ALMOST EVERY JOKESTER FROM MILTON Berle to Seinfeld’s Michael Richards (Kramer) turned out Aug. 29 for the first annual Comedy Hall of Fame awards at Los Angeles’ Beverly Hilton hotel. But the evening’s funniest scenes came courtesy of a different kind of entertainer: alleged Beverly Hills madam Heidi Fleiss, who came as the guest of pal Victoria Sellers (daughter of the late Peter).
Fleiss briefly hid out in the ladies’ room to escape photographers, but she couldn’t duck the punch lines that came her way once she emerged. Even Burl Reynolds, alluding to his bitter divorce battle with Loni Anderson (see page 80) and how it has diverted attention from the peccadilloes of his showbiz colleagues, found Fleiss the perfect foil. “I got a couple of thank-you notes from Ted Dan-son,” he noted, “but I got nothing from Heidi.”
Scheduled to air as a two-hour NBC special in November, the ceremony honored Carol Burnett, Walter Matthau, Red Skelton, Jonathan Winters, George Burns and Milton Berle as the Hall of Fame’s first members. (The honorees will be immortalized at the UCLA Television Archives and New York City’s Museum of Television and Radio.) Presented with small Lucite sculptures, most of the inductees delivered grateful acceptance speeches and professed to be delighted by the honor. Said Winters: “Just to be in that class is quite a thrill.” But Burns, 97, seemed to have other prizes in mind. “Keep the award,” he told presenter Sharon Stone. “I’ll take you home.”