As benefits went, it was a double-whammy.
Two heroes of the Latino community were honored and two organizations reaped profits at a single benefit.
Tenor Placido Domingo and actor Ricardo Montalban were given awards, Domingo's from the Hispanic Advisory Council of Orthopaedic Hospital, and Montalban's presented by Children's Bright Horizons Program of the Assn. of Friends of Placido Domingo. The benefit, which drew about 600 people Thursday night to the Century Plaza Hotel, expected to raise $200,000, to be split equally by the hospital's International Children's Program and Bright Horizons.
The two honorees were mobbed from the time they hit the VIP reception, which was followed by a hectic bilingual press conference.
Feels Like Ambassador
"I think in the United States one likes to feel like an ambassador of our people," Domingo said, seconds before he was whisked away.
The singer's humanitarian efforts (his aid to Mexican earthquake victims in September, 1985, is always mentioned by his admirers) were what won him the honor from the Hispanic Council.
Said Castulo de la Rocha, head of the council: "He has worked with us in the past, and we knew of his humanitarian work with children."
De la Rocha added that the council, now a year old, was formed to better serve the hospital's surrounding Latino community. "Los Angeles is changing very quickly, and the hospital must reflect that change," he said. "We must identify new resources of revenue for charity work at the hospital." Another of the council's objectives is to bring more Latino doctors and administrators into the hospital.
Orthopaedic Hospital's International Children's Program provides orthopedic care to children under 21 at the Valley Orthopaedic Clinic in Calexico and at the hospital's headquarters in Los Angeles.
Children's Bright Horizons, under the auspices of the Assn. of Friends of Placido Domingo, started in 1984 as a nonprofit organization to provide cultural enrichment programs for disabled and needy children.
During the evening, videos on both organizations were shown. Afterward, Dr. Robert M. Nichols, founder of the International Children's Program, and his successor, Dr. Chadwick F. Smith, were given special recognition for their work.
Montalban and Domingo were called on stage twice, once to receive commemorations from the city, and again to receive their awards from the two organizations. The two were honored so often that after a while they just remained on stage.
"I think I am going to walk a little taller at home now," said Montalban, who added that his son was treated by doctors at Orthopaedic Hospital years ago when he was hit by a car.
Said Domingo: "I know you can help. Try to help a child with anything you can--with a song, with a smile."
Among the notables who attended the dinner were Dr. Armand Hammer, actor Esai Morales and Fred Hayman of Giorgio. Chairs for the event were Constance Towers Gavin, Manuel Caldera and Robert Dockson; co-chairs were Jorge Jarrin and Lourdes Birba. Entertainment was provided by Linda Ronstadt, accompanied by Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano, and Daniel Valdez.
The evening concluded with "If We Only Have Love," a song led by opera singer Suzanne Guzman, who asked the audience to join in. Good thing Domingo stayed on stage. He made the sing-along worthwhile.