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Taking Live Drama to Senior Citizens

September 27, 1985|David Johnston | David Johnston.

In Long Beach, where one out of three residents is a senior citizen, the Public Corp. for the Arts is gearing up for the fourth season of its inexpensive Senior Outreach Program.

Last year the program provided free theater tickets to 1,500 older people and brought live drama to 6,500 more senior citizens in nursing homes and at nutrition centers. Financed entirely by a $2,500 grant from the Grand Prix Benevolent Assn., the outreach program cost just 31 cents per person benefited.

"For seniors who very often don't get out to see plays or are incapacitated or don't have funds to pay for tickets this brightens their days and their lives," said Elaine Herman, the program director. "And it makes me feel good to help them."

Next month Herman will direct "Box and Cox," a one-act British farce written in 1850 about a landlady who rents the same room to two men, one who works at night and the other who works in the daytime, collecting double rent.

"We're going to do it the way U.S. soldiers did when they came to California in the 1850s, with the third character playing a land lord ," Herman said.

This year's grant was increased to $3,500. But even though the actors--Kenneth Harkey, Paul Teschke, Col. Jimmy Hart and announcer Laurella Daggett--work for peanuts there's only enough money for a dozen shows. "We could do 40 or even 50 performances if we had more money," Herman said.

Arrington Leaving Arco

Anna Arrington, a key figure on the national corporate arts giving scene, will leave her job Monday, and no one will fill the vacancy she leaves behind.

Arrington has supervised the distribution of Arco Foundation dollars to the national nonprofit arts community for the last eight years. Though Arco is one of the nation's largest arts funders, her decision to resign as program officer for arts, humanities and public information, was based on the oil company's recent financial woes. (For the first time in the foundation's 15-year history, the amount of grant monies it paid declined by almost $1 million in 1984. But it still paid out $35,900,899.)

"I'm leaving because with the company's recent restructuring, there will be less emphasis on national programs--for which I've been responsible--and less money to give in general," Arrington said. However, on a more positive note she added, "During my tenure here, I've met some of the most interesting people in America and listened to their dreams, their hopes and their plans." (Beverly Sills, Philip Glass and Arthur Mitchell are among the many she has worked with.)

Arrington's future plans include private consulting work. Arco community-relations personnel will most likely assume her responsibilities, she said.

"Everyone in the arts funding world will miss Anna," said Melinda Peterson, California Community Foundation arts program officer. "She is someone who could latch onto a good project and push it through. A lot of that had to do with her being attached to Arco and a lot of it had to do with her being Anna."

P.R. People Honored

Ralph B. Wright, director of public relations for the American Red Cross Los Angeles chapter, attorney John C. Argue and Patricia A. Smith, a public-relations consultant, are the kind of people that public-relations people look up to.

This week the Public Relations Society of America honored all three with awards.

Wright was cited for his work on African relief efforts. He was one of four members, including actor Charlton Heston, on an American Red Cross fact-finding team that visited four African nations ravaged by drought.

Argue was honored for his work in bringing Los Angeles the 1984 Summer Games. Smith received the first John Roos Award for 30 years of volunteer work with local nonprofit organizations.

Erik Going for the TD

Fans of televised National Football League games may have noticed public-service announcements for United Way featuring Rams defensive back Johnny Johnson tossing a football on the beach with Erik Steenblock of Laguna Hills.

Johnson starts his spot talking about his teammate, Kirk Collins, who died last year of cancer of the esophagus, and about how donating to United Way through payroll deduction helps finance, among other things, cancer research.

Well, Erik, who has leukemia, is a beneficiary of that research who is getting better every day. His leukemia has been in remission for four years now, according to his mother, Kathy Steenblock.

He was playing soccer, she said, until he fell off his skateboard and broke his collarbone.

"Erik's feeling real good, real strong," Kathy Steenblock said. "Next August, if all goes well, he will have been in remission for five years and that means the doctors consider him cured."

A Medical Career Closes

Today, Dr. Shirley Wimmer, a Beverly Hills ear, nose and throat specialist, closes a medical career that began in 1926 after he graduated from Stanford University Medical School.

Last year some of Wimmer's longtime patients and friends, including Rosemary Clooney and Ralph Edwards, gave him a surprise birthday party at the Beverly Wilshire. This afternoon, the doctor goes out like a Wimmer.

Snared by a Stradivarius

Kathryn L. Pearson is the kind of student that universities drool over. Straight A's, president at age 15 of the California Scholastic Federation, mastery of French and fluency in Spanish (aided by a year spent studying at a Spanish university), local records in the 800 meter and 400 meter runs and the high jump and talented at playing piano and guitar.

So when Princeton and Stanford both wanted the 16-year-old from Santa Rosa how did Stanford snare her?

With a violin. A Stradivarius, no less.

The greatest of Pearson's many talents may be playing the violin and she so impressed Stanford Music Prof. Andor Toth that he offered her the use of his Stradivarius if only she would study at The Farm.

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