90th Birthday Salute to Edwin Lester

Built around the musicals and stars that were part of his life during the almost 40 years that he ran the Civic Light Opera, Edwin Lester's 90th birthday celebration at the Music Center is going to be a glorious event. Mary Martin, who was the CLO's Peter Pan, will lead the lineup of talents paying tribute to the founder of the CLO and a man who presented more than 160 musical productions in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and staged 90 of them himself. Now how's that for a record!

Following each other on stage in the Music Center's Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on the night of April 15 will be John Green, Nanette Fabray, Anne Jeffreys, Dorothy Kirsten, Patricia Morison, John Raitt, Patrice Munsel, Rhonda Fleming, Juliet Prowse, Florence Henderson, Constance Towers, Ricardo Montalban, Robert Morse and quite a few more entertaining personalities.

To fan the flame and discuss details, Wallis Annenberg, who is co-chairing the tribute with Charles E. Ducommun, Florence Henderson and Rodney W. Rood, is hosting a cocktail party Monday at the Music Center. And her guest list is pretty impressive. Those who've been invited are mostly members of the birthday party committee--the Robert Ahmansons, Bettina and Otis Chandler, the Henry Mancinis, Barbara and Garry Marshall, Wendy and Leonard Goldberg, Gary L. Pudney, the Joseph N. Mitchells, Nancy and Alan Livingston, Herbert and Juli Hutner, the Ahmanson's Robert Fryer, Joan and John Hotchkis, the John McMahons, Veronique and Gregory Peck, Mr. and Mrs. Roscoe Moss Jr., Ernestine and Stanton Avery, Mrs. Alfred Bloomingdale.

The burning question these days for Mrs. John I. Moore and the Keynote 88 Committee for the L.A. Pops is whether the new addition to Jimmy's party room (the Malabar and Palm Court) will be ready for their April 1 festivities. Workers are bustling 'round the clock, decorator Jack Lowrance is fussing endlessly and Jimmy Murphy keeps checking his watch. But whether or not the room is completed in time, party chairman Ceil Moore will work something out and everybody is bound to have a good time.

The ingredients are all in place. Ambassador to the Vatican William A. Wilson and his wife Betty are honorary co-chairmen. Society's darling, Peter Duchin, is flying out with his band to play during dinner and for dancing in between. The committee couldn't be better--Mrs. Rodney Williams, Mrs. William Ahmanson, Mrs. John Anderson, Mrs. Richard Coyle, Mrs. Bob Ray Offenhauser, Mrs. Charles Snodgrass, Mrs. Robert Sully, Mrs. Charles Luckman, Mrs. Happy Franklin, Mrs. Seymour Owens, Mrs. Alex Villicana, Mrs. Victor Wong, Mrs. William Holzhauser and more. And that night out-of-towners (invitations have been sent to Kansas City's Gen. and Mrs. Larry Oppenheimer; to Washington's Carolyn and Mike Deaver and Nancy and Nicholas Ruwe and to a lot of Dallasites) will mingle beautifully with some of our local best. The evening is a benefit to raise money for the L.A. Pops' community activities.

The Social Scramble: Henry and Sedge Plitt gave a dinner party at Jimmy's this week for Gen. Joseph Nevo, head of the Friends of Israel Defense Forces (Israel's version of the U.S.'s USO) and Mrs. Nevo. The big news--Henry is the new national chairman for the Friends, which already has chapters in L.A., New York and Miami and is hoping to establish two more in Denver and Chicago. Among the guests were Israeli Consul General Jack Evans (he's a general to boot) and his wife; Merrill and Grace Lowell; Rusty Hoffman; Berny and Ellen Byrens; and Chantal and Martin Stern.

Philanthropist Mary Lasker, who has leased John and Louise Good's "big" house for two months (David Hayes, the designer, bought another of the Goods' villas), dined at L'Orangerie the other night.

Over a welcome-back-from-China luncheon at the Regency Club for Barbro Taper, the guest of honor, hostess Suzanne Marx and Madame Sylvia Wu were talking about forming a committee to raise money to establish an American university in China.

Georges Cravenne, the man who created France's Cesar Awards (they're like the Oscars), was on hand when Kirk Douglas received the Legion of Honor from France's Minister of Culture Jack Lang in Paris' Palais Royal. The reason that's so important is that it was Cravenne who introduced Kirk and his wife Anne 30 years ago. Of course Anne was there for the ceremony along with surprise guest Michael Douglas, Kirk's son, and his wife Diondra; U.S. Ambassador to France Evan Galbraith; shipping tycoon Ravi Tikkoo; actress Barbara Rush and Warren Cowan and Gina Lollobrigida, who was named a Commodore des Lettres Arts that same day.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World