The Robert Redford fans were hopelessly disappointed. And Larry Shirley, who was wearing the sex symbol's $35,000, solar-powered cowboy suit, was feeling a little foolish.
"You mean that suit is the same one Robert Redford wore?" said a sadly startled fan. "You're kidding."
"I didn't realize he was so small," said another fan as she eyed the blinking outfit. "I though he was 6'1" or 6'2" and had broader shoulders than that."
He doesn't. And neither does Shirley, a solar energy advocate and not altogether hulking mass of humanity who fit nicely into the purple polyester and rhinestone suit Redford wore in his new movie, "The Electric Horseman." a
"Not something you'd want to wear everyday to work," he said, "Or church, either. Not bad for parties though."
The suit, which comes with blinking lights that are solar-powered, was but a part of the hubbub last night for the Washington premiere of Redford's movie. Chip and Amy Carter also make an appearance, first to make a few remarks and then to flip on a solar-powered Christmas tree outside the Jenifer Theater.
The premiere, in case you hadn't guessed, which is entirely possible, was to benefit the Solar Lobby. This is an earnest little group that pushes for solar energy, has Redford on its board, and needs lots of money. Hence the benefit, which was requested by Redford. And hence the ticket price, which was $35.
After the movie, most of the 350 theater-goers were herded around the corner for strawgerry crepes and champagne at the Magic Pan. Since most were solar advocates of one sort or another, you would have expected them to talk about solar energy.
Wrong. The women talked about Redford and the men talked about Jane Fonda, who also starred in this movie that has nothing to do with solar power but a lot to do with horses, nature, advertising and journalism.
"Don't like her politics," Chip Carter said of Fonda. "But she's a damn good actress."
Among the guests were a small grabbag of congressmen who support solar energy. Rep. Richard Ottinger (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House subcommittee on Energy Development and Applications, stood around with his pipe analyzing what the recent OPEC price rise would do for the solar lobby.
"I wouldn't wish it on the country," he said. "But it does make oil more expensive and solar more competitive."
At this point, an Exxon man came up and introduced himself to Ottinger. "Hello," he said. "My name is Frank Kendall."
Wait a minute. An Exxon man, right in the middle of a bunch of solar energy folks? What's going on here?
"I work for Exxon Enterprises, which is the new venture part of Exxon that works with non-fossil fuels," Kendall explained, nonetheless revealing that on his bulletin board at home is a cartoon showing a couple walking into a cocktail party as the wife says, "Now you don't have to tell people you work for an oil company."
Over by the bar was Rep. Norman Dicks (D-Wash.), who was drinking something decidedly stronger than champagne. "Just having a cocktail," he explained. "We had a rough day up there on the Hill. Chrysler passed overwhelmingly -- two and a half to one."
The solar benefit, which was held among hanging plants and lights that were definitely not solar-powered, was expected to raise about $10,000 for the lobby.