Variety Club Children's Charities of Los Angeles held its annual Big Heart Dinner on Sunday night, honoring Roy and Patricia Disney--but surprisingly the biggest industry stars at the event were Mickey and Minnie.
It was a very down-home affair at Universal City's Regency Hotel, with pre-dinner entertainment including some lines of doggerel done by Disney Chairman Michael D. Eisner and President Frank G. Wells. They kidded that when it was time to hand out "kudos," it was not to Universal's Sid Sheinberg or 20th Century Fox's Barry Diller or Warner Bros.' Bob Daly or MGM/UA's Lee Rich--but to Roy and Patricia Disney. This bit, however, was somewhat lost on an audience that included none of the studio heads being kidded. Disney is vice chairman of Walt Disney Co.
The evening had some nice touches, though. Sen. Pete Wilson and wife Gayle were on the dais, Wilson saying to the honored Disneys that "we envy you the sense of satisfaction" for helping "children young and old who have wished upon your star." Wilson brought greetings from a fellow Californian, President Ronald Reagan, and from another sailor to yachtsman Disney, the America's Cup winner Dennis Conner. That prompted cheers from the audience.
And, in the audience were Happy and Frances Franklin, Ellen and Berny Byrens, Danny and Rose Marie Thomas, Sedge and Henry Plitt, all greeted by Disneyland's Minnie, Mickey, etc. On the dais was singer Peggy Lee, singer Joe Williams with his wife, Jill, comedian Ruth Buzzi and husband Kent Perkins, and David and Suzanne Horowitz (he filled in for scheduled emcee George Segal).
Roy and Patricia Disney made a sweet, short speech, said they were "extremely flattered" by the honor, and then showed their appreciation by picking up the bill for the entire dinner--the more money to then go to the Variety Club Charities.
ON TO WASHINGTON--Once again it's true. Actors can have another career--in politics. Take Fred Grandy, who shipped out from "The Love Boat" to take office this January as a representative from Iowa. Grandy and his new bride, "Entertainment Tonight" alumnus Catherine Mann, were back in Tinseltown on Monday to boost their Iowa base as a shooting site for feature films and commercials. Hosting the brunch at the Hotel Bel-Air was Iowa Gov. Terry Brainard.
ON TO WASHINGTON, II--When the American Film Institute opens its European Community Film Festival this weekend in D.C., it's only the beginning--since the films then move from D.C. to Chicago on June 12, and then to L.A. June 19. In D.C., AFI President Charlton Heston and Belgium Prince Antoine de Ligne do the opening honors and a lavish gala is planned for Saturday night. . . . The festival itself will get a gala preview here, since the AFI Associates host the premiere of "Roxanne" June 18 at the Century Plaza Theatre in Century City. Ava Ostern is Associates' president, the party chairs are Nancy Ellington and Dolly Gillin and they are all clever and wonderful to make the party dress "For an outdoor party--No Black Ties." Would that every premiere would be so. . . .
HAMMERING IT HOME--Fresh from his 89th birthday celebration, Dr. Armand Hammer and the trustees of the County Museum of Art host a dinner and preview of "Russia, the Land, the People: Russian Painting, 1850-1910." That's June 24 at LACMA. The night before, the unstoppable Hammer joins Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek and chairs the American Friends of the Israel Museum Gala, highlighting the exhibit "Treasures of the Holy Land" also at the County Museum of Art. Among honorary chairs are Iris and B. Gerald Cantor, newlyweds Jodie Evans and Max Palevsky and Adrea and Victor Carter, and Dinner and Gala Committees members Marjorie and Michael Fasman, Joan and Fred Nicholas, Mimi and Bernie West and Adele and Ira Yellin.
UPCOMING--For those who drive to work with National Public Radio, here's a new place to drive. Next Wednesday join Dudley Moore, Linda Ronstadt, Sid Caesar and Beverly D'Angelo and other celebs at 72 Market St. for a benefit performance. Putting together the party--72's Tony Bill, KCRW-FM's manager Ruth Hirschman and La Opinion's Ignacio Lozano. . . . Saturday, Rhea Perlman and Danny DeVito drop their tough-guy screen personas, as they serve as honorary chairs of the benefit for Child, Youth and Family Services. The CYFS is a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving the special needs of young children and their families. And, as part of the benefit party at Paramount Studios, the invite promises "child care available". . . . Rep. William Gray does the keynoting June 13 at the 100 Black Men of L.A. Salute at the Century Plaza. The gala benefits the Young Black Scholars Program. . . . The Art Against AIDS benefit is set for Thursday in New York City, with literally millions of dollars in art being sold from various galleries, and all to benefit the American Foundation for AIDS Research.