Money isn't funny these days, but the USC School of Public Administration will stash bundles of humor into its Ides of March VI dinner March 21 at the Beverly Wilshire when it roasts the Hon. Paul A. Volcker, former chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, and chairman of the National Commission on the Public Service.
Caroline L. Ahmanson is honorary dinner chairman and dinner chairman Paul A. Miller has selected Johnny Grant to collect a panel of celebrity roasters. Funds will go to scholarships. Last year the group roasted former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Co-chairmen include John Argue, William Keck II and Ann and Jack Needleman.
PLAUDITS: Big Sisters of Los Angeles have revealed their honorees for the Spring Fever Dinner Dance on March 15 at the Beverly Wilshire. William Pagen and Barbara Pauley Pagen will be named the Humanitarian Couple of the Year. Three Women of Achievement will be Patricia Nettleship, chairman/CEO of North Pacific Investment Group; Barbara Corday, former president of Columbia Pictures; and Los Angeles Councilwoman Joy Picus. Bill Siart, chairman of the board, president and CEO of First Interstate Bank of California, will join his wife, Noelle, as dinner co-chairs.
IF IT'S SPRING ALMOST: Then, it must be time for the Empty House Party, which the Pasadena Junior Philharmonic Committee always hosts to launch its Showcase House of Design benefit for the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
The other evening 700-plus in casual chic (topped in fur) toured the elegant 1928 Monterey Colonial while benefit chairman Susi McConaghy and president Cindy McNeish opened closets and cupboards to Barbara and Ralph Little, Linda and John Seiter, Jeanine and John Cushman, Gabriella and John Santaniello, Carolyn and Bob Volk, Norma and Russ Hanlin, and Anne and Bruce Blomstrom.
It was OK to drop a few crumbs on the floors, according to party chairman Betty Rossiter. So the feasting on Somerset's stir-fry ginger beef, spicy chicken chili and nouvelle quesadillas and caviar tortes was housewide for all including designers Linda Merrifield, John Fremdling, Frances Gibbons and Logan Brown.
Exterior co-chairs Susan Olsen and Mona Mapel braved the cold. Word has it the first men-only exterior work day and barbecue bash (for PJPC husbands) will be later this month, hosted by Merlin Olsen and Frank Mapel. And, in March, Molly and Dick Siefert will keep the volunteers in spirit with the sixth annual "Chili and Thee" soiree. It all leads to Premiere Night on April 16.
THE EXPERT: Barnsley House in Gloucester is one of the most visited and admired gardens in England. Thus, it was no surprise that the Pasadena Garden Club's benefit at Descanso Gardens this week featuring Barnsley House's owner Rosemary Verey, the noted English garden writer who is author of "The Scented Garden" and who writes a monthly feature for Country Life, was sold to the absolute rafters of the Georgie Van de Kamp Hall.
The stalwarts of the Pasadena Garden Club were all there: Polly Goodan, Victoria Williamson, Alyce Williamson, Sue Rowan, Hannah Bradley, Lisa Clement, Susie Miller, Marie Jones, Jan Clayton, Carolyn Moss and Lurabelle Laughlin. Bel-Air Garden Club members such as Dody Booth (with Elizabeth Up de Graff a guest) and Betty Ramser drove over. Diggers including Barbara Jameson, Debby Hollingsworth, Susan Kranwinckle and Mary Ann Cunningham were in the crowd. And Seeders and Weeders including Harriet Plunkett as well as florist Milo Bixby all heard the speaker declare: "Keep your garden simple. Simplicity is usually best."
Showing how she juxtaposed pink tulips with forget-me-nots (with white tobacco plants in the same patch for summer), the author lauded water in ponds and fountains in the garden with the accompanying reflections, discussed the beauty of vistas in even the smaller gardens, and advised: "When you see a plant you like, buy quite a few of them."
Verey joshed Californians for "pruning and torturing your plants and trees," and described the joys of her boxwood knot garden. Later the crowd, including Dorothy Shea (off to Stein Erikson's Lodge at Deer Valley for President's Weekend and skiing with the family), lunched on Rococo's basket goodies.
Proceeds are dedicated to La Casita del Arroyo, a joint project of the club and the city of Pasadena. The club is continuing to landscape the site, which is available to Pasadena organizations for a small fee, and was declared a Pasadena Cultural Heritage Landmark in 1976.
50TH ANNIVERSARY: A Los Angeles crowd took over the private dining room of Manhattan's latest "in" restaurant--Orsini's--to celebrate the 50th anniversary of former Ambassador to the Vatican William Wilson and his wife, Betty. After the Wilsons retied the knot, in a ceremony officiated by New York's Cardinal John O'Connor, Earle and Marion Jorgensen hosted the wedding luncheon. Californians applauding included Armand and Harriet Deutsch, Giney Milner, James Stewart and Bunny Wrather.