New Life for Landmark Sunset Towers

Millionaire yachtsman, bon vivant and proper English gentleman Peter de Savary, chairman of the St. James's Club International, seems always to get what he wants. A while back we told you that he was searching for the right spot for a Los Angeles branch of his exclusive private club. (Sir John Mills heads the membership committee which also includes Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Viscountess Rothermere, Lady Daubeny, Roger Moore, Michael Caine and Kokoly Fallah, daughter of the late Shah's oil adviser).

Need we tell you he's found it? De Savary and his partners have just acquired the landmark Sunset Towers on Sunset Boulevard and, after lavishing $25 million on the remodeling, plan to open their third St. James's Club by spring 1987. (The first is in London; the second, on the island of Antigua, opened last Christmas.)

De Savary says he's positively thrilled with the 1930's Art Deco building and all its wonderful memories of old Hollywood. Errol Flynn, Clark Gable, John Wayne and Howard Hughes were just a few of its former tenants. The new facilities will include 80 suites, a health spa and gymnasium, a swimming pool, a restaurant and a private cinema. "Sunset Towers will be lovingly restored to its former glory," de Savary crows as he moves on to new projects--clubs in Paris and New York.

In Los Angeles: New York investment banker and popular host Alexander (Alecko) Papamarkou (earlier in the year he and Ann Getty co-hosted a social and educational cruise down the Nile for their friends) has been in town for a few days for business meetings with one of our quieter business tycoons. Armand and Harriet Deutsch asked him over for dinner and a movie and Virginia Milner made an extra spot for him at her table. From L. A., Papamarkou flies off to Greece where he's planning to entertain a few chums aboard the Goulandris yacht.

French singer and heartthrob Charles Aznavour will be here next week getting ready for his Hollywood Bowl appearances Aug. 16 and 17. To welcome Aznavour back, beauty maven Tova and Ernie Borgnine are hosting a dinner party for him at their home.

Handsome and well-liked Dan Moriarty, a Revlon vice president, will be in town to introduce model Kim Alexis who is replacing Lauren Hutton as the new "face" of Ultima II, and to launch the cosmetic firm's new fragrance, Maroc. The social side of their schedule includes a "little" dinner party at Le Bel Age.

Fred Joaillier's Henri and Beatrice Samuel, in from their home base in Paris, dined cozily at the Bistro Garden with Fred's new executive Luigi Leonardi and his wife Linda (here supervising the move of all their worldly possessions to New York) and Sergio Baril (he runs Fred's in Beverly Hills) and his wife.

Carroll Spinney, better known as "Sesame Street's" Big Bird, arrived at the Beverly Wilshire in a long, black, stretch limo and proceeded on to lunch in the hotel's El Padrino with his agent. Big Bird, in town to promote the Warner Bros. film, "Follow That Bird," also had an emotional reunion with his biggest fan, the hotel's vice president Helen Chaplin. He gave her one of his yellow feathers and a big kiss on her nose. She'll never be the same.

Four of the city's retailing chiefs--Robinson's Michael Gould, Bullock's Allen Questrom, the Broadway's Michael Hecht and the May Co.'s Judith Hofer--are behind the Fashion Group of Los Angeles' Aug. 13 tribute to the late Rudi Gernreich at the Wiltern Theatre. And there's more news. The committee has unearthed the Gernreich minidress Carol Channing wore to the White House. It raised plenty of eyebrows. And they've also found the guns with which he accessorized his 1971 collection in which he dressed his models in uniform. The evening's color scheme is stark black and white. And so will be Parties Plus' dinner menu, according to PP's Julie Loshin. The meal will start with cold cream of cucumber soup, prepared according to Gernreich's recipe, "basic black" home-baked bread, white on white salad, poached breast of chicken with a belt of black pasta and blackberry and rice tart with Cointreau.

On his birthday last month, Larry Israel was in Paris and his wife Marcia was in Hong Kong. He settled for dinner with business associates in a tiny French boite on the Ile St. Louis and Marcia sent a cable. But last week the family--including daughters Judy and Jane (who lives in San Francisco)--were all together and Larry got his proper birthday celebration complete with flowers, presents, a fudge-rich birthday cake with candles and singing.

The singing contingent, most of whom have been regulars at past birthday parties, included Anne Jeffreys and Robert Sterling, Eric and Frances Skipsey, Mary (in a beaded, fringe-hemmed gown she said had been made by a nun in India!) and Bradley Jones, Midge and Bob Clark and Rosemarie and Bob Stack whose new television show debuts end of September.

The Social Scramble: No matter where they may settle, Texans always hanker a little for home. Frances and Happy Franklin and Effie and S. J. Gaido are settling that problem by co-hosting a "Branch Water and Texas Buffet" Sunday afternoon.

On Aug. 10 at The Breakers, the grand summer home built in 1895 in Newport, R. I. for Cornelius Vanderbilt, there will be fireworks and dancing and some good-time socializing over supper as the Preservation Society of Newport County celebrates its 40th anniversary. The Breakers Ball has Mrs. John G. Winslow as chairman and Mrs. John R. Drexel III as vice chairman and Countess Anthony Szapary, a Vanderbilt, as honorary chairman. Tiffany & Co., one of the ball's sponsors along with Sotheby's of New York, will host an opening reception in the ballroom of Marble House, another of those magnificent mansions the Preservation Society has helped restore.

Gloria Vanderbilt who sometimes stays at The Breakers, and Mrs. Wiley T. Buchanan, Jr. of Washington, D.C., are on the honorary committee. Among the patrons are County Museum of Art Director Earl A. Powell III and his wife Nancy, who have a summer home in Newport, Mrs. George Vanderbilt of Edgewood, Calif., Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Beverly Bogert of Palm Beach and Mrs. John Bryce of New York.

There have been quite a few festive occasions hosted by friends to help former Councilwoman Peggy Stevenson adjust to "civilian" life. One of them happened the other day out in Malibu at Geoffrey's where the hosts were Kay Brown and Webster Phillips and the guests included Councilman Joel Wachs, Harriet Weaver, Peggy's son Bruce, Mary and Charles Skouras (they were talking happily about daughter Christiana's engagement to Alden Marin), attorney Godfrey Isaacs, Michael Mavro Gannis and Nick and Sylvia Patsaouras.

Edwin L. Bloch, the quiet philanthropist, celebrated his 80th birthday at a party at L'Escoffier planned by his wife of 50 years, Toni. Family (son Paul Bloch, daughter Lois Golden with her husband and their son Douglas and daughter Vicki) and friends added to Bloch's good cheer that night.

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