Oscar Fan Gets VIP Treatment

Crowds wave as stars begin to arrive for the 81st Academy Awards Sunday, Feb. 22, 2009, in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles. AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

It takes persistence and a bit of luck to get to sit in the bleachers for the red carpet star-watching party on Oscar Sunday. One fan's dedication has made her a VIP in her own right.

GOLDEN MOMENT: She didn't arrive in a limousine, but Sara Golden got special treatment to reach her seat in the bleachers outside the Kodak Theatre.

Photos: Oscar's Red Carpet
A smiling police commander drove Golden from her car to the end of the red carpet in a golf cart.

The 85-year-old Los Angeles resident has been cheering on the stars from the Oscars' red carpet bleachers since 1986, and now is guaranteed a seat.

"I almost didn't come this year. I was in a car accident last month and my arthritis is difficult," Golden said as she walked slowly past the security gates with the help of a walker.

"As long as she's physically able, we'll do this," said daughter Robin Golden Rojas of Miami.


EARLY RISERS: Lauren Chiles and friends arrived at 7:45 a.m. to snag a spot for watching celebrity arrivals.

Their location on Hollywood Boulevard would give them a good view - through a chain-link fence - of the stars getting out of their limousines to walk to the red carpet.

"I just wanted to see the hubbub and the spectacle," said Chiles, 31, of Los Angeles, as she sat in a collapsible camp chair.

"Later, the sidewalk will be full back to the wall and down to the corners, and we'll have to put away the chair," said friend Melinda Hall.


SISTER ACT: Karen Cohen said she and sister Nancy Edidin, both of Phoenix, have been entering contests and lotteries to win a seat in the bleachers for decades.

"Once we sent out 300 handwritten postcards because back then it was the only way to duplicate them. I even made a postcard out of a huge piece of cardboard, hoping that would catch their notice," said Cohen.

Their persistence paid off and on Sunday they were in the bleachers, three rows back from the red carpet.

"This is our first time and we're just floating," Cohen said.

WISH FULFILLED: Stephanie Larkin visited Italy a few years ago and, while at Rome's Trevi Fountain, made a wish that she would get to go to the Oscars.

The 36-year-old information technology manager entered the Academy's lottery and won a ticket to sit in the bleachers.

"I never in a million years thought I'd win, so I only put in for one ticket," she said.

It's just as well: Her fiancé isn't interested in celebrities. He traveled with her to Los Angeles from the Phoenixville suburb of Philadelphia, but planned to spend Oscar Sunday fishing off a pier in Huntington Beach.

Back in Philadelphia, Larkin's large family hoped to catch a glimpse of her on TV.

"The viewership will be up this year just with my contingent," Larkin said. "I bought a bright colored teal shirt so they can spot me in the crowd."


PASSING THE TIME: The bleacher crowd gets coffee, doughnuts, soda, sandwiches and other items to help get through hours of waiting.

"Who ordered the lobster roll?" an Academy staffer yelled as he passed out boxed lunches to fans in the stands. Everyone laughed because the only options were turkey and vegetarian.

The Academy also provides each fan a gift bag filled with useful items like sunblock, lip balm, chewing gum, a disposable camera and an Oscar-themed crossword puzzle.

Some of the clues were easy, like 24 down: "Oscar-winning actor Henry or his Oscar-winning daughter Jane." (Fonda)

But 10 down required a more detailed Oscar memory: "He sent Sacheen Littlefeather to decline his Academy Award." (Brando)


Associated Press Writer Raquel Maria Dillon contributed to this report.



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