La Cage Aux Folles Cleaned Up—but Producer Alex Cohen Found Some of the Thank-Yous a Drag

updated 06/18/1984 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/18/1984 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Before the scheduled two-hour telecast of the 38th annual Tony Awards at the Gershwin Theatre, producer Alexander Cohen warned recipients to "keep your acceptance speeches to 30 seconds, or next year you'll be making them outside McDonald's." Many complied: Harvey Fierstein, whose book took one of a hatful of Tonys for La Cage aux Folles, thanked "my lover, Scott, who typed the whole thing." But in some cases it was a night of Broadway with its mouth open: Joseph Papp's thank-you for a special award for Chorus Line lasted three and a half minutes, and the show ran 20 minutes over its allotted time.

When it ended, Raquel Welch stripped off her diamond-and-sapphire baubles with the help of guards who returned the sparklers to Harry Winston. Dorothy Loudon turned in her head-to-toe fur outfit after joking, "I have another one at home just like it." Then the gaudy company headed to the Waldorf-Astoria for chicken with champagne sauce and mushrooms (allergy-prone Carol Channing brought a silver canister of goat cheese). When the party finally broke up, the winners left—without their Tonys. The statuettes had been returned to be engraved. But, as Cage producer Allan Carr warned, "I'm not leaving New York until I get mine back."

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