Puttin' On the Ritz at a Skid Row Gala

At 5 p.m., when the first guests began to arrive at the Downtown Women's Center on South Los Angeles Street, it was still light and quite balmy. The Z Valet parkers, immaculate in their white shirts and trousers, were at the ready in a lineup that led to the back parking lot. In the courtyard a lamb was spinning on a spit over a bed of hot coals, and in another corner Dick Rinde's Red Hot Rivets were brightening the night with their music. In the kitchen the volunteer chefs, in a bustle of activity, were chopping the pimentos and stirring the shrimp and slicing the turkey and lamb. And along with some journalists, the stars of "The Young and the Restless" and "Days of Our Lives" were playing at being waiters and waitresses.

Mayor Tom Bradley did a walk-through. Supervisor Pete Schabarum and his wife stayed for dinner. And Councilman Gilbert Lindsay was careful about what he chose from the ample dessert buffet.

It was quite a night, this Tuesday fund-raising party for the center, which is adding a residential home for the homeless women of Skid Row. The party began in the gutted hotel (it adjoins the center founded by Jill Halverson in 1978), which should be ready for occupancy within a few months. There in full view of everyone (the final count was 400), near the bars and the hors d'oeuvre tables, were displayed the silent-auction items--Sol Laykin's glass case filled with expensive watches, napkins with forks and knives indicating dinners at famous restaurants, works of art and sundry other goodies. The 1985 Mercedes-Benz was center front, its value set at $32,560.

Bettina Chandler, president of the Downtown Women's Center board, made her welcoming remarks while most of the guests were sitting down to dinner. And as the evening progressed, some people were moved to extraordinary acts of charity. When the bidding for the Mercedes got close, Auto Steigler of Encino donated a second car. Father Maurice Chase announced that Harold and Diane Keith were donating the $15,000 needed for remodeling one room in the residence. (Earlier, Wendy Goldberg told us she'd "bought one of the rooms" as well.)

The earliest arrivals were the chefs and their assistants, some of whom had spent most of Sunday doing the advance cooking at the 7th Street Bistro with chef Laurent Quenioux (he donates the restaurant's leftover food to the center). "It's been fun," reported the chefs' ringleader, Marco Weiss, whose wife was also helping. In the talented mob were the Music Center's Carmine Marinelli, Gucci's Luigi Leonardi, Wayne and Cliff Ratkovich, Mrs. Garry Marshall, the Lee Warners, Kathy Welch.

Next in line were center supporters like Lolly and Milton Lewis, Terry and Dennis Stanfill, Mrs. Peter Bing with Leah Romoneck, Mrs. Warren Williamson, Peggy Parker, Dr. and Mrs. Paul Rudnick, Mrs. Harry Volk, Adrienne and Vernon Underwood, Mrs. Neil Bazier, the William Tilleys, Dr. and Mrs. Frank Jobe, Roger and Joanne Kozberg, Marjorie and Mike Fasman (she was high bidder for the Jim Dine poster of a man's robe, which went with two terry-cloth robes from the Biltmore), Betty Endo (she won the walk-on part in "Cagney & Lacey"), Sheila Elias (she donated one of her paintings), Otis Chandler (he donated a ride around the Riverside Raceway in his Porsche 917-K race car plus lunch), the Sheldon Ausmans, Robinson's Michael and Karen Gould, Lois and Robert Erburu who could only stay for cocktails, David Jones with Patricia Kennedy. A few stragglers came from Alan Pakula's book party for his wife Hannah--Tim and Nancy Vreeland, Nancy Olson Livingston, Eleanore Phillips Colt--and a few from the Music Center where "South Pacific" was having its first premiere--Michael Newton and Lloyd Rigler.

Love Notes: Barry Taper and Louise Siegal were married last week at Temple Beth Sholom with their five children, his three and her two, standing by. The wedding dinner took place in Chasen's new Garden Room, where among those doing the toasting were Barry's father, Mark Taper, his sister Mrs. Henri Lazaroff and her husband. On Louise's side were her father, Leon Nemzer, and her brother, Charles Nemzer. There was also a little cluster of good friends around--Carlo Celoni, who helped plan the whole event, with Ron Hudson who did the peach decor at Chasen's, Dr. and Mrs. Dave Smith, Stanley Black, Bob Gilbert. The bride wore a white Chanel suit and the wedding cake was four tiers of Chasen's famous banana cake.

