More than $150,000 was raised for Western Medical Center's proposed community education center Saturday night when 650 hospital supporters attended the sixth "Fund$y" benefit, held in a tent set up on the hospital grounds in Santa Ana.
With Big Ben to welcome guests, a castle at the bandstand and bobbies strolling through the tent, the British theme for this year's black-tie gala came across with flying colors, in this case those of the Union Jack, which were raised on every table.
If the event lacked celebrities, it was of no consequence. The clothes that were used in major productions were among the 450 items on sale in a silent auction, including Richard Chamberlain's "Shogun" kimono, designer frocks and furs worn by Joan Collins in "Dynasty," and Stephanie Powers' "Hart to Hart" lambskin jacket.
Bobbi LeVine went straight to Joan Collins' mink, while June Feldman bid on the lambskin, and then stood watch by the list lest a higher bidder come along.
Even without the star-worn fashions, the night glittered with Orange County's own evening gowns.
Event founder Betty Belden's ensemble was a spectacular show of multicolored sequins. Her pendant was of the commemorative variety, with various years dangling from the word "Fund$y." She explained that 1979 and 1980 were missing because, on those years, the group built and sold two houses to raise funds.
"I don't know why I don't have houses hanging down," Belden commented.
Kea Simon, who attended with husband Dr. Stan Lowenberg, wore a long black silver-spangled gown for the occasion. She lamented the loss of her spangles, however, which she reported as gradually diminishing whenever she sat down.
The president of United Western Medical Centers, Wayne D. Schroeder, brought an entourage to the event. Foremost in the crowd were wife-to-be Judi Schultz and pregnant daughter Dawn, whom he described as "due in three hours."
Schroeder explained that the proceeds from each year's event go toward a different project. He cited the hospital's trauma center, which was the first in Orange County, as a project built by a previous year's fund-raiser. He said the new learning center would teach people about disease prevention at a central complex next to the hospital, and through video terminals in courthouses, schools, shopping centers and other sites throughout the county.
"I do this as a labor of love," said David Melilli, who chaired the event and recalled using the hospital's emergency facilities when his son broke a wrist last year.
Harold Segerstrom said he also had personal reasons for supporting Western Medical Center. "They saved my life three times," he said, referring to his two heart attacks.
Segerstrom attended the event with his wife Jeannette despite the fact that the Broadway department store premiered that same evening in family-owned South Coast Plaza. "This comes first," he insisted. "Too many people get involved in too many things and don't give enough to any. When I get started with something, I see it through."
Others seeing the evening through to a successful conclusion were Z. Mabel Allred, Claire McNair, Norman Metzger and Dennis Blanchard. The David Threshies and Richard Wallaces served as honorary chairs.