It was a grand moment for the South on Wednesday night as Southern belle Mary Ann Mobley welcomed venerated writer Eudora Welty to town. The back room at Jimmy's was crowded with literati, as Irving and Sylvia Wallace, TV Guide's Wallis Annenberg and Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey--many bearing copies of Welty's books--lined up to chat with the diminutive white-haired lady in the pink linen dress. Four generations of Mobley's family were on hand, including her grandmother, Mary Parish, her mom, Mary Williams, and her daughter, Clancy Collins, who was graduating from Westlake School on Thursday afternoon.
Welty had come from Jackson, Miss., Mobley's home town, to address the Westlake students; sitting amid the hubbub of flashbulbs and kissy-kissy, she chatted with the likes of Helen Bing, Ed McMahon and Mobley's spouse, "Hour Magazine's" Gary Collins. In a voice that any reader of her work would somehow recognize, Welty said she would read to the graduation class from " 'One Writer's Beginnings.' That's the best I can do." And she would sign copies of her books for all the graduates. . . . One of the graduates, Cara Robertson, heads back to the White House later this month, a place familiar to her grandparents, Louis and Carmen Warschaw (she was Democratic National Committeewoman in previous administrations). Her mother, Sue Robertson, said Cara had been chosen one of two U.S. Presidential Scholars from California, and, with her family, would be a guest at the White House. . . . More proud-parent talk from Irving Wallace. His son, David Wallechinsky, has a new book due in August from Viking, a follow-up to "Whatever Happened to the Class of '65," only this time he looks at various high schools. Also due this summer, a biography, "The Prodigy," from daughter Amy Wallace. And how is it to have all these writers in one family? "Thrilling," Wallace said, adding with a smile, "Everybody is working."
MORE KUDOS--The American Jewish Committee took the opportunity to honor UC Regent Stanley Sheinbaum and activist attorney George Slaff on Tuesday night at the Beverly Hilton. It also gave the Malibu Mafia and the Jewish political activists a chance to size up potential presidential candidate Joseph Biden, the Delaware Democrat. In a speech in which he laid out his support for Israel in the Middle East, Biden also managed to hit some hip high notes--as when he told the audience that in his years in the Senate he had rarely seen such chutzpah as that demonstrated by the band's vocalist when he "sang 'Memories' with Barbra Streisand in the room."
Biden misspoke himself when he called the group the American Jewish Congress, but indeed the diners--with folks like Norman Lear, Ed Asner, Mike Farrell, Jane Fonda and songwriters Alan and Marilyn Bergman--were much more political than one would expect at an American Jewish Committee event. Working the room and the dance floor: UC President David Gardner, Toni and Bruce Corwin, Stan Hirsh (whose wife Anita left for several hours to attend a reception for two Soviet Jewish dissidents), Jane and Mark Nathanson, Ramona Ripston and her husband, Judge Stanley Malone, Bob and Sally Burkett, Sarah Pillsbury and Richard Kletter. Biden's speech was followed by a moving acceptance of his award by Slaff and then by a more-than-detailed explanation of his economic vision by Sheinbaum. In fact, it was so detailed that the dinner co-chairman Steve Moses quipped, "We gave Stanley seven minutes because he couldn't keep it to five minutes." Sure.
COMING HOME--That's what it's billed as, the $500-a-ticket dinner July 8 at the Beverly Hilton: "A California Homecoming" for Rep. Jack Kemp and wife Jo Anne. In a letter that went out this week, Kemp, frequently mentioned as presidential fodder, wrote that "the National Democratic Party and the New York State AFL-CIO . . . have made good on a threat" and that they would finance Kemp's Democratic opponent to a great extent. Money was needed, Kemp said, because "in addition to the normally high cost of campaigning, my regular TV and radio budget will have to be tripled or quadrupled." Kemp also pointed out that he has a lot of chits to call in as he collects funds. He said that he had been active in electing "fellow free-enterprise candidates," so active that "since 1969, I have been told that I have done as much to raise money for Republican candidates as any other public figure except Ronald Reagan." On the committee for the dinner:Margaret Brock, Chad and Shelby Everett, Brooks Firestone, Ambassador John Gavin, Barron Hilton, Terrance Lanni, Richard Traweek, Chuck Reed and Don Klosterman.
SAVE THE DATE--For the L.A. Area Chamber of Commerce annual Medici Awards Dinner on July 11. Chaired by Eli Broad at the Huntington Library, the dinner honors "selected individuals and businesses for their generous contributions to the arts."