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ANN CONWAY

Love? It's Music to Mark Harmon's Ears

January 25, 1990|ANN CONWAY

She loves him. No doubt about it. You could see it in her eyes when she asked him: "Would you like me to get you something to eat?" You could see it in her smile, the one she kept flashing at him through the exploding flashbulbs, the interviews, the handshakes with fellow cast members.

But then, love was the theme when Pam Dawber and her husband, actor Mark Harmon, swept into Birraporetti's restaurant on Tuesday, after her opening-night performance in "She Loves Me" at the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa.

In the endearing musical, a lovelorn Dawber meets her beau (Joel Higgins) at work. He turns out to be the shop clerk with whom she has been unwittingly exchanging love letters.

How did Dawber and her heartthrob-husband meet? "We were fixed up," said the actress, dressed in gold slippers and a white chiffon dress sprinkled with gold polka dots. "Fixed up by a friend who thought we might hit it off. We did. "

Dawber gave straight A's to Segerstrom Hall. "It's beautiful, huge, wonderful," she said. "But I was so nervous! The costume changes are tricky and during rehearsal today, I missed one of them. So I was praying I wouldn't miss it tonight. I didn't. And during the second act, I relaxed."

Harmon, sporting a tan he earned while filming "Till There Was You" in New Guinea and Australia, said he loved watching his wife on stage. In fact, the first time he saw her in person was when she did "Pirates of Penzance" in Los Angeles in the early '80s.

"I'd seen her in 'Mork and Mindy' on television, and then I went to 'Pirates' and out walks this wonderful singing talent. I said to myself: 'I didn't know Mindy could do that!' "

Members of the Performing Arts Fraternity, a support group of the Center, were party hosts. Among guests was the group's president, Reed Royalty, a vice president of Pacific Bell.

Horsing around: Reggie would have adored it. The American Horse Shows Assn., founded by high-society sportsman Reginald Vanderbilt in 1917, staged a highfalutin' hoedown at Joan Irvine Smith's ranch on Friday, attracting about 400 of the horsey set. Smith was honorary chairwoman of the event, held in a huge heated tent on her oak-studded property.

Up for dancing were the down-home sounds of Michael Carney's Denny Leroux Band (the musicians, adored by society types all over the country, were flown in from New York for the affair). And up for vittles: a chicken 'n' rib barbecue that had guests lickin' their fingers and going back for fourths. Also among the fare cooked up by Rococo were do-your-own tacos and tostadas and a table for whipping up your own ice-cream sundaes.

Chairwoman Judy Fluor Runels dressed to kill for the shebang. She wore a magenta suede jacket with boots dyed to match.

Since the Manhattan-based association staged its annual convention at the Westin South Coast Plaza last week, equestrians from all over the country were able to attend.

"We're all show horses and want to support the association," said Runels, who lives in Santa Ana with her husband Dick, an attorney. "It's an honor for us to honor them. It's a coup for Orange County to have them here."

"Southern California is bustling with equestrians," said Liz Hoskinson, who does public relations for the association. "And Orange County has the perfect life style mix: one minute you can be shopping, and the next riding a horse. Perfect!"

Gilot on Cocteau: Her French accent was delicious and so were the memories of Jean Cocteau shared by Francoise Gilot at the Severin Wunderman Museum in Irvine on Saturday.

During a one-hour lecture, Gilot--the artist who was Pablo Picasso's companion for 10 years--recalled the first time she met Cocteau, the French poet, novelist and playwright: "He came to Pablo's studio in a hurry because he needed a scepter for one of his plays," said Gilot, her soft hazel eyes widening in recollection. It was thrilling to see Picasso take a stick and make something majestic out of it, she said.

As her friendship with Picasso soured, her friendship with Cocteau sweetened, and they began to write each other. This disturbed Picasso. He was jealous of Cocteau's fine looks and personality, Gilot said. "Pablo was a first-class taker, and Cocteau was a first-class giver." Cocteau remained Gilot's close friend until his death in 1963.

"If I were to sum up Cocteau in one sentence," said Gilot, the wife of Dr. Jonas Salk, "I would say he was a messenger of Mercury--with Mercury's wings at his heels; he heralded every new era by putting people together to create new magic."

Gilot, who lives in La Jolla, delighted guests with such bon mots as: "The French all dislike each other because they think they all have talent," and, "Here (in the United States), there are so many people, nobody needs to take the time to be mean to anyone."

During a champagne reception, Gilot signed autographs of her book, "An Artist's Journey."

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