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Museum Ball Proclaimed the Cat's Meow

March 23, 1997|MARY LOU LOPER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Dinosaurs were ditched for "Cats! Wild to Mild" at the Dinosaur Ball.

With people so intrigued by felines, this Museum of Natural History exhibition is a winner. At the black-tie opening gala, some liked the exhibit showing the domestic cat searching for food in the trash can. Others were drawn to the lions' mating game. Still more admired the regality of the stuffed Sumatran tiger. There are all sorts of buttons to push for audio. Cats meow and lions roar.

Friskies PetCare Co., represented by president and CEO John Harris, underwrote almost half the exhibit with $750,000; the National Science Foundation provided $780,000.

People about town last week were praising the ball, which featured Patina's food, Jacob Maarse's tall bouquets with Indian paintbrush and Jay Sterling's orchestra for dancing around the dinosaur in the rotunda.

That made the museum's Alliance Board President Joan D. Wrede and patron co-chairwomen Lynn Brengel and Patricia Lombard "purrfectly happy."

During dinner, museum chairman Fred Christie and his wife, Sue, and Steve English and wife Molly Munger discussed cat facts they had just learned. "Did you see that there are more than 65 million cats [in the U.S.] and half are homeless?" English asked. The crowd also learned that cats came West in covered wagons and that house cats spend 70% of the day sleeping and 15% grooming.

Liking it all were Rick and Lynn Dorsey, Carlton and Laura Seaver, Linda and Robert Attiyeh, Bob and Robin Paulson, Jeff Beyer and Catherine Babcock.

Popular sideshow: the martini bar.

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Rapidly Rising: Lymphoma kills 35,000 each year and is the third most rapidly rising cancer in America, but the Lymphoma Research Foundation focused on survivors at the Celebration of Life Ball at the Regent Beverly Wilshire. More than 500 attended and more than $250,000 was netted to support research and, according to the invitation, "an unwavering spirit of hope for the future."

The evening had its special moments, one when Dr. Alexandra Levine, chief of the Division of Hematology, Norris Hospital, USC School of Medicine, radiantly accepted the Evelyn Hoffman Memorial Award. Actress Tracy Nelson, a lymphoma survivor, bounded to the stage after Bob Saget announced her Lifesaver Award. Jeffrey Barbakow of Tenet HealthSystem received the Celebration of Life Award.

Foundation founder Ellen Glesby Cohen, who battles non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, said the funds will go to the group's 32 research projects in universities and cancer centers worldwide.

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Popular: Everyone wanted to see honorary chairwoman Demi Moore and her daughter Rumer when Bloomingdale's opened its Beverly Center store to benefit the Pediatric AIDS Foundation. Escorted by a phalanx including press, photographers, bodyguards and Bloomingdale's Chairman and CEO Michael Gould and its president, Jeffrey Sherman, the elbow bumping came from 1,200 guests, most paying $125 for tickets.

It was hard to keep up with Moore, who was clad in black Versace silk and high wedgie sandals. Rumer wanted a $335 glittery red "Coke" coin bag, and mother obliged. "I don't have any money, can I borrow, I'll pay you back," Moore said to her guard.

Through the cosmetics, the handbags, the shoes and hose, the men's and women's wear, fans said, "Hi, Demi." They also swooned over La Cuisine Catering's salmon, chicken, Caesar salad and the petit-fours marked B.

Paul Glaser is now chairman of the foundation. His wife, Elizabeth, who died of AIDS in 1994, was co-founder of the group with Susan DeLaurentis and Susie Zeegen, who attended.

Because Bloomie's underwrote the "little brown bag" benefit, all profits will go to the foundation.

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Kudos: To the Alliance for Children's Rights, which raised more than $600,000 at the Beverly Hilton benefit emceed by Lily Tomlin . . . Celebrities turned out to see Sam Haskell, William Morris' senior vice president and West Coast head of television, receive the National Champion for Children Award.

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More Plaudits: To the Friends of Child Advocates, raising $90,000 at a Beverly Hills Hotel dinner and honoring Jo Kaplan, Jacquie Dolan, Sandra Jefferson and the Arco Foundation. The Advocates train volunteers who become court-appointed special advocates for some of the more than 45,000 children in the Los Angeles County court system . . . To Patty Burschinger and Suzie Mayer, who co-chaired the Daughters of Charity Foundation Celebration of Charity dinner at the Beverly Wilshire. The Daughters' Meals on Wheels at St. Vincent Medical Center is the largest in the United States.

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