It's probably the most ridiculed Oscars number of all time: the 1989 show opener in which Rob Lowe sang "Proud Mary" with Snow White. While Lowe has discussed the performance before, on the occasion of this year's Oscars The Hollywood Reporter's Seth Abramovitch got the actress who played Snow White, Eileen Bowman, to open up and talk about the mortifying night and her gag order.
Whether you've seen the bit or not, it's still hard to fathom just how bad and silly this particular episode of Rob Lowe's post-sex tape scandal era really was. Allan Carr, who produced Grease, orchestrated the thing. Snow White sang "I Only Have Eyes For You," Merv Griffin did "I've Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts," and Lowe was off-key. Here's a clip:
For Bowman (aka Snow White) it was her initial and devastating introduction into Hollywood. She thought she was auditioning for Beach Blanket Babylon:
The show itself looked like a gay bar mitzvah. Middle America must have been like: "What is going on? There are dancing tables, there's Snow White singing with Rob Lowe, there's Merv Griffin with people with coconuts on their head!"
I was told not to go to Robin Williams in the audience because God knows what he would do. But running down that aisle, all I could see were the back of heads, and I was thinking, "I'll just go to Kevin Kline!" But they were sitting one row apart, and I accidentally went up to Robin. I was like: "Abort! Abort!" Martin Landau grabbed my hand with both of his, and he just looked at me; he was precious. Tom Hanks was wonderful. But all these poor people were like, "What the hell are you doing?" That number was 15 minutes long from start to end, and I remember looking at Rob Lowe, going, "It's finally over!"
That night, after refusing to attend the Governors Ball as Lowe's date, while still dressed as the Disney character, she went home to San Diego:
... [I] woke up to a lawyer at my door at 8 o'clock in the morning with a folder full of papers that I had to sign. One of those was the gag order. I thought I had done something wrong, so I was scared not to do what they asked of me. I signed a piece of paper saying 13 years -- I don't know why that was the number they chose. [An Academy lawyer doesn't remember any such action.]
While Bowman's post-performance celebrity interactions included running into Glenn Close and Olivia Newton-John asking her how she did it, Lowe told Jimmy Kimmel that he got aspirin for Lucille Ball and watched the Oscars with her:
Read Bowman's full account here.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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