Happiness was off the charts at the Governor's Awards for the Arts gala last weekend. At the pre-dinner cocktail party at the Regent Beverly Wilshire, chairs Wendy Goldberg, Anne Johnson and Susan Dolgen swooned next to actor Clint Eastwood (one of seven Awards honorees). Eastwood didn't mind a bit.
The stargazing paparazzi jostled--couldn't get enough of Eastwood. But there were more to photograph: author Ray Bradbury, sculptor Robert Graham with wife Anjelica Huston, philanthropist Gordon P. Getty with his wife, Ann, and their four sons and Gov. Pete Wilson and his wife, Gayle.
The night was light, but serious. As the governor put it: "This is a unique opportunity to honor those who have dedicated their lives to the arts . . . also to honor future artists."
Indeed, the night was primed to raise $110,000, until Warner Bros. CEO Bob Daly announced he was kicking in an additional $50,000 to support the cause, the arts summer school at CalArts in Valencia, where 400 artistically inclined teen-agers will spend four weeks in residence in July.
The eclectic mix of 700 civic and entertainment leaders gathered to salute Eastwood ("I never considered myself a leading man"), for lifetime achievement in entertainment; Ella Fitzgerald, for the performing arts (Fitzgerald wasn't feeling well and Natalie Cole accepted, calling her "a role model for us all"); Ray Bradbury, for the literary arts (he wrote his first novel on a typewriter at the Los Angeles Public Library); Graham, for visual arts; Plaza de la Raza, for community vision (praised by Eddie Albert, husband of the late founder, Margo Albert); Getty, for individual patron ("anybody can write a check"), and Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc., for corporate patron (accepted by board chairman Yuki Togo).
Gayle Wilson also presented Daniel DeCordova, a 17-year-old classical ballet dancer, with the First Lady Award. The governor's memorial tribute went to Dr. Seuss, the late Theodor Geisel, author of "Cat in the Hat" and dozens of other children's books. His widow, Audrey (who flew in on "a cat's whisker and a sneeze"), accepted.
Sponsored by the California Arts Council, the gala brought out its supporters--Joanne and Roger Kozberg, Ed and Yvonne Cazir, Iris and Steve Dart, Joyce Pollock and David and Priscilla Lizarraga.
In the crowd, too: the governor's chief of staff, Bob White, Alison Elsner, Steve Martin (who introduced Graham), Placido Domingo (introducing Getty), Leonard Goldberg, John and Nancy Romano, Herb and Caroline Steinberg, California Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi, gala corporate chair Kent Kresa, Leonard Nimoy, attorney Ken Perkins, and Edward James Olmos, who introduced "The Colors United" dancers.
For the finale, the dancers filtered through the audience, with guests and dancers squeezing hands and hugging.
MONTICELLO: "Good evening, I'm Barbara Bush--the third president of the United States," quipped Alan Chapman, Occidental music professor. He was in white wig and costume, actually impersonating President Thomas Jefferson at the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra's "An Evening at Monticello" American Ball last weekend at the Beverly Wilshire.
The comment brought down the house, but not as much as the orchestra's performance of Aaron Copland's "Appalachian Spring" (also performed twice earlier that day for 3,000 children at UCLA's Royce Hall).
Over a Southern menu of Carolina shrimp and corn bread, chicken in puff pastry, corn stuffing and red cabbage, biscuits and a luscious blackberry crisp, the orchestra's new executive director, Erich Vollmer (formerly executive director of the Orange County Philharmonic Society), told the crowd, "If I have a mission, it is to assure you that LACO will achieve its next level of greatness."
That was a melody to the ears of chamber president Jennifer Flinton Diener, seated next to Placido Domingo, chairman David Gersh, Ron and Judith Rosen, benefit chairs Toni Thomas Luskin and Sharon McNalley of Corona del Mar, philanthropist David Thomas, Jane Arnault and Kyokio Kuchi, chairman of Mitsubishi Electronics. The company financed the 14-story Citicorp wall mural in view of the Harbor Freeway downtown featuring concertmaster Ralph Morrison (about 30 more musicians will be added).
BRAVOS! In recent weeks, Pasadena Junior League "Center Stage" planners have "lived, eaten and breathed" their "Avanti" fashion show. The trio affair--a Saturday lunch, Saturday night black-tie gala and a Sunday brunch--held last weekend at the Ritz-Carlton, Huntington, in Pasadena--has been a full-time affair for chair Rita Bristol, president Carol Scott and a committee including Millie Steinbrecher, chairman of underwriting and reservations.
San Francisco (a larger league) does a fashion show, too, and nets close to $200,000; Pasadena's will net about $160,000; Sacramento and San Jose, smaller leagues, make less. But, all have a common denominator--Macy's/Bullock's helps underwrite the shows.