Shaunna Murphy
February 22, 2017 10:43 am
Ron Galella/WireImage

When it comes to desirable Oscar dates, the late Carrie Fisher has got to be high on every sane person’s list.

After all, the iconic Star Wars actress had a better sense of humor about her industry than almost anyone, and when you combine that with her ballsy personality and A-list gaggle of friends and family, she sounds like a hell of a lot more fun than Jacob Tremblay. (Just kidding, Tremblay. We adore you.)

So of course, Tom Coleman’s newly-released essay in The Hollywood Reporter, which details his experience with Fisher at the 1978 Academy Awards, is a total blast. From a Star Wars pre-party to a waltz with Debbie Reynolds to a late-night after party with Steven Spielberg, Richard Dreyfuss, and John Belushi, Fisher sure knew how to show a girl a good time.

Coleman attended the awards because his company, Atlantic Releasing (later Atlantic Entertainment), had a French film called Madame Rosa that was nominated for (and later won) best foreign-language film. The company’s publicist, Renee Furst, introduced Coleman to Fisher, and convinced both of them — who were reluctant to attend the ceremony — to double-date with her.

Coleman then flew to Los Angeles from New York, put on his tux, and picked up Fisher in a limo from her Beverly Hills home.

“Wow — this is just like prom!” Fisher said, twirling in her dress and asking for Coleman’s opinion, with Coleman remembering that she looked like a “real-life princess.”

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From there, Fisher asked their limo party of four to stop at George Lucas’ pre-Oscar bash, with Coleman “laughing so hard I had tears in my eyes” thanks to her funny stories during the ride.

“George and Marcia Lucas approached our car with wide grins,” Coleman wrote. “They ushered us into the restaurant filled with the Star Wars family, and when Carrie walked in, a spontaneous cheer broke out — their Princess Leia had arrived. The love for her was palpable. I was in awe.”

Next up were the actual awards themselves. Back in ’78 there was no huge red carpet to-do, so Coleman and Fisher entered “stealthily” from the back, with Spielberg himself opening their car door once they arrived to the curb.

“He had been waiting for us to arrive just so he could say hello to Carrie,” Coleman explained.

When they exited their limo, a reporter from Variety was on hand to introduce stars to gathered fans outside the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

“I asked Carrie if she wanted to go up, knowing that the fans would be thrilled to see her, but she did not want to draw attention,” Coleman continued. “‘This is George’s night ­— not mine,’ she said.”

Coleman admitted that the ceremony itself — including the part where his movie won — remains a total blur to this day.

But thanks to Fisher and her mother, the Governors Ball party at The Beverly Hilton afterwards is not.

“Sitting with our backs to the dance floor, I heard a familiar voice behind me say, ‘Well, aren’t you going to introduce me?’ and turned around to see the beautiful and elegant Reynolds,” Coleman wrote. “Carrie, true to form, replied, ‘Mother, this is Tom, the man I have been living with for six months!’ Surely not fooled and playing along, Debbie said, ‘That’s good, dear. How very nice to meet you.’

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Next came the 3 a.m. after party at Dreyfuss’ apartment in Beverly Hills, which Spielberg and Belushi attended as well. Coleman finally dropped Fisher off at her place when the sun was rising, and quickly sent her a bouquet of flowers before hopping on a flight back to New York.

Coleman and Fisher lost touch after a few long-distance phone calls, but the lucky dude “delighted in her career as an author, playwright, actor and social commentator” along with the rest of the world following their special night at the Oscars.

He also, of course, greatly mourned hers and Reynolds’ deaths at the end of 2016, noting that he’s grateful she can still be an inspiration to his daughters now that she’s gone.

“My Oscar night with Carrie will always be one of my most cherished memories, a time when everything seemed possible,” Coleman concluded. “And I am so grateful for my brief moment with this wonderful woman.”

…And we’re so grateful that you shared it.

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