The $25-million Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum in the Pine Meadows section of Griffith Park is scheduled for completion in June, 1988. Right now, however, Autry, his wife, Jackie, and the Monte Hales (Joanne is museum executive director) are building bonfires of excitement about the black-tie dinner Feb. 21 at the Century Plaza. Invitations will be in the mail soon.
Headliners for the inaugural gala will be Rosemary Clooney, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra. In fact, it was Ol' Blue Eyes, who, not so many months ago, told the Autrys at a dinner party in Rancho Mirage, with Danny and Natalie Schwartz, "I would love to do a black-tie benefit for you." Martin and Davis have promised the Western stage act their audiences loved in Las Vegas. The party is expected to raise $500,000.
Proceeds will mean more acquisitions, Joanne Hale said. Plans are for the museum to be one of the world's most comprehensive repositories of American history. Autry, a movie star/cowboy-turned-businessman, said his goal is "a cultural, historical, educational legacy." The museum will feature the Silsby fire-fighting steam pumper, used in Virginia City, Nev., (circa 1874, and purchased for $110,000); Teddy Roosevelt's ranch rifle; Buffalo Bill Cody's saddle; Wyatt Earp's revolver; a Frederic Remington bronze, "The Bronco Buster"; and assorted historic spurs.
The Autry Foundation, founded by Autry and his first wife, Ina Mae, is funding the museum and has contracted with the city to make up the maintenance shortfall, if any.
Gala tickets range from $250 to $1,000. Four $25,000 donors have been rounded up by the gala committee, including Mrs. Happy Franklin, Mrs. Ben Kelts, Mrs. Buddy Rogers and Mrs. Richard Wolfe.
They have chums coming from yonder: Christina Paine and Jack Ross from Scottsdale, Ariz.; Eugene Rice and the Greg Martins from San Francisco; Stewart and Katherine Abercrombie from Montecito; Ernest and Jean Hahn from Palm Desert; John and Joan Sinn from Rancho Mirage; and Mitchell and Betts Simon from Indian Wells.
A model of the trilevel museum, reflecting the Southwest's Spanish heritage, will be on display.
GOLD MINE: Lily Tomlin and Jane Wagner, in their search for signs of intelligent life in the universe, have themselves been discovered by the California Theatre Council: They'll receive this year's California Theatre Awards. Tomlin, now starring at the Doolittle in "The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe," and Wagner, the show's author and director, will be feted Feb. 9 at the black-tie gala in the Crystal Room of the Beverly Hills Hotel.
Council board member Rene Auberjonois is currently coordinating scenes from American comedies that he will perform with John Lithgow, Marsha Mason and Marian Mercer. The readings will be selected by the Mark Taper Forum's dramaturge Jack Viertel and directed by Gordon Hunt.
Helen Hayes is honorary dinner chairwoman. The council is using the dinner as its primary fund-raiser to celebrate theater. Previous recipients have included Peg Yorkin, Richard Dreyfuss and Orange County businessman/philanthropist Henry Segerstrom.
LILY, TOO: Family Service of Los Angeles also will celebrate Tomlin's one-woman show on Feb. 12, gathering at Arbat Restaurant in Hollywood first. Early reservations are in from the Terry Holbertons III, the William Scott Kings, the Leonard Smiths, Mrs. Alexander Ripley, the Marshall Urists, the R. C. Potters, the Ralph Edwardses, Judge and Mrs. Delbert Wong, the Gerald Woodards and Jean Juell.
ROMANCE: Lois Driggs Cannon and her fiance, Buzz Aldrin, who walked on the moon in 1969, appear on the invitation for the Friends of Reconstructive Surgery Research benefit Feb. 11.
That's the evening the Friends have their "out of this world" party at Wilshire Country Club with cocktails, dinner and dancing, according to Bernice Gershon, founder of the group.
The engaged pair are just back from Park City, Utah, where they participated in Republican Sen. Jake Garn's U.S. Senators Ski Cup invitational races.
VALENTINE GIFT: A gift from the heart is the way Sally Assin and the committee staging "The Gift of Life" are viewing their Valentine Party for the Joanne Barr Memorial Foundation at the Bel-Air Country Club Feb. 6. The goal is to further research being done at UCLA by the Liver Transplantation Program.
It's the second event for the foundation, founded by chairman Madelyn Jones and Brigitte Barr.
UPDATE: Party planner Arthur Simon will design the decor for the Tel Aviv Foundation's gala honoring actress Goldie Hawn in tribute to the late agent Stan Kamen on Tuesday at the Century Plaza. Barbra Streisand, Warren Beatty and Tel Aviv Mayor Shlomo Lahat are co-chairmen. . . .
The Associates of the Center for the Partially Sighted will host cocktails to meet Steve Edwards, host of AM Los Angeles, next Sunday in Santa Monica.