Star-studded Carousel of Hope Ball honors Sidney Poitier, Jane Fonda, Sherry Lansing and David Foster

Unless they’re going to a major gala or awards show such as the Oscars or Emmys, Angelenos, in general, tend to dress down most days more often than not.

But they certainly dressed up for the 30th Carousel of Hope Ball, a Saturday evening  benefit for the Children’s Diabetes Foundation and the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes — where there were plenty of long gowns, jewels, suits, tuxedos and Hollywood royalty.

“We love to show up for Barbara,” said third-generation Oscar-winner Anjelica Huston, sparkling from twin diamond brooches and speaking of Davis, the event chairman who founded the gala in 1978 with her husband, Marvin.

“It’s like a reunion to me,” Motown founder Berry Gordy said during the cocktail reception. “I see all my friends that I haven’t seen since the last one.”

Comedian Jay Leno was the host for Saturday’s affair at the Beverly Hilton, which featured Sharon Stone as auctioneer. The event also included performances by Idina Menzel and Jamie Foxx; a quartet of Tinseltown legends as honorees, Sidney Poitier, Jane Fonda, Sherry Lansing and David Foster; and a luminous lineup of presenters such as Denzel Washington, Quincy Jones, Carole Bayer Sager and Huston.

A silent auction stretched across several ballrooms, where those mingling included Kathy Griffin, Regina King, Carmen Electra, Garcelle Beauvais, Jane Seymour, Yara Shahidi, Francesca Capaldi, Jillian Rose Reed, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, LaTanya Richardson and Samuel L. Jackson, Linda and Jerry Bruckheimer, Lori and Michael Milken, and — the impossible to miss, 6-foot-10-inch former Laker and Clipper Brian Cook.

Next came dinner, entertainment and an awards ceremony, where we learned these five things. 

Washington considers Poitier his mentor. In accepting the award, Poitier, the 89-year old Hollywood icon and Academy Award winner, allowed that he’s had a wonderful life yet took time to acknowledge the event chair’s accomplishments.

Turns out that Jones and Fonda are third cousins. “I’m sure it’s obvious to everyone,” Jones quipped, before noting that he and the two-time Oscar winner are not only longtime friends but that they learned that they are genetically linked to a slave owner in Mississippi as well.

“You’re my favorite cousin,” said Fonda, as she stepped to the podium.

Menzel won’t be repeating her Tony Award-winning role in the upcoming movie “Wicked.” After belting out Elphaba’s signature tune, “Defying Gravity,” she said, “I’m told I’m too old to play the role.” And she suggested that filmmakers cover her in green makeup and use computer-generated imagery. “What’s the difference?” she added.

Quinton Aaron, as known as “Big Mike” from “The Blind Side,” can act as well as sing. Foster proved this by bringing Aaron onstage to sing “Let’s Get It On.”

In presenting Foster’s award, Bayer Sager ascribed a quality to each letter of his name. Starting with “D is for divorce,” adding that’s “a subject that David knows far too much about and what he doesn’t know, he can read in his ex-wives’ memoirs.” For the rest of the letters, she chronicled the 16-time Grammy winner’s achievements, ending with R for “remarkable.”

With this much star power, it’s no wonder the Carousel of Hope has raised more than $100 million over the years. “No one can say no to Barbara [Davis],” Lansing said. 

Ellen Olivier is the founder of Society News LA.

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