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Ann Conway

Tony Bennett Greets, Croons at Fund-Raiser

October 22, 1987|ANN CONWAY

Tony Bennett sounded like he had left his heart in San Francisco when he performed for supporters of St. Joseph Hospital at the Anaheim Hilton & Towers.

With two exceptions--"How Do You Keep the Music Playing?" and "Stranger in Paradise" (sung to a slide show of the singer's paintings)--Bennett's one-hour, $24,000 performance for more than 1,000 showcased a voice that crackled more than crooned and lacked the luster for which he is known.

In fact, Bennett had performed in San Francisco at the Fairmont Hotel the night before Friday's $225-per-person benefit performance, as part of a national tour he said would culminate in a one-night stand Oct. 30 at New York's Radio City Music Hall.

Perhaps his taxing schedule accounted for Bennett's clipped performance. Backstage before the show, Bennett, 61, had mixed warmly with benefit organizers, sharing memories of a youth spent in Astoria, N.Y., and reasons for including a medley of songs by Irving Berlin in his repertoire.

"I can't get over it. This man was a lifeguard in Astoria at the same time I was a waiter there," Bennett said of Charles Kovac, chairman of the fund-raiser that netted a record $132,000 for the proposed new obstetrical rooms and baby nursery at the hospital in the city of Orange.

Bennett said he would sing, among other tunes by Berlin, "Smile" and "When I Lost You"--"Bing Crosby's favorite song," he said--because next year will mark the legendary songwriter's 100th birthday. "Yes, he's alive and well," Bennett said, laughing. "And probably feeling better than we are."

It took two ballrooms to accommodate excited guests, some of whom, during the annual fund-raiser's 15-year history, had watched Bob Hope, Rich Little, Paul Anka and Dionne Warwick perform after an elegant, sit-down dinner.

No-host bars were set up in one ballroom, where guests, glittering in formal wear, sipped and mingled until they were called to dinner in a second ballroom, set up like a Las Vegas showroom.

After an invocation by Father Patrick M. McNamara, guests dined grandly on salmon frosted with trout mousse; marble sorbet, a taste bud thriller that combined chocolate with berry; chateaubriand with pepper corn sauce, and "Fantasy Delight," raspberries and whipped cream spilling cornucopia-style from a bittersweet chocolate shell.

Among those serving on the benefit committee were, medical doctors Michael Abdalla, Shashi Acharya, Tom Broderick, William Dixon, Dominick Gentile, Tyson Cobb, Phil Marks, Eugene Spiritus, Ivan Turpin, Mike Mullin, James Pierog and Larry Santora.

Also assisting were Lisa Broderick, Kathy Cheek, Sharon Derkum, Barry Haberman, Kathi McLean, Rina Santora, Jan Cassen, Sharon Paisley and Dick Schmid.

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