Dan Faillo, a sales rep from Chicago, had stationed himself at the back of the Beverly Hilton's massive ballroom. Wearing a blue suit and armed with a camera, Faillo was busy tracking the celebrities who had come for the City of Hope's 75th anniversary black-tie kickoff dinner Saturday night. "So far so good," he said, noting that he had already gotten Zsa Zsa Gabor and Ricardo Montalban. He excused himself to shoot Audrey Landers.
"I've been associated with the City of Hope for 10 years," Faillo said. "I've always heard about the hospital, but I've never seen it. Through the convention I hope to take something back to my people."
His "people" are the members of a support group for the City of Hope--one of more than 500 chapters nationwide that raises money for this patient-and-research facility in Duarte.
Saturday night's black-tie dinner was the official start of a three-day convention of the delegates, which takes place every two years. This year the delegates will tour the facility, attend workshops and elect a new volunteer president. Other highlights of the convention will include a Monday night tribute to Isadore Familian for his 50 years of service to the City of Hope. The Sunny and Isadore Familian Children's Hospital is named for him and his late wife.
Also set for tributes are former Gov. Edmund G. Brown, and former City of Hope presidents Victor Carter, Judge Lester Roth, Emanuel H. Fineman, Percy Solotoy and M. E. Hersch. Lee Graff and Harry Guss, members of the board of directors, will be named to the Gallery of Achievement.
City of Hope supporters were not the only ones out for the evening, however. Just outside the hotel, anti-vivisectionists protested the hospital's use of animals for medical research.
(The City of Hope was a target of the anti-vivisectionist group the Animal Liberation Front in December, 1984, when more than 100 animals were stolen from research laboratories. A subsequent investigation by the National Institute of Health resulted in fines of $11,000 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for failing to comply with federal standards governing the treatment of animals in laboratory research. According to Abraham Bolsky, president of the City of Hope, the hospital now has NIH clearance.)
Celebrities in the Crowd
Faillo wasn't the only one packing a camera; many others snapped away happily as celebrities crowded the pool-side cocktail reception. Seen milling about were Donald O'Connor, Shirley Jones and Marty Ingels, Brock Peters, Hal Linden, Ted Lange, Alex Trebek, Virginia Mayo, Florence Henderson, Norm Crosby (the City of Hope's Ambassador of Good Will), and Rue McClanahan, honorary chairman.
A slimmed-down Sen. Edward M. Kennedy was the keynote speaker for the evening, but arrived too late to mingle with guests and went straight to the dinner. Kennedy's appearance meant much to Bolsky, president of Tishman Construction Corp. of California, who is expected to be elected today to his third term as president of the City of Hope.
Said Bolsky: "Since Kennedy is chairman of the Committee on Labor and Human Resources, his support, in a pragmatic sense, is that if he thinks we have something to offer in terms of programs and services, he can steer us in the right direction for obtaining research money."
Sanford Shapero, CEO of the City of Hope, said that in the next three days there will be "a real discussion into the ideological and philosophical future of the City of Hope--to develop a 'think tank.' I want us to be on the cutting edge of science. I want us to be the RAND Corp. of science. This is like anything else in the world. The bottom line is, we have to come up with something that will help our fellow human beings."
Focus on Health Care
Kennedy's speech focused on the nation's growing need for affordable health care. "Essential health care should be the entitlement of all, not the privilege of the few," he said. "Millions are denied essential health care every year. If only they could all come to the City of Hope."
And while he praised the facility's policy of no-cost health care to those who cannot afford it, he added that "even with tremendous volunteer support, even the City of Hope faces increased financial pressure every year. There is no free lunch in health care."
The senator discussed legislation he has introduced to guarantee all employees a minimum benefit package, "a basic protection against the financial burden of major illness." And he touched on the AIDS crisis, calling for a need for better-funded research, intensive education programs and community treatment networks that would offset the burden on health-care facilities.
The speech was followed by a tribute to the celebrities in attendance, most of whom have done work for the City of Hope in the past. Stars were called one by one up to the stage to receive crystal bears as thank-you gifts. But a couple of the celebrities were puzzled as to why they were receiving gifts, because their support had been nominal.
"I don't deserve this," Ricardo Montalban said, "but it's an incentive to do more in the future."