Legends Ball...

[KCRA-TV - Sacramento Report]

Oprah Rolls Out Red Carpet For Tribute

POSTED: 7:32 am PDT May 16, 2005

Oprah Winfrey rolled out the carpet for a lavish tribute to pioneering black women, then strolled it herself in a red Vera Wang ball gown.

Guests including Usher, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes were on hand for the ball Saturday night at the seaside Bacara Resort and Spa.

The talk show host joked with friends and praised the 25 honorees, including Coretta Scott King, Diana Ross, Maya Angelou and Cicely Tyson.

"These are women who, when I was growing up, made a difference for me," Winfrey told reporters. "The first time I saw Diana Ross and the Supremes on the Ed Sullivan Show, it changed my life."

Winfrey also linked the older black stars with their younger counterparts in a more intimate gathering Friday night at her Montecito home.

"There was nobody hating on nobody," said singer Patti LaBelle, who attended the party along with Mariah Carey and Alicia Keys.

Others at Saturday's bash included Gladys Knight, Halle Berry, Ashanti and California First Lady Maria Shriver.

Winfrey said it was a no-brainer to host her tribute in Santa Barbara.

"If you're going to have it, it might as well be in paradise," she said.

The Oprah “Legends Ball” weekend in Santa Barbara practically sizzled with star power.

“Tina Turner hugging Diana Ross , who was hugging Ashanti with Alicia Keys in the middle, and Halle Berry on the side and Leontyne Price and Coretta Scott King and um, Maya Angelou,” said Oprah, relating one particularly memorable moment that she saw. “I turned around and, like, everywhere you look, the energy was ….it was vibrating!”

Janet Jackson was also enthralled with everyone she had met at the event. “This weekend has been so amazing thus far, and to gather so many women, such power…”

Diana Ross took a moment to reflect on the responsibilities of those at the gathering.

“Maya Angelou said a very special thing at lunch yesterday,” Ross said. “She said that she hopes that some of the young'uns would at some point in time in their life be able to do this kind of thing for the ones coming after this group.”

Tyra Banks said the younger generation of stars is already thinking along those lines.

“I was sitting at the table with Brandi and Ashanti and Janet Jackson and we were saying that our generation needs to continue this,” said Banks.

Some of the attendees also took time to remember one special guest who was not in attendance: Whitney Houston.

“But Whitney's here in spirit,” said Patti Labelle. “Yeah she's here! We all did a cry out for her yesterday and everybody, every woman in the place started crying yesterday.”

“We keep Whitney in our prayers,” said Dionne Warwick. “And the next time that we all gather, she’ll be there.”

The power vibe at the event was so incredible that some guests began talking of an Oprah presidency.

“She will be, someday,” said Patti Labelle. “I know so. Bill Clinton was our first black president. She’s going to show us what she’s working with.”

Guests John Travolta and Kelly Preston also cast an early vote for the Oprah candidacy.

“Absolutely, are you kidding?" they both enthused. Added Kelly: "If she wanted to do it, she would be an amazing president!”

But the potential candidate herself downplayed any such ambitions. “I’d rather have parties,” said a laughing Oprah to Access Hollywood’s Shaun Robinson.

In true Oprah style, the ladies attending the event received gifts. The “Legends” received 10 carts worth of white diamond earrings, delivered in a reptile skin red box with a red ribbon. The younger attendees received white and black diamond hoop earrings.

The attendees were very appreciative. “I didn’t watch the show when Oprah gave the cars away,” said singer Natalie Cole. “But that’s what (receiving the gifts) was like!”

Copyright 2005 by NBC. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.




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