'The Designing Women Reunion'
LIFETIME Television - July 28, 2003
On June 4th, 2003, hundreds of Designing Women fans, family, and friends gathered in a soundstage before a Southern veranda set for the live taping of The Designing Women Reunion. Many were even packed in down on the floor, often behind cameras but only inches away from fan favorites such as Hal Holbrook, Gerald McRaney and the amazing Alice Ghostley. Others whispered as they caught glimpses of Ginna Carter and Brian Lando -- trying to place their now-grown-up faces. Harry Thomason floated around the set giving last minute directions, and desperate fans scanned the periphery of the stage hoping to spot their favorite 'Designing Woman.'
After a fairly significant delay which served to build the excitement in the soundstage even more, Meshach Taylor took the stage as emcee of the event and was met with resounding cheers and applause. Moments later, the energy was so palpable you could almost see it crackle, and Meshach introduced the four original cast members. Dixie Carter, Delta Burke, Annie Potts, and Jean Smart stood together, holding hands onstage as the crowd jumped to their feet and erupted into several minutes of "uninterrupted thunderous ovation."
As the ladies settled onto the veranda setting, they quickly teased Harry about needing some wine to complete the atmosphere, to which he responded by calling out the direction for some sodas on the set. Already in her groove, Annie Potts sharply added in Mary Jo style sarcasm that "sodas" better be code for "wine" -- and the tone for the evening was set!
What followed was several hours of the most delightful, energized recollections of these women who were, for the first time in twelve years, all together at the same time. Make no mistake -- their camaraderie, feeding off each other almost simultaneously as they recalled their favorite moments, funny mishaps, and even the emotional pain they endured was not scripted. The cast held nothing back, even diving into the sharky waters of Delta's depression and how it affected the show and everyone involved. There was often belly-aching laughter and the sudden stream of tears; and, in between, some of the greatest examples of good ole fashioned story-telling that can be found on any veranda, around any camp fire, or in any form of media.
Other highlights of The Designing Women Reunion included thematic montage clips (character-based, musical, romantic), interviews with the men who played the Gentleman Callers on the series, and Alice Ghostley joining the women and Meshach on stage, recalling her memories working with the group on the show.
It is impossible to capture the infectious laughter and genuine emotion in a written transcript of the special, and some of the dialogue may seem a bit choppy without the corresponding Designing Women clips that were sprinkled heavily throughout, but every effort has been made to preserve the flavor of the conversation in the following transcripts.
MESHACH TAYLOR: On September 29, 1986 a new television show came on the air. Up until then, viewers were used to seeing female characters on TV as wives and mothers, sexy sirens, and second bananas. They had no idea what was about to hit them. It was called Designing Women. Now don't be fooled by this old fashioned, gentile porch set. This set is an homage to the Southern heritage of these Designing Women. However, these were never the kind of women who sat around fanning themselves. They were controversial, audacious, sharp, outspoken, sexy, stubborn, fascinating, exasperating, manipulative, provacative, with big hearts, big dreams, and -- oh yeah -- big mouths. For seven years, I was Anthony Bouvier, the deliveryman at the design firm called Sugarbaker's. I worked for Julia Sugarbaker, Suzanne Sugarbaker, Mary Jo Shively, and Charlene Stillfield, and it was quite a ride. We made each other laugh every week. But since the end of the show, the original cast has never been together on the same stage again -- until now. It is truly my pleasure to bring out the four amazing actresses who brought these ladies to life. Please welcome Delta Burke, Dixie Carter, Annie Potts and Jean Smart -- the Designing Women.
The actresses all make their way to the porch to a standing ovation as they hug in each other. Tears and laughter flow freely thoughout the following conversations.
