NEVER THROW A SURPRISE PARTY FOR ANGIE DICKINSON
BY DAN MILLER
(originally posted November 29, 2004)
Many of you will remember that show. Ralph Edwards was the original host. It was one of TV's earliest "reality" shows.
The idea was simple.
By hook, crook, and simple deception, family members and friends would lure an unsuspecting celebrity or notable person to the TV studio, telling them they were attending a function of some sort.
Sometimes the "person to be honored" might be part of the studio audience, or they might have been told they were to honor someone else. It was what the producers called the "sting".
Then, out of nowhere, the host would make the surprise announcement - "John Doe (or whoever), this is your life!".
That would be followed by a parade of people who'd been a part of the honoree's life or career, telling stories, and often providing pictures.
They'd even have mystery voices from far in the person's past..... an old teacher, or coach, or childhood pal. It was all quite sappy, and usually quite entertaining.
Well, on a pleasant California evening in November of 1993, Angie Dickinson arrived at NBC, thinking she was there to tape a surprise tribute to Brian De Palma. He had directed her in the movie thriller Dressed To Kill.
But suddenly the tables turned, and the host said... "Angie Dickinson, this is your life!"
Angie shot back, for all the audience to hear - "(Expletive) No! I won't do it! Not on your life!"
And folks, this was the mother of all expletives.... the one Ralphie got the bar of soap in his mouth for using in the movie A Christmas Story.
Angie screamed at her agents, and asked whether Burt Reynolds (her close friend) was among the celebrities waiting in the wings. He was -- and she said anyone who really knew her would know she'd never go for such a thing.
Angie left the premises. Those there to honor her were sent home. NBC explained to the audience that the taping would not proceed. Angie later berated her friends and agents for taking part in the conspiracy.
And, I'm told, all the tapes of the encounter were erased - never to be seen again.
OK, so Angie might have over-reacted a bit..... but since I'm one who has a fear of surprise parties, I always felt she made a strong statement on my behalf, and all others who don't want to be surprised.
For me, her stock went through the roof that day.