Three-hundred pals of the Doheny Eye Institute were back in the saddle again Monday evening at the Beverly Wilshire--this time in black tie and with that American treasure, Gene Autry. He received the institute's first Doheny Award.
"I think they put in three corneas--or whatever you call them--before one really took," said America's favorite cowboy (that's what benefit chairman Montgomery Fisher called him), "but I can still see pretty well out of the other eye."
On a more serious note, Autry referred to "my own blindness that I almost had." And, he said, "I can't think of enough words . . . thank you, Dr. Ryan and your staff, for helping a lot of people . . . bring their eyesight back."
Autry's movie sidekick, Pat Buttram, was to have entertained, but he was sick. Everyone else cut up, including J. S. Webb, Doheny board of directors' chairman, and emcee Johnny Grant, who said Buttram had told him to say, "the Russian lottery is now up to 2 1/2 potatoes."
When the Riders in the Sky trio did its cowboy spoof, Dr. Stephen J. Ryan, institute president, just shook his head and laughed. USC president Steven Sample said something like, "Oh, no!" And as audience "saddle pals" joined in singing "Don't Fence Me In" and "Tumblin' Tumbleweeds," some, like Natalie Robinson and Bobbie De Haven, proved they knew every word.
As he waited for his car, entrepreneur Charlie Munger said he thought it had been "corny" but fun: "I'm just a farm boy from Nebraska. I think some things are closer to reality than Plato."
The new award stems from financial support given by the late Carrie Estelle Doheny. She lost the sight in her left eye on her 69th birthday and eventually went blind. Her vision loss led to creation of the institute in 1947.
Dohenys were abundant at the event: Patrick Doheny, William and Onnalee Doheny, Topsy and Tim Doheny, Peter and Kacey McCoy and their daughter Shane.
Ginie and Henry Braun and Berle Adams laughed at the jokes. So did Jackie Autry and Joanne Fisher. Probably half the audience had been skiing at Sun Valley, including George and Judi Argyros. Judi wore a billowy tulle hat. She walked up to the stage to escort Autry back to his table. She had a fractured shoulder in a sling from a skiing accident, but the golden angel pinned to her sling was the guardian type.
WHIRL: What a day. The Blue Ribbon of the Music Center had an enviable attendance--450 members and guests--for last Sunday's trek to see the Reagan Library in Simi Valley followed by lunch at David Murdock's Sherwood Country Club.
Blue Ribbon President Sandra Ausman organized the jaunt with Mary Jane Wick, a library trustee; Suzanne Marx, the library's deputy director of finance, and Doris Fields Heller, who used to be with I. Magnin and now is in charge of the library's gift shop.
Nancy Reagan and library director Dr. Ralph Bledsoe greeted the crowd and conducted tours. Shel Ausman, Sandra's husband, took the trek. So did the Duke and Duchess of San Carlos--Alvaro Fernandez Villaverde and Estrella Bernaldo de Quiroz y Tacon--and Consul General of Spain Eduardo Garrigues and his wife, Pilar.
More along: Pat and Walter Mirisch, Norma and David McIntyre, Jo Ann and Julian Ganz, Harriet Deutsch, Marjorie Volk, Flora Thornton, Jeanne and Russell Smith, Joan and Paul Selwyn and Marilyn and Bill Schulte.
SOCIAL SCENE: Jennifer and Royce Diener hosted a dinner party at their Santa Monica beach home to honor Christof Perick, the new music director designate of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. Perick was in town to prepare concerts and cut the orchestra's first record in six years. Among guests: Sandy and Shel Ausman and Warner and Carol Henry . . . .
The Bistro was bustling for Bea McMahan Evans' 90th birthday. Her son Jay McMahan and his wife, Jackie, hosted the affair. Celebrating were assorted grandchildren and their spouses including Bonnie and Stuart Austin, Chris McMahan McLaughlin, Melinda and Donn Conner, Cindy and John Hall, Mark and Caron McMahan and Jamie and Steve Trewhitt III . . . .
Dorothy Dumke was at the forefront when the Glenn S. Dumke Conference Center at California State University Long Beach was dedicated Tuesday to honor her late husband. He served as CSU chancellor from 1962-82.
THE GENEROUS: Plaudits to those who were so generous in late 1991, and to those who strived so ably in their financial campaigns:
Las Floristas, the group that stages the flashy Floral Headdress Ball, presented a check for $315,000 to Dr. Steven B. Sample, president of USC, for the USC/Las Floristas Handicapped Children's Clinics at Rancho Los Amigos . . . .
Lee Graff made a $1-million contribution on a matching grant basis to City of Hope's Graff Library in Duarte . . . .