Earl, Countess Visit Peerless California

The sixth Earl of Normanton and his countess, who live in one of those splendid English stately homes (Somerly, set in 7,000 rolling acres on the edge of the New Forest overlooking the River Avon), are embarked on a visit of discovery to California--and, needless to say, of sampling our hospitable ways.

Locally, Douglas S. Cramer, the television producer and contemporary art collector, gave a dinner party for them and invited quite a few of his chums to meet the British couple who had been his hosts at their country place. Cramer's guest list included a lot of the "Dynasty" folk, since that's one of the Normantons' favorites. There was Joan Collins with Peter Holm, George Hamilton with Alana Stewart (aha!) and Catherine Oxenberg with Spanish businessman Arki Boussone (he's said to be the love of her life). More dining on Chasen's all-American fare (one of the wines served was from Cramer's Santa Ynez vineyard) were Alan Shayne, who has also stayed at Somerly; Ames Cushing, Craig Johnson, Paige Rense, Juliette Mills and her husband Maxwell Caulfield, Patti and Tom Skouras and Jackie Collins and her husband Oscar Lerman. By evening's end everyone was on a first-name basis, including the Normantons, who asked to be called Vicki and Shawn.

Friday afternoon, Paul and Ingrid Mitchell gave a luncheon for the Normantons at the Regency Club and invited such Anglophiles as Gene Washburn, Richard Gully (he's a cousin of the late Anthony Eden), Maggie Wetzel, architect Ragnar Qvale and his wife Mollie, Mrs. Jack LaLanne and the Mitchells' daughter Heidi (she works in television in Palm Springs) to enjoy some fine food and fine conversation.

On another day, Susie Worthy hosted a cocktail party for the Normantons at Le Bel Age Hotel. The Normantons, you see, are one of 250 English owners of stately homes and castles who have been persuaded by Miss Worthy to open up their places to American tourists. She's banded them all together in an organization called Country Homes and Castles, and the endeavor is getting along rather well, thank you. The Normantons' visit to the West was under the auspices of Country Homes and British Caledonian Airways.

Noblesse Oblige: Neil Diamond has canceled his early November recording sessions for a new album so that he and his wife Marcia can wing to Washington to attend President and Mrs. Reagan's dinner for Prince Charles and Princess Diana on Nov. 9. Back in June of last year, the royals attended Diamond's final concert in Birmingham, England, a benefit for the Prince's Trust. It was that night that an uninhibited Princess Diana, stirred by the music, jumped up and kept time to the beat. The whole audience joined her. That was some sight.

The Beverly Hills Charitable Foundation and the Beverly Hills B'nai B'rith Lodge 1325 join hands to make television's Aaron Spelling their 32nd Man of the Year on Sunday evening at the Beverly Hilton. Oilman Marvin Davis is honorary chairman for the $500-per-person dinner-dance and lodge president Leonard E. Wasserstein is dinner chairman.

ABC's Gary Pudney is the evening's executive producer for a show that headlines Diahann Carroll and Dean Martin and includes Victoria Principal, Sally Field, Kenny Rogers, Henry Winkler, Robert Wagner, Ricardo Montalban, Jaclyn Smith, Pamela Bellwood, Catherine Oxenberg and Katharine Ross.

Samuel S. Faye is foundation president. And as you would expect, the list of names on chairman Alan Brunswick's Man of the Year Committee goes on and on. The evening benefits the Alan J. Factor Memorial Fund, which helps senior citizen programs and other philanthropies.

The Ahmanson Foundation receives the sixth annual Armand Hammer Award in recognition of "its extraordinary gifts to Los Angeles' cultural life" at a luncheon Oct. 30 at the Century Plaza Hotel. The award will be presented on behalf of the Los Angeles Arts Council (formerly the Cultural Commission) to Robert H. Ahmanson by Dr. Armand Hammer. Over the past five years, the Ahmanson Foundation has distributed more than $50 million to institutions and organizations as diverse as the County Museum of Art, Plaza de la Raza, the Aman Folk Ensemble and Friends of Little Tokyo.

