At the Beastly Ball, Marcia Hobbs, president of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Assn., came up with the best two-liner of the evening. When a light drizzle threatened to kink or flatten (or both) the chic coiffures as 500 petted the chimpanzee, milled around the spicy fish hors d'oeuvres and watched Leadbottom the condor hop up and down from a perch, she said: "This is a rain forest. We just have a little rain."
Of course, of course. Not a soul dashed for a palm frond. What else would one expect at a safari ball, which brought out only a few black ties, but a jungle of khaki and cashmere--Jimmy Stewart's new suede and corduroy jacket weathered beautifully. The dampness certainly wasn't ample enough to daunt the stupendous lamb, the couscous, the tabbouleh , the dinner culminating with ice cream topped with hot fudge in a coconut shell, all planned by veteran Zoo Ball chairman Virginia Milner. Nor did it darken the hundreds of twinkling lights that created canopies that seemed like "shelters" in the wilderness.
Nor did it defuse the dynamite bids that brought in about $170,000 in the live auction, which found socialites competing to name a snow leopard cub, an elephant and a baby camel that looked as though it had been to the poodle parlor, and the chimp, the orangutan and the black llama that had been exhibited during cocktails.
The upshot: Somebody paid $1,000 for a little lizard "that is only that big." Gerald Oppenheimer paid $3,000 for a Siamese cat. Marvin Davis, who can afford what he wants, exulted "I have died for a camel all my life" as he was photographed with the fluffy 9-week-old Bactrian camel he bid $10,000 for, while Barbara Davis giggled, "It's good for the zoo."
Ron Mandell, there with Gail Feingarten, was a big bidder: $6,000 for the Siamang, a gibbon that uses its inflatable throat sac to amplify calls. Lotsie Giersch, Priscilla Tamkin, Kay Jamison and Gloria Stewart were so good in corraling bids that auctioneer Peter McCoy and actress Betty White announced the $40,000 point in bidding. Agnes Kellogg and Harry Horowitz purchased various snakes. While one was being escorted around the dinner tables for viewing, Dickason Ross, just back from Africa, was seen to squirm.
It all made Audrey Wilder reveal that Billy is frightened of mice, and that created one story after another at the table she shared with Connie Wald, Jim Wharton, Bill Frye and Frances Bergen (who revealed that she and Mrs. Wilder went to Los Angeles High School together and did a musical routine together: "Who's that coming down the street? Good old organ grinder beat.")
The cheers were fairly hefty when Burt Reynolds purchased No. 19, the native American ocelot that is being trained to perform in the zoo's Incredible Cat Show. It was a gift for his best girl, Loni Anderson. The snow leopard went for $17,000. Ernest and Patricia Ellison got the chimpanzee for $20,000.
The show-stopper, the elephant, was auctioned in $1,000 shares, bringing about $23,000. Shareholders included Jack and Bobbie Forman, Jane and Bob Rosenbaum, Lulie and Ralph Winter, Charles and Joje Young, and Marion Malouf.
The Grand Avenue people of Pasadena were exhibiting neighborliness: Alice and Joe Coulombe and Jerry and Donna Secundy bought the kestrel.
As the crowd exited, Beverly Morsey was still warmed by her plastic pet python around her neck (she bought him at MOCA's gift shop). And those who love Africa were promising themselves to return: Diane Moller, Reese and Mary Milner, Penny Bianchi. Others, like Natalie and Gwynn Robinson, Ron Leshing (president of the Los Angeles Library Commission), Louise Larson, Stuart Ritter, Father Maurice Chase, Fred and Janet de Cordova, Paul and Marjorie Miller, were saying what a great night it was.
Zoo zealots can laugh all the way to the bank. Funds will go to the campaign for a new children's zoo. Five million of the $7 million necessary has been raised.
PROHIBITION: Flagpole sitters, Clara Bow, stocks crashing, Lindbergh. All that and "The Babe" (Babe Ruth) and "Big Al" (Capone) are on the minds of Quest when they host a 1920s party next Sunday at the Bistro Garden. Antoinette Campoy and Anne Scott are the founders of the group, which benefits victims of Prader-Willi Syndrome, a disease which creates an inability to control the intake of food.