Fred MacMurray and June Haver hurried over from the theater to have their say. Abigail Van Buren (Dear Abby), sheathed in Schiaparelli pink sequins, put on her reading glasses and delivered a moving tribute to her friend. And Efrem Zimbalist Jr., who always looked so serious as an FBI agent, was actually very funny as the master of ceremonies.
And finally ball chairman Mrs. Frank Higgins explained the plaque was too heavy to tote up on stage of the Beverly Wilshire's Grand Ballroom. It would come later, she promised. Meanwhile, she read the citation naming Madame Sylvia Wu the League for Crippled Children's "Woman of the Year" for "her outstanding activities (as restaurateur, philanthropist) and interest in the League for Crippled Children."
Madame Wu, who was escorted on stage by her grandchildren, Jonathan and Alex Wong, both turned out in junior-size tuxedos, accepted her award with some sincere words. "It is an honor I will never forget. I am deeply moved by the warmth and love in this room. It reflects the work you do for children and their families and I pledge myself to support your work."
Before they all left the stage, Jonathan Wong thanked everyone "for honoring my grandmother." And with that, the serious part of Friday evening's program at the league's 43rd Jack O'Lantern Ball was over. But there was time for more dancing to Ray Moshay's band, sitting on a stage banked by scarecrows, bales of hay and lots of autumn flowers (the work of Andrade-McKee who repeated the same theme on table tops). And some long goodbys.
Earlier Zimbalist told a story about his first try at emceeing a major event. The program was very long, the singer sang too many songs and the lights went out. Finally the furious guest of honor, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, exited. (The general, although he became President of the United States, always preferred to be known as Gen. Eisenhower, Zimbalist noted.) But not before he stopped at Zimbalist's chair to grumble, "Good thing you kept your mouth shut."
Friday night the program, which included comedians Barb and Steve North, singer India Adams and short speeches from league president Mrs. Garth L. Young and Mrs. Higgins, was not too long. Tony Curtis, delayed on location in Spain, sent a telegram. And the testimonials were light. "It was meant to be that an aristocratic lady would end up marrying a king," Dear Abby (Mrs. Morton Phillips) said about her friend Sylvia Wu, who married King Yan Wu in the 1940s.
The League for Crippled Children, founded in 1936 by Phoebe Brockway, has a new goal for its support and commitment to Orthopaedic Hospital--raising $750,000 for the construction of a post-surgical recovery room, patient holding area and attendant alcove at the hospital. The full house at Friday's Jack O'Lantern Ball helped.
In the crowd were the Fred Nasons, the William Brays, Mildred Cuneo, Mrs. Harold McAlister with Dr. Stanton Phillips, Baron Herbert Hischemoeller with Jo Powers, Mrs. Benjamin Franklin and the Paul Marshes.
Madame Wu hosted three tables. Sitting at them were Nat Dumont with Olavee Martin, Edward White with Jean Coleman, Father Maurice Chase, the Wus' sons Patrick (with Roseann Wong) and George Wu, architect Jim Langenheim (he's doing the new Aaron Spelling mansion) and his wife, architect Alai and Phil Paul, the Howard Allens, Gary Hendler with Yee San Foo (she's King Wu's niece), author Mary Anita Loos, Dr. and Mrs. Marcus Wong, Philip Salet with Jessica Vitti, Suzanne Marx, Toni Frank, the Fred Smoots, Mr. and Mrs. Donald Bain, Morton Phillips and his Abby.
Among those on the ball committee were Mrs. Gerald D. Wagner, Mrs. Nansanna Wakeman, Mrs. Luther Newby, Mrs. James Corkill, Frances Mayle, Mrs. Leon Altman and Mrs. Thomas Flanagan.