MESHACH: What I remember so strongly was the Monday read-through. Now we would shoot the show on Friday, and Monday morning we'd walk in, get out coffee and sit down and read the brand new script. And we never knew what was coming up next, because it all started with one amazing mind. The woman who created the characters, and the situations, and the lines we love. The girl who really was from Poplar Bluff, Missouri, who was as opinionated as Julia, as curious as Mary Jo, as sweet as Charlene, as as outrageous as Suzanne: Miss Linda Bloodworth.
MESHACH: Linda! How you doing?
LINDA BLOODWORTH: Welcome!
MESHACH: Wow. This is fantastic. It feels great to see everyone up here together again. It's just amazing.
LINDA: And on a porch!
MESHACH: Now, where did you find these ladies?
LINDA: Well, I don't think I found them, they sort of found us. Dixie and Delta.....we were doing a show called Filthy Rich....
DELTA BURKE: I love that show!
LINDA: They came in on casting call to play the character of Kathleen Beck and the character of Carlotta Beck. Dixie originally came in for Bootzie, and she draped herself over all the furniture, and she sang and danced and pranced around, so we fell in love with her. And [Delta] came in, and she was Miss Florida. I had never met a beauty queen who had so much self awareness and was so unashamed of her quest for the crown.
DELTA: Life is just better with a crown!
LINDA: And she openly said "I'm not interested in being an actress -- I want to be a movie star." Which has changed, that's changed now. So we had these two, and we had done another series with the actor Robert Wagner, and our wonderful casting director Fran Bascom came on, and we remembered these two incredibly bold, audacious sort of Thelma and Louise types who had appeared on this series (played by Annie and Jean). They were diamond thieves. They were in jail together, and they were just hilarious. Then we need to talk a little about how we got [Meshach]. He is the man who came for Thanksgiving dinner. He showed up for Thanksgiving and stayed for seven years.
MESHACH: They couldn't make me leave.
LINDA: But unlike most company that you want to leave, we're so glad, Meshach, that you stayed.
MESHACH: Well, thank you.
LINDA: The part was originally written, I think, for a short white guy.
MESHACH: That's right.
LINDA: I think you said that night, Meshach, we told you we wanted you to be a regular.
MESHACH: Yeah, you did. A Hollywood moment.
LINDA: That was truly a Hollywood story. And finally, we have to aknowledge someone who is so, so dear to us. She goes all the way back to one of my favorite movies, which is To Kill a Mockingbird. She came to us and graced 47 episodes of Designing Women with her achingly funny, touching talent, and I want her to stand now because I love her so much, and she came here today just to be with us. The fabulous, lovable, incomparable fruitcake, Alice Ghostley.
The cast steps down in the audience to kiss Miss Alice Ghostley as Meshach presents her with roses.
DID YOU KNOW? Designing Women appeared in six timeslots before settling in at 9:30pm (EST) Monday night.
The second and third segments are heavily filled with episode clips as each character is introduced and discussed.
MESHACH: I guesss we should start off the discussion talking about Julia Sugarbaker because she was the boss of all of us. Has there ever been a character on television more sure of herself than Julia Sugarbaker. And she never, never, never never NEVER was at a loss for words.
DELTA: (Squeezing Dixie's hand and referring to Julia's "Night the Light Went Out in Geogia" speech...) That's my favorite!
MESHACH: Now don't you just wish you could do that?!
JEAN SMART: There's never been a sitcom that's had speeches like that, or even that long, let alone that good.
MESHACH: There's a bar in Atlanta called Hoe Downs. That's H-O-E, as opposed to the other spelling. And it's a Country & Western gay bar, and people in that audience stand up and word-for-word recite the entire speech.
DELTA: We have to go there!
DIXIE CARTER: Oh, we've got to go, I want to go.
MESHACH: Charlene, you put the Sugar in Sugarbaker's. The one everyone wanted to be friends with -- America's sweetheart.
JEAN: You know the night that we shot that episode (referring the Charlene's wedding clip), I thought, y'know they married off Charlene just in time because I found out that day that I was pregnant.
