Episode Cast:

Suzanne Sugarbaker
Delta Burke

Julia Sugarbaker
Dixie Carter

Mary Jo Shively
Annie Potts

Charlene Stillfield
Jean Smart

Anthony Bouvier
Meshach Taylor

Bernice Clifton
Alice Ghostley

Bill Stillfield
Douglas Barr

Guardian Movie Star
Dolly Parton

Miss Minnie Bell Ward
Beah Richards

Vanessa Hargraves
Olivia Brown

OB Nurse
Lynne Marta

Nurse #1
Diane Dorsey

Nurse #2
Daryle Ann Lindley

Attendant #1
George NeJame

Attendant #2
Conor O'Farrell

Bill Shick

The First Day of the Last Decade of the Entire Twentieth Century

Directed by: Harry Thomason
Written by: Linda Bloodworth-Thomason
Taped: December 6, 1989
Airdate: January 1, 1990 (60 minute episode)

It's New Years Eve and a local radio station is giving a new car to the first baby born in Atlanta during 1990. Needing a car for her housekeeper, Suzanne decides to call Charlene to ask if she could have the baby shortly after midnight. Meanwhile, Charlene dreams of being visited by Dolly Parton. As her guardian celebrity, Dolly tells her a baby girl is coming very soon. Saddened when she thinks of the family who have died before her daughter is born, Dolly reassures Charlene they will be there in spirit, watching her grow up. Then, as she wakes up, Charlene goes into labor.

With Bill's plane grounded due to bad weather, Charlene is helped to the hospital by Julia, Suzanne and Mary Jo. Wanting to win the car, Suzanne anxiously checks on each expectant mother entering the maternity ward, assessing their chances of delivering the first baby of the New Year. Learning Charlene's baby is on the way, Bernice calls for an ambulance to take her to the hospital for the delivery. Although the attendants want her to check in for observation, Julia insists Bernice is not crazy.

Julia meets a 102 year old woman -- Effie -- who, while waiting to die, has been assigned a room in the hospital maternity ward. When Charlene is taken into the delivery room, Suzanne falls asleep and, after dreaming everyone is a baby again, wakes up yelling about the car. The women learn Charlene had a girl but, since it was the second baby delivered after midnight, Suzanne must go without the new car. As they all gather to see baby Olivia, Effie dies and everyone, including Dolly, assembles at her bedside to sing Auld Lang Syne.

-- Columbia Tri-Star Marketing

Additional Comments:

The original title for this episode is Auld Lang Syne.

This one-hour special episode originally aired on New Years Day, 1990, and centered around the birth of Charlene's baby, Olivia.

Dolly Parton's appearance on this episode coincided with the recent release of her hit film Steel Magnolias -- which the Sugarbaker ladies planned to see before being interrupted by Charlene's labor pains. Dolly was reportedly a big fan of Designing Women and wanted to make a guest appearance.

The character of Effie (played by Beah Richards) was renamed Miss Minnie Bell Ward and was inspired by conversations with Meshach Taylor's grandmother. Meshach had brought his Nanna to the set for her 106th birthday, at which time she shared tales of her father and growing up in the South.

It states in the episode that Bill's plane is grounded in Jackson, Mississippi due to the huge blizzard, but he is shown flying his fighter jet when Olivia is born, so it is actually the Atlanta weather that is preventing him from flying in. This is also the reason Bernice is forced to call an ambulance to get her to the hospital -- nothing else can get through on the streets.

This episode introduces Vanessa Hargraves, who appears as Anthony's New Years date. In spite of the fact that the character makes only three more appearances -- all this season, Vanessa is well remembered by the audience as Anthony's girlfriend over the series.

Although Anthony and the ladies are at Miss Minnie's bedside when she dies, no one is singing Auld Lang Syne as stated above. Instead, "Guardian Movie Star" Dolly Parton guides Miss Minnie's spirit into the light just as baby Olivia is born -- all to the song Somewhere Out There (see the Musical Memories page for detailed song listings).

Julia mentions that Reese is visiting his daughter in Seattle, which means that either the writers goofed, or Margaret and her family have moved. Two seasons ago in both Heart Attacks and I'll be Home for Christmas Margaret lived in Phoenix.

An additional hospital attendant was played by Christopher Ginnaven, but he did not actually appear in the episode. Although he rehearsed with the cast all week and was part of the final taping, his scenes ended up on the cutting room floor.

This episode was nominated for several awards, including the International Film & Television Festival of New York's award for Best Situation Comedy Series, the Angel Award for Best Television Comedy, and an Emmy nomination for Judy Burke's Multicamera Production Editing.

