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November 18, 1987|JACK JONES | From Staff and Wire Reports

Something called the Second Century Coalition for a Thriving Whittier is planning a town hall-style meeting this weekend to take an "optimistic" look at the Oct. 1 earthquake that damaged so much property and disrupted so many lives there.

If everyone who's been invited shows up, they'll need a bigger hall. The city's more than 70,000 citizens are on the proposed guest list.

The idea, said Bonnie Myers, a member of the unofficial group that came together a few days after the quake to "brainstorm" and offer ideas to the City Council, "is to make the best out of circumstances and turn things around."

The 2 p.m. Sunday program at the Hilton in Whittier will include a child guidance center director explaining how to deal with quake fears, a Whittier College geologist contending that Whittier has now been through about the worst its own fault has to offer and a savings and loan executive summing up the financial aspects of rebuilding.

There'll be more, according to Myers, "to put the earthquake into perspective . . . to let people know that buildings built to code are still standing and that there are ways to protect oneself, home and business in future disasters."

This, she said, will be "in the spirit of Whittier's Quaker heritage . . . when the business of the community was handled at a town hall meeting."

Achieving a positive attitude will also be the subject today for several hundred bereavement counselors, physicians, nurses and volunteers as the National Hospice Organization and Children's Hospice International conclude a joint annual meeting at the Los Angeles Hilton.

The burnout level for people dealing with the terminally ill is high, so a former comedy writer is going to tell them how to lighten up. C.W. Metcalf's routine includes getting people to make funny faces and animal noises.

Several years ago, Metcalf said, he was assigned to do a public television special at the Center for Attitudinal Healing in Tiburon, Calif., where he was so impressed by the ability of cancer-stricken children to kid themselves that he pulled out of his own nosedive toward self-destruction.

He had, he recalled, been making "desperate attempts to enjoy myself: sex, travel, multiple marriages and divorces, shifting careers and--underscoring the entire, painful charade--a 25-year decline into alcoholism and drug addiction."

He became a volunteer hospice worker and now goes around holding "humor option" workshops for businesses and conventions for a fee.

His brochure shows him wearing a necktie shaped like a fish.

Whether many of them remembered the Ritz Brothers or were simply looking for celebrities, a couple of hundred people gathered on Hollywood Boulevard early Tuesday afternoon as the late comedy trio was honored with one of those stars embedded in the sidewalk.

Al, Harry and Jimmy Ritz, who were every bit as sophisticated as the Three Stooges, came out of vaudeville to make a bunch of zany movies like "Behind the Eight Ball" in the 1930s and '40s.

Al, who started it all when he discovered he could make money tap dancing, was 62 when he died of a heart attack in New Orleans in 1965. Jimmy died two years ago and Harry in March of last year.

Long-time comedians Red Buttons, Morey Amsterdam and Jan Murray were on hand Tuesday to celebrate the Ritz Brothers. Murray said he roomed with a couple of them when all were in the early stages of their careers. They were not, he suggested, the most serious people he ever met.

Emily Sandler, the 31-year-old Santa Monica actress and singer who won a Betty Boop look-alike contest last June in Northridge only to complain that she never got the contract promised to the winner, said she has it now.

But her lawyer, she reported, advised her not to sign "this absurdity."

As noted previously by Howard Blasberg, vice president of Ron Smith's Celebrity Look-Alikes agency, the contract is not a guarantee of employment but simply an agreement to represent her.

As the demand for Betty Boop look-alikes appears to be at a low ebb just now, the whole thing may be academic.

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