DIXIE: That was the longest show for us, wasn't it?
DELTA: Yeah, was that four?
JEAN: We were there until four in the morning.
MESHACH: Then there was Mary Jo. She was the every-woman, the working mother, the best friend that you wish you had, but you could always count on Mary Jo to say what no one else could possibly say.
ANNIE POTTS: If Dixie hadn't said it already!
This segment closes with the cast laughing at clips of Mary Jo.
DID YOU KNOW? Delta's mother, Jean, was seated in the congregation for Charlene's wedding and Linda's Uncle Howard delivered the wedding toast.
MESHACH: On behalf of Anthony Bouvier, I would like to say (to Delta) that there was never a woman's on God's Earth that is more exasperating, or exciting than you were, ok? So let's take a look at some of the things that you did.
JEAN: Excuse me!! Excuse me!
DELTA: Excuse me!!
JEAN: Excuse me! The thing is you could make the most selfish person in the world absolutely hilarious, and I don't know how you did that.
JEAN: And racist! But you didn't find it offensive because you knew she didn't think of it that way. She was just so totally into her own needs and desires. It wasn't maliscious, it was just childlike.
MESHACH: Very honest. And the stuff you did to Anthony...
JEAN: Oh! She was always waxing your legs!
DELTA: I loved our relationship.
MESHACH: It was great.
DELTA: But you know, this is what Linda would do if she saw you do something that she hadn't pictured in the writing, then that would surprise her and she would begin to put that into your character, and so you would meld and work together that way. And also, you and I (to Meshach) started getting tight, and we were making an appearance in Arkansas, and we wound up in a suite together.
MESHACH: Yeah. They put us in the same suite!
DELTA: You know those long, long brazierre thing that's supposed to hold you in but you can't get in it yourself? He'd do me up.
MESHACH: With these hands!
ANNIE: That'd be a new turn on Mammie and Scarlett.
MESHACH: And we go on the road together. We'd go and promote the show together.
DELTA: We're walking down the airport, and now every black man that passed -- now white people don't do this -- he'd kinda (nods her head like 'what's up'). There was always that "Hey man" -- kinda just an aknowledgement.
MESHACH: What's up.
DELTA: White folks don't do that, and I thought, I wish they'd do that! We could use a little support in life, y'know. Just have a white girl come by and go, "Hey baby!"
MESHACH: Ok, well now we have covered all of the Designing Women.
ANNIE: I don't think you're going to escape this.
MESHACH: I was not a Designing Woman.
JEAN: Well.....in your heart.
ANNIE: We can prove it.
JEAN: You were very much in touch with your feminine side.
MESHACH: (To Delta regarding the episode "Stranded") That was fun because I think that was the first time we ever got to work together in that kind of close situation.
DELTA: Yeah. But you know, you were so good in real life just to us, because, y'know.......I mean we're fabulous women, but still, it's difficult having that many of them.
MESHACH: Ooh wee.
DELTA: And y'know, we'd get a little high strung, whatever, or have a fit or something, and you were always like so calm to all of us and you'd keep it together.
JEAN: That's true, you were.
DELTA: And I have to thank you, because when I went through when my depression hit me -- and none of us knew about the depression or any of that stuff, or the panic attacks cuz it wasn't out there in the papers and you didn't know much. I didn't know what it was. All I know was, when I would have one that scared me so much, that you would come and get me and hold me. And you were very good to me, and everyone was very supportive, that's part of what I love about you.
MESHACH: Oh, bless your heart. I love you too. You're gonna make me start crying.
DIXIE: Didn't Linda used to say that if the show went on forever you'd wind up together. That would be it. You would marry.
MESHACH: That is true. Suzanne and Anthony were gonna get married eventually. That would have been some show! That's enough about me. Y'know, some of the funniest moments were with the incredible Miss Alice Ghostly. She is a truly amazing actress, and let's watch some of Bernice's finer moments.
