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‘Uncle Miltie’ Toast of the Block Party

Times Staff Writer

DON’T MESS WITH MILTON--The $250-a-head fund-raiser for unopposed-for-reelection Sheriff Sherman Block turned out the big names and a big crowd Wednesday night, a “deductible Block party” as he was roasted and toasted by Frank Sinatra, Danny Thomas, Hal Kanter, Milton Berle and L.A. Police Chief Daryl Gates. Company too fast for Gates, as he found out when he tried to trade a few quips. Kanter--an old hand at Hollywood roasts--opened for Block, the “Wyatt Earp of Canoga Park.” A hard act to follow, as next-up Gates made the mistake of kidding that “Uncle Miltie” had stolen his jokes. Berle, who is back in fighting form since his quadruple heart bypass last summer, opened with “Chief Gates, you were never funnier. And it’s a shame.” And he went on from there, including that Gates “had done a lot for the Jews--just by not being one.” (Throughout the evening Jewish jokes abounded along with lines about Mayor Tom Bradley and Louis Farrakhan.) Sinatra, who was joined at the head table at the Century Plaza Hotel by Bishop John Ward, Vikki Carr and Slappy White, was Berle’s best audience. Old Blue Eyes at one point roared halfway through the joke--Berle saying that “ L’chaim " was a toast to life--before the punch line, “I have an uncle doing life right now.” Why would all these famous people turn out to toast a sheriff? Berle said he’d “sum up why I’m here in one word: Fear.” Just kidding, folks.

MORE MRS. FORD--If the Betty Ford story has been an inspiration to a lot of people, then a lot more people will get to know the story next year. The former First Lady is penning, with Chris Chase, a sequel to “The Times of My Life,” due out in spring ’87 from Doubleday. In the new book, she will write about her life since she left the White House, her recovery from alcohol and prescription-drug dependency. Her earlier book gets turned into a two- or three-hour movie produced by David Wolper and to be seen on ABC in ’86. Norman Brokaw, Mrs. Ford’s agent, said that the net proceeds from the new book would go to the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage and other recovery programs designated by Mrs. Ford.

POLI SIGH--Jerry Weintraub, back from Hawaii, is already busy proving his Mr. Bipartisanship title--telling folks that he’s supporting Mayor Tom Bradley’s gubernatorial shot and his close friend Mike Curb for lieutenant governor. And of course, there’s V.P. George Bush’s presidential campaign down the road. Already big on that Bush trail, GOP sources tell us, is Irvine’s Don Bren--who will be playing a major role in the presidential push. He knows that Kitchen Cabinet stuff, since his mom is Reagan buddy Marion Jorgensen. . . . The Center Circle of USC’s Center for Public Affairs holds its ninth Hurrah Dinner on Nov. 25 at the Century Plaza Tower. This is when political pros get together to roast the entire political spectrum--and is usually one of the best times in town. This year Houston Flournoy and Chuck Manatt co-chair. . . . Everybody knows that the firm of Manatt, Phelps, Rothenberg, Tunney and now Phillips is tres political. No surprise then that former partner P. J. Toelkes has become a mayor in Oregon. In Rajneeshpuram, with the name Mayor Swami Prem Niren. He’s still apparently practicing law . . The first issue of Golden State Report is out, the new California publication from the State Report Network (with similar publications in the Empire and the Garden States). Veteran Sacramento reporter Ed Saltzman is the publisher.

HONORS, HONORS--Jihan Sadat speaks on the “Changing Role of Women,” then receives a citation from the American Women for International Understanding, at the Beverly Wilshire on Nov. 15. The widow of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat is the seventh recipient of the award, but the first non-American . . . KCBS-TV’s Bill Stout picks up his honors at the Nov. 19 dinner of the USC School of Journalism at the Sheraton Premiere.

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LET’S GO TO THE MOVIES--Save the date. Friday, Feb. 28, for the first Motion Picture Ball. It’s being put together by Lynn Wasserman to benefit American Cinematheque. She--and A. C.'s Gary Essert and Gary Abrahams--were at the premiere of “Macaroni” last week, and swear that they saw Preview Harry (a local character invited to all screenings for good luck) rush up to a long limousine and asked the famous dancer inside, “Aren’t you Baryshnikov? Aren’t you Baryshnikov?” All Alexander Godonov could do was smile and saying, “Almost.”

COMING AND GOING--The folks putting on the benefit dinner for Sen. Gary Hart on Saturday night aren’t taking any chances. The reply card for the $500-a-head dinner carries the request that if a giver has maxed out on Hart’s ’84 presidential campaign, make the checks payable to “Hart for Senate Campaign Inc.” And if that fails, what about Hart for assemblyman?

WHOOPS--Supervisor Kenny Hahn decided to take his wife Ramona to the Music Center on Sunday night to hear the Marine Corps Band. And, when it wasn’t there, they went back on the scheduled Monday night--and according to Hahn, had a swell time. . . . How attractive that at fancy parties at the Century Plaza Hotel little aluminum pie plates are stuck between the candles and the silver candelabras. Save a little on the polishing bill, eh. And so swank.


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