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Charity Costume Ball's Creators Embrace Hollywood's Full Regalia

March 10, 1988|ANN CONWAY

The envelopes, please.

If they handed out Oscars for gala-giving, the Masked Ball chapter of the Guilds of the Performing Arts Center would sweep the awards for its "Carnival in Cinema" staged at the Disneyland Hotel Saturday night.

The nod for best actor would go to Dr. John Jensen, who was so rakish as Rudolf Valentino that he had women swooning.

Best actress would go to Susan Levine, as an unblushing, unblinking and unflappable bride of Frankenstein.

Best costume design would go to Dee Trujillo, the creative fireball, who, besides designing gala costumes, masterminded the idea of a Mardi Gras-esque benefit for the group four years ago ("If my husband knew how much time I spent on this, he'd leave ," she whispered before the show).

And best director would have to go to ball chairman Dean Reppe.

The gala began with a touch of show biz (lavish appetizers taken from a buffet garnished with film reels, orchids and silver stars) and ended with show biz--a dazzling performance by songbird Barbara McNair.

What happened between will keep guests starry-eyed for months.

First, an appearance by an Elizabeth Taylor look-alike during the cocktail hour. Second, a glimpse of a Cher seem-alike.

Then, guests swept into a ballroom, where light-framed posters of movie classics lined the walls. Mumm's champagne was poured during welcoming speeches by Trujillo and Reppe.

Following a tap dance performance by movie "starlets," a presentation was made of the kings and queens from the three previous balls. Dressed in elaborate costume, Trujillo made a grand entrance on the arm of Jeff Phillip; Ginny Grant entered with Mike Trujillo and Yolanda Jensen floated in alongside Bill Grant.

And then, show time--the presentation of the 1988 court. With a band belting out theme music and appropriate film clips flashing on a silver screen, costumed couples took the stage and glided around a dance floor before applauding guests.

First up, a tribute to cinema's golden age of comedy with a strutting Kathy McKee portraying Mae West and Dick Alexander bumbling along as W.C. Fields.

A fantasy set followed with Betty McAlpin appearing as a pretty-in-pink Cinderella and Dick Cottingham as Prince Charming. "I'll be in the robin's egg-blue sissy suit," Cottingham said. "You'd have to fight if you wore a suit like that in Philadelphia, where I grew up." A salute to the epic film found Pat Crockett gowned as a glittering Cleopatra and Bill Barker dressed as Marc Antony.

An ode to the Western showcased Pat O'Reilly as "Tonta" and Jack Crockett as the Lone Ranger (O'Reilly confessed that she had endured four sessions in a tanning salon to get just the right complexion).

Appearances by "Auntie Mame" (Eloise Neely) and "Beauregarde Burnside" (John Schmidt) saluted the musical. And Frankenstein (Erick Kehke) and his bride, Levine, paid homage to the horror film.

And that was just for starters, folks. Before the night was over, a dazzling queen--Joyce Helfrich gowned a la Theda Bara--paraded regally on the parquet and was presented with pink roses; bouquets of balloons dropped from the ceiling; fireworks erupted; a belly dancer undulated before the man who would be King Rex IV (Jensen, who was selected by secret ballot by the chapter board) and, of course, there was dinner--Caesar salad, stuffed potato, filet mignon, spring veggies, English trifle, wine and coffee, tea or milk. And dancing to the Society for the Preservation of Big Bands.

All of this was had for a paltry $135 per couple; Dee Trujillo estimated proceeds at $18,000.

"We're a fun-loving group of 80 people, mostly couples, from all over Orange County," said Trujillo, of Garden Grove, who admitted she was looking for someone else to be costume designer.

"I love doing this pageant because it's the one thing I can give that helps create a fund-raiser that's different. The best part is when I get to sit down and watch it all.

"Then it's worth it; all those nights of just eating tacos and hamburgers (while working on the gala) are worth it."

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