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Social Circuits

June 23, 2002|Patt Diroll, Ann Conway

Cars & Stars

"Sheesh! Is that a sexy beast or what?" muttered a smitten car buff as he ogled the voluptuous chassis of a 1939 Bugatti 57C at the Petersen Automotive Museum's Fifth Annual Cars & Stars Gala. If only the 25 marvelous machines in the new exhibition, "Million Dollar Cars: The World's Most Valuable Automobiles," could talk.

The Bugatti, hidden from the West for more than two decades, was a wedding gift from the French government to the shah of Iran. The winnings of Henry Ford's 1901 sweepstakes race car (top speed 72 mph) were the jump-start that bankrolled the Ford Motor Co.; Steve McQueen's 1956 XKSS Jaguar was one of only 16 made; a 1928 Bentley was one of many owned by the maharaja of Bhavnager. And then there's Pasadenan Harold Meyerman's pride and joy--a 1939 Maybach SW 38 red roadster that languished in his mother's garage until he spent more than $400,000 restoring it, bolt by bolt, to its former Teutonic grandeur. "We're told that only two of these were made," said Meyerman. "The other one came up missing after the war."

Another showstopper: a 1938 Dubonnet Hispano-Suiza, named after Andre Dubonnet of the French wine family. It was one of the most striking cars of its era, featuring a wraparound windshield and one of the earliest targa tops ever conceived.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday June 26, 2002 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 ..CF: Y 6 inches; 241 words Type of Material: Correction
Youth Theatre gala--An item in Sunday's Southern California Living gave an incorrect date for a benefit gala for the California Youth Theatre. The event at the New Ivar Theatre in Hollywood is Saturday.

"With more than $100 million worth of cars in one place, this is by far the most extraordinary exhibit we've ever mounted," noted Petersen curator Leslie Kendall.

More than 1,200 auto aficionados attended the June 13 event, which raised more than $750,000. Added to that was a $500,000 donation from the Mary and Gordon Howard Family Foundation. Howard's widow, Mary, and her daughter, Kathy Phelan, were on hand for the event, along with Margie and Bob Petersen, Raylene and Bruce Meyer, Merle and Peter Mullin, Alexandria Phillips, Ginny and David Sydorick, Bill Ahmanson and a host of stars, including Loni Anderson, Connie Stevens, Thomas Gibson, Carol Connors, Norm Crosby, Phyllis Diller, Erik Estrada, Anne Jeffreys, Nina Kaczorowski, Lois and Buzz Aldrin (a dinner for eight at Spago with the astronaut and his moon-gal sold for $4,600 in the live auction) and the newly engaged Cindy Garvey and Bob Lorsch.

Patt Diroll


Beastly Ball

Gita, a 44-year-old Asian elephant, was the belle of the Los Angeles Zoo Assn.'s annual Beastly Ball. Not only an accomplished abstract painter--as demonstrated in her trunk show--she also plays the xylophone and doubles in brass on the cymbals. The fund-raiser, in its 32nd year, raised $1.74 million.

Gita's zoo neighbors weren't as impressed with her talents as were the 1,100 safari-clad party guests, who paid $500 to watch her grip a dripping paintbrush while artist Charles Bragg maneuvered the canvas.

Proceeds from Gita's two masterpieces, which sold for $5,000 apiece in the evening's live auction, are earmarked for the zoo's new Pachyderm Forest. Meanwhile, her next-door neighbor, Bruno, a clearly disgruntled senior orangutan, retired to the highest rock in his digs to view the foofaraw. "He's not the jealous type," noted a vigilant staffer. "He's just spooked by the stilt-walkers."

The event honored zoo commissioner Karen B. Winnick, whose family foundation funded the children's zoo that opened last summer. The annual Fellow Award went to renowned naturalist Cynthia Moss for her work with the Maasai people to save Kenya's elephants. Between 1973 and 1989, 85% of Kenya's elephant population was slaughtered for ivory. Moss, who is convalescing from recent surgery, sent her thanks via video from the Amboseli Elephant Research Project, which she directs in southern Kenya.

More than two-dozen premium Southern California eateries were stationed around the zoo grounds, where they dispensed specialties like pumpkin lasagna, green corn tamales, Krispy Kreme doughnuts--and buffalo tartare. Spotted among the grazers were Bob Saget, who emceed the doings; zoo execs Don Youpa and Manuel Mollinedo; Gary Winnick; Linda DeKoven and David Israel; Nancy and Dick Riordan; Michele and Walter Conn; Constance and John Gavin; Cheryl Post; Mary and Bill Urquhart; Missy and Dennis Alfieri; Gary Kaplan; Patti Glover; and zoo trustee Betty White.



Social Swim

Outfitted in tuxes and cocktail dresses, hundreds of guests attending a benefit at the Aquarium of the Pacific did what thousands of children are expected to do this summer: They got face-to-face with more than 150 sharks.

Housed in the facility's new 90,000-gallon outdoor Shark Lagoon, some of the creatures were available for petting at the Ocean Conservation Awards gala that raised $260,000 for the Long Beach aquarium's conservation and education programs. "Ooooh, it feels like a man's stubble in the morning," said family doctor Debbie Lowenthal as she stroked the head of a zebra shark. "Kind of like sandpaper in one direction--silk in the other."

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