Danny Kaye put his fingers in his mouth and whistled the intimate, top-drawer crowd to attention. He was allowed, even though it was the elegant Founders Room at the Music Center. Kaye and playwright Neil Simon were honored Wednesday night as $1 million-plus contributors--but the talk was also of baseball. No surprise, among fervent Dodgers' fans like owner Peter O'Malley, Kaye, his close friend Olive Behrendt (who organized the party) and Roz Wyman. The kudos were glorious--Ahmanson Theatre's Artistic Director Robert Fryer introduced Simon, who kidded that when he was invited, "I thought they were going to give me my money back." He said that his contributions--he donates a percentage of all income from plays that premiered at the Music Center--was "a terrific trade-off." Someone laughed. Simon cautioned, "No, it's not funny. I'll tell you when it's funny." Talk-show host Michael Jackson--he'd interviewed Kaye when a 17-year-old novice reporter in South Africa--praised the comedian for bringing the world "a sense of hope . . . You are a man of passion with a passion for elegance." Kaye was lauded for bringing in more than $8 million to the Music Center--a commitment that started 35 years ago. "You were there answering Buff Chandler's request," Jackson said. The youthful-looking Kaye read a note that had been passed to him--"There is something enchanting about hearing a eulogy when one is still alive." Receiving the Grand Patron Award--a gold reproduction of the Music Center on a piece of black marble--Kaye kiddingly said: "It's hard to say I don't deserve it. That's not true. I did a lot to deserve it." He quickly added, "Let it suffice that I have given very little in my view. I have received infinitely more all of my life." Longtime Music Center patrons such as Lew and Edie Wasserman, Otis and Bettina Chandler and Mark Taper were in the audience.
MARY, MARY--The Ahmanson's Robert Fryer said Mary Martin, now playing with Carol Channing in "Legends," gets to "say words on the stage she's never said before." How'd she pull it off? Her son, Larry Hagman, Fryer relates, told her to practice by opening the window at her Palm Springs place--and yelling those strange four-letter words out the window.
GOP GET-TOGETHERS--Southern Cal Ed's Howard P. Allen, Coalinga's William M. Keck II and department store exec Philip Hawley host a luncheon at the Music Center on Feb. 12 honoring Sen. Majority Leader Bob Dole. Dole will brief the select gathering on current congressional matters--apropos since the lunch is also a kickoff for the April dinner--hosted by Allen, Keck and Hawley--for Dole's Campaign American Committee.
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO . . . Joan Mondale? Well, thanks to a missive from a PR firm, we know she was among the "preview" guests staying at the new Maxim's De Paris Suite Hotel in Palm Springs. There, apparently, to give a speech today at the Desert Museum on "Art as America's Fingerprint." The release also points out that Mondale, wife of former Vice President Walter Mondale, earned the title in Washington of "Joan of Art." But of course.
AND COMING UP--Monday, expect the announcement that Rogers & Cowan, the nation's largest entertainment PR firm, has acquired Rogers & Associates Public Relations--and also a new president, Ron Rogers, the founder of Rogers & Associates and son of Rogers & Cowans' Henry Rogers . . . Expect a "no punches pulled" speech from Colorado Gov. Richard Lamm, talking in favor of tough immigration reform, at the Federation of American Immigration Reform luncheon honoring former Atty. Gen. William French Smith. It's Monday at the Sheraton Grande . . . Details on the new Beverly Hills Four Seasons Hotel get unveiled Thursday at Chasen's.
PLAY ON--Congratulating themselves on achieving a stable financial base, the ardent supporters of the L.A Chamber Orchestra gathered at the Venice beach house of Carol and Roy Doumani for cocktails. John Williams--who'll conduct as Walter Matthau does "Peter and the Wolf" at the chamber's March 12 extravaganza--was there, as was Henry Mancini, his former boss. Mancini joked with wife Ginny that "the piano chair is always open for John." Allan and Joan Burns chatted with Donald Livingston about Burns' upcoming donation to another music enterprise--he's screening his new film, "Just Between Friends" with Mary Tyler Moore and Sam Waterston on March 21 for the Music Center Fraternity of Friends. Board member David Gersh assured his buddy, newspeople agent Stella Zadeh, that because of the board's strong involvement in fund-raising, the orchestra was "now in marvelous financial shape."
KUDOS--Rep. Mel Levine is one of four honorees at the Business Executives for National Security dinner in Washington. Levine, co-chairman of the congressional Military Reform Caucus, will receive the Eisenhower Award for "suggesting needed improvements in military contracting procedures and quality control" . . . Tuesday, the Miracle Mile Lions Club honors commercial property developer J.H. (Jerry) Snyder as its "Man of the Year."
WHOOPS--We were using last year's calendar. To get it correct--the breakfast hosted by Assemblyman Richard Katz for Nobel Prize Laureate Desmond Tutu is Saturday, not today. And, sorry, it's sold out. And the Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky lunch featuring New York Mayor Ed Koch at the Beverly Hilton is set for Tuesday.