If there were a social legacy in this still-stratifying city, then the CHIPS would be the heir to it. Of course, that's a very big "if." A bigger question might be if the CHIPS want that legacy.
At its super-successful fund-raiser Friday night, the CHIPS could be defined by the very look of the party. Prestigious enough in their own right to get Neiman-Marcus to give them a show-stopper fashion display of Bob Mackie creations, the CHIPS (Colleague Helpers Philanthropic Service) also could count on the support of several tables of well-established social types to help "patronize" the evening, as well as show up.
Seated along one side of the runway were Erlenne and Norman Sprague, Chardee and Tuck Trainer, Carla Kirkeby, Helen and Phil Fowler, Alice Avery, Mary and Brad Jones, Glen and Gloria Holden, Gwynn and Natalie Robinson, Chase and Beverly Morrisey--about as Establishment as one can get. (This group does not need Hollywood stars to make an evening--they're enough of a draw themselves.)
Along the other side of the runway were Loring and Jenny Jones Rutt, Reese and Mary Milner, Irene and Phil Fowler, Jr., Will and Libby Doheny--the younger generation of these Establishment types. Willing, yes eager, to raise money for that favorite charity, the Children's Institute. The CHIPS started off as a "junior auxiliary" to the Colleagues a couple of decades ago. They decided over the years to not move up, but instead stay as the somewhat same 35-member group in its own right.
Achieving Their Goals
They have learned their lessons well. They know how to raise money: The night brought in a net of $75,000, which for a small evening is top dollar. They know how to pursue their goals: Jenny Rutt said that she had begun conversations with Neiman-Marcus two years ago to put together the evening. And they know how to give some very good parties (as in "preppies know how to party"), as shown by the crowded dance floors and the Cadillacs flying in from Las Vegas to sing those '50s songs.
And they know each other very well. When the young Dohenys won a weekend in Las Vegas as part of the drawing, laughter came from all the younger tables, since Will Doheny apparently dislikes travel and will only go as far as Hawaii or points nearer. When Alice Avery won a prize, Jenny Rutt, the evening's chair, pointed out from the stage that "for many many years . . . this benefactor for tonight's evening" supported the Children's Institute.
But while a good number of the brand-name women on the older side of the runway--who've distinguished themselves by volunteer service over the years--could be seen at their regular lunch at the Bistro Garden earlier on Friday, on the CHIPS side, it was a different story. One example: Jenny Rutt, who had put together the superior party, is in real life vice president of the George Elkins Co.
Careers and Charity
CHIPS membership includes former Music Center staffers Janice Shumacher, who is president, and Debbie Tellefsen. Marcia Hobbs (the daughter of Reagan Kitchen Cabineters Betty and William Wilson) is president of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Assn. while Susan Grey is a psychologist with Children's Hospital.
CHIPs member Pat Ryan is the president of Party Planners West, which numbers among past clients the major parties connected with the Emmy Awards and the Olympics. Carolyn Murphy Milner has moved from the president of the Junior League to a slot on the Los Angeles County Grand Jury.
So partying becomes not the be-all and end-all, but just the perfect end to a day. And a perfect end this was, as Neiman-Marcus's John and Bridget Martens took the congratulations for the fabulous Mackie's fashions and people boogalooed into the night.