My evening with Shirley MacLaine

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This is what I always thought my job would be like.  Hanging out with celebrities.  In truth it has never been that way… until tonight.  You see, I don’t come from a theatre background.  I was hired because of my fundraising experience.  Usually I am as excited to see the show as you are… I almost never go back stage and when I do I feel very out of place and way to shy to actually talk to the celebrities.  But tonight Shirley MacLaine talked to me…

Yes.  Shirley really did take a cab from the airport to her hotel.  We had a car at the airport but she and the driver missed each other and she took a cab.  I was scared to death because I did not know what mood she was going to be in when I met her in the hotel lobby before the show.  Turns out I had nothing to be scared about…

From the moment I introduced myself she was a complete professional and an absolute sweetheart… and sexy to boot!   When I mentioned that the Roaring Fork was filled with diners who were excited about her show, she said “Well let’s go in and say hello to them.”  So we did.

Then she asked to see the theatre so she could  “make a few adjustments to the lighting and sound if needed.”  The moment she stepped onto the stage her comment was, “Oh my what a lovely theatre.  It has such great energy.  What a beautiful space.”

Her talk went very well and I think my interview was OK.  She really made me feel at ease and at some point I just realzied I needed to follow her lead.  I certainly didn’t expect her to suggest that we should “spend the night” together!!!  That was too funny and several audience members told me they could see me blushing from their seats.  By the way, if you go to this website about Shirley, you will see under the trivia section the part about her “love of horses”.  I wasn’t making it up.

BUT, here is the great part.  After the show she made an appearance at the Stephen F. Austin for a private meet-and-greet with our Century Club members. After gracioulsy taking pictures and signing autographs she grabbed my hand and simply said, “It’s time to go. I need you to lead me out of the room.”  So I did.  At the elevator I assumed I was saying good-bye but she grabbed my partner’s hand again and said “Aren’t the two Kens coming up for a visit?”

So we spent almost three hours with Shirley (she said I could call her that) and her friend Rex from Dallas.  We talked about politics, Hollywood, the Rat Pack, her new book (she gave me her number and told me to call her when I finished it), Austin,  Santa Fe, my daughter, UFOs, Debbie Reynolds, Barbara Walters, Rosie O’Donnell, Kathy Griffin, Joan Collins… my head is swimming.  She ate a ceasar salad… I was afraid I might throw up so I sipped water. 

She wants me to research the possibility of her coming back to do a two-day seminar about all things UFO and such.  She really wanted to go into more detail with the audience at the theatre, but time would not permit.  I think we might see her back in Austin soon.  By the way her website is .

Her new book comes out November 6th.  It is called Sage-ing While Age-ing.

All in all it was a night I will never forget… with a woman I will never forget. 

It is 1AM but I  probably won’t fall asleep for hours.


11 responses to “My evening with Shirley MacLaine

  1. Ken,

    It appears that I may be one of the only people in Austin who actually reads your blogs! I wanted to let you know that me and my friend Lauren really enjoyed seeing Ms MacLaine live and in-person. She was funny and really, really down-to-earth. My friend Lauren was practically in tears when Ms MacLaine first came out. We really enjoyed the friendly banter between you and this lovely lady and we could tell even from where we were sitting (the mezzanine) that you were blushing. Lucky you for being able to spend time talking to her! I sincerely hope that she will come back to Austin for that two-day seminar she was talking about…I know that we’ll be there!

  2. Nope. I read it too. Ken you were delightful. I can’t believe you have never done this before. Ms. MacLaine owes you a great deal for briging out the side of her we have all enjoyed for years. I hope she comes back as I too would take that class. Thanks again for another great evening… your best work late a night!!!