Classic Scenes:

Bernice and Anthony enter Sugarbaker's with Bernice blowing a party horn.
BERNICE: Happy New Year!
JULIA: Well, Happy New Year, Bernice.
BERNICE: (blowing horn at Suzanne) Happy New Year, Suzanne.
SUZANNE: Happy New Year to you too, Bernice.....ya little fruitcake.
JULIA: Suzanne!!
SUZANNE: Oh, she knows I'm just kidding. She loves for me to call her that, don't you Bernice?
BERNICE: It's ok. I would mind though, for example, if we were at the White House.
SUZANNE: Ok, I'll remember that.
MARY JO: Bernice, why are you wearing your Christmas tree skirt?
BERNICE: Well, this is the skirt you gave me for Christmas.
MARY JO: Yes, I know. It's not to wear. It's a Christmas tree skirt. You're supposed to put it around the base of your Christmas tree.
BERNICE: Oh! Well no wonder. I like to never got this thing on. I finally just let the waist out and tied it with a belt.

Charlene falls asleep on her sofa. Next we see a clouded dream sequence with Dolly Parton entering to applause. In the background the music to I'll Be Seeing You plays softly.
CHARLENE: Miss Parton!! I can't thank you enough for being in my dream! I am your biggest fan. This is such an honor!
DOLLY: Oh, well thank you, Charlene. Please just call me Dolly. And actually I was sent here to talk to you -- y'know, kinda like that angel in It's a Wonderful Life.
CHARLENE: Are you an angel?!
DOLLY: No, I'm just a movie star. I don't think I'd make angel if I died!
CHARLENE: Oh, well they couldn't have sent anybody better. I've always felt this special bond with you, y'know, because we're both country girls from big poor families, and we both have blonde hair, and we both have (gesturing to their bosoms) y'know.......
DOLLY: Yeah, I know. And you're from Poplar Bluff, Missouri.
CHARLENE: How'd you know that?
DOLLY: I told you, I know all about you. I also know that in a few hours you're gonna meet the best friend that you'll ever have...........your daughter.
CHARLENE: I knew it! I knew it was gonna be a girl. I have a name all picked out too: Olivia Frazier Stillfield. I hope she grows up to be just like you. As far as I'm concerned you're the greatest hick who ever lived!
DOLLY: Well, thank you, Charlene. Actually, she is a little like me.
CHARLENE: Which part?
DOLLY: She's no angel either.
CHARLENE: I just can't wait to meet her. But she can't come today, I'm not ready.
DOLLY: Oh, it won't be today. It's tomorrow; January One, 1990 -- the first day of the last decade of the entire 20th century. Oh, it's so exciting Charlene! Everything's changing. This whole world is just opening up. Why that youngen could be anything!
CHARLENE: Wow! She could be the next leader of the free world.
DOLLY: Well, that's right, but she could also work at a car wash.
CHARLENE: Wow! A car wash! That could be interesting too. I'm just a little sad though. Whatever she is, my grandma and my grandpa, and my sister Pat who died -- they won't be here to see her.
DOLLY: That's where you're wrong, Charlene. When Olivia comes into the world tomorrow, they'll be with her. I mean, everyone in your family that's gone on before you -- everyone you've loved -- you'll see them in her eyes, and her smile, and in the way she walks. And when she takes her first step and says her first words, they'll be there. When she has a fever at three o'clock in the morning, when she gets caught in the rain walking home from school, when she hits her first baseball, they'll be there.
CHARLENE: Are you sure?
DOLLY: Yes! and when she's afraid of the dark, when she forgets to say her prayers, when the wind catches her voice on a warm summer day, they'll be there.
CHARLENE: Thank you, Dolly. This means so much to me. I love you so much!
(Charlene starts to hug Dolly.............)
DOLLY: Careful now, Charlene! Let's don't gouge each other! She's gonna be a beautiful healthy baby.........she's a real firecracker! Y'know I have to go. I have to sing tonight!
CHARLENE: Bye Dolly! Wait........how'd you get to be so wise?
DOLLY: Oh, I guess it just comes with being a star -- we're able to see the world from a greater distance.
CHARLENE: Oh yeah. Well that makes sense. Oh boy! I feel so much better. Thank you, Dolly, for being in my dream.
DOLLY: Oh, you're welcome. You just remember that tomorrow, when you meet your daughter, on the first day of the last decade of the entire 20th century, you'll be meeting the person that'll be holding your hand when it's your time to go. And even then, Charlene, she won't be alone. They'll be there.
CHARLENE: Bye Dolly!! I'll be seeing you.
DOLLY: Oh, you can count on that.....'cause I'm your Guardian Movie Star.
(Dolly walks into the clouds.......)
CHARLENE: Boy! She looks even better in person!! Oh, darn! I forgot to ask her for her autograph! Oh gosh.........Olivia's coming in a few hours. It's almost the first day of the last decade of the entire twentieth century. And Olivia's coming......

Mary Jo and Suzanne are sitting in the hospital waiting room after Charlene goes into labor
MARY JO: What have you got in that envelope?
SUZANNE: Charlene's jewelry. Julia just gave it to me. Did you see this dinky little diamond chip (bracelet) Bill gave her?
MARY JO: Suzanne, they're saving for a house.
SUZANNE: Well, I don't care. In a few minutes she's gonna be lying in that delivery room like a big ole zeppelin tied to stirrups, and he gives her a chip........can you believe it?