Returning from the clips, Alice Ghostley is seated with the cast.
MESHACH: Listen, I have to tell you this story. About a year ago, I was in South Africa. I was in Johannesburg, South Africa. I'm downtown, I'm crossing the street, this guy looks at me, rolls down his window, points and says, "Black Man, Black Man, Where do you come from?! I know you. You be with those white girls on TV, don't you!"
JEAN: Bernice, remember you used to call him Mandingo.
ALICE GHOSTLEY: Oh yes. I didn't know what that was at the time.
ANNIE: That was so often the case with you, Alice. You would go, "Annie, what does it mean?" You don't need to know, it's funny, just say it.
ALICE: What does that mean, "Someone left the cake out in the rain.."? That was one of my favorite lines.
JEAN: The episode where you got married -- you were in a rest home and one of the men proposed to you......remember?
ALICE: Oh yes, and I made those dresses.
JEAN: ....and we had to try on those god-awful pink bridesmaid dresses for your wedding.
ALICE: And Suzanne refused I think.
DELTA: Because Delta Burke was afraid to be seen in it because I was so big! So I layed there on the sofa and had it over me.
ALICE: That was so funny!
DID YOU KNOW? The exterior used to represent Suzanne's home was actually the Arkansas Governor's mansion.
Pre-recorded interview clips with Hal Holbrook, Richard Gilliland, Gerald McRaney and Writer/Executive Producer Pam Norris are segwayed into the conversation thoughout this segment.
MESHACH: People sometimes ask me what it was like being a man on this very female show, and I tell them it was wonderful. But you don't have to take my word for it. All the men who appeared on this show walked away with a great experience -- and a couple of them walked away with a wife. Let's talk about that.
DIXIE: Meshach, I was the only woman who had a husband already, and he came on the show, so that was the start. I didn't have to marry him to get him on the show. So he was our first conquest.
HAL HOLBROOK: When Linda asked me if I wanted to play Dixie's boyfriend on Designing Women I thought about it and I said, "No I really don't think I do. I don't think so, thank you," and da da da. And then she came back to me later and said, "Hal, we've got to cast this part. Do you really want someone else to be making love to your wife?" I said, "No, I don't. Ok, I'll do the part."
PAMELA NORRIS: It was a very romantic show, and I do think that that has a lot to do with the Southern aspect of the show. In the South, we don't believe in androgeny. The men are men, and the women are women. And since the show came from a married couple, from Harry and Linda who are great believers in steamy monogamy, that sort of became the bi-word of the show. We had sexual relationships that were very romantic. We never showed one-night-stands. The women, when they had relationships, they were always really intense and long-lived relationships. And it wasn't just going to be the next guy, it was gonna be the right guy.
RICHARD GILLILAND: It was never a difficult dilemma for me having to play with Annie Potts on stage and at the same time be falling madly in love and marrying Jean Smart.
JEAN: It was the fifth episode, we hadn't even aired yet, and I saw him at the top of the stairs and I thought, "I like the way that guy looks. He's got this great smile, and these little crinkles [around his eyes]," and I thought, "I hope he's on our show!"
ANNIE: And he was taller than you!
DIXIE: Jean said on the first day, as God is my witness....
JEAN: I still don't remember this...
DIXIE: Jean Smart said, "Ok," because we were always sitting around in little whispers, y'know, after rehearsal, before rehearsal....she said, "Ok, everybody hands off. This man is mine."
RICHARD: Delta came over, "Richard, c'mere. Ok, are you married? What's your phone number?" Y'know, just like that. And I said, "No, and uh." She said, "Jean wants to know."
JEAN: So I asked her, "Find out if Richard's got a girlfriend or if he's married," so she just rushed over..."EXCUSE ME RICHARD! DO YOU HAVE A GIRLFRIEND? JEAN WANTS TO KNOW IF YOU'RE MARRIED!" But I told him, because I knew I was being flirtatious and everything, I said, "Well, y'know, everytime there's a guest star one of us takes turns being assigned to that person to make them feel welcome."
