Shirley MacLaine’s ‘250,000 Years’ Oscars Joke, Explained

“That’s the nicest reception I’ve had in 250,000 years,” MacLaine says at Oscars

If you’re under, say, 25, you may not have totally understood Shirley MacLaine’s “250,000 years” Oscars joke. And that’s okay.

“That’s the nicest reception I’ve had in 250,000 years,” MacLaine says at Oscars, after being introduced by Charlize Theron.

MacLaine is a youthful 82. The joke is that MacLaine believes her soul has inhabited this earth for about that long. For years, MacLaine was known for being one of Hollywood’s biggest proponents of the concept of reincarnation — the idea that our souls inhabit many bodies over time.

“How did I know and recognize streets and temples when I first went to India? Why did I find myself speaking Portuguese when I was in Brazil?” she once wrote.

The answer, of course, is her previous lives.

Charlize Theron called MacLaine onstage to accept an award after explaining that the Oscar-winning actress was one of her greatest inspirations — especially in her 1961 film “The Apartment.”

People on social media immediately discovered — or rediscovered — the charming MacLaine, a six-time Oscar nominee who won in 1984.

More than one person called for casting Theron and MacLaine in a mother-daughter story. (Of course, MacLaine already made one of the iconic mother-daughter films in “Terms of Endearment,” the film for which she won a Best Actress Oscar.)

Some future version of MacLaine will be really excited to learn she was an Oscar winner and huge star.

Here’s an Oprah.com excerpt from MacLaine’s memoir, “I’m Over All That,” in which she explained her belief in reincarnation:

Probably one of the reasons why reincarnation makes sense to me is because I understand how each one of us is so many people. When we open up and allow our soul’s memory to emerge and express itself, we can be amazed at the talent for multiple personalities we each have. I don’t mean multiple personalities in the sense of a psychological disorder. I mean each of us has had multiple experiences in past lifetimes that equip our souls with memories and intuitions that can’t be explained any other way. How did I know and recognize streets and temples when I first went to India? Why did I find myself speaking Portuguese when I was in Brazil? Each human being can point to any number of similar experiences, specific moments that make them wonder why and how they know what they know.