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Honoring the Ultimate Committee Member

December 03, 1996|BETTY GOODWIN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The festivities involved a committee and an honoree and months of planning. And even though, when you got a close look at them, the 19 committee members were the same faces who serve on committees all around town, this do was distinctly different.

The Committee of Friends of Marjorie Fasman was put together simply to celebrate the honoree's 80th birthday, Fasman being the committee member to end all committee members--having been with Community Chest before it became the United Way, Cedars-Sinai, KCET, Venice Family Clinic, EMILY's List, and the Craft and Folk Art Museum, on whose board she still serves, to name a few.

With a guest list topping 350, the party on Sunday afternoon wasn't a surprise--after all, the event took place at Michael and Marjorie Fasman's grand, art-filled house in Beverly Hills. And, presumably because Fasman can't resist getting involved, she wrote the invitations and designed a magnificent, towering floral centerpiece.

"There's nothing she won't do," said Lois Howard, a past president of Robinson Gardens, Beverly Hills. "Every time I have a project she helps me, and every time she has a project I help her."

Her motivation, as Fasman wrote when she was asked to pen an official bio, came from her father, Sol Lesser, producer of many of the Tarzan movies. "He cared ardently about the community and was very exciting and inspiring about his activities," she said.

There were tributes and songs and poems. A letter of congratulations from Beverly Hills City Councilwoman Vicki Reynolds, who came to recite it. A commendation from the city of Los Angeles (citing Fasman's "dazzling, pioneering and liberating deeds and ways"). And a letter of felicitation from President Clinton.

"Marj never does anything for herself," explained Eleanor Wasson. "Everything she does is for a cause or for other people, and she does it all without the detriment of an ego."

Like most of the group, Wasson has been a Fasman friend for five or so decades. "We believe in the same things," said Wasson, who said she and Fasman met in 1945 trying to save the trees in Beverly Hills. (Fasman is certain they met on the PTA board.) Jimi Kaufer, another friend, had to think about how the two became friends. "Another Mother for Peace?" she wondered aloud.

Antinuclear and pro-culture, Fasman's doesn't stop with boards and committees. She just completed her first novel (she wrote a couple of Tarzan movies, too), and has a typical, busy week coming up--trainer, dance class, tennis. Not surprisingly, many in the crowd pleaded for her secret of youth, one of which was plainly obvious in the menu--calcium in the form of her favorite food, pink peppermint and chocolate tartuffo ice cream, from her hangout, Al Gelato in Beverly Hills.

Said Fasman's next-door neighbor, Sybil Brand, "I love her. She's so talented. I used to work with her on so many things," Brand said, adding, "I can't believe she's 80. She's such a baby. I'm going to be 95 next May, and I'm so busy working downtown I never have a chance to see her."

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