DELTA: You said that?!!
JEAN: I don't know if he believed me...
MESHACH: Now Gerald McRaney came to play Suzanne's ex-husband, who couldn't help loving the beautiful Delta Burke. And he like the role so much he decided to play it in real life.
GERALD McRANEY: I had taken one look at those blue eyes and just.....I was gone. I was just gone.
MESHACH: Do you remember that kiss? That scene?
DELTA: I remember that kiss because I forgot my lines.
DELTA: And I couldn't remember what I was supposed to say, cuz he did it so good. And I got so girly, and you all were pretty good about it. You didn't tease me too much, but that one afternoon I got done early, and I rode around the set on a bicycle over and over. And [Annie] said, "You think if you ride that bicycle around long enough Mac's gonna ask you out?" She could always nail you on it.
ANNIE: And after that he asked you out for a drink across the street over at Warner Bros. and I went too, and you excused yourself to the bathroom [whispering] "I'm going to the bathroom. You talk to him." And she went to the bathroom, and I leaned over the table and said, "Now listen. If you mess with her, I'm gonna kill you."
DELTA: And she meant it!
ANNIE: (to Mac in the audience) Did I not say that?
DELTA: And then I took him out -- y'all remember the back lot where they had all the old towns and stuff. Y'all didn't ever go back there? I did. I took him back there for a picnic, and I thought it'd be private. Little tour groups kept coming by. And I don't know what came over me, but I did say -- because I had this incredible urge -- I said, "Would you mind if you just layed on top of me for a moment?"
DIXIE: You did not do that, Delta.
DELTA: I did. "I just have to wrap my legs around you for just a minute."
DIXIE: HUSH! Hush! Hush! Stop!
JEAN: You did not!!
DELTA: I did too! And he did!
DIXIE: Stop her! (to Mac in the audience) Is that true? Is that true?
JEAN: Well, no wonder he proposed on your second date!
DELTA: And then, I've just got to say this about the roses. Remember, white roses came...
DIXIE: I am so scared.
DELTA: No no, the white roses came... and that was my favorite flower. And then he asked me out for a date.
JEAN: Well, of course!!
DELTA: And the card was amazing that he sent, and I fell in love with him, that card was amazing. He just now while we were shooting this sent me white roses and sent the same card, which.... "In Mississippi, there is a section of the state studded with antebellum homes....."
MAC: "....Rich in both beauty and substance, it is so fertile that when one simply casts seeds onto the soil, it will sprout and flurish and bring new life in the enchanted place we call the Delta."
DID YOU KNOW? Designing Women was nominated for 14 Emmys but won only one, for hairstyling.
Again, this segment is very clip heavy, plus includes pre-recorded interview clips with television critics and industry writers.
MESHACH: Why doesn't everybody talk about their favorite show.
DIXIE: Should I go first?
MESHACH: Yes! You go first Dixie.
DIXIE: The Pilot.... was my favorite show. (Holding her castmates' hands...) I fell in love with you, on the spot. I was already in love with [Delta]. And we didn't even know Meshach yet. But still, excuse me for saying it Meshach, but it was that first show.
MESHACH: That's okay.
DIXIE: Even though I needed a facelift!!
MATT ROUSH, TV GUIDE SENIOR EDITOR: There have been very few comedies in all of TV history that have had such a collection of strong and opinionated female characters.
ROBERT BIANCO, USA TODAY TV CRITIC: These were just what the title says: women. Beautiful, smart, mature women, and great actresses who had learned their craft and knew how to take every line and get the most out of it.
DIXIE: Acting with Annie.... I've been on the stage with Meryl Streep, and I've been on the stage with Annie.....and I'll tell you what..
ANNIE: WOW! I can retire now can't I?
