Johnny Carson, everybody's late-night television companion, is the man the Variety Club of Southern California will honor at its Variety Big Heart Community Achievement Award Pre-Telethon Dinner on April 15. Local Variety Club President Bruce Corwin and Vice President Joseph Sinay are co-chairing the $500- (for gold tables) and $250- (for silver tables) per-plate affair in the Century Plaza's Los Angeles Ballroom.
Johnny's "friends" serving on the dinner sponsor's committee include Sheldon W. Andelson,AFI's Jean Firstenberg, Variety Clubs International President Salah M. Hassanein, Freddie Fields, Bob Finkel, Lulie Frankel, Richard S. Rosenzweig, David Wolper, Carl Reiner, Gary Pudney, Shirley and Saul Turteltaub, Ann and Jerry Moss, Sandra Moss, Michael S. Ovitz, Sherry Lansing, Barry Kaye, Tichi Wilkerson Kassel.
After a lapse of five years (they must have been busy), Harry and Marilyn Lewis of all those Hamburger Hamlets gave another of their famous Oscar parties. But unlike some other local hosts, the Lewises chose the Saturday before the awards so as not to interfere with the official ceremonies and the Governor's Ball. The Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences should send Harry and Marilyn a thank-you note. Or something.
Marilyn, who designs the Hamlets, had redesigned the kitchen of their Beverly Hills home and the work had just been completed that morning. Guests wandered through, admiring the results, the 100-year-old European zinc bar and enjoying Sheila Mack's hors d'oeuvres. (Some guests sighed over the lack of Hamburger Hamlet fare.) There was a little tent for cocktails and a much bigger one for dinner in the garden, where the celebrity count included Carol Channing, Tony Bennett, Frances Bergen, Jolene and George Schlatter, Phyllis Diller with Mark Taper (now that's a new duet), romantic novelist Danielle Steele with her husband John Traina, Christina Crawford Koontz, best-selling novelist Sidney Sheldon and his wife Jorja and Ricardo and Georgiana Montalban. With Danny Thomas acting as master of ceremonies for the assembled talent, Billy Daniels sang "That Old Black Magic" and Rose Marie Thomas sang one of her "kootchie koo" numbers and Ann Jillian sang a capella as the noise volume fell to zero.
Lining up for the salad bar and hot buffet (sliced roast pork with plum sauce, chicken with peppers, polenta) were, among loads more: Alexis Smith and Craig Stevens, the Henry Bergers, Irene Kassorla, Marcia and Larry Israel, Nat Dumont, Prince Nicky Toumanoff, Councilman and Mrs. John Ferraro, Sedge and Henry Plitt, Muriel Slatkin with Ricardo Pascal, Eva Gabor with Palm Springs plastic surgeon Dr. Borko Djordjevic, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Olavee Martin with Seaman Jacobs, Lee Solters, Detroit columnist Shirley Eder and Warren Cowan with Barbara Rush and Margaret Gardner. (Earlier in the week Barbara had hosted a cocktail party at Jimmy's for Margaret who returns to her Rogers & Cowan London headquarters early next week.)
The Social Scramble: Carmen, the beauty who has been modeling for photographers such as Horst, Hiro and Norman Parkinson for the past 40 years (she started her career when she was 13), has written a beauty book. It's titled "Staying Beautiful" (Carmen does know how), which Harper & Row has published. To celebrate Carmen and the book, her agent, Zoli Management, is giving a sit-down dinner Monday night at New York's hot new restaurant Alo Alo in the Trump Towers. Carmen insisted the menu be "healthy," so it will include crudites, steamed salmon, veal and pasta. And since her friends are all beautiful and famous, the guest list includes plenty of those types--Jackie Rogers, a former Chanel model, now a fashion designer (Carmen is wearing one of Jackie's outfits on the book's cover), Joanna Carson (Johnny's soon to be ex-), David Susskind and more designers like Giorgio San Angelo and John Weitz and his wife, Susan.
Also in New York, Sotheby's is auctioning off the magnificent jewelry collection amassed by the late Annie-Laurie Aitken, mother of Sunny Crawford von Bulow who is still in a coma in a New York hospital. Mrs. Aitken was an accomplished hostess (her Newport, R.I., summer home, Champ Soleil, is a showplace), a ceramic sculptor and a skilled wing shot (at pigeon shooting, said to be the most difficult of all shotgun sports.) Mrs. Aitken's collecting had its moments of drama. The flexible ruby and diamond collar, the centerpiece of the collection, was bought from Arnold Ostertag in Paris just three days before the German army invaded France. The daring Annie-Laurie carried it back with her to the U.S. aboard a transatlantic ship that played hide and seek with German U-boats. Sotheby's expects the collar to bring between $350,000 and $400,000. The collection, which will be on view from April 17 to April 23 (the auction begins at 2 p.m. on the 23rd) at Sotheby's York Avenue salon, also includes some beguiling Art Deco pieces, a covey of David Webb animal bracelets and some beautiful multi-strand pearl necklaces (from 8 to 15 millimeters) and bracelets with sapphire, emerald and diamond clasps. According to John D. Brock, Sotheby's director of jewelry, Mrs. Aitken liked bold jewelry and had "impeccable taste."
The early lunch bunch at Ma Maison the other day had a little extra entertainment to keep them amused--"Town & Country" Editor Anne Randolph Hearst supervising a shooting, part of an October layout on shopping on L.A.'s Melrose Avenue). Kathy Hilton, who moved back from New York about seven months ago, was the "star" and Brian Hamilton was the man who made sure her makeup and hairdo were picture perfect. MM's patron, Patrick Terrail got into the picture by pouring champagne for the group who stayed on for lunch.
Making the people watching fun at Madame Wu's Garden: Terry and Dennis Stanfill, David and Betty Rose (he's just finished composing the music for 20 episodes of "Highway to Heaven"), Mary Anita Loos and Jay Allen, Wendell and Nelle Niles talking about his royal tennis tournaments.