WASHINGTON -- 'Falcon Crest' superstar Susan Sullivan and five members of Congress joined 92 organizations nationwide Thursday pressing Congress to require surgeon general's warning labels on all alcoholic beverage bottles.
Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., announced at a news conference his introduction of a measure identical to one filed earlier in the Senate by Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., to require warning labels on all beer, wine and liquor bottles.
But several of the new-born coalition, including Conyers, suggested the alcoholic beverage industry, which generally opposes the bill, could be expected rally its considerable resources to kill the bill.
Sullivan, star of the CBS soap-opera series, declared her alcoholic father 'would have been proud' she joined co-sponsors Conyers, Thurmond, Sen. John Glenn, D-Ohio, Sen. Paul Simon, D-Ill., and Rep. Connie Morella, R-Md., in kicking off the bipartisan campaign to win congressional passage of the bill.
She specifically challenged Edgar Bronfman of the giant Joseph E. Seagram Sons distillery to become 'a knight in shining armor' by putting warning labels on all his distillery's liquor bottles 'on his own, before this legislation is passed.'
A spokesman for Seagrams said neither Seagram Chairman Edgar M. Bronfman nor his son, Seagram President Edgar Bronfman Jr., had any immediate comment on Sullivan's suggestion, and noted Thurmond had introduced similar legislation 'in every session of Congress' in his long tenure on Capitol Hill.
Adding urgency to the call for labeling was recovered alcoholic James McKelvey, who lost his Supreme Court lawsuit Wednesday for Veterans Administration alcoholism-related benefits. McKelvey, an alcoholism counsellor, said the justices were victims of 'misinformation' about what alcoholism is.
The filing of the Thurmond-Conyers bill marked a milestone in Thurmond's efforts, which he said date 'as far back as 1969,' to require alcohol warning labels.
Five proposed labels, like cigarette warnings, would be rotated by alcoholic beverage producers. Some would warn pregnant women against drinking alcohol at all during pregnancy -- which can result in severe infant mental and physical retardation.
Other labels would caution against mixing alcohol and prescription drugs or driving while drinking. Still others would warn that alcohol is addictive and can destroy a one's liver or cause cancer and high blood pressure.