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Recalling a Year of Social Star Power

November 22, 1990|ANN CONWAY

Nice going, Orange County party planners. You've gone and outdone yourself. Never has Orange County's social scene been as glitzed-out and power-packed as it's been in 1990.

What better day than Thanksgiving, then, to rattle off the reasons we're grateful for The Social Year That Was:

Thanks, Mr. Presidents: Four U.S. Presidents made power-lunch history in July when the Nixon Library opened in Yorba Linda. Social types could only read about this behind-closed-doors affair, but just knowing that it was happening in the county they call home was quite enough, thank you. Besides, after the presidents--Bush, Nixon, Reagan and Ford--dined on watercress and pea soup, Dover sole with lemon butter and three kinds of berries dolloped with whipped cream, they were on view before thousands of GOP heavy hitters for the dedication ceremonies. Such a sight, that sea of social millinery. One regret: A Los Angeles restaurant--namely, Chasen's--was chosen to cook up the cholesterol-conscious menu.

Thanks, L.A. Rams: Once in a lifetime. That's what locals called the opportunity to visit Berlin in August to watch the exhibition game between the L.A. Rams and the Kansas City Chiefs. Supervisor Gaddi H. Vasquez and his wife, Elaine; Mary and James Roosevelt, and Donna and John Crean were among guests aboard Rams owner Georgia Frontiere's fabulous fun jet. Social highlight: a two-hour riverboat cruise upon the meandering Havel River with Frontiere--ultra-feminine in blue and green chiffon--and the team. One snafu: Dinner was exceedingly slow in coming, so Marshall Klein--Frontiere's right arm--played waiter. Such a sight! Starved party-goers will forever be grateful.

Thanks, Carl St. Clair: The debut of the new music director of the Pacific Symphony created some heady excitement in October during a party held at the Beverly Heritage Hotel. Sweeping into the affair with his girlfriend, Jennifer Keeney, maestro St. Clair told the crowd: "Just the beginning!" No need for lights at this bash. St. Clair's youthful energy lit up the room.

Thanks, Michael Caine: "Alfie" flew in from London for the tribute to him staged by the Los Angeles chapter of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts in October. Caine, who played the title role in the 1966 movie, advised that life was all about fun. "If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right," he said, mingling with members of the Segerstrom family at Alfredo's before sweeping into the Westin South Coast Plaza ballroom. Caine and pals--Dudley Moore, Roger Moore, Jackie Collins, Marvin Davis, Patti Austin and Jack Haley Jr.--had fun, all right. And so did locals. They heard Moore play the piano (beautifully) and Austin sing Caine's signature song--"Alfie," of course. Special kudos go to Tiffany & Co. for underwriting the very chic cocktail reception (where there was so much security provided by the Brits--Princess Alexandra of England was present--you'd have thought the four presidents had returned).

Thanks, Donna and John Crean: No Orange County ballroom has been able to compete with the Creans' Tara-like mansion on Newport's Back Bay. Weekend after weekend, it has bustled with the biggies. For starters, the couple has staged bashes for Vice President Dan Quayle; supporters of Opera Pacific; Supervisor Harriett M. Wieder, and state Sen. Marian Bergeson. Not to mention last weekend's Silver Screen blowout that saw the likes of Janet Leigh, Milton Berle and Danny Thomas mingle with locals over turkey and the trimmings. Why do they do it, throw open their Southern Colonial doors week after week after week? "What else is a couple to do?" said John, a recreation vehicles manufacturer. "Sit home and look at each other?"

Thanks, Dionne Warwick: The woman who sang she'd "never fall in love again" fell in love with Orange County enough to come to a private Laguna Beach home in August to make a pitch for her Warwick Foundation, an organization dedicated to education about blood diseases. Her goal? Nothing less than a superstar concert at the Orange County Performing Arts Center to benefit her cause. "I'll call everybody," she said. "Stevie Wonder, Whitney Houston, Elton John, Kenny Rogers, Quincy Jones, Melissa Manchester, Nancy Wilson." All she needs is money to help stage the show. Anybody listening?

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