The city was awash in princely parties. The jewel in the crown was, of course, Sunday night's glitzy Princess Grace Foundation-USA Gala where about 1,100 guests crowded into the Beverly Wilshire's Grand Ballroom to rub elbows (if they were lucky) with Monaco's Prince Rainier III, Prince Albert and Princesses Caroline and Stephanie. About 200 unlucky ones had been turned away. (One rumor had it that Robert Redford had sent in his check too late.) There just wasn't room, explained gala co-chairmen Mrs. Cary Grant and Mrs. Erich Koenig, both of them sparkling in white ball gowns.
The ballroom fairly bulged with people and tables. To fit in the overflow, additional tables were set up in the Winter Garden (the cocktail area) where the view of the stage was not so good, but the tab was the same ($15,000 for sponsor tables, $500 per ordinary ticket). Without a cocktail area to call its own, the gala committee set up VIP receptions in the hotel's smaller party rooms. The rest of the guests sipped champagne in the driveway, which had been blocked to traffic for the early part of the night.
The alfresco reception drew mixed reactions. A few who asked to remain anonymous called it "tacky." Others who didn't mind being quoted appreciated the fresh air. "I like it," Nancy Vreeland said to her husband Tim. On her side were Arpad and Kati Domyan, Jerry and Virginia Oppenheimer, Felisa and Nick Vanoff, whose film "Eleni" has its private screening this week, Steve and Marilyn Gilfenbain and Joanna Carson.
Joining the lineup for table assignments were Ambassador to Mexico and Mrs. John Gavin, Dr. and Mrs. Franklin Murphy, Tony and Cyd Charisse Martin, George and Jolene Schlatter, Fred Hayman who had bought an entire table, Mrs. Harold Robbins with Fernando Allende, the Mexican singer-actor, the Bob Ray Offenhausers, Barry Mirkin and Budd Holden.
Everyone was seated before the family entered the ballroom. There were no fanfares, no flourishes, just an escort of some Hollywood legends--Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra, Gregory Peck, James Stewart, Roger Moore. Then the family melded quietly into the crowd to reappear later on stage for the presentations of the Princess Grace Foundation scholarships and fellowships to emerging young artists in film, theater and dance.
Prince Albert sat at a table on the balcony with Liza Minnelli, who later changed into a sequined mini for her star turn, and Houston's Mrs. Oscar Wyatt Jr., who chaired the first Princess Grace Foundation Gala two years ago in Washington. The rest of the family congregated in the main part of the ballroom among such celebrities as Eva Gabor with Dr. Borko Djordjevic, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Buddy Rogers, Phyllis Diller, Jennifer Jones Simon, Dudley Moore (he played the piano accompanied by his trio during one of the musical interludes), Papal Knight Daniel Donohue escorting Loretta Young, Judy Balaban Quine, Prince Alexander and Princess Barbara of Yugoslavia, who were with Bob and Audrey Six, horse owner Dolly Green with trainer Laz Barrera and his wife; Ruth and Milton Berle, Jane Withers and husband Tom Pearson.
The "Dynasty" crew was out in full force: John (wearing his own perfume) and Julie Forsythe, Linda Evans (in a silver-trimmed black gown by Galanos) with Richard Cohen, Joan Collins with Peter Holm, Catherine Oxenberg with her father, the handsome Howard. Others seeing and being seen--Ricardo and Georgianna Montalban, the Mickey Rudins, Rita Gam with Gregg Juarez, Mrs. Howard Ahmanson, Roddy McDowall, Rosemary Tomich, Florence Ajamian, the Berny Byrenses.
Liza, her hair a dark blonde, brought Prince Albert over to meet her father, director Vincente Minnelli, and his wife Lee and some of their guests--Robert and Rosemarie Stack, Sandi Bennett, Cesar Romero. There were more peering for a look at the Monegasques--Herbert and Juli Hutner, Abe and Muriel Lipsey, Ceil Moore, John Weigman, Jayne and Henry Berger, Mary and Brad Jones, Dwight and Dona Kendall, Robin Plunket, Ames Cushing with producer Douglas Cramer, Craig Johnson, Muriel Slatkin with Ricardo Pascal, Princess Ghislaine de Polignac (in town with Pierre Cardin who showed his collection Sunday afternoon and was one of the gala's major sponsors), Vera Maxwell (a friend of the family), Houston oil man Ed Hudson and his wife Josephine and, from San Antonio, Jeanette and Chito Longoria.
The champagnes were Moet & Chandon and Dom Perignon and dinner (veal, salmon Saint Jacques) ended with cheeses and fruit and ice cream in chocolate shells created by Lee Gelfond.
The program included the dancing Footlockers, Johnny Carson as master of ceremonies, Liza, and finally the awards. The honor guard--Peck, Sinatra, Moore--escorted Princess Stephanie (wearing beaucoup diamonds with her one-shoulder black gown) and Prince Albert on stage first. Barbara and Cary Grant accompanied a reed-thin Princess Caroline (also in black) and her father Prince Rainier.