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Honoring Debbie Reynolds for Preserving a Piece of Hollywood

February 27, 2001|PATT DIROLL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The unsinkable Debbie Reynolds has spent decades amassing costumes from the films of Tinseltown's Golden Age. For her dedication to the preservation of film history, the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising honored her with its Crystal Star Award on Saturday. Proceeds from the black-tie dinner held on the institute's downtown campus will support a scholarship in her name and the Thalians Mental Heath Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

The event also marked the opening of the Reynolds collection of more than 75 costumes from 30 films, including "Gigi," "Hello Dolly" and her own from "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" and "Singing in the Rain."

The exhibition is the brainchild of Thalian stalwarts Dick McInnes and Ruta Lee and will remain on view through May 3 adjacent to FIDM's annual display of the costumes nominated for this year's Oscar.

"At first, Debbie was reluctant," said Lee. "She's very protective of the collection. Costumes have disappeared in the past, but she knew that they would be in good hands."

Reynolds flew in from a film location in Vancouver, Canada, for the occasion. Salman Rushdie arrived with Reynolds' daughter, Carrie Fisher, and son, Todd Fisher. The heavy rains kept Elizabeth Taylor at home, but Connie Stevens attended with daughter Joely Fisher. Also spotted were Ann Rutherford, Patricia Morison, Marsha Hunt, Hugh O'Brian, Neile Adams, Janet Leigh, Bernie Kopell, Lainie Kazan, Jo Ann Worley, Ruth Buzzi and Margaret O'Brien.

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For their humanitarian efforts, Rikki and Fred Rosen were presented with the Heart of Gold Award at the first Gift of the Heart Valentine Ball sponsored by the Foundation for Cardiovascular and Transplant Research at UCLA.

When the Rosens heard the story of a desperate father in a remote area of China--he had posted an Internet message pleading for help for his son--they decided to respond.

Together with Mayor Richard Riordan, the Rosens shared the cost of bringing 3-year-old Shao-Shao Deng to Los Angeles for surgery to correct a life-threatening heart defect. "When we hear stories like this, it makes us realize we're a global community," said Fred Rosen, who is chief executive of Key3 Media Group. "So I just called up the mayor and asked: 'If I put up half, will you put up half?' He said, 'Sure.' "

Shao-Shao's surgery was performed at UCLA by Dr. Hillel Laks, chief of cardiothoracic surgery. The child continues to do well and has graduated from kindergarten in China.

Also honored were actress Minnie Driver for her portrayal of a heart-transplant recipient in the MGM film "Return to Me," Bonnie Hunt, who wrote, directed and co-starred in the film and Olav Bergheim of Domain Associates for corporate support of transplant research.

More than 400 turned out for the event Sunday at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel, including several transplant recipients.

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Coming Up

* Marlo, Terre and Tony Thomas are staging their 21st annual St. Jude Gala to benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital Center (founded in 1962 by their dad, Danny Thomas) on Thursday at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Tickets are $300. Call (310) 996-1188.

* The specialties of more than 50 Los Angeles caterers and restaurants will be featured at the Food Fare 2001 sponsored by the Planned Parenthood of Los Angeles Guild on Thursday at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. Hours are 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tickets are $100 (daytime) and $125 (evening) if purchased in advance. Call (310) 395-0098.

* Architect Frank Gehry will present a slide lecture of his work at the Friends of the Armenian Pavilion fund-raiser at Sotheby's Beverly Hills on Thursday. Proceeds will support Armenia's representation at the Venice International Biennale to be held June 10 in Italy. Tickets are $125 or $200 per couple. Call (310) 274-4938.

* The Friends of the USC Libraries will honor "Wonder Boys" author Michael Chabon and screenwriter Steve Kloves for the best realization of a book as film at the 13th Annual Scripter Award Dinner to be held Saturday on the USC campus. Tickets are $250. Call (213) 740-2328.

* L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center will honor John Hancock Financial Services Inc., California Assembly member Jackie Goldberg and Megan Mullally of NBC's "Will & Grace" at "Women's Night 2001" on Saturday at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Tickets are $175. Call (310) 996-1188.

* "A Night at Sardi's," the annual fund-raiser staged by the Alzheimer's Assn. of Los Angeles, will be March 8 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Tickets are $300 or $500. Call (310) 996-1188.

* Bobby Short will be a special guest at the gala benefit preview of the collections of the late designer Tony Duquette, sponsored by the Decorative Arts Council of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Christie's Los Angeles on March 8 at the Barker Hangar, Santa Monica Air Center. Tickets are $500. Call (323) 857-6528.

* The Junior League of Los Angeles will hold its annual spring gala at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 9. Kelly Stone, founder of Planet Hope, will be honored at the black-tie event. Tickets are $200. Call (323) 957-4280.

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Patt Diroll's column is published Tuesdays. She can be reached at pattdiroll@earthlink.net.

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