  3. I just couldn’t believe that Shirley Maclaine was coming to Austin, so mad the two hour drive, got a hotel room had a lovely time and LOVED listening to her, but I’m really disappointed that the show was cut so short for a reception? Gee, for the price of the tickets, I would have thought that we too would have the opportunity to enjoy her for more that an hour and a half. And the interview questions were pretty insipid. This woman is an extremely deep thinker and you ask her about Lindsey Lohan.. Should have asked her about the meaning of life. Duh. You wasted your opportunity for a fabulous evening by being too selfish.

    [Sorry you didn’t enjoy the interview. I felt we had a diverse audience last night and tried to give everyone a little bit of this amazing person’s life. I’m glad no one wanted to hear about Lindsey and that Shirley didn’t care to comment. However, her next movie was schedule to be with Lohan and was reportedly cancelled because of Lohan. I think the question was relevant. The reception did not determine the length of the show. ~ken]

  4. LOVED the show Ken! I was actually surprised that she stayed as long as she did as I was told the show would only be an hour long. So, kudos for making the reception wait while we all got an extra half hour of Ms. MacLaine. Personally, I’m glad you put some light questions in the mix – it really showed us who she is and (no surprise) that she really doesn’t watch TV. Thanks for a great evenig and for bringing this legend to the Paramount stage!

  5. Brenda Thompson

    It was a very interesting evening, and I thought there was a good mix of all of the facets of this fascinating woman. The seminar would be a big success here, I am sure, judging by the audience attendance and response. I do wish that Shirley’s “people” would create some kind of video or slide show to provide an overview of her career–for those who remember her star-making role in The Apartment and for those who know her primarily as an author. I heard Julie Andrews speak last year (for the Texas Library Association) and she was preceded by an excellent video that really set the stage for her talk and reminded the audience of the incredible range of her career, which began in her childhood and now includes her co-authoring children’s books with her daughter.

  6. What a treat to see Shirley Mclaine in person here in Austin! She had so much to say and touched on so many mind blowing topics, I wish she could have talked longer. I sure hope the two day seminar comes together and I can afford to attend. Can’t wait for her new book to come out.

  7. I am one of the audience members who would have been upset if not for the interview. You made the whole evening Ken! Shirley needs a different venue to talk about this other stuff at legnth. It is all facinating but there is no way to give it credit druing an evening theatre show. Your interview made it all worthwhile. She should travel with you!!! By the way, I don’t believe you were nervous. I think you gave an oscar winning performance of someone pretending to be nervous!!!

  8. Dear Ken,
    First we want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for turning us on the great tickets.

    Second and most important. YOU were wonderful interviewing Shirley. I think she had some interesting things to talk about but she needs a coach to teach her how to be a cohesive speaker. She reminded me of me on my first lectures when I was an adjunct at the University.

    It was very clear that you were thoughtful and curious in your scope of interest in her long career. Not just limiting the interview to her current interests. (All of which I like and started getting interested in with F.
    Capra’s book The Turning Point back in 82.) And that is precisely what you needed to do because YOUR community had various interests in being there.

    Shirley is eccentric and Austin is a diverse, mostly intelligent, and sometimes narcissistic group. You held your own with poise and dignity.
    You extended generosity and honesty at the end. Not a lot of Ego’s could have handled that. Clearly a brief window into your personal nature!

    BRAVO, YOU made it real. So today don’t ruminate or perseverate on whether or not you did a good job, you were endearing!


  9. What a fabulous night!

  10. I flew out from Chicago to see this show and I had a fabulous time! I saw Shirley in San Jose last March and there’s really no way to explain to someone who hasn’t seen her just how she lights up a room. What an amazing being. I thought your banter with her was adorable and could tell she was tickled by you. (Yeah, I’m jealous.) 🙂
    Great job, and I will definitely be there for the two-day seminar if it happens!!

    [Wow. Welcome to the Paramount. Do come back!]

  11. Aline Holtzman

    Hi Ken,

    I am the wife of the fella with the oxygen machine problem. I was embarrassed for the interruption but Shirley took it in stride and made us not feel so uncomfortable. She is a great lady and we enjoyed hearing her and YOU did a great job.

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