Celebs Salute President-Elect at Glittering Inaugural Gala
LANDOVER, Md. (AP) _ Barbra Streisand sang ″God Bless America,″ Michael Jackson danced and Bill Cosby cracked jokes as Bill Clinton grinned and clapped through a glittering inaugural gala Tuesday night.
″As one who has waited a long, long time for this day I am delighted to be here,″ actor Jack Lemmon shouted to the black-tie audience at the Capital Centre in suburban Washington.
The cavernous arena was awash with the sounds of rock and jazz as a parade of show business luminaries rose to salute the incoming president and a sea of supporters cheered the night before he was to take the oath.
It closed with a reunited Fleetwood Mac playing their hit, ″Don’t Stop (Thinking About Tomorrow),″ which had become the anthen of the Clinton- Gore campaign. As it reverberated across the arena, the band was joined on stage by Clinton, his wife, Hillary and their daughter, Chelsea, wearing a new sophisticated, off-the-shoulder black dress.
And then stars of Hollywood and Democratic politics came forth to embrace Clinton and stand with him at the close of the nationally televised gala.
The event got under way with Lemmon telling the crowd that it was to be ″a democratic celebration.″
″But not so much in the political sense; more in the sense of being all- inclusive and all-welcoming,″ Lemmon said.
Clinton took the stage briefly near the end, saying, ″Tomorrow, I begin a journey that I hope will be our journey. I will do my best to be faithful to your trust.″
″This is for you and Mrs. Clinton,″ Streisand said as she launched into her song ″Evergreen.″
Streisand saluted Hillary Clinton, saying, ″We must put children first and we are so fortunate to have a first lady who has fought for and will continue to fight for the rights of children.″
Actor Edward James Olmos told Clinton, ″we wish you wisdom and strength,″ and actor Warren Beatty brought a hoot of delight from the audience when he said he looked forward to Clinton’s re-election in 1996.
″Looked at my watch and it was quarter to eight, Bill’s gonna get this country straight,″ sang rock and roll legend Chuck Berry, whose medley of classics brought the crowd to its feet.
Clinton and Vice President-elect Al Gore smiled and clapped as rocker Little Richard launched into ″Good Golly Miss Molly.″
Singing more traditional songs were Judy Collins, who brought a hush to the auditorium with ″Amazing Grace,″ and the U.S. Naval Academy Glee Club, which sang the ″Battle Hymn of the Republic.″
Jackson sang and danced with a group of children and told of his friendship with the late AIDS victim Ryan White, ″who never wanted to be a symbol or a spokesperson for a deadly disease.″
Cosby, wearing overalls and a flannel shirt, ambled over to Clinton and Gore in their front-row seats and told them, ″I’m confused - you’ve got people in black tie and tails, but you’re from Arkansas. You’re from Tennessee.
″Just came by to visit,″ Cosby quipped as he headed to the stage to introduce an all-star jazz band including Thelonious Monk Jr., Herbie Hancock, Wynton Marsalis, Clark Terry, Al Grey, Ron Carter, Grover Washington Jr., Illinois Jacquet and Wayne Shorter.
Interspersed with the live peformances were videotaped reminiscenses from Clinton’s childhood friends from his Arkansas home.
Soul singer Aretha Franklin sang and blew kisses, the Alvin Ailey Dance Troupe danced and Michael Bolton had the crowd keeping time with his version of ″Lean on Me.″
Also on the program was opera singer - and Arkansas native - Barbara Hendricks and 12-year-old Reggie Jackson, who sang the ″Star Spangled Banner.″
Child actor Macaulay Culkin joked, ″Until recently I didn’t even know what a presidential inaugural party was - but then I’m told neither did the Democratic Party.″
Tickets for the nationally televised, invitation-only event ranged from $100 to $1,000. Profits were to be used to help pay for other free events in the inaugural celebration.