Along with the award, there is usually an exhibition of fine art. This year's exhibit will be mounted by the Museum of Contemporary Art under the direction of Richard Koshalek, the museum's director.

Frances Bergen, the happiest grandmother-to-be we know, invited friends of hers and of her daughter, Candy Bergen Malle, to a baby shower-tea at Le Restaurant. (The birth is imminent.)

Although there was tea for anyone who wanted it, the more popular fare was caviar and champagne. In that crowd you had to expect it. Mrs. Ray Milland drove in from Palos Verdes for the reunion. Liza Minnelli, Candy's childhood chum, was in New York but she sent a present. Accompanying the tiny pink party dress was a note that read, "Candy, you beat me to it." Candy's brother, Chris, arrived with a white teddy bear that was so big Chris had to get two men to help him get it into the restaurant.

Still more at the happy gathering--Connie Wald, Mary Anita Loos, Audrey Wilder, Janet De Cordova, Jane Gosden, Paige Rense, Patty Doheny, Kacey Doheny McCoy, Marie Windsor Hupp, Martha Lorden, Lee Minnelli, Juli Hutner, Georgiana Montalban, Mignon Winans and Georgia Frontiere.

Frances and Eric Skipsey's dinner party last week ended up, to everyone's delight, as a musicale. The host started it right after dinner (salmon mousse, veal, chocolate mousse cake) with a few songs, accompanied by the guitarist and ending with a very Parisian version of "J'Attendrai." We knew about Eric's prowess with the camera and tennis racket; this is a whole new talent.

And then Marilyn McDaniel was on, followed by Rhonda (Fleming) and Ted Mann singing alone and together, and Mary Jones who soloed on "Mean to Me." Said her husband, attorney H. Bradley Jones: "She sings that from the heart." Coco Viault claims she can't sing, so she did a modified strip as she talked the words of a song about a man who loses all in his divorce except his paper route.

It wasn't over yet. More people sang along and a few harmonized until it was time to call it a night. Catching up on the news of the Skipseys' tennis-playing tour of Australia and New Zealand--Florence and Robert (Bones) Hamilton, Jean Trousdale with Bill Miles, Glen McDaniel, Barbara Richardson with Edward Verheilig, Beverly (in black organza ruffles) and Chase Morsey, Jayne (in Dior's beaded short black chiffon) and Henry Berger, Dee and Stuart Cramer, Frank Viault, Roger and Billie Converse, Jane del Amo with Dr. Robert Helmer.

The Social Scramble: Madame Sylvia Wu lunched at Jimmy's with architect Alai Chang Paul, who designed the re-do of Maj and Larry Hagman's Malibu home. . . . At nearby tables, Jimmy Murphy planned next year's St. Patrick's Day Parade with Mario Machado and Burks Hamner, and Maureen Womack talked to pals about her surprise birthday party for Nat Dumont.

Ruth Yablans gave a birthday lunch for Maureen Dean at the Bistro and around her table were Carole Wells Doheny Karabian--who's talking about going back to being just plain Carole Wells--Pamela Mason and daughter Portland, and Christy Morton. Same place, same time, former Gov. Pat Brown was in a serious huddle with business types; Lucy Battson anchored her usual corner table; Gloria Stewart lunched with Craig C. Black, director of the County Museum of Natural History; Bonita Granville Wrather was with pals Marion Jorgensen, Chardee Trainer and Beverly Morsey, and Verita Thompson lunched with Bob Eaton.

Instead of going to the NATO Conference in Oporto, Portugal, Genna Freeman, widow of the well-known international lawyer Alwyn Freeman (D. L. Ludwig was among his clients), stayed in town to supervise the move into a new and large L.A. condo.

Kathy and Chris Matsumoto and Sachi and Larry Irwin were sampling the Mexican delights at a window table in the trendy Border Cafe on Melrose.

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