The Los Angeles Friends of the National Jewish Center for Immunology and Respiratory Medicine held its 1985 Humanitarian Award dinner-dance Tuesday at the Beverly Wilshire and in a season when dinner-dances for good causes outnumber holiday TV shows, the Friends proved that even in cold weather, it can be more entertaining to go out than to stay in.
The quips came faster than the drinks.
There was master of ceremonies Charles Z. Wick, head of the U.S. Information Agency, relating his jet-set schedule of the past week and complaining, "The only time I resent it is when they wake me up during a meeting." Later, he would note that the night's honoree was born in a town in Nebraska "so small that they used the mayor's Social Security number as a ZIP code."
There was comic Dick Shawn who introduced himself as "a person who has to be funny between the entree and the dessert." He used to be after the appetizer, he said, but with the National Jewish Center, he'd hit the big time.
There was honoree Vance Stickell, executive vice president of marketing of The Times, who in making all the appropriate thank yous, included one to "all the people who wonder what they're doing at yet another black-tie event honoring a man they don't even know."
There was Stickell's boss, Otis Chandler, chairman of the board and editor-in-chief of Times Mirror Co. and a former Humanitarian Award recipient, who observed that Stickell's skill at his job "not only made it possible to send five children to college but, more importantly, for me to drive a Porsche."
There was Allen Questrom, chairman of Bullock's and one of four co-chairman of the evening who, asked what he hoped to get out of his participation in the evening, replied, "lower advertising rates."
The National Jewish Center for Immunology and Respiratory Medicine (formerly known as National Jewish Hospital/National Ashma Center) is in Denver. But its 86-year history of research, training and patient care has extended its constituency world-wide. As a result, there were 40 fund-raisers just around the United States for the center this year. The Los Angeles party has traditionally been a retailers' event. That goes back, said Valerie Farthing, the center's western regional director, to the '30s when Andrew Bergdorf (of the exclusive New York-based Bergdorf-Goodman) was chairman of the center's board. Bergdorf involved other retailers, said Farthing, "and that opened doors across the country."
And indeed the guest list brought together an interesting mixture of retailing, media and professional circles. Among the names: Keith Renken of Deloitte Haskins & Sells, Jerome Nemiro of Bullocks Wilshire, Maryon Lears of Silverwoods, William Finer of Bell, Fainsberg & Finer; Giorgio's Fred Hayman, John J. McCabe of the Herald Examiner, Alan Landsburg of the Landsburg Co., Maurice Marciano of Guess? Inc.
This year's $500-per-couple event in Los Angeles drew a record 650 people and between the hefty journal pulled together by Byron Allumbaugh, CEO of Ralphs Grocery Co., the silent auction (co-chaired by Marlene York, Jacques Cosse and Catherine Sawelson), and some nice donations (including 12 donors of $5,000 who became members of the National Society of Fellows), Farthing was expecting to net $220,000 for the center's bio-medical research.
As it turned out, this was a benefit with some new twists, including running ahead of schedule. Instead of just one chairman, there were four: Bullock's Questrom, Broadway president Michael Hecht, Robinson's chairman Michael Gould and May Co. president Judi Hofer. They were among the VIPs in the Burgundy Room at 6:30 for photographs. By 7, everyone was down in the foyer for the cocktail reception and silent auction. By 8, everyone was seated and Ray Klauer, trustee of the National Jewish Center, was introducing Wick. By 8:50, all the speechmaking was over and a prime rib dinner was served. For those now ready to relax and enjoy, there was entertainment (Dick Shawn) and dancing (the Ron Rubin Orchestra).
About the only glitch in the evening was the news that Michael J. Schonbrun, president of the National Jewish Center, was snowed in at the Denver airport. He was to tell the "National Jewish Center Story." Dr. William Berger, who trained at the center and now practices in Irvine, filled in.