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Graumans Hit High Note With Party Planning

September 03, 1990|MARY LOU LOPER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Peggy Parker Grauman brings all the professionalism of a paid worker to the job of volunteer chairwoman of the Music Center Opera gala heralding the fall social season Sept. 4. She also brings as co-chair her husband, Walter Grauman, the well-known director of many "Murder, She Wrote" episodes starring Angela Lansbury. The party follows the premiere of director Gotz Friedrich's production of Beethoven's "Fidelio."

Together, they're putting the finishing touches on the benefit, meshing creative ideas and promising a "very pretty party" with the assistance of volunteers Jennifer and Royce Diener.

It isn't the first Music Center gala on which they've worked. Last year, Walter Grauman produced the Music Center "Spotlight Awards." Amid the arrangements for seating at the Spotlight benefit, the Graumans slipped over to City Hall to be married by U.S. District Judge William Matthew Byrne Jr. after a courtship of eight years.

They are not newcomers to Los Angeles opera. Peggy was a member of Los Angeles Opera Associates, the group that tried in the 1960s to establish a resident opera company for the city. She and Walter attend not only the Music Center's annual fall opera opening, but the openings of each opera in the series.

Peggy Grauman has devoted herself to opera benefits for five years. Even so, she admits opera isn't her first love at the Music Center. "I adore the Los Angeles Philharmonic," she says, adding that she's a pianist, taking two lessons each week and practicing an hour each day. When she moved to Los Angeles in 1957, she became one of the first docents for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Now she's on the Music Center Founders and Blue Ribbon boards.

Peggy goes about volunteering in a professional way, the same way she runs the Grauman home in Los Angeles--with two maids and a secretary to keep their eclectic collections (teddy ears, dollhouses, miniatures, Napoleonic memorabilia, museum opening posters, stamps, Fleur Cowles porcelain flowers and books signed by authors) dust free. Now that she and Walter are married (it's a third marriage for each and they have five children between them), they are expanding their collections: They've added toy cars and trains. To house it all, they've purchased a hilltop house and will spend 15 months adding a second floor.

The Grauman's idea of a perfect day is to go to a miniatures show and top off the evening with a Rams game. They are avid fans.

Says Walter: "When I met Peggy, I became aware of a whole new panorama of interests outside my job. You tend to work yourself into ever-decreasing concentric circles."

"Walter definitely is not a long-suffering companion," says Peggy.

He is a hero. After attending Wisconsin University, he graduated from the University of Arizona before enlisting in the Air Corps as a bomber pilot during World War II. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross and eight other air medals for flying 56 combat missions in Europe.

And, he's a star. His career was launched after the war when he worked for Universal in the publicity department and came up with an idea for a television show, "Lights, Camera, Action," which he sold to NBC. He's also directed such series as "The Untouchables," "The Fugitive," "Barnaby Jones" and "Naked City," plus more than 250 one-hour dramas and mini-series. He has five Emmy nominations.

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