Money, stars, a late-night supper, and even a fan's dream come true. It was just like in the movies at the $1.5-million "Happy Birthday Hollywood" benefit and television show for the Motion Picture and Television Fund on Sunday night.
Reams and reams of stars turned out for the five-hour taping at Shrine Auditorium before a black-tie audience that partied until after midnight following the show (it will air May 18 on ABC).
The scene backstage was as good as out front. Jimmy Stewart, Sid Caesar, Sammy Davis Jr., Ally Sheedy, Lillian Gish, two-time Oscar winner Luise Rainer, Burt Reynolds and Charles Bronson all roamed about.
"Well," Alice Faye confided, seated at one of the dinner tables, waiting for the show to end, "Charles Bronson is my favorite. I didn't get to meet him, but I did see him backstage."
Told of Faye's admiration, the soft-spoken Bronson behaved just like the star he is, circling the room to come up behind her, sitting down for a long conversation, "making my evening," Faye said, acting just like a bobby-soxer.
Co-chairman Nancy Livingston had pulled off movie magic and transformed the back room at the Shrine into a wonderful ballroom, with circling mirrored globes giving off both light and glamour.
It was a fan's paradise--even for some star-fans, like Michele Lee and Henry Winkler, who each came armed with their home video equipment. But rarely does one see camera work like that of Lee, who with her fiance, Fred Rappaport, waltzed across the dance floor with her camera on her shoulder.
And, indeed, in large denominations, money was the focus for the evening. Walter Seltzer and Robert Blumofe, the co-chairmen of the Fund's $50-million capital campaign for the Woodland Hills retirement community and hospital, were delighted that the million-plus evening had put them more than halfway toward their goal.
Edie Wasserman, the spark plug of the capital campaign and the co-chair of the evening, pointed out that until this night, the Fund had done most of its fund-raising on a private, one-to-one basis. Showing the kind of money involved in this effort, seated with Lew and Edie Wasserman were Barbara and Marvin Davis, Aaron and Candy Spelling, David and Dee May, and Arco's Lod and Carole Cook. Nearby were other major contributors to the fund, like Interscope's Ted Field with his fiance, Susan Bollman.
As Edie Wasserman explained, "This evening gave us two minutes on the air (a commercial for the Fund by Katharine Hepburn that will air during the show). It gave us well over $1 million and made sure that zillions of people will know what we are doing."
Just like all of Hollywood.