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Town Hall of California Marks Its 50th Anniversary

November 19, 1987|MARY LOU LOPER | Times Staff Writer

For 50 years, Town Hall of California has sought top speakers of the world to discuss and debate vital issues. Its abiding principle: "All sides shall be heard." Archives show that Town Hall's board members and speakers are the same leaders who have molded the spectacular growth of Los Angeles and shaped the West.

The 5,000-member organization celebrated black-tie the other evening at the golden anniversary dinner chaired by Harold M. Williams of the J. Paul Getty Trust and directed by Stender E. Sweeney, Town Hall chairman.

The history of Los Angeles--culture, politics, water, freeways--flashed on the screen. Then the powerhouse audience turned to Dr. Franklin D. Murphy--chosen as honored guest and speaker--for promises of the future.

Rabbi Alfred Wolfe of Wilshire Boulevard Temple invoked a "Thanksgiving for Franklin." Murphy attended the University of Kansas before graduating with a medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania, later becoming dean of the University of Kansas School of Medicine, chancellor, then UCLA chancellor for eight years, chairman of Times Mirror (now director emeritus of the executive committee).

He is chairman of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, chairman of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, trustee of the J. Paul Getty Trust, Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Ahmanson Foundation and a director of Bank of America, Hallmark, Norton Simon and Ford Motor Company.

"Los Angeles is a world-class city no matter how you measure it," Murphy said, tracing the city's growth. Now, "Issue No. 1--the issue of the new Ellis Island. . . . It is a migration of Asians and Mexican-Americans rather than Europeans, and it brings with it the same kinds of problems that the European immigrants brought to the East . . . a whole new bouillabaisse. . . . At the center of this ferment and vitality is Southern California. The key, of course, is education . . . to bring in a whole new people into this cultural society." He spoke also of "the large numbers of people that have become undernourished in this society. . . . (We) must modify this obscenity."

Murphy also advised: "We must live by our wits rather than our muscles . . . we must re-invoke some traditional values--discipline in the home, in the classroom . . . a sense of civility. Must we spit and shout at each other?" He added, "The emphasis of the future will be on human and social issues."

The city's professional, business and educational leaders overflowed the room, including Caroline Leonetti Ahmanson, John C. Argue, Robert F. Erburu, George Gibbs Jr., James C. Green, Gerald Foster, Charles E.Young, Rodney W. Rood, Francis M. Wheat and Clifford S. Lightfoot. They watched as Murphy received a Piranesi engraving and Judith Murphy received red roses.

BREEDERS' CUP IV: Glamour galore enshrines the big Breeders' Cup Day Saturday at Hollywood Park. Barbara (Mrs. Cary) Grant and John Forsythe co-chair the Gala Ball on Friday evening in the International Ballroom of the Beverly Hilton. The hotel's new owner, Merv Griffin, produces the show with advice from Aaron Spelling, Howard W. Koch and Carole and Burt Bacharach.

Polishing the ball are a committee headed by Julie Forsythe, Penny Chenery, Barbara Davis, Adrienne Underwood, Linda Evans, Walter Matthau and Robert Wagner. Expected for the fun are C. Gibson Downing and John Gaines, president and chairman of Breeders' Cup Ltd., both of Lexington, Ky.

Pre-Cup parties include tonight's affair at the home of Thomas Tatham (owner of Oak Cliff Stable that races 1986 Breeders' Cup Classic champion Skywalker) and Friday night's cocktail party at the Hilton hosted by J. R., Art and Robert Preston to tout their champion sprinter Groovy. Hollywood Park CEO Marje Everett will be in the prominent position in the Director's Room for the $10-million slate of races, and high on the guest list are Armand Hammer, Lee Iacocca, Donald Trump, Nelson Bunker Hunt, Prince Khaled Abdullah and Joan Collins.

PAST PERFECT: A covey of pretty women including Debbie Lannie, Teran Davis, Mary Lazar, Ann Johnson, Judy Tallarico and Patti Skouras dropped in for the invitational breakfast I. Magnin hosted to greet photographer Victor Skrebneski. He autographed his new book, "Skrebneski: Five Beautiful Women." . . . Marion and Florence Malouf, co-founders of the Dean's Circle of the USC School of Music, chaired the concert and post-concert soiree this week at the Wiltern Theatre. Dean Larry J. Livingston was there. . . . Sonance (House Ear Institute) members danced the night away at the Beverly Hilton at Sherry Lombardi's fun-filled evening. Among the crowd were Penny von Kalinowski, president, patrons chair Helene Irvin, guest of honor Carl Karcher and Tracy Scoggins.

HOLIDAY SPREE: Frani Ridder, president of the Long Beach Opera board, promises a snowstorm and carolers for "Pfeffernusse Pfaire" this evening at Marina Pacifica Mall. The opera will get a percentage of receipts from shoppers.

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