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Marylouise Oates

The Blue Ribbon--Still Amazing

October 30, 1987|Marylouise Oates

The crowd looked just like any 200 women gathered for tea on a Thursday afternoon in San Marino--but a closer inspection showed the group to be the Music Center's Blue Ribbon.

This year the almost 20-year-old support group dropped the "Amazing" part of the group's name, but this "new members" tea honoring 32 new Blue Ribbons and a look back at the $17 million raised by this group shows just how accurate the now-discarded adjective really was.

Keith Kieschnick, finishing up the last year of her three-year term as president, said that it was clear why women were still standing in line to fill in the approximately 35 slots that open up every year in the Blue Ribbon's membership. "First and foremost, ever since Dorothy Chandler created it, there is a certain mystique about Blue Ribbon--glamour, appeal. . . . The other reason is that it is the only, or almost only, major volunteer organization that does not require a lot of volunteer hours."

From its founding, the Blue Ribbon was a unique concept in fund-raising: Women would be asked to be members, and would contribute a yearly amount to the Music Center. (This year, dues are $1,500.) It was a "fund-giving, not a fund-raising organization." There are several social activities scheduled for members during the year--and the membership does volunteer to help put on the annual Children's Festival at the Music Center in the spring.

Valued Membership

Because people were "asked" to become members, and because of its very special title, the Blue Ribbon quickly became a sought-after membership--Nancy Reagan's buddies like Betty Wilson and Earlenne Sprague, Rams owner Georgia Frontiere and producer Lili Zanuck, businesswomen like Gale Hayman and Adrienne Hall, architecture Digest's Paige Rense, and entertainment industry types like Ginny Mancini, Carol Burnett, Dinah Shore and Angie Dickinson, are among long-time members, as are the wives of prominent entertainment industry moguls.

Even though there was no required number of work hours and no volunteer tasks, Blue Ribbon members have continually wound up on the boards and volunteering for many other Music Center support groups. Whatever the magic ingredients, Blue

Ribbon works. This year, the organization will turn over $1.8 million to the Unified Fund, Kieschnick said, since many members give more than the $1,500 specified.

Membership opens up, she said, because of "attrition--members die, move away, get divorced. We always have a waiting list." Any member of Blue Ribbon may propose a new member, but then she must be sponsored by three women from the 35-member board. Kieschnick pointed out that any woman with an interest in the performing arts is welcome as a prospective member; the new members having tea at Dina Oldknow's home this Thursday included women like Donna Wolff and Donna Kamin, both of whom have been active in other Music Center support groups for several years.

So pass the tea--and pass the fund-raising expertise, please.

ONCE MORE, WITH FEELING--His name does seem to be everywhere this year, so it's no surprise that Jerry Weintraub (and his wife, Jane Morgan Weintraub) are next in line to receive the prestigious Scopus Award from Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Set for Jan. 17, the party at the Beverly Hilton will have Vice President George Bush and his wife, Barbara, as honorary chairs (the Second Couple are neighbors of the Weintraubs in Maine). The party will raise the money to create 140 scholarships in the Weintraubs' names.

The evening is usually one of L.A.'s glitziest: Previous Scopus Laureates include Barbra Streisand, Nancy Reagan, Elie Wiesel and Steven Spielberg. This year's dinner chairs are Sidney Sheinberg and Harvey L. Silbert, with co-chairs including Barbara Walters and Merv Adelson, Marilynn and Al Gersten Jr., Margaret and Jerry Perenchio, and former Atty. Gen. William and Jean Smith.

HELPING OUT--Michael Landon and the National Downs Syndrome Congress host the first-ever Celebrity Gala tonight at the MGM Filmland Center. The evening is as special as the people it will help since, in addition to the Monte Carlo evening, gambling, food and partying aspects, there will also be a screening of video clips from various TV programs dealing with victims of Down's Syndrome. Cheers to Landon and to his friend Dennis Weaver for helping out. . . .

Kudos to the Parents and Friends Guild of Work Training Programs, who will hold their Steps to Independence Dinner Dance Sunday at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. This year, the organization has Rona Barrett as the evening's honorary chair and will salute Hughes Missile System Group in Canoga Park, the Santa Barbara Research Center and members of the Hughes Aircraft Co. family. Also honored--Assemblywoman Marian LaFollette (R-Northridge).

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