It was supposed to be a $1-million night for Saint John's Hospital and Health Center.
However, at 11 p.m., after the glitter and glow at the Magic Crystal Ball at the Century Plaza, co-chairs Marion Jorgensen, Virginia Milner and Betty Wilson whispered a $900,000 net.
Next night, though, together again at the Huntington Autumn Gala, they were joyously proclaiming anonymous donors had kicked in, and, indeed, the $1 million was reality.
Tenacity is the hallmark of great fund raising. Also, the trio had Nancy and Ronald Reagan as honorary co-chairs and Sir Daniel Donohue underwriting the dinner for $100,000. It was the kind of night when Saint John's president Sister Marie Madeleine Shonka explained, "The archbishop was to have given the invocation, but he was detained by the Pope." She substituted, ending, "Thank you for you. "
Rich Little joked after the cappuccino gelato in chocolate baskets (which even health-conscious Bill Kieschnick and Saint John's Dr. Kenneth Tokita gobbled). Then Mark Wilson and His Magic got into seances and magic disappearances. Next, the crowd disappeared, leaving Bill Hitchcock and His Orchestra with only a few couples to trip the light fantastic.
The one everyone wanted to see was former President Reagan. His hair has grown in nicely since his recent brain suregry, and Rich Little quipped, "But he's not going to change his name from Dutch to Butch."
Sir Daniel discoursed on today's fashion. He was in a black silk Gucci-tailored tux and slippers: "Most people today look like they fell out of a garbage bag. There are so few who have taste; it's ghastly. And their hairdos look like old dust mops."
However, his comments had nothing to do with paid guests. Designer gowns were de rigueur and hardly declasse . Marion Jorgensen was in classic Galanos ("I wear them for years."); Betty Wilson in red satin Lawrence; Giney Milner in Oscar de la Renta; Susie Maguire in Scaasi black velvet; Connie Lynch in dotted strapless Valentino; Beverly Morsey, dancing with Earle Jorgensen, in Estevez.
The city's leaders were jammed in: James and Doreen McElvany, John and Helen Maher, former U.S.Atty. Gen. William French Smith and his wife Jean, Stephen and Sally Keller, Alice Avery and Bob Sargent, Margaret and Tom Larkin (building a new home at St. Malo), Phoebe and Joe Vaccaro, Robert and Diane Anderson, Kathleen and Thomas McCarthy.
Giney Milner's son Reese did not return from his European bike trip in time to join wife Mary, but Marion Jorgensen was surrounded by offspring--her son, real estate magnate Donald Bren, and her grandchildren Richard and Ashley Bren. Former Vatican Ambassador William and Betty Wilson brought their grandson, August Belmont VII.