When the management of the Ritz-Carlton, Marina del Rey, said, "It's yours for the opening gala," the Junior League of Los Angeles decided there was no way to avoid "Putting on the Ritz" as the theme of this year's fund-raiser.
With the glamorous new hotel's vistas of yachts anchored in the marina as the backdrop, 500 guests meandered among antiques and carved ice swans, rocked to music in the 7,911-square-foot ballroom, stuffed themselves at executive chef Patrick Callarec's shrimp and oyster bars, wagered at casino tables and bid on silent auction gifts.
It was all planned by chairman Janet O'Neil and her committee, along with Ritz general manager John Dravinski.
After a decade of laboriously raising funds through antique sales, the party was welcomed. The Junior League decided it might be nice to celebrate and bring members closer together.
Mollie Shea was on the arm of Craig Bozzani, and her parents, Claire and Peter Shea, teamed with Kathleen and Tom McCarthy to organize tables of friends. "All we had to do was call and ask, and they came," said Claire Shea.
Prominent were L.A. League president Jan Kern and her husband, Bob, and event committee members Lynn Blalock, Kathleen McCarthy, Andi Anderson-O'Leary, Desiree Icaza, Martha Morrill, Barbara Ringhofer and Lisa Weber.
Bettina Duval, there with husband Glenn, said the league goal for the year is $400,000, and that the benefit would net about $100,000 for 12 community efforts, including a residence for babies with AIDS.
More in the crowd were Joan and Patrick McLaughlin, Mary Ellen Mack, Jim and P.J. Clark, Bob Solliday and Martha Morrill, Maileen Phillips, Susie and Bill Armistead, and Sally and Bob Brant.
WHITTIER GALA: Ruth and Ed Shannon stood under the glowing arches at the entrance to the new $9-million Ruth B. Shannon Center for the Performing Arts at the corner of Painter and Philadelphia in Whittier, and they beamed at every guest.
"I know everyone here," said Ruth. "This is so thrilling."
"The Parthenon is a marvel . . . but this is better," Whittier College President James L. Ash Jr. said of the Spanish colonial, revival-style theater designed by architect Tim Vreeland. The new center is a college facility. Said Ed Shannon, referring to all the steel in the building: "If there's another earthquake, this would be the place to be."
Whittier residents wore smiles, and later, when Henry Mancini conducted his orchestra in "Moon River" and "The Stripper," they clapped and tapped.
In the crowd were Whittier College Trustees Chairman Ray and Joan Dezember, donors Russell and Jean Smith (his great-uncle, John Painter, was a founder of Whittier College), former president of the college Eugene and Dotty Mills, Chandler and Becky Myers, Al and Dorothy Martin, John and Nancy Lusk, honorary chair Ginny Mancini, major donor Laura Robinson, Whittier Mayor Tom and Lorraine Sawyer, Liz and Gordon Anderson, Norris and Muriel Bramlett, Bill and Nadine Wood, and the Shannons' three children, Michael and Bruce Shannon and Kathryn Johnson.
GLITTER: Betsy Bloomingdale pronounced the risotto the best ever. The rice was brought from Italy, as was Chef Silvano Ghezzi, imported for the occasion from the Savini restaurant in Milan. The event was the glamorous Buccellati party at Bice Ristorante in Beverly Hills. There were also oohs and ahhs from the 200 Beautiful People present over the diamonds, emeralds, rubies, and the intricate gold- and silversmithing by Gianmaria Buccellati that gleamed in jewelry cases on Bice's walls. Ladies received hand kisses from Gianmaria and welcomes from his wife, Rosie. Mingling were Marion and Earle Jorgensen, Jane and Craig Gosden, Harriet and Armand Deutsch, Giney Milner, Reese and Mary Milner, Mignon and Bill Winans.
Others on the scene were Robert and Harriet Bonn, Clare and Bill Burgess, Nan Corman, Fred and Joyce Hameetman, Paul and Bette Johansing, Joseph Keon, Debby Lanni, Chase and Beverly Morsey, Earl and Maggie Russell, Flora Thornton, Nancy Zarif and Connie Wald.
SPECIAL: The California Special Olympics' Spirit of Friendship Award Dinner organized by Steve Ackerman at the Beverly Hilton had everything to do with reaching new heights.
The 12 Special Olympians who joined together last February to scale Mt. Kilimanjaro were in the audience in black-tie. The 12 received the awards for "their achievement and for proving that people with mental retardation can achieve extraordinary athletic feats."
They were praised by fellow mountaineers Frank Wells, Jim Brown and the captain of the expedition, Jim Benson, who said the arduous trek had been the "singularly greatest opportunity of my life."