Shortly later on the phone with Bill......
SUZANNE: Listen, Colonel? Next time you go buying jewelry we gotta talk. I mean, this little diamond chip business isn't gonna get it. That's something you give a six year old when she joins the church.

Suzanne, Mary Jo and Anthony are in the hospital waiting room, where Anthony's Tina Turner-looking date Vanessa is dancing with headphones on.
SUZANNE: Hey Anthony, congratulations on your date. She's very classy, very sort of Radcliffey.
ANTHONY: I know she isn't exactly what I had in mind, but she does have her good points.
MARY JO: She's a good dancer.
ANTHONY: Uh huh, that's right. Anyway, I was probably just gonna take her on home, but now the streets are so bad I don't think we can make it.
SUZANNE: Oh, I wouldn't worry about it, she strikes me as the kind of girl who's equally at ease at home, or in a social setting.

The roads are snowed over, so Bernice calls an ambulance to take her to the hospital when she hears that Charlene is in labor.
AMBULANCE DRIVER: Did you know that it's a criminal offense to solicit an emergency vehicle under false pretenses?
BERNICE: Do you know that if the Avon lady falls down on your property you have to pay for it?

It's now Suzanne's turn to dream, and she is dreaming that she, Charlene, Julia, Mary Jo, and Anthony are all infants in the hospital nursery in a giant crib or playpen....
BABY MARY JO: Whaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh
BABY CHARLENE: Don't cry, Mary Jo. What's wrong?
BABY SUZANNE: Nothing's wrong. She's just jealous because I was the first baby born after midnite -- January One, 1990.
BABY MARY JO: I'm not jealous, I'm hungry!! I only weighed in at five pounds. (sucks her thumb)
BABY SUZANNE: Yeah, likes that's a problem. You know you're little and tiny and cute. Of course you're not as cute as some people. Hey where's that mirror-mobile? I like that thing.
BABY JULIA: Suzanne, suck your pacifier.
BABY SUZANNE: Ohh!! A little fussy today aren't we? Well, you're all just jealous because I won the new car. I was the first baby. I won, I won, I won!
BABY JULIA: Suzanne, I am not fussy today. I just don't particularly care for the head nurse. She is so superior! I'm especially tired of her coming in here every five minutes with that thermometer. I'd like to tell her where to stick it.....but apparently she already knows.
BABY CHARLENE: Well I think this whole place is great. It's twenty-four hour room service, and look (holding up her hospital ID bracelet) free jewely!
BABY SUZANNE: Are you serious?
BABY CHARLENE: Yeah, I think it's pretty.
BABY SUZANNE: Well, I'm glad you're developing a taste for cheap bracelets. You're gonna need that later on in life. And by the way, would someone kindly tell me what is he doing here?
BABY ANTHONY: Excuse me, but to whom are you referring?
BABY SUZANNE: Oh, well like I'm the only one here who noticed! Hasn't anyone else asked themselves what is wrong with this picture?
BABY MARY JO: He's different!
BABY CHARLENE: Oh, I know. I especially noticed during the diaper change. He's definitely different.
BABY ANTHONY: That's right, very very different. And I'll tell you something else. For some reason, I do not particularly appreciate being put behind these bars. Whaaaaahhhh!! I don't want to be incarcerated anymore! Let me out! I'm busting out of here now!!
BABY SUZANNE: Oh keep your diapers on!! You wouldn't even make it to the hallway.
BABY ANTHONY: Well maybe not on my own.........but I'm gonna be driving that little car right there.
BABY SUZANNE: Whaaaaaahhhhhhhh!!
BABY ANTHONY: I was just gonna borrow it. I'll bring it back.
BABY SUZANNE: You can't take that!! It's my car, I won it. I'm the New Years baby!
(Baby Bernice enters and runs off with the pint size car...............)
BABY BERNICE: Not anymore!! Not anymore!!
BABY SUZANNE: That's my car!! That's my car!!!

The scene switches back to the waiting room with Suzanne wailing like a baby in her sleep........
SUZANNE: That's my car!!! Whaaaaahhhhhhhh!!! (Slowly she wakes up with everyone staring at her) What's going on? What's happening?
BERNICE: First you fell asleep. Then you made a fool of yourself.

The ladies and Anthony have been mesmerized by the tales at Miss Minnie's bedside as she starts to speak passionately and emotionally.
MISS MINNIE BELL WARD: ....I thought as I got older, the bold outline of truth would be revealed to me, but it hasn't happened. When I was young, I was in such a hurry. And now, I've been here a hundred years. It seems like only yesterday I held my babies in my arms. I'm glad to be going home. It's been a long time since I've seen my family. And I wish for all of you, all the love and happiness I had in my life -- and I hope the world keeps going toward freedom. And I hope that people everywhere can learn to live together in peace. As my pappa used to say......we ain't what we should be, we ain't what we're gonna be, but at least we ain't what we were..... (and Miss Minnie slowly lays back as she gasps her final breath and passes on.)


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