When Ronald Reagan became President and Chasen's Restaurant at about the same time was graced with a number of royal visits, Maud Chasen created the back entrance so Reagan could slip in and visiting foreign royalty could arrive privately for tea.
She's a friend to Reagan and other famous people like Walter Cronkite--he sent her a note saying, "I love you, too," after she mentioned on TV that he was her favorite newsman. She caters all the President's parties at his ranch near Santa Barbara.
Her Chasen's is the hangout for the city's rich and famous, who can't get enough of her chicken pies, banana shortcake and chili. This Georgia peach (born in Kentucky, reared in Georgia) with a peaches-and-cream complexion to match is up at 5:30 a.m. each day, making it all happen. She even keeps an apartment at Chasen's.
For her, "the sky's the limit"--one of her folksy phrases-- and that's why for the second time in its 40 years, the Women's Luncheon committee headed by Muriel Lilien of the Sportsmen's Club for the City of Hope has named Maud Chasen Woman of the Year for its preview gala Monday and its luncheons Tuesday, Wednesday and next Thursday in the International Ballroom of the Beverly Hilton.
The marathon affairs are expected to attract 4,000, net fanfare and probably $200,000. The gold touch: It's the 50th anniversary of the Sportsmen's Club and Chasen's. Maud Chasen will be introduced four times--by Jimmy Stewart at the preview, Buddy Rogers on Tuesday, June Haver MacMurray on Wednesday and Mike Douglas next Thursday.
Maud met Dave Chasen in 1942 at a party at Don Ameche's home, married him the same year and became a Chasen's partner (she had supervised Saks beauty salons) with grace, charm, beauty and brains.
Dave was a vaudeville actor. He had come to California to star with Buddy Rogers and Betty Grable, loved the sun and palms, and got his friend Harold Ross of the New Yorker to stake him to $3,000 to open Chasen's. Chasen died in 1973, and Maud took over.
"I enjoy life, but I miss him--he's with me every day . . .," she said. "I've done well. I believe in God--if you don't, you're in trouble--and he sent me in the right direction."
Maud Chasen wears clothes by Nolan Miller and Valentino. She believes in hard work and has her own college-graduate grandson working at Chasen's, "learning, scrubbing floors."
"If we only put one shoulder to the wheel . . .," she said. She should know. She learned to make chicken pot pie from her grandmother over a Georgia wood and coal stove.
"She would make me make it over and over until I got it right." Maud got it right. "Life is just what you make it; you've got to have fun, a sense of humor; and if anyone around you pulls you down, you've got to get rid of him, say, 'So what?' and go on to the next thing."
MAJOR SALUTES: Women for Jeffrey host the Jeffrey Foundation's 16th anniversary gala, "An Evening With the Stars," May 5 at the Beverly Hills Hotel, saluting humanitarian Sybil Brand for her work for handicapped children.
Steve Allen is celebrity chairman; Grace Robbins sings; Connie Stevens emcees, celebrities model Jeran fashions, chairman Nancy Witzer introduces. . . .
Then May 10, friends led by Sooky Goldman will gather at Jimmy's to celebrate Sybil's 85th birthday.
PLAUDITS: Trustees of the University of Redlands host a pre-inaugural dinner next Thursday on campus for president James and Carol Appleton.
DAZZLERS: Diamonds (spectacular ones from the Smithsonian and the House of Harry Winston) star along with dinosaurs at the Dinosaur Ball on Saturday spotlighting the 75th anniversary of the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History. Winston is the ball underwriter, according to chairwoman Diana Jacobs, who has lined up Ron Rubin's Orchestra and Rococo to cater.
UPSCALE: Shona sculpture from Africa (collected by the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Rockefellers and the Rothschilds), will be the attraction Sunday when members of the honorary committee for the exhibit preview the Pacific Asia Museum and Institute of Human Origins two-day exhibition and sale at the museum in Pasadena.
Gordon P. Getty is honorary chairman. Members include Robert and Helene Beck, Franklin and Judith Murphy, John and Rosemary Raitt, Morgan Fairchild and Bill and Clara Burgess. About 300 museum and institute patrons may view the carvings and art later Sunday evening. The exhibit will be open to museum members Tuesday from 4 to 8 p.m. . . .
The Sandpipers host "An Enchanted Evening of Excitement" on Saturday, premiering their Design House at 709 Via La Cuesta in Palos Verdes Estates, then moving on to the Torrance Marriott and dancing to the John Brown Band.
RED LETTERS: Mount St. Mary's alumnae host a preview of summer fashions at their 26th annual luncheon at the Beverly Wilshire on Saturday to benefit scholarships. Carla Ruiz of Granada Hills and Patricia Dominguez of Manhattan Beach are co-chairwomen. . . .
Rich Little headlines "One Starry Night," the St. Joseph Medical Center Guild dinner dance Saturday at the Warner Center Marriott in Woodland Hills. . . .
Six hundred are expected for Loyola High School Mothers Guild's 57th birthday luncheon Saturday on campus. Diane Curran and Jackie Laderman intend every table will be different, some with 10-foot-tall decorations. . . .
Celia Gonzales-Torres addresses members of National Network of Women's Funds on Friday at the Mayfair.