PAMELA NORRIS: Harry Thomason, as the director of the show, was such a gift to the show, and to the whole cast really because he was such a big, strong, masculine, loving presence, and everybody felt free and protected, and they could just fly. Harry loved strong women, and the stronger they got, the more he laughed and the more he supported them.
ROBERT BIANCO: Designing Women is a classic sitcom, not just because it's funny, but because it was a precurser to shows like Friends and Sex and the City. Without Designing Women, you don't have those shows.
MAX MUTCHNICK AND DAVID KOHAN, CREATORS OF 'WILL & GRACE': You can see some of the antesedents to a character like Karen Walker in Designing Women. Y'know, dressed to the nines, confident, unaware of her own silliness, sort of, and full of bravado.
The scene returns to the cast after a clip from 'Big Haas & Little Falsie'.
DELTA: That was always one of my favorites.
MESHACH: That was one of my favorites too.
ANNIE: I still get stopped in the airport sometimes with people going up to me and going, "Those things are power!!"
JEAN: And 'Reservations for Eight' when we go away with all the men.
MATT ROUSH: Designing Women is one of the landmarks I think for vivid character comedy in all of television. It was also a pressure cooker because the language on the show would sort of reach boiling levels sometimes. I mean, pre-dating Dennis Miller, you had all these women who'd go off on these major rants, especially Julia Sugarbaker. It was before people were doing snaps, which is a part of the jargon today, but I mean, the snaps came off of their tongue because they were just so full of vinegar, and they just wouldn't, y'know, they just wouldn't play dead for anybody.
JEAN: Oh, and the show with Dolly Parton. Remember the two-parter, and I had my baby, and it was New Years....
ANNIE: She was an angel.
JEAN: She was my fairy godmother. And the little old lady....
MESHACH: Did you know that Linda wrote that show.....remember when I brought my grandmother to the set?
JEAN: Yes! Your grandmother lived to be 113!
MESHACH: 114! And I brought my grandmother to the set for her 106th birthday. And she talked about growing up in the South, and she talked about her father and everything, and then Linda incorporated that interview into the piece that Beah Richards did.
ANNIE: Beah Richards -- genious actress.
MESHACH: That was my favorite show because it was about my Nanna.
JEAN: And Dolly Parton, she was just adorable. I mean, here I am with almost no makeup and I'm out to here, and I have on these flat slippers and a big bathrobe, doing a scene with Dolly Parton who is [teeny tiny] around and has on 50 pounds of hair, four-inch jewel-encrusted high heels, and a waist like this, and she still hits me about [at my shoulder].
DIXIE: Do you remember Annie's cigarette girl in the World War II scene? That was my favorite where she walked in with that cigarette girl costume.
ANNIE: Nothing was as good as us shooting that afternoon. Do you mind if I tell that story?
DIXIE: Oh my GOSH!
MESHACH: Tell that story.
ANNIE: In the World War II scene, Dixie had a....
DIXIE: Just don't be too graphic.
ANNIE: Well, I have to play it out. And I think there's a little clip of it. Dixie had a dress that was like the American Flag -- stars up here and stripes down there, and it had a split down the middle. And Hal was in that show, and Dixie was playing this Marlena Dietrich type character. And at one point she was supposed to rip off her trench coat, and then she was supposed to put her leg up on the chair and do this Marlena Dietrich song. And the moment came, and she dropped her trenchcoat, and she put her leg up on the chair, and Dixie had put her pantyhose on, but forgot everything else. And I remember sitting next to Hal, and I mean we had two hundred people there and a lot of extras. I've never been on a stage so hushed in my life. I mean, nobody moved for about five minutes. And I think at the time, I believe I said, finally breaking the silence, "Well, I believe we know what to get Dixie for Christmas."
MESHACH: Dixie was mortified. She was absolutely mortified.
DIXIE: I was mortified.
MESHACH: This is Miss Dixie. You don't get to see that.
