Celebration of Film Star-Studded 65th Anniversary Gala Features Meryl Streep Honoring Robert DeNiro

By Rob Giardinelli     Photography by Vivie Behrens, Rick Kern and Pete Smith

THE SETTING: The AT&T Center and the Harry Ransom Center, both on The University of Texas campus, were the recent setting of a legendary night for the ages. Over 500 sociables, film lovers, and philanthropists turned out for the Harry Ransom Center’s 65th Anniversary gala, and several hundred more joined in the fun at a lively after party capping off the evening. Touching tributes and words from two of the greatest actors of the past half-century were also featured.


THE STYLE: The black tie clad crowd began the evening at the AT&T Center by posing for photos on the step and repeat, then descended the escalator to join hundreds of other eager guests for a fabulous cocktail hour. Film aficionados sipped on their favorite spirits and brimmed with anticipation of the festivities to come…and to be in the room with two cinematic legends to boot.


The festivities then continued in the main ballroom for the program and presentation. The crowd was wowed as they entered the elegantly designed room with a mix of beautiful florals and cinematic props. As partygoers dined on their delicious, multi-course meals, they were treated to words from the Harry Ransom Center and University of Texas leaders.


Next came the main event of honoring Robert DeNiro. After being treated to a touching tribute by celebrated film critic Leonard Maltin, Academy AwardÓ-winning Actress Meryl Streep took to the podium. Guests could hear a pin drop in the room as Streep regaled the crowd by sharing warm and touching stories highlighting her and DeNiro’s five-decade-long friendship. Capping off the main gala were words by cinematic legend DeNiro himself, who expressed gratitude and appreciation to the Harry Ransom Center for archiving his impressive collection of works and artifacts, many of which mirrored pop culture trends of the last 50 years. Upon completing his speech, the crowd gave the cinematic legend a standing ovation.


After the gala, revelers walked or took rickshaws one block away to the Harry Ransom Center, where the after party was in full swing. Guests could preview the Robert DeNiro archive at the Harry Ransom Center, which included multiple Oscars on display. Photography lovers also had the opportunity to view The Writers: Portraits by Laura Wilson, an exhibit highlighting photographs of many influential modern writers. This once-in-a-lifetime, special night will be talked about for those fortunate enough to be a part of it for years to come.


THE PURPOSE: While the gala did not have designated chairs, the after party was co-hosted by Laura Wilson, Andrew Wilson, Luke Wilson, and Owen Wilson. Funds raised from the evening will benefit the Harry Ransom Center, a world-renowned institution that archives work from the world’s foremost writers, performers, and artists. Near the end of DeNiro’s speech, he perfectly summed up the mission of the organization, “One of the most important things about the Harry Ransom Center is that the materials will be accessible to students and the public. Ultimately, that’s what it’s all about.”