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Sunday, October 10, 1993 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Ted Danson Panned After Blackface Appearance

AP

NEW YORK - Whoopi Goldberg laughed, as did most of the audience at her Friars Club roast. But boyfriend Ted Danson's appearance in blackface and his racially peppered jokes angered Mayor David Dinkins, talk show host Montel Williams and others.

"I was confused as to whether or not I was at a Friars event or at a rally for the KKK and Aryan Nation," Williams said in a telegram to the Friars announcing his resignation from the entertainment-industry club.

Dinkins said the jokes at Friday's roast "were pretty vulgar and many were way, way over the line."

The uproar came over Danson's arrival on the dais at the 89th annual roast. The Emmy-winning "Cheers" star was in Jolson-esque blackface makeup, with huge white lips, wearing a tuxedo and top hat.

Goldberg defended Danson, saying, "It takes a whole lot of (courage) to come out in blackface . . . I don't care if you don't like it. I do."

Dinkins, who left early, said he was embarrassed for Goldberg and felt "a tremendous sense of relief when it was over."

Williams walked off the dais seven minutes into Danson's monologue.

"When Ted made the jokes about the racially mixed kids, and everyone knows my wife is white and just gave birth to our child, I could see my wife start to cry," he said. "If that's what Whoopi and Ted find funny in their bedroom, it's not funny to the outside world."

Publicists for Danson and Goldberg did not return phone messages yesterday.

Bob Saks, chairman of the Friars Club celebrity luncheons, said Danson's routine was misconstrued by the media, the mayor and Williams.

In a statement yesterday, the Friars said they were "saddened by the racially offensive nature of some of the material. . . . We apologize to Mayor Dinkins, Montel Williams and all others who were offended by the racial remarks."

Copyright (c) 1993 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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