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Ann Conway

Museum Has Mystery of Missing Feast

March 06, 1987|ANN CONWAY

Guests at the "Murder in the Museum" bash at the Newport Harbor Art Museum agreed it was an event to die for. Museum director Kevin Consey was "shot," thanks to a professional mystery company, and carted off by a "rescue team." Funereal lilies graced each death-white tablecloth. Bigger-than-life paper silhouettes of dagger-poised murderesses decorated the walls. Blood-red thumbprints showed up on programs and a mural of signatures created by arriving guests.

But none of the dressed-to-kill crowd Saturday night had thought they would die for want of food. There was no reason to think they would. Past benefits had always been heady scenes of conspicuous culinary consumption.

But while its arty salads and spicy chicken and beef were being served, the caterer, Five Feet Restaurant of Laguna Beach, ran out of food. About 100 of the event's 240 guests were left with mayhem on their minds. Staunch supporters stuck it out until the restaurant returned with more fare, but many guests had already beaten it to local bistros. One guest, who begged anonymity, confessed afterward that she had disappeared "to a friend's house where we had food, dessert and a wonderful time."

Michael Chang, owner of Five Feet, said he had brought dinner for 300 and hors d'oeuvres for 400. "I've done a lot of parties and I always overdo my food," he said. But a museum staffer heaped plates "mountain high," he said. "She doubled up on everything."

Museum officials sent out letters of apology on Monday.

Visions of mayhem aside, the $100 per-person bash brought $15,000 to museum coffers. Susan Porter-Caput and Jacque Schmitt were co-chairs. Mary Espe, Erika Ray, K.C. Redmond, Karen Kushner and Vicki Bowinkle served on the committee. The event was sponsored by the museum's Sales and Rental Committee. The Fantasy band played for dancing.

Robert Yant of Newport confessed he'd never seen a fashion show before. But after watching models in swimsuits parade down the ramp at Nordstrom of South Coast Plaza's spring "Trend Show" on Saturday morning, he conceded that fashion shows were "the best of times."

Yant, a quadriplegic, is founding president of the Orange County chapter of the American Paralysis Assn. After learning that Nordstrom picks a different charity to be beneficiary of its open-to-the-public spring and summer preview shows (admission, which includes a continental breakfast, is $5), Yant sent a letter to Dick Harrison, store manager, requesting consideration. Harrison chose the chapter because of Yant's careful presentation, he said, "and because I have a brother who is a paraplegic due to a construction accident."

Past charitable groups have included the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation of Orange County, Irvine Temporary Housing and the Assistance League of Tustin.

More than 1,000 spectators attended the show, bringing the chapter proceeds of nearly $6,000. "That's the easiest money we've ever made," Yant said. The chapter raises money for research "to find the earliest possible cure for spinal cord injury" as well as to educate the public about the condition of the afflicted and provide support for them, Yant said.

In one of the most touching moments in recent ballroom history, staff doctors of Anaheim Memorial Hospital joined hundreds of guests at the Anaheim Marriott on Saturday night to raise their glasses in a toast to the memory of Dr. Marshall Stonestreet, a colleague felled by cancer seven months ago. "He would have loved this night," said his widow Sandy, after receiving a bouquet of roses from the Encore Ball benefit committee. "He loved parties." Ball proceeds of $56,000 were earmarked for the Marshall P. Stonestreet Endowment Fund, a source of medical support for people with limited financial resources. The funds will also be used for community health education.

Sonia Jekums was chairman of the event, whose theme was "An Evening to Remember." Dr. John Casamiquela was honorary chairman. Walt Smith was emcee. The committee included Kathy Main, Mary Bouas, Dr. Lawrence Madsen and Arlene Taormina. Dr. Donald Snider is hospital chief of staff.

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