Stars mass for Bill

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The Independent Online
President Bill Clinton's master plan to recapture the limelight after the Republican convention begins with his 50th birthday party in New York tonight. The event is modelled on John F Kennedy's 45th birthday bash in 1962, and is designed to emphasise the President's relative youth compared with his 73-year-old opponent, Bob Dole.

Whoopi Goldberg, who will serve as mistress of ceremonies, and other Democrat-friendly Hollywood celebrities ranging from Ted Danson to Leslie Nielsen and Mary Steenburgen will be at tonight's party at Radio City Hall. The extravaganza will evoke memories of the party thrown for Mr Clinton's predecessor at nearby Madison Square Garden. That was the night that Marilyn Monroe delivered her famously breathy rendition of "Happy Birthday, Mr President".

However, this evening's entertainment has been choreographed by none other than Hillary Rodham Clinton. There will be no latter-day Monroe to tickle the President's fancy. Instead, Mrs Clinton has arranged a celebration of the decades of his life. Tony Bennett will provide Forties crooning; Jon Bon Jovi will represent the Fifties; Aretha Franklin and Smokey Robinson the Sixties; Carly Simon the Seventies; Kenny Rogers the Eighties; and country singer Shania Twain the Nineties.

The real purpose of the bash, to be broadcast nationally, is clear: to raise giant sums of money from party supporters and help launch the President on the way to the Democratic convention, which begins in Chicago next week.