PALM BEACH, Fla. - A trio of celebrities congregated at the Mar-a-Lago Club on Saturday night to help raise money for the American Red Cross of South Florida.
Academy Award-winning actress Shirley MacLaine, singer Wayne Newton and actor William Shatner were the headliners of the 58th International Red Cross Ball.
"There are so many dire things happening, both in this country and abroad, that require humanitarian intervention," Shatner said, citing the driving force that brought them together.
The "Star Trek" actor was still overcome with emotion after the death of his friend and co-star Leonard Nimoy the day before, lamenting that he wouldn't be able to attend the funeral because of his appearance in Palm Beach.
"He had a good, long life," Shatner, 83, said of Nimoy. "He did a lot of things. He inspired a lot of people. He was loved by a lot of people and he loved a lot of people."
The theme for this year's gala was "Around the World in 80 Days," and guests arriving at the spacious oceanfront property were greeted with a line of flags from different countries. Attendees at the $1,000-per-plate function enjoyed a cocktail reception, during which they dined on hors d'oeuvres from 20 countries around the Mar-a-Lago pool while the Palm Beach Symphony performed.
MacLaine, who spent much of her night at a small patio table near the check-in area, discussed her admiration for the woman without whom the American Red Cross would cease to exist.
"I wanted to pay homage to Clara Barton, the woman who founded the American Red Cross," MacLaine said. "I feel strongly about her. I love what she's done. I think it's something that has benefitted all of mankind, although (it) is a woman at age 60 who did it, and I would like to play her."
MacLaine, who spent time in Palm Beach County in 2004 during the filming of "In Her Shoes," said she is working on two films this year. The woman who won an Oscar for her role in "Terms of Endearment" opposite Jack Nicholson splits her time between Los Angeles and Santa Fe, New Mexico, which she called a "land of enchantment."
The 80-year-old actress said she has another reason to be in Palm Beach.
"I'm going to try to talk Donald Trump into liking a script that we'll have written and then he can finance it, so that's basically another reason I'm here," MacLaine said.
The Mar-a-Lago Club is a Trump-owned resort.
Newton arrived from Las Vegas and entertained guests with some of his signature songs, including "Danke Schoen," which he recorded when he was 21 years old. The song was discovered by a new generation when Matthew Broderick lip-synched the ballad in the 1986 movie "Ferris Bueller's Day Off."
"There's no one more excited and more surprised about that than I am," Newton said.
The 72-year-old performer said the song was originally intended for Bobby Darin, who gave it to Newton.
"He wanted a song that he was very sure was going to be a big hit," Newton said.
When he finished recording the song, Newton took it home and played it for his parents.
"And my mother said, very sweetly, 'Oh, that's a lovely song,'" Newton said. "My dad said, 'cause we're from Virginia originally, 'Doggone my soul, boy, people (are going to) think you're a communist."
Newton said it's "been an interesting ride with that song."
"Because about every 10 years, for some reason or another, it becomes a hit all over again," Newton said.
Accompanied by his wife, the man known as "Mr. Las Vegas" said he comes to South Florida "maybe a couple of times a year."
"Not as much as we'd like," Newton said. "We have to sneak out of Vegas, because I'm not allowed to leave there, you know."
Shatner said he and his wife used Priceline to find a flight to Palm Beach. As the face of the discount travel website, Shatner was happy to tout his role as "Priceline Negotiator."
"I hold Priceline as a banner whenever I travel because you get some great seats, great cars (and) great hotels from Priceline," Shatner said.
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