Tripping the White Fantastic at “Star”
December 21, 1976
by Jody Jacobs
When you pay $125 for a benefit premiere, you don't deserve such troubles.
It started weeks ago when the word filtered down from Warner Bros. to the Los Angeles International Film Society (Filmex) that Barbra Streisand wanted the premiere of her latest film, A Star is Born, to be a dazzling all-white affair. Panic. Practically nobody balks at black-tie premieres. Even “funky sparkle” is fairly easy to interpret. But white? In the middle of winter? And what would the men wear?
“Why?” Mrs. David Williams Jr., the chic wife of an L.A. attorney, asked Filmex Society benefit chairman Ames Cushing. “You'll understand after you've seen the film,” Ames promised her. Saturday night Daphne Williams had seen the film and was sitting at Dillon's, the new Westwood Village four-story discotheque cum restaurants, wearing a white dress. And she still didn't understand why.
A Sigh of Relief
Dr. Joseph Pollock, the surgeon who is a Filmex patron and the father of Thomas Pollock, Filmex board chairman, shrugged when he got the word and wondered if surgical shades of gray would be OK, too. Dr. Pollock, who'd already had his Rolls painted white, breathed a sigh of relief. Saturday night he wore a gray jacket, his wife wore white and they drove to Mann's Village Theater for the premiere in a dark car because the white Rolls wouldn't hold them and their six guests.
Streisand's costar, Kris Kristofferson, and his wife Rita Coolidge wore matching white. So did Helmut Berger and his date, Alana Hamilton, the former Mrs. George Hamilton. So did quite a lot of other people, male and female.
But Streisand did not. Real royalty usually follows the rules. The Hollywood variety evidently doesn't feel it has to. So la Streisand wore a black velvet dress covered by one of those '20s velvet capes with a giant stand-up fur collar, and carried the black orchid Flower Fashions had spent four hours tinting. She'd originally planned to wear it in her curly reddish locks. Her act had been pulled before—by Bette Davis in the movie Jezebel and by Norma Shearer in a real-life Hollywood party in the '30s.
Those out on the street in front of the theater got a pretty good look at the superstar and her producer and good friend, Jon Peters, the ex-hairdresser. The paying guests who were already seated (they'd been asked to) caught a brief glimpse of the fur collar and a few curls as Streisand made a running entrance down the aisle protected by a wedge-shaped phalanx of “guards” with Peters at its front. Those seated near her, like Marilyn and Alan Bergman, the Academy Award-winning lyricists, and Ryan O'Neal with his agent Sue Mengers, saw more.
[...] There were quite a few studio “heavyweights” and producers and directors around, among them George Cukor (he made the second version of A Star), William Wyler and his wife, who is a member of the Filmex Society, Dan Melnick with Tina Sinatra, Mr. and Mrs. Mike Medavoy, Freddie and Cherie Fields and Janet and Freddie de Cordova. Also Columbia president David Begelman and cosmetic tycoon-producer George Barrie. Begelman's wife Gladyce and Barries's “lady” Georgette Muir were both in teal blue. A coincidence? [...]
(Photos above, all by Alan Light, who attended the premiere in 1976. Top Left: After the premiere of A Star Is Born in Westwood .... Top Right: ... guests walked down the street on a red carpet to the party at Dillon's Disco, 1081 Gayley Avenue, Westwood. Bottom Left: Marilyn and Alan Bergman in Streisand's private room at Dillon's. Bottom Right: Streisand—in black.)
Celebrities Attend Premiere
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