ANNIE: So proper.
MESHACH: She comes back, and Hal goes back to take care of her, and he's talking to her and he said, "What's the matter?" And she said -- she calls him Mr. Holbrook -- she said, "Oh Mr. Holbrook, I'm so embarrassed. All those people out there....they just saw my fancy."
DELTA: I love that!!
JEAN: I thought it was 'My Pretty'.
ANNIE: No, no! It wasn't 'My Fancy' -- it was 'My Pretty'!
MESHACH: My Pretty. My Pretty. And Hal said, "Well don't worry about that, Darling, it was very lovely."
DID YOU KNOW? In a recent 'Television Week' magazine poll, Designing Women was voted the 5th most popular CBS television series of all time.
ANNIE: Now if we're gonna talk out of school then we have to talk about when Delta was crazy.
DELTA: Oh yeah!
ANNIE: Because this was a long time ago and we didn't understand. Honestly, ten, twelve years ago -- fourteen years ago -- there was less understanding about this. Delta was having these panic attacks and everything, but I mean, Delta was experiencing chemical imbalances.
DELTA: Yeah, they had to drug me up. I had to do the therapy and all of that.
ANNIE: And it was really hard. And it would be Dixie's job to go down to her room when she couldn't come out.
DIXIE: I'd lay down with her.
ANNIE: And we'd be like, "Send Dixie down there." All of us would be lined up behind Dixie. Dixie'd be tapping on the door, "Baby, you've got to come out now. We're gonna have to start." Of course she'd miss rehearsal all week, and we'd be like, oh my god, does she know her lines?
DELTA: That's when I would have those attacks, and it would kinda just hit me so suddenly, and I could just get off the stage door before my body would go into these spasms and this moaning thing would come out of me. And then [Meshach] would come and get me and take me back to the room, and then you'd send [Dixie] in.
ANNIE: But the incredible thing was, and the thing that puzzled us all, and I think maybe might puzzle a few psychiatrists, is that no matter how much the panic attacks and everything were going on, and it would take five of us to get her to the entrance of the door...
DIXIE: Oh yeah!
ANNIE: Just as soon as they said, "As Suzanne Sugarbaker, Delta Burke," it was like HELLO! (Annie jumps up) And she knew every line! It was unbelievable.
DIXIE: It's the truth!
ANNIE: The rest of us would be [floored]!
DELTA: Mac and Harry would be going, "She can't make it. I don't think she's gonna make it through this show." Like the Supremes. I loved the Supremes show.
JEAN: I was just gonna say that! You hadn't been there all week.
DELTA: I read something nasty in the tabloids, and I kinda over-medicated.
ANNIE: But you never let us down as a performer.
DELTA: No, but I don't remember the day. I've been told I walked around a lot. But then came the night of the Supremes, one of my favorite shows...
DELTA: It all worked.
DIXIE: I don't give a damn if you're a California raisin -- stay away from me!
ANNIE: Well, next time you get down, honey, just get into black face.
MESHACH: It works for me, baby.
DELTA: Luckily we found me a very good doctor and the right medication, and I've been in therapy since 1988! Hehe. When I got really really down, right, and my whole body language changed, and I was like trying to hide my face with my hair and [keep my head down], and I used to always -- when I was normal -- used to ask the camera guys, like, "Are you on me? Is it like [a full shot] or is it close up?" So I hadn't done that in a long, long time, and finally I started coming out of it, and I began to ask the camera guys if they were on me. And Annie goes, "Didn't you like her better when she was mentally ill?!" I loved that!
(Delta's emotions get the better of her...)
DELTA: I thank you all for being so patient when I wanted to die, and you were so good to me.
ANNIE: I'm sorry we didn't understand more about it so we could have been more helpful.
DELTA: It was sort of like the "Pretty" was showing all the time. Y'know, you all were like real nice about it, "I'm sure she doesn't mean for this to happen, so we'll just pretend it didn't."
