The guest list read like a cast call for an epic film about Hollywood in its heyday: Dana Andrews, Joseph Cotten, Cornel Wilde, Macdonald Carey, Virginia Mayo, Guy Madison, Cesar Romero, Janet Blair, Margaret O'Brien, Anne Jeffreys, Evelyn Keyes, Ruth Warrick and Anna Lee.
No wonder more than 450 star-gazers turned out to celebrate the founding of the Orange County chapter of the American Cinema Awards Foundation at the China Dynasty restaurant in Anaheim on Sunday.
Starry-eyed guests paid $35 each to mingle with the actors, sample Chinese delicacies, and vie for auction items that included movie memorabilia. Chairwoman Sonia Jekums estimated net proceeds for the Motion Picture and Television Country Home in Woodland Hills at about $25,000.
Foot traffic grew heavy in the area of the restaurant where the stars had gathered to dine. Among the whispered comments were: "The one with the beard. . .Guy Madison!" and "Margaret O'Brien still looks like Margaret O'Brien!" A steady pulse of flash cameras illuminated the tables as guests snapped one picture after another of friends and family with their favorite actor or actress.
Many marveled at the stars' accessibility. "Jane Greer. . .all of those ladies are so friendly!" said guest Maureen Casamiquela.
Earlier in the afternoon, Jekums, a member of the boards of both the American Cinema Awards Foundation and Anaheim Memorial Hospital, helped arrange two movie screenings for senior citizens in the hospital that afternoon.
And since stars Dana Andrews and Ruth Warrick (who appears on television's "All My Children") and a number of other Hollywood stars had planned to attend, Jekums said it occurred to her: "Why not have a benefit party afterward?"
It took her two weeks to arrange the event for the ACAF's Orange County chapter, she said. "I called a few women and the restaurant," said Jekums, whose husband, Dr. Theodore Jekums, is on the staff at Anaheim Memorial. "It was all done by phone. Then, Dr. William Lawler announced the benefit at a hospital staff meeting. We have 70 doctors here tonight."
Dana Andrews, the guest of honor, said he was pleased that proceeds from the evening would benefit the Motion Picture and Television Country Home. "I was there two weeks ago, and it's such a nice place," he said.
Paul Henreid agreed that the home, where fabled stars such as the late Mary Astor have lived until their deaths, is "a wonderful thing--beautiful, and so good for so many people who live a long time and are alone."
It was silver-haired Cesar Romero, one of the stars on television's "Falcon Crest" series, who drew the loudest cheers when stars were introduced by ACAF president David Guest. Romero told guests that the home is for everyone involved in the motion picture and television industry. He described it as "a big country club, beautifully cared for."
It takes a lot of money to run the home, they were told by Joseph Cotten, who serves as co-chairman of ACAF with his wife, Patricia Medina.
Charlene Tilton, who was on "Dallas" for a number of years, attended the benefit with husband Domenick Allen and remarked, "It's important to pay homage and understand the roots of our business."