There's a double-header looming on the 1986 horizon. It's the first major fund-raiser for the Friends of the Bob Hope Cultural Center, a major complex for the arts in the Coachella Valley. And the reason it's a double-header is that the Jan. 4 gala designed to raise money for the building of the Center's first unit, the McCallum Theatre of the Performing Arts, is tied to the official opening of the luxurious new Desert Princess.
There's a good reason too for the passport look-alike invitations and the fact that the evening starts with a pre-boarding cocktail party and a captain's dinner. The Desert Princess is part of a sea-going conglomerate known as the Princess Cruise Lines and that's the way they think.
John Davidson will be aboard as the singing headliner for the $175 per ticket gala and there'll be other special guests, all of them at the moment still surprises. The committee putting it all together is heavy with the desert's culture buffs--Mrs. George Randolph Hearst Sr., Kay Obergfel, Mousie Powell, Marion Lederer, Justin and Jeanne Hilb, Ginny Simms Eastvold and a few others.
Texans seem to have all the fun. Take that 13-day cruise to Malaysia, Thailand and China, a luxe plus package arranged by Houston's Jerry Buchanan and his partner Antony Underwood (he's married to Princess Mary Obolensky) aboard the Royal Viking Star.
Before the Texas pack left Houston there was a series of send-off parties and Mayor Kathy Whitemore made the cruise's guests of honor, Malaysia's Prince Sulaiman and Princess Kamarish and Thailand's Crown Prince Subhadradis Diskus and his Princess Crapin honorary Houstonians. Lester Rutledge who deals in fine jewelry and hosted one of the bon voyage parties hoped to be in Hong Kong to greet the travelers with another party. But business--organizing his new firm Lester Rutledge Ltd. and arranging for the exclusive representation of Diana Vreeland's new jewelry collection--kept him home. (Both the firm and the jewelry line debut in New York at Doubles Tuesday.) But ever resourceful, Lester sent along a deputy, associate Clive Watson, who filled in for him as host for a luncheon at the Peninsula Hotel.
Still fresh as daisies, the Texans boarded the Viking Star where Buchanan had Stetsons waiting for the royal couples (real Texans are born owning Stetsons), and Dorothy Thomas announced she'd brought along a few frozen gallons of her own Texas chili. Dorothy always served her chili to titled visitors aboard the DuPont yacht Seaholm when she was Mrs. Alfred duPont. Admitting this was "the only way to go" were proper Texans Natoma Harvey, Ginger McAlpin, Betty Noble and her daughter Contessa Viviene de Yarmen, Joe and Marilyn Lynch, Oke and Irene Muller, Mary Pappas and those part-time Texans Annamarie and Vincent Duncan of Denver who are in Houston every chance they get.
It wouldn't be Christmas at the Beverly Hills Presbyterian Church without actor James Stewart, a devoted member of the parish. On Thursday, when the church's Women's Assn. presents its 8th annual concert under the direction of Nick Strimple, Stewart will take to the pulpit to read St. Luke's traditional Christmas story while the Chancel Choir and Orchestra surround him with the music of Johann Sebastian Bach's "Magnificat," Cantata No. 191 and the "Gloria in Excelsis Deo" from Bach's B. Minor Mass.
Mrs. Richard Delaplane and Mrs. Jon Lundgren, president of the Women's Assn., have also planned a post-concert reception with poinsettias, garlands and fruitcake. Such "angels" as Mrs. Wiley Caldwell, Ruth Dodd, Barbara and Ralph Edwards, Alberta and Harry O. Hamm, Betty and Bill Hollingsworth, Dorothy and Bob Johnson, Ann and Delbert Mann, Kay and Paul Mavis, Jo and Gunther Schiff and Fiji and Bob Yates are all expected to show up for the benefit evening. Proceeds will be shared by the Maple Center, the Beverly and West L.A. Meals on Wheels, ecumenical student activities at UCLA, the Mary Magdalene Project that helps rebuild the lives of former prostitutes and the Westminster Neighborhood Assn. in Watts.
The Social Scramble: Tonight's the night the trustees, overseers and the director of the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens honor the Huntington's Society of Fellows at a very traditional Christmas party.
George Rosenthal and his Raleigh Corp. have bought Aspen's Jerome Hotel and are refurbishing it for an early 1986 opening.
Before taking off for Round Hill, Jamaica, where they'll spend the Christmas holidays with their children, Bradley and Mary Jones pulled together a fast little farewell dinner for Ceil Moore who departs for Texas after the New Year and for Ellie Killibrew, in town from her home at Lake Tahoe. The setting was Trader Vic's back room, the menu Polynesian and among the guests were Donald and Ann Petroni, Jayne and Henry Berger, John Wiegman and Midge and Bob Clark.