DIXIE: Oh boy!
ANNIE: We're moving into Jerry Springer time here now!
DID YOU KNOW? Royalties from Designing Women have provided scholarships for over one hundred women to attend Harvard, Yale, and various universities and city colleges.
ROBERT BIANCO, USA TODAY TV CRITIC: In the end, what really sets Designing Women apart is Linda Bloodworth-Thomason. Y'know, as a writer, she not only was a great talent, but she had something to say -- which is rare these days -- and she new how to say it and still be funny. She was incredibly prolific, writing more episodes of a sitcom than any single person ever has done. But unlike a lot of people who try to do that, she never let the characters bleed into each other. If you watch Designing Women, Charlene and Suzanne can't trade lines. And if you close your eyes, you can tell who's speaking. That's a real gift.
JEAN: I could never have done [Meshach's] lines, [Meshach] could never have done [Delta's], and you could never have done his or hers or...
DIXIE: And! Could I just add that Linda wrote about all of us something, if I remember correctly, we didn't think we had in us to play.
The scene returns to the cast after a clip from 'They Shoot Fat Women, Don't They?'.
JEAN: Y'know, if [Delta] had not been recognized as one of the most beautiful creatures we'd ever seen, it's true, no one would have made a big deal about the fact that you put on a little weight. I mean, it's like what they did to Elizabeth Taylor.
DELTA: All the wonderfulness of Designing Women -- that you had the best part that you ever had, working with the best cast you've ever been with, and all of this. You're making some good money, and you're getting famous and all those things you wanted, and I met Mac and all this wonderful stuff. But there was this flip side that was so ugly, I didn't know the press could get so ugly. I didn't know this was part of being famous, and y'know, it just became too much.
JEAN: As much as Linda wrote those incredible monologues and stuff and took on all those issues, she still wrote [Delta] and I as shockingly unliberated women for the times.
ANNIE: Well in a balance that had to happen.
JEAN: And the two of you were far more liberated.
DELTA: I thought [Dixie] did really good doing all those big speeches, those big political things she didn't even believe.
JEAN: Well that's because she bribed Linda. She said, "I'll do this speech if you let me sing a song next week."
DIXIE: That's right.
HAL: The subject matter that Linda dealt with was so wide and brave, courageous and daring.
MATT ROUSH, TV GUIDE SENIOR EDITOR: I mean this is one of the first shows that ever dealt with AIDS. And it would deal with things like gay issues, it would deal with women's issues, it would deal with racial issues. There was an agenda here for these beautiful Southern women to be taken seriously, and Linda Bloodworth-Thomason really achieved that through the passion with which she wrote. She had a wonderful platform to write great opinionated comedy, and it has almost never been done -- especially through women's voices.
JEFF SAGANSKY, FORMER PRESIDENT OF CBS: Designing Women probably had one of the all-time memorable ensemble casts. It ranks right up there with The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Cheers.
MATT ROUSH: Each and every one of these Designing Women is a complete star in her own right. As an ensemble, they're almost unparalleled.
The scene returns to the cast after the clip from 'Dash Goff, the Writer' where Julia reads Dash's letter to the ladies.
MESHACH: We're going to finish tonight with a collection of the most outrageous scenes we all love. But before we go, let me say that this has been a wonderful night for all of us here. Thank you for sharing it with us. Designing Women was a show that was saved by its fans. We literally owe it all to you -- all of you. As long as you keep watching, the Designing Women will live forever.
The special ends with a series of clips from the Designing Women strung together to Lee Ann Womack's hit song, "I Hope You Dance". Linda Bloodworth and Alice Ghostley then rejoin the cast on stage for the final bow.
**Photos courtesy of Lifetime Television Publicity
Designing Women Online, Designing Women Tribute, Women of the House Magazine
and Belled Online ©1998-Present. All Rights Reserved.