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Hollywood Irish Hoist a Toast to Gene Kelly


"So this is what a gathering of the Hollywood-Irish clan looks like," Pierce Brosnan said while performing emcee duties at Thursday night's American Ireland Fund salute to Gene Kelly.

Yes, the gathering at the Regent Beverly Wilshire drew the Hollywood-Irish contingent plus other ethnic combinations, including three or four generations of stars--from John Travolta ("My mom's Irish and I grew up in an Irish neighborhood") to Charles Bronson ("Russian and Lithuanian") to Jimmy Stewart and Ruby Keeler, as well as behind-the-scenes industry types such as Lili and Richard Zanuck and Lew and Edie Wasserman.

Barbara and Marvin Davis, presumably having recuperated from their own recent extravaganza/fund-raiser for diabetes, were back on the circuit again, although Barbara vowed there would be no encore of the Carousel gala for a few years.

"Three-quarters Irish, one-quarter French," honorary chairman Donald O'Connor said of his own heritage.

"Actually, take out the part that I'm French. Nobody here would ever speak to me again."

Padraic MacKernan, Irish ambassador to the United States, allowed that "it's amazing at a thing like this how many people have Irish connections, by family or by affection."

The event, stressed everyone concerned, was apolitical. Three years ago, the American Ireland Fund was established to support Irish cultural heritage and philanthropic activities in Ireland and to encourage peace-seeking efforts.

After all kinds of entertainment, including the McGing Irish Dancers (actually from Cincinnati) and the Young Dubliners rock group (Southern California), Kelly received a pair of dancing shoes hand-cut by Galway Irish Crystal.

After the 3 1/2-hour dinner and program ended, restaurateur Jimmy Murphy continued the celebration with an Irish "hooley" at Jimmy's where he was serving plenty of Guinness.

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