From Seattle to L.A., the Stars Show Their Stripes to Give Voter Registration a Boost

updated 10/24/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/24/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

It was called the Star-Spangled Caravan, but the two busloads of Hollywood celebs that rolled into Stockton, Calif., to promote voter registration seemed more like a lost civics class on a misguided field trip. The klieg lights' harsh glare, cameras flashing in air, gave proof through the day that the media were there, but would-be voters were a little harder to find.

Not that there weren't some enthusiasts. When Moonlighting's Curtis Armstrong took the stage in a park and told the crowd, "You're here because you want to see a change!" one young woman screamed back, "I'm here to see Rob Lowe! Eeeeeeeeeeeee!"

Billed as a nonpartisan event, the three-day, three-state celebrity junket seemed loaded with Dukakis supporters. Jane Fonda didn't make it, but husband Tom Hayden was there, and he and the other boys and girls on the bus managed to get in plenty of Bush-whacking. Party politics aside, though, the 30-odd stars, including John Larroquette, Justine Bateman, LeVar Burton, Lloyd Bridges and Rue McClanahan, did make an earnest effort to enroll new voters. "I'd rather be in Santa Barbara for the weekend," said Morgan Fairchild, "but it's worth getting on a Greyhound bus for a few days if you can get people to think about the political process."

The odyssey started with the stars arriving bleary-eyed for a 9:20 a.m. flight from L.A. to Seattle. Once in the air, and with Hayden out of earshot, Rob Lowe perked up the crowd with a joke—well, sort of: "What's the difference between Jane Fonda and Dan Quayle? Fonda spent more time in 'Nam."

In Seattle the luminaries soon discovered that the throngs were more interested in getting autographs than getting registered. A rally at the University of Washington collapsed into a minor mob scene as female fans swarmed heartthrobs such as Donovan Leitch Jr. and Robert Downey Jr., and fraternity boys flung themselves over hedges in pursuit of Fairchild.

The celebrity chase continued at the Portland, Ore., airport, where camera-toting tourists ignored the Members Only signs and followed the stampede of stars into the VIP restrooms. In Sacramento shrieking Lowe-lovers packed a rally, so while the other stars helped register voters, Lowe soothed his fans' raging libidos with some political oratory—sort of. "They say we don't care," he declared. "I'm here to tell you that I'm no brat packer and you're no yuppies. We care about one another. I think."

The next day, when the caravan arrived back in L.A., most of the celebs returned to their lairs. But Bruce Willis, who had waved goodbye to the buscapaders on Saturday morning, finally showed up for a rally at Westwood's Bruin Theatre, which rapidly became the focus of a monumental Bruce-induced traffic jam. The few would-be voters who tried to register were swept away by a landslide of fans. Curiously, no one seemed to be clamoring for George or the Duke.

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