The broadcast began with a crane shot through the trees in front of the Shrine. Commercial sponsors were given top billing, followed by the forecourt entrances of nominees Jodie Foster, Sigourney Weaver, Glenn Close, Tom Hanks and Edward James Olmos, who was with the person he portrayed, teacher Jamie Escalante. Presenters caught by the TV cameras as they showed up included "comedy legend" Lucille Ball and Allan Carr's friend, "beautiful and elegant" Jacqueline Bisset.
Army Archerd served double duty this year, interviewing arrivals and then participating in the opening of the show himself. Standing in the Shrine lobby, the columnist announced, "And now ladies and gentleman, here's one of the great legends of Hollywood. She's back with us tonight -- Miss Snow White." Portrayed by actress Eileen Bowman, this sparkinlingly dressed Snow White possessed a breathlessly screechy voice as she engaged in repartee with Archerd. "I'm a little late, though. Can you tell me how to get into the theater?" she asked. Archerd: "That's easy, Snow. Just follow the Hollywood stars." Echoed a munchkin-sounding chorus, "Follow the Hollywood stars." Indeed, two fantasy movies from the 1930s were being amalgamated; when the camera revealed Snow White's feet, she was wearing Dorothy's ruby red slippers from The Wizard of Oz.
Singing "I've Only Got Eyes for You," Snow White then went to the front row of the orchestra, where she forced a reluctant Michelle Pfeiffer to hold her hand. Martin Landau, Tom Hanks and Sigourney Weaver were in for the same treatment from the squeaking Snow. Vanity Fair observed, "The looks of horror on their faces were unforgettable." Snow's next stop was the Cocoanut Grove stage set where the featured attraction was talk-show host Merv Griffin, who enacted an even earlier incarnation of himself by singing a hit from his days as Freddie Martin's boy singer, "I've Got a Lovely Bunch of Cocoanuts." At Carr's night club that evening were 1985's Jean Hersholt Humanitarian winner Buddy Rogers, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Dorothy Lamour, Vincent Price and wife Coral Browne, Alice Faye, her ex-husband Tony Martin, and his current "beautiful wife," Cyd Charisse; each of them had approximately three seconds of air time before being unceremoniously whisked away from the camera. The impressario's supposed big coup never materialized; Swifty Lazar, on the counsel of George Stevens Jr., who had warned an appearance would be undignified, had come to his senses and stayed with his guests at Spago.
And the opening continued. Griffin addressed the fairy tale character, "Isn't it exciting, Snow? Isn't it thrilling? It gets better. Meet your blind date -- Rob Lowe." Looking as if he already realized this was a mistake, Lowe gamely joined his date in a duet of the Creedence Clearwater song "Proud Mary," with the new lyrics "Rolling, rolling, keep the cameras rolling." Meanwhile, heads popped out of the tables at the Cocoanut Grove as the furniture started dancing, joined by heavy-set waitresses wearing oversized Carmen Miranda headpieces. The Los Angeles Herald-Examiner's television reviewer Andy Klein said the dancers were "dressed like tropical mixed drinks," adding that "The whole production number resembled the sort of nightmare you might have after imbibing too many such drinks."
And the opening continued. The Cocoanut Grove was replaced by a replica of the Chinese Theater while an off-stage chorus trilled, "Dreams come true, dreams come true, in the Grauman's Chinese Theater!" Lowe kissed Snow on the hand and the chorus line of ushers made like the Rockettes, doing their kicks while singing "Hooray for Hollywood. " Johnny Mercer's original lyrics were replaced with the likes of "When you're down in the dumps/Try on Judy Garland's pumps."
Finally the opening concluded by going from Snow White to Cinderella: Lily Tomlin "accidentally" lost one of his shoes as she marched down a staircase to make a welcoming address. She seemed as agog by what had just transpired as the audience, noting that "More than a billion and a half people watched that. And at this very moment they're trying to make sense of it." Behind her, a stagehand could be seen retrieving her shoe. To the relief of all, the show cut to the first batch of commericals.