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RSVP / THE SOCIAL CITY : Mattel's Chief Isn't Just Toying With Children


John W. Amerman called Sister Jennie Lechtenberg "the driving force and the visionary" behind Puente Learning Center, and he noted that Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan bought the ground on which the new Richard J. Riordan Building in Boyle Heights stands.

But Amerman was the real honoree at the Regent Beverly Wilshire black-tie dinner planned by Pamela Mullin. Amerman, chairman and CEO of Mattel Inc. (spell that $3.5 billion in annual sales), has positioned Mattel as an advocate of children's issues. The firm operates five family learning centers and has committed $250,000 to the Children's Wing at Puente.

"Great things happen when the family learns together," Amerman said.

Caltech's Choice: Caltech trustees have elected four new members--Gordon M. Binder, Mike R. Bowlin, Arthur L. Goldstein and Philip M. Neches.

Angel: Child SHARE (Shelter Homes: A Rescue Effort) named philanthropist Henry Salvatori the 1995 Guardian Angel at its 10th anniversary black-tie gala, chaired by George Fenimore, Susan Branson and Merrilu Gordon. The group has placed more than 300 children with foster parents from 200 churches representing 20 denominations in the Los Angeles area.

Special Kudos: To Lee Graff, honored at the Regal Ball at the Beverly Hilton by the Apparel Industries of City of Hope. Graff, 86, is at her desk three days a week as CEO and chairwoman of the family-owned sportswear firm Graff Californiawear. The Graff Medical and Scientific Library at City of Hope bears her name and, showing her influence, the benefit netted $1.3 million.

November Whirl: The popular "MOCA on Tour" returned for the ninth year last week, a successful effort by the Projects Council of the Museum of Contemporary Art. Architecture was the emphasis this year; some years, it's art. On view were the homes of Ginger and Michael Rabkin (designed by architect Lloyd Wright), Pippa Scott (architect Richard Neutra), Ronnie and Vidal Sassoon (designer Larry Totah), Jim Goldstein (architect Jon Lautner) and a special fifth residence (architect Trevor Abramson)--all in Beverly Hills. Guests breakfasted at the Beverly Hills Hotel, entertained by Emporio Armani's informal modeling, before boarding buses for the tour. Sandy Post and Elinor Turner co-chaired.

Chaucerian Feast: The Huntington Library, marking the success of its 3 1/2-year Library Initiative campaign, celebrated with a Chaucerian Feast. The campaign, chaired by trustee Nancy Munger and overseer Loren Rothschild, raised $15 million for endowment and capital gifts. Why Chaucerian? Because the library's 15th-Century manuscript of Chaucer's "The Canterbury Tales" has returned to public display after an absence for conservation, rebinding and the production of a facsimile edition.

Indefatigable: Takashi (Tachi) Kiuchi was not chosen as honoree of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra's black-tie gala because he does 800 pushups each morning and has run 23 marathons since age 53 (he's 60). Rather, the Mitsubishi Electric chairman and CEO, as a donor and dauntless orchestra board member, contributed to bringing the orchestra out of its financial plight. His portrait is in the center of the mural showing orchestra members that can be seen from the Harbor Freeway.

At the black-tie gala at the Regent Beverly Wilshire, he was the center of attention from dinner co-chairs Les Weinstein, Carol Ross and Jennifer Diener. Joining in the tribute was honorary chairman Japanese Consul General Seiichiro Noboru. More in the audience: Arthur Spitzer, Tara Colburn, Warner and Carol Henry, Wally Smith and Bonnie Grice, Jack H. Naito, Fred and Magda Waingrow, Ron and Judith Rosen, as well as Mark Albert, who is founding a new group called Allegro for orchestra supporters in their 20s.

Elsewhere on the Social Circuit

* The Norris Cancer Center's ovarian cancer research program will receive more than $500,000 as a result of the Permanent Charities Committee of the Entertainment Industries benefit screening of "GoldenEye." The celebrity-hosted holiday gala at the Regent Beverly Wilshire also raised a bundle for breast cancer research at Norris.

* Kitty Carlisle Hart flew in from New York to host an intimate luncheon at the Regent Beverly Wilshire for the Actors' Fund of America. Lynn Redgrave introduced Hart, former actress and head of the New York State Council of the Arts, as "a divine renaissance woman." * Keeping Up: Artist Peter Adams beguiled California Club members and their guests with anecdotes about early California paintings recently. Adams' show, "Moods of the Pacific," presented by Joan Irvine Smith Fine Arts, continues at the Fine Arts Building, 811 W. 7th St. Downtown, through Thursday.

* Mary Lou Loper's column is published Sundays.

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