Bette Midler Diana Ross History Los Angeles fundraiser Print Issue Bette Midler Diana Ross History Los Angeles

When a Group of Silver Screen Vixens Dared to Stand Up to HIV Stigma

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Guys and Dolls (and who would have turned 100 this year), is never listed among Hollywood’s early AIDS warriors. But she deserves to be.In 1983, press agent and off-Broadway producer Alan Eichler — whose YouTube channel is a wealth of stage, TV, movie, and music rarities — came up with the idea of organizing a star-studded fundraiser that wound up being the first theatrical AIDS benefit on the West Coast.Eichler, who had been a press agent for Hello, Dolly!

and Hair, was known for working with ladies of a certain age who he hoped to, and often did, restore to their former glory: Yma Sumac, Eartha Kitt, Patti Page.He also worked closely with Tom Eyen, the playwright and lyricist who, in 1982, enjoyed a smash with Broadway’s Dreamgirls.

In 1975, Eyen had written the camp play Women Behind Bars, a raunchy parody of prison exploitation films that served as a vehicle for plus-size Halston model Pat Ast and midnight movie star Divine, and a new production at the Roxy on the Sunset Strip in L.A.

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