1,000 Over-Enthusiastic Fans Mob “Dolly” Star at Theater
December 16, 1969
NEW YORK—Some 1,000 over-enthusiastic fans mobbed Barbra Streisand Tuesday night at the premier of the movie version of Hello, Dolly! They rocked her limousine and prevented her from entering the theater for 15 minutes.
It took 20 police to clear a path for the the limousine to the theater for Miss Streisand. She was almost knocked to the pavement several times.
Once inside the theater, she joined the movie's other stars, including Louis Armstrong.
The theater version of Hello, Dolly! still is running on Broadway after six years. The premiere of the three-hour film musical was held up for eight months because of a contract that forbid releasing the film until 1971. However, 20th Century Fox finally came to terms with Broadway producer David Merrick for an earlier release time.
Tickets for the opening cost $150 apiece, with the money going to the Police Athletic League. Included in the price was a supper dance, with the automobile heiress Charlotte Ford Niarchos as chairman.
Miss Streisand, who appeared upset by the melee heralding her arrival, wore a white leather midicoat embroidered in red and edged in white fox fur.
Movie Premiere Like Combat Scene
by Earl Wilson
Next time I cover a Broadway musical movie premiere, I'm taking a pad, pencil and mace spray can.
Violence broke out—not on the screen—things weren't too bad up there—but in the black-tie socialite audience at Hello, Dolly! at the Rivoli.
After years of covering dangerous assignments such as nudist conventions, I was terrorized when photographers rolled around on the floor exchanging punches with mild-mannered Marty Erlichman, who managed Barbra Streisand into millions. Sulphuric language hissed through the restless crowd. How could they say such words in the presence of Charlotte Ford Niarchos, Mrs. Henry Ford II and Mrs. John Mosler, the beautiful people biggies promoting the benefit for the Police Athletic League?
Blood covered Erlichman's formal shirt collar. He had blood on his cheek. He send home for another shirt.
“I slipped,” he grinned later at a big supper dance at the Pierre, when everything was peaceful.
“I will never go to another premiere,” Barbra vowed. “It's inhumane. I was devastated at what happened to Marty.”
“How did you like your picture?”
“I'm not sure I even saw it.”
Here's what happened: It's typical of premieres in recent months, which have become increasingly perilous.
The “fans”—not all kids—mobbed Barbra's limousine when it was still two blocks from the theater ... slowed it to a crawl ... Barbra knew she was holding up the picture but was afraid to get out. Photographers, frustrated at getting a picture of her entering the theater—she had to be rushed through in a flying wedge—tried to get one inside. Somebody fell. A camera collided with Marty Erlichman's head and blood spurted. Yells crackled through the house.
Unless these hysterical celebrity-chasers are controlled by the police soon, we're going to have some deaths, and in what an absurd case.
[...] Let me add, everybody was just doing his job, the photographers and Marty Erlichman. And I was doing my job, too. I was cowering in the corner.