lip-sync) "A Foggy Day in London Town" is Mr. Tony Bennett.
It had to be a rather special moment to have the acclaimed Mr. Bennett (still kicking at ninety-two) serenading you with a song specifically chosen for your birthplace.
Seen here is Art Linkletter, Florence Henderson (in QUITE the statement necklace!) and Michael York again. The organizers had a certain amount of seats set aside for associates of Collins and it so happened that she preferred to have more behind-the-scenes types (i.e. - "real people") than scads of surface showbiz pals, so this wound up a slightly less celeb-heavy crowd than might usually be seen at one of these soirees.
Eight is Enough's Dick Van Patten.
More Dynasty alum, Gordon Thomson in back and devilish Michael Nader in the foreground.
Character actor Geoffrey Lewis is seated near Barney Miller's Abe Vigoda.
Regardless of what I thought of her acting on Dynasty (and I didn't think much of it!), I felt that Ali MacGraw struck styling gold when she began wearing her hair pulled back tautly like this.
A better shot of Mr. Charles Bronson.
Jill Ireland seems like she'd have been a decent heroine on a glitzy prime-time soap of her own, but she was still making movies (mostly with Bronson.) To the left of her is Pat Paulsen, comic from The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour among other things.
Two more people you don't anticipate seeing together: Jackie Joseph, who worked on The Doris Day Show and provided Melody's voice on Josie and the Pussycats next to Susan Sullivan of Falcon Crest.
Bernie Kopell of The Love Boat.
Next up to speak about the guest of honor is Miss Lynn Redgrave, then the spokeswoman of Weight Watchers ("This... is living!")
Behind a beaming Joan Collins one can make out crazy-bug Joan Van Ark of Knots Landing.
When they speak of '80s excess... I mean this dress is truly just bad. As if the pilgrims had a ladies football team. 
It's a tad bit better going than coming, but that isn't saying a great deal.
St. Elsewhere's Ed Begley Jr.
Another shot of dreamy Leann Hunley.
In front is Miss Angie Dickinson. The smiling lady in pink is none other than Joan Collins' frequent on-set stand-in Judy!
Now a special moment in the evening, a surprise to all the guests arranged by Joan herself with Michael York relaying the introduction.
One request that Joan had when the arrangements were being made for the night was that the producers book a young man she'd seen singing for Pope John Paul II, who was so moved himself on that occasion that he rose from his chair and went to embrace the man.
Tony Meléndez was a man born with no arms when his mother was given Thalidomide while pregnant with him. He began performing in Los Angeles while in his early-twenties, playing the guitar with his feet while singing.
Though not terribly known to most of the world, he still performs in Branson, Missouri and continued a long career after this burst of spotlight in the mid-1980s.
Putting on their best faces, we find Scott Baio and his then-datemate Knots Landing's Nicollette Sheridan. Thirty years after this evening, Sheridan would inherit Joan Collins' iconic role of Alexis on the CW network reboot of Dynasty.
Mike Nader and Leann Hunley enjoy the music. To the right of Hunley is her hirsute then-husband Bill.
Afterwards, a visibly moved Collins gave Meléndez a heartfelt hug.
Next came a letter from President Reagan, read aloud by Mr. Eastwood, who was always visibly uncomfortable in situations like this. With him in the lower-right corner is Sondra Locke, who would be shown the door within two years. In fact, Eastwood was already in the process of fathering two children with another woman at this time after telling Locke (who tied her tubes) that children would not fit in with their lifestyle! The Johnny Appleseed of the semen set has at least eight children to date.
A by-now very emotional Collins was brought up to the podium in order for the announcement of her hospital wing to be made.
The Children's Hospital of Michigan unveiled The Joan Collins Vascular Surgery Inpatient Ward, a place to care for (as was said on the broadcast) "underprivileged and handicapped children." Years later, Collins was made a Dame of the British Empire in recognition of her substantial charity work, much of it directed towards children.
Entertainment Tonight's Mary Hart.
Here behind Lynn Redgrave and her shoulders is her husband John Clark. No stranger to scandal of his own, he fathered a child with their personal assistant (and that same assistant subsequently married - and divorced - John and Lynn's son!!) Messy lives...
Nestled in the back is part of Dynasty actress Teri Garber, pretty much the only moment she is visible on the show.
Foster Brooks amid the sea of fugly eyeglass frames... I always chuckle because I once used to perform on board a local floating showboat, now defunct, whose season subscription base was geared quite "older." During curtain calls, I'd come out and be blinded by the reflection of hundreds of glasses like these!
During Joan's acceptance speech, she pointed out producer Mike Frankovich and his wife, actress Binnie Barnes, who was in one of Joan's earliest movies, Decameron Nights (1953.) This was the best look at her that I could find.
Earlier at the end of their little sketch together, Bea and Jimmy toasted La Collins and hoped that she would live forever. That remains to be seen, but she has outlived a staggering number of people who were (and some who weren't) at this event and is still chugging along career-wise, to the delight of her throngs of fans. And she still makes sure to assist many charities in their endless efforts.