Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Maya Angelou, Rihanna among Glamour mag's honorees

NEW YORK – There was a huge pop star, a tennis phenom, a top fashion designer, a key U.S. diplomat and three Beatle wives.

But the biggest ovation at Monday's Glamour Women of the Year awards, a star-studded affair at New York's Carnegie Hall, went to 81-year-old poet Maya Angelou, whose soaring words on the power of womanhood brought many to tears and nearly everyone to their feet.

Women, Angelou told the crowd in her speech, "are rainbows in the clouds."

"I am grateful to be a woman," said Angelou. "I must have done something great in another life." As for the men: "You have to write your own poem," the poet said to laughter, including from the man who presented her award, former President Bill Clinton.

Glamour magazine's annual Women of the Year awards always honor a group of eclectic women, and this year was no exception.

Pop star Rihanna was honored, and her presenter, the model Iman, referred to the singer's ordeal early this year, when she was assaulted by boyfriend and fellow singer Chris Brown. Rihanna initially returned to Brown but said last week that she regrets it, because it sent the wrong message to her fans. Brown has pleaded guilty to felony assault.

"Now I am even more impressed with her dignity and courage," Iman said, noting that Rihanna would serve as a role model to victims of domestic violence.

Comic actress Amy Poehler received her award from "Saturday Night Live" producer Lorne Michaels, who spoke admiringly of how Poehler performed her famous Sarah Palin rap skit when she was nine months pregnant.

Poehler's advice to the young women and girls in the crowd, which included a vociferous contingent of Girl Scouts: "Girls, if boys say something that's not funny, you don't have to laugh."

Also honored was fashion designer Stella McCartney, daughter of Beatle Paul. Her dad wasn't there, but McCartney was shocked to see that three Beatle wives were presenting her award: Yoko Ono, widow of John Lennon; Olivia Harrison, widow of George; and Ringo Starr's wife, Barbara Starkey.

Tyra Banks presented the award to tennis champion Serena Williams, who also addressed the young women in the crowd: "You can do whatever you want to do. The most important belief is self-belief."

And actor Michael Douglas presented the award to Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, who was also lauded via video by President Barack Obama. At a dinner later, Rice said she was inspired by many of her fellow honorees, and mentioned Dr. Jane Aronson, who works with orphans overseas and founded the Worldwide Orphans Foundation.

"We could do some real damage together," Rice said with a smile.

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