Producer Robert Bradford gave a party the other night at L'Ermitage, the restaurant, to celebrate his wife Barbara Taylor Bradford's birthday, to mark the best-selling status of her new book, "Hold the Dream," and to announce to everyone around that he will be producing the screenplay based on the novel for television.

Bob had also presented his wife with a 35-carat diamond bracelet, which she wore with a few other baubles and her red-and-white Galanos gown. A sharing kind of person, Barbara gathered up a few other Tauruses for her celebration--director Bill Glenn (he leaves for Spain next week to finalize the sale of his Mijas farm) and Constance Towers Gavin, who discussed her Montana roots with Robert Rooney. Shirlee Fonda (black and blue from a trip over a phone cord in her New York apartment) felt that she belonged, too, because her late husband, Henry, was a Taurus. Producers Fran and Barry Weisler ("My One and Only") phoned in their birthday wishes from Tokyo. And then Barbara revealed that she'd had another celebration, this one aboard Regent Air--where the steward planted his fist smack in the middle of the birthday cake when the plane lurched.

Princess Vera Rachevsky of Monte Carlo and New York stopped off in Los Angeles on her way to Hawaii, where her New York astrologer had told her she should be on her birthday. "We'll see," Vera said at the dinner party given for her by Marcia and Larry Israel, "if it works." Jim Hayes, Bradley Jones, Henry Berger and the host were conservatively dressed for the party, but the ladies were an individual bunch. The hostess wore a Judy's sequined top and a full, short black skirt. Connie Towers Gavin wore short black lace. The guest of honor was in a side-draped silk print. Jayne Berger's silk dress had a red-and-black bodice. And Mary Jones looked dashing in a brocade version of a man's robe worn over pants. After the fortune cookies, they retired to the den where one of the tidbits we picked up is that the new drink in New York is Coca-Cola and Scotch. "Very invigorating," claims Marcia.

Caroline Ahmanson and Harriet Luckman, two well-traveled ladies, will be guides for a Marco Polo and Silk Route adventure planned by the Muses of the California Museum of Science and Industry on Wednesday. The expedition will include a morning lecture in the Kinsey Auditorium, an indoor reception and then lunch, during which Santa Barbara's Beverley Jackson, who's been to China more times than we can count, will present her antique Chinese robe collection.

The Social Scramble: Dining Friday night at Chasen's--20th Century Fox and Metromedia co-owner Marvin and Barbara Davis with Cary and Barbara Grant; Virginia and Jerry Oppenheimer; Roz and Henry Rogers with the Henry Glucks.

At Le St. Germain the lunch bunch included the Baron Guy de Rothschild, who asked Paul Bruggemans for a card because he wanted to bring his sister, Mrs. Gregor Piatigorsky, back for dinner. In the back room was co-owner Camille Bardet, who's recovering nicely from an illness. The traveling Bruggemans is off again, this time to cruise through France's Burgundy country on a barge.

In New York, Sandra Moss took over the private room at Doubles for a luncheon celebrating Georgette Muir Barrie's marriage to Texas oil man Bobby Mosbacher. The guests included Sandra's beau Lew Hyman, L.A.'s Richard Gully, Ginny Mancini, Shirlee Fonda, Sheila MacRae, Nancy Ittleson, Joan Benny and Richard Cohen. And later Nancy Mehta celebrated husband Zubin's birthday with a dinner party at their New York townhouse. The guests were a celebrated lot--Israeli artist Agam, violinist Ida Haendel, attractive Julia Robinson who defected from the U.S.S.R. and the Mehtas' borzoi, Tarras, who is quite a star in his own right.

The Westside Center for Independent Living's movie premiere ("A View to a Kill" next Thursday at Mann's Village Theatre) will be dedicated to the memory of Helen Phillips Levin, who, according to Mrs. Morton Phillips, a k a Dear Abby, "was responsible for the spectacular growth of WCIL."

The Jim Thompson Thai silk collection receives a champagne send-off from J. Robert Scott and Rodolph Inc. on Wednesday at the Scott showroom.

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