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Bachelors Take a Fancy to Dressing Up

February 27, 1986|MARY LOU LOPER | Times Staff Writer

Donning fancy dress can be harrowing: buttons at crucial spots crack and must be re-sewn, suspenders are lost, jodhpurs that fit the waist are too small for the calves--and take 20 minutes to zip down. Wouldn't a boa enhance those red '20s pajamas?

Nonetheless, fancy dress is what the Bachelor Ball is all about, and 700 squirmed and wiggled for the 81st anniversary Le Bal du Cirque d'Hiver at the Beverly Hilton. It's the night when the Bachelors, a mainstay of the Los Angeles social scene since the organization's first party downtown in 1906, gather to entertain the friends who have entertained them all year.

Swinging Young Crowd

And it was a gala--conceived, planned, doted over by chairman John Howard Welborne, appointed and anointed by president Charles Rodney Wilger (escorting Cate Long), designed by Walter Hubert ("Cirque d'Hiver" is the "Winter Circus" of Paris) and enjoyed by Los Angeles' swinging young crowd and some of their older friends, including Dr. and Mrs. Kenneth Morgan, who stepped out to join their son Kenny's table even though they were hosting their own magnificent reception the next night at the Bel-Air Country Club following the marriage of their only daughter Callen to Gregory Irvin. Welborne wore a red fez to top off his Moroccan costume and his date Chrissy Brant also was authentically garbed. Welborne guests Jennifer and architect Bill Fain were most au courant. She came as a magnificent Statue of Liberty, he as Lee Iacocca with a Chrysler logo for a tie clasp.

Bill Forward said, "I am myself--a Renaissance man." His date Michele Willkie wore a pin, "Save the Males," and was describing riotously to Mrs. Henry Owen Eversole Jr. how she had stiffened her hair green and purple with egg whites. Carol Henry was Madame Butterfly, before she and Warner left the next morning for Aspen. Bachelors' secretary Grant Ivey came as Sherlock Holmes, saying he was "looking for a case--of beer." He escorted Spinsters president Nancy Townsend, "my accomplishment."

Robert Boreel, Nancy Baxter, Tom Baxter and Devin Howes determined they were a group of sheiks and royalty, of sorts. Steve Auth and Mallory Ketchum were Mardi Gras festive in East Indian glitz. Carolyn and Jamie Bennett were ready for service--as a maid and chef.

New Bachelor Henry Van Dyke Johns III was waving a baton as Lawrence Welk, with cute Stephanie Breier alongside. Artistic Audree Penton did the impossible: fashioning from Clorox bottles masks of Miss Piggy and Kermit for herself and Stan (their son Stan Jr. is on the Bachelors board of governors). The Fred Cordovas III were a musketeer and "a mere damsel." Donald Moulton looked cavalier with Sandra Foland in her pink boa. Bachelor John Huber tangoed to the popular Michael Carney as Ricky Riccardo and Robin Howe as Carmen Miranda. Lawyer Mark Byrne was a pirate with Robin Halper as a wench. Mark O'Key as Louis XIV muttered, "I don't see how judges stood these wigs." He was with Leslie Summerlin.

Once married, Bachelors inherit the right to continue hosting tables at the ball for two seasons. That's exactly what Megan and Hunt Williams, in their Western duds, and Camille and Robert Strub, a beefeater and his lady, were doing.

Chosen Few

Among the first to see the decorations were the Patronesses. They're the chosen few selected annually by the Bachelors. This year the honored were Mmes. Freeman Rogers Brant, George Crossman Brock, George Velore Caldwell (she recounted attending balls of yore and how her own parents, the late Lyman McFies, attended during the "Teens and Twenties" with Welborne's late grandparents, the Howard Schoders), Eversole, Stephen Everett Griffith, Anthony Eshman Liebig and William French Smith, the latter missed the ball because of her husband's flu.

A merry crowd dined on baked Alaska and watched a big top acrobatic show starring Valentina Wallenda. Some danced until 4 a.m. to Carney and singer Colleen Casey, among them Kitty and Buzz Bartholomew, Joan and Franklin Lane, Peter Neville and his fiancee Stephanie Hadfield, George Jagels Jr., John Kenyon Tenaglia.

Bob Hope, Andy Williams, Phyllis Diller, Nanette Fabrey, Richard Kaufman and his band and the International Children's Choir will make the House Ear Institute's benefit dinner March 11 at the Beverly Hilton ultra-successful.

For a second year, Mrs. Clement Hirsch heads the party, sponsored by the Associates, the support group founded in 1981 by Athalie Clarke. Co-chairman William F. Popejoy is getting corporate support. Last year Associates raised $1 million, $250,000 of it at their dinner. This year the event honors philanthropist George Page.

President Reagan has been invited. Said Lynn Hirsch, "He may attend. He's a patient of Dr. (Howard) House." House, developer of the cochlear implant, founded the institute 40 years ago; in 1956 he was joined by his brother, Dr. William House, director of research.

Funds will go to projects for deaf children.

Associates president June (Mrs. William) House and past president Mrs. Drew Morthland are involved.

The Men's Dinner, that occasion at which 20 male supporters of Los Angeles Planned Parenthood Guild spend the day cooking with a restaurant chef--this year Roy Yamaguchi at 385 North--and then serve the feast to some 200 Patrons and Angels ($500/$1,000), is around the corner.

It's no amateur effort. The results are almost always edible, sometimes incredible. Steaven K. Jones Jr. is chairman and, in fact, has oversold the evening by 10%, expecting some last-minute attrition. Still there's a waiting list. It's a black-tie night for all but the chefs.

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