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Oct. 8, 2000

Stars visit to help students shine

  • Celebrities raise money for scholarship fund

    By Donnie Snow
    Clarion-Ledger Staff Writer

    AMORY -- Biting winds and temperatures in the upper 30s forced Stars Over Mississippi headliner Dolly Parton from an Amory High football field stage during the fifth Stars Over Mississippi scholarship benefit concert.

    "I'm about to die," Parton said three hours into the show. "I'm sorry. My throat is closing up. I just can't sing."

    Headliner Parton called the show early, after a diminished crowd of several thousand shivered through the rest of the Hollywood heavies, TV talkers and other assorted star-caliber performers.

    They had stopped in to raise some funds for Mississippi students through the biennial extravaganza.

    Culminating in the chilly concert on the football field of Amory High, country legend Parton, talk show personality Kathie Lee Gifford and actress Brooke Shields topped a list of stars who volunteered their time to benefit the Mary Kirkpatrick Haskell Scholarship Foundation.

    The foundation is directed by Haskell's son, Sam Haskell, who played football at Amory High 26 years ago and is now executive vice president at William Morris Talent Agency in Beverly Hills

    Tickets to the 7:30 p.m. event were $15. The foundation, which raises scholarship money for deserving students in Mississippi public schools, has amassed more than $1 million.

    "Who says there isn't life after Regis?" asked Gifford, who in July quit her job as co-host of Live with Regis and Kathie Lee.

    The rest of the entertainers huddled in a trailer green room behind the visitors bleachers, watching Gifford joke and sing through the cold.

    "I'm so very proud of my hometown," said Amory native John Dye, a perennial performer at the event who stars on the TV show Touched by an Angel. "In the beginning, there was a lot of apprehension. Were the stars going to come out for this? Now, its just what you do every two years."

    The stars are all friends of Haskells, including former Miss America Mary Ann Mobley and her husband, Emmy winner Gary Collins.

    Following an invitation-only gala Friday, the star-studded weekend awoke to a sunny Saturday with temperatures in the 40s.

    It only got colder.

    "Were here not only to see Dolly, but to support the cause. This educates kids and we support that," said John Creekmore of Amory, who came with wife Sheila.

    "I'll come back sometime and finish the show, I promise," Parton assured the crowd. "Or, I'll give you your money back myself. Well figure something out, y'all."

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