The 61st Academy Awards was a huge disaster. Organizers played musical chairs with several traditional aspects of the ceremony, but the biggest change in plans concerned the host. This awards show didn't have a host. Instead, it had a bizarre opening performance featuring Merv Griffin, Eileen Bowman (as Snow White) and Rob Lowe, which ended up being a total mistake. Audiences everywhere cringed as Lowe and Bowman sang an ultra-showbiz version of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Proud Mary." There was also dancing and a whole slew of embarrassing things that prompted major industry stars — including Paul Newman, Gregory Peck, Julie Andrews and Billy Wilder — to sign an open letter expressing their disgust for the telecast.
Jimmy Kimmel confronted Lowe about his musical faux pas in 2009, and the actor — although mortified — had a good sense of humor about it. "I'm still seeing a psychiatrist over it," he mumbled — pretending to put a gun in his mouth as Kimmel read a New York Times review deriding the weird opener. "The people that came up with that were not on drugs," he joked, also calling arranger and conductor Marvin Hamlisch a "bastard." Producer Allan Carr — who Lowe said he shouldn't have trusted with the number since the Grease writer and producer wore a kaftan to the planning meetings — never worked a successful day in Hollywood ever again. Lowe further stated:
"You have to understand that I am from the Midwest, and the Midwestern values tell you that if someone asks you nicely, you say yes — particularly if it's the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences… The concept was old Hollywood/Copacabana, and we would pay homage to the people who came before us. I should have known things were going bad at the first rehearsal, when it became clear that a lot the legendary old Hollywood folks couldn't walk unassisted. So, we put them at tables, and they sort of waved, and it sort of went all downhill from there."
has a fascinating story from the 22-year-old actress, Bowman, who became Lowe's dance partner in crime that night. She described the show as "a gay bar mitzvah," recounts the surreal preparations for her moment in the spotlight and the gag order she was forced to sign after the horrid show concluded. Clearly, she should have followed Lowe's advice: "Never trust a man in a kaftan." You can relive the memories in the below clips, where we've also included Lowe's Kimmel interview. Let's hope this Sunday's ceremony doesn't follow suit!