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A Mid-Autumn Afternoon's Leafy Theatrical Idyll

October 17, 2000|PATT DIROLL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

A buff "Pan" in green tights drew double-takes from a few little old ladies from Pasadena as they entered "The Enchanted Garden," last Sunday's 75th anniversary celebration for the Pasadena Playhouse. Staged on the sweeping lawns of Pasadena's largest estate, Ivy Wall, the home of Carlotta Busch Webster, the imaginative affair honored longtime Playhouse stalwarts, actress Shirley Knight, former playhouse board chairman Al Lowe, florist Jacob Maarse and the Playhouse's attorney, Chuck Wolfe. The bash was yet another over-the-top production by Pasadena party maven Jim Watterson. Giant gauze butterflies fluttered in the oak trees. A "Fragonard" damsel swayed on a swing while satyrs and nymphs cavorted down a petal-strewn path leading guests to the lower garden.

There, mannequins balancing gigantic flower headdresses strolled. A "crudite man" upholstered in fresh vegetables, encouraged guests to sample his wares. For Playhouse supporter Liz Chilcott Hezlep, it was an afternoon of fond memories. "This is my first visit to this house since my parents sold it to the Busch family in 1959," she said, sighing. "My wedding reception was in this garden in 1952."

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If each one of you would use the same drive you use in building your business to help others, just think what a difference you could make.

--Mother Teresa

Noel Irwin Hentschel took those words to heart after a 1988 meeting with Mother Teresa in New Delhi. They inspired the travel industry magnate to establish in 1989 her Noel Foundation, which helps women around the world in collaboration with the United Nations International Development Fund for Women, UNIFEM.

Saturday, she hosted the Noel Foundation Life Awards at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Honorees included Paramount CEO Sherry Lansing, chair of Stop Cancer and co-founder of the Big Sisters Endowment Fund; Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founder of Special Olympics International; and Dharma Master Cheng Yen, whose charitable works out of a Buddhist temple in Taiwan earned her comparisons to Mother Teresa and a Nobel nomination.

(Hentschel received an award from the Women's Council of the City of Hope. "Since seven of my younger siblings are girls," she noted, "I've always been involved in women's development.")

Robert Shriver accepted the award for his mother, Eunice. Anne Archer emceed, helped along by Jon Voight, producer Ernest Chambers, Rafer Johnson, Goldie Hawn, neurosurgeon Keith Black, the Getty Trust's Barry Munitz and two remarkable athletes, Jenny Skinner and Paul Hoffman, who have won 270 Special Olympics medals.

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Dennis Tito, rocket scientist turned financial wizard, is in Russia preparing for his junket aboard the Mir space station next year. So his son, Mike, stood in for him to accept an award at the second annual benefit for Boys and Girls Town Los Angeles. The event, which raised $400,000, was held at Tito's Pacific Palisades palace.

Beneath a full moon, more than 450 supporters of the two new L.A. shelters dined and danced on the terraces. Nettie Dart and Angelina Kwang co-chaired the evening. David Price, who has donated $1 million to the project, was a special guest.

The Rev. Val Peter, executive director of Boys and Girls Town USA, told the crowd that Hollywood first put Father Flanagan's Boys Town on the map with the 1938 Oscar-winning film. "Now we need its help again," he said. "We need to build two more shelters in L.A. as fast as we can."

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"We're witnessing a cultural explosion in L.A. People who never supported the arts before are getting involved," Alyce Williamson said as she surveyed the crowd at the newly formed Center Dance Assn.'s party last Wednesday. Leading the new team is Liane Weintraub, 32, a former New Yorker (and daughter-in-law of Roberta Weintraub). "Because I'm new to L.A. and don't carry war wounds from past attempts to launch a dance company," said Weintraub, "I'm willing to be a foot soldier and stick with it. . . . Hopefully we can have a resident company someday."

Donors of $10,000 were presented with framed toe shoes worn by Bolshoi ballerinas. Among them: Williamson, Weintraub, Colleen and Javier Baz, Jane and David Haspel, Elizabeth Hirsch, Jane and Bill Jelenko, Bette and Charles Redmond, Roslyn Holt Swartz and Allan Swartz, and Amanda and Nicholas Stonnington.

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