George W. Fenimore, chairman of the Beverly Hills Visitors Bureau, was looking for a spectacular way for the city to celebrate its 75th birthday. This is, after all, the glitz and glamour capital of the world.
"We didn't want to just have a little birthday party and blow out the candles on a store-bought cake," Fenimore said. "No way. Not in Beverly Hills."
Instead, he will gather 68 Arthur Murray Dance Studio dancers, 20 Mexican charros (horsemen), 100 Jazzercisers, 40 Nina Blanchard high-fashion models, the Goodyear Blimp and an elephant for an opening "musical extravaganza."
And that's just the first night of a $1.7-million, 14-month-long celebration of the Beverly Hills Diamond Jubilee.
As for the birthday cake, Fenimore persuaded the Four Seasons Hotel to bake a 1 1/2-ton, 300-square-foot lemon Genoise (butter spongecake) with fresh fruit and white chocolate, adorned with a 9-foot high replica of City Hall, to be cut into 10,000 slices and served to the public July 3. He also talked jeweler Harry Winston into creating a $6-million replica of a slice of cake with 2,500 high-quality diamonds.
Heralding the Party
"Let the party begin," said Fenimore at a recent announcement, accompanied, of course, by trumpet heralds and 18 tuxedo-clad singers and dancers driven in "hot red" Cadillac Allante convertibles.
But being Beverly Hills, this is not just a party. It's also a promotion to attract tourists. According to the Los Angeles Visitors and Convention Bureau, Beverly Hills is the No. 1. tourist destination in Los Angeles County.
The organizers have selected three primary corporate sponsors for the festivities: American Airlines, to fly in the tourists; Cadillac, to provide rental cars for tours around the city, and the Beverly Hills Hotel, to provide a place for tourists to spend the night. Of course, the sponsors will pay the Beverly Hills Visitors Bureau collectively about $500,000 in cash and trade for the distinction.
And once in Beverly Hills, tourists will also be able to sip the official soft drink, the Beverly Hills Sparkler, or the official champagne, Piper-Heidsieck, and devour the official ice cream, Haagen-Dazs, while listening to the official radio station, KSRF-FM 103.1. And, of course, it can all be paid for with the official credit card, American Express.
Although not official, Somper Furs has created a $3.5-million collection featuring a limited edition, with a label of authenticity displaying the Diamond Jubilee emblem. Exclusive clothier Bijan will create a special package of his purse spray perfume to salute the Jubilee, with the proceeds going to the Beverly Hills Education Foundation.
Collectively, the sponsors are expected to bring the Visitors Bureau between $50,000 and $100,000, and thus are an important factor because the City Council agreed to provide the bureau with $1.5 million for the celebration, but it expects the bureau to pay back at least $750,000.
The Visitors Bureau had hoped to raise much of that money by getting several foreign consulates to cough up $50,000 each for the privilege of participating in a festival of cultural activities, but the consulates balked.
The foreign countries, including Australia, Finland, Malaysia, Singapore, Italy, France, Japan and Israel, instead will pay their own expenses for a weeklong festival of internationally themed concerts and dances at Beverly Gardens Park from July 4 to 10.
Additional revenues will come from an ABC network television special that will be produced by former "Laugh In" producer George Schlatter. The special is scheduled to air during February sweeps, the monthlong period when network ratings are calculated to determine advertising rates.
The television show will include highlights of events up to that time.
The first event in the 14-month celebration begins July 3 at Roxbury Park with an international art exhibit sponsored by the Beverly Hills Art Gallery Assn., and a food festival sponsored by the Beverly Hills Restaurant Assn.
Later that evening, a stage show with 1,100 entertainers will be held at the Beverly Hills High School football stadium. It will be produced by none other than Radio City Music Hall Productions, and will "highlight this fabled city's most memorable stepping stones, as it grew from a remote cattle ranch to a modern city of international fame and philanthropy."
It will not have the Rockettes, but will feature such celebrities as Cesar Romero, Monty Hall, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Johnny Grant and Brooke Shields.
The executive producer, Wayne Baruch, promises "a show so spectacular that not even the city of Beverly Hills could afford it." Baruch, however, will have to make do with a $300,000 budget for the hourlong show.
In perhaps the biggest publicity coup, the city, for the first time in 30 years, will enter a float in the 1989 Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade on Jan. 2. The parade is estimated to have a worldwide television viewing audience of more than 330 million.
The festivities will close with what is being billed as "The World's Largest Fashion Show." More than 1,000 models are scheduled to walk along a Rodeo Drive runway 2 1/2 blocks long, showing the fashions of 35 of the world's leading designers.
All the designs, of course, will be for sale.