'Joffrey Dinners': Curtain Up on Act II

Times Staff Writer

Social forces need all the stamina they can get: This is the long weekend--starting tonight--of "The Joffrey Dinners . . . Act II," that marathon of more than 40 parties. Up to the last minute, Patti Skouras and her co-chairs--Mrs. Timothy Childs, Mrs. Dwight M. Kendall, Mrs. William F. Kieschnick, Mrs. E. L. Shannon Jr. and Patricia Kennedy--are still squeezing in those who want to sup and dine on Los Angeles hospitality--at $200 per person.

Except, Friday night it's $100 when the Friends of the Joffrey salute choreographer Hermes Pan at the Biltmore Hotel and when Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers join Gerald Arpino, associate director of the ballet, in the fund-raiser for the Unified Fund of the Music Center. This one's a black-tie black and white champagne ball, with top hat optional.

Dozens of hosts have added spaces to accommodate guests--like Tommy and Patti Skouras, Maud and Dick Ferry, Judy and Don Tallarico, Shirley and Hubie Laughran and Ruth and Ed Shannon. Also, there are lots of sold-out parties. (Alas, a few were canceled.) But, extraordinary opportunities for fun are still available with a mere phone call and a check. Reservations: (213) 972-7642.

Doing very nicely, thank you, also--the Music Center Mercado. The '86 Preview Party isn't until June 6, but Tuesday evening a 6 o'clock crowd sashayed over to Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills for the formal kickoff of the Preview (that's a sort of preview of a preview). Mariachis were serenading. To set the South of the Border aura, Nancy Petersen, who chairs opening night, set up a Mexican donkey cart and hired a photographer to take mementos for guests. Upstairs, in lingerie, quesadillas and shrimp were being devoured, flamenco dancers and margaritas flounced. But, as we all know, there's no such thing as a free lunch. And loyal Music Center fund-raisers were selling friends Mercado Preview tickets ($250) with zeal, and pinning them with Mercado buttons when they obliged. That means the party is well on its way to being a one-fourth sold--more than two months early--before invitations with the bright-colored tin parrots (designed by Diane Keith) go out in April.

High point of the evening was Patty Fox's Saks' fashion show of de Ribes, Ungaro, Montana (so many more) and the announcement that a Revillon fur coat designed by Carolina Herrera will be auctioned at the June Preview party and the highest bidder will be flown to New York where Mrs. Herrera will help make the selection.

Joining in the fun this week were W. M. Marcussen (he's co-chairman of the Mercado with Sandy Ausman (she was in Washington), Barbara Marcussen, Shel Ausman, Lee and Hope Warner (who will co-chair the Mercado live and silent auctions), Bill and Keith Kieschnick, Harry Hufford, Diane and Leon Morton, Bruce and Raylene Meyer, Joni Smith, Nancy Vreeland, Roger and Joanne Kozberg (the new California Arts Council member was wearing a Louis Feraud green silk), Peggy Parker, Toni Corwin, Joan and Arnold Seidel (off to Australia to see Halley's comet), Earl and Maggy Russell, Lillian Prusan, and Adrienne and Elliott Horwitch. All helping, of course, to draw more than 75,000 to the Music Center plaza June 6-8 and raise more than $750,000, maybe $1 million for the six Music Center resident companies.

The Alzheimer's benefit was supposed to be "Stars for an Evening to Remember." And it was. John Green singing "Body and Soul," Anthony Newley a knockout with Ian Fraser conducting. Marvin Hamlisch improvising the song, "There Goes Halley's Comet" with audience participation, while a comet twittered on the stage screen. Bob Hope, Gary Collins. The Unionaires of 76. And a bit of nepotism--both Helen Hayes and Dorothy Kirsten--who have discovered they are cousins.

What made the evening special was Helen Hayes' presentation of the Humanitarian Award to Dorothy Kirsten French (who sang "Depuis Le Jour" from "Louise") even though she had had the flu two weeks. Dorothy Kirsten has been the inspiration behind the Founding Associates of the John Douglas French Foundation. The foundation is named for her husband, a distinguished neurosurgeon and co-founder of the UCLA Brain Research Institute), who now suffers from Alzheimer's disease.

Joy Fein and Olive Varga co-chaired the party (which banked $500,000 for research), but it was Fred L. Hartley, dinner chairman, there with his wife, Peggy, who was getting the tributes for a crowd of more than 1,500. That gave him the right to choose strawberries, dipped in sour cream and brown sugar, for dessert.

Very pleased about the evening were Genevieve McSweeney and Lillian Prusan, Associates co-presidents; Eleanor Wasson, Marj Fasman (who made the centerpieces), Kitty and Arthur Chester, Eileen and Richard K. Eamer (he's vice chairman of the foundation).

Sir Laurens van der Post has been in town this week to launch the Fourth World Wilderness Congress to be held in Denver in September, 1987. He was in the spotlight at the Bel-Air Sands at a fund-raiser. Besides his dedication to conservation (through books, films, documentaries on wildlife), he's a godparent to Prince Charles and Lady Diana's son and heir, Prince William. There were British Consul Gen. Donald Ballentyne and his wife, Elizabeth; John Faquhar, Mrs. Francis X. Bushman, Mary Levin and Gilbert Cutler.

Dr. Lester and Rita Morrison hosted a dinner party honoring Yehudi Menuhin and his wife, Lady Diane Menuhin, and Andres Segovia at their home in Hollywood. Sir Yehudi lectured at Club Hermitage, had a master class at UCLA and presented a musicale at the home of the Richard Colburns. Segovia was honored at a reception by the USC board and featured at the sold-out Ambassador concert. He'll be back at USC for master classes in July and on April 26 receives the prestigious Gold Medal of the Royal Philharmonic Society in London at a benefit concert at Wigmore Hall.

Gene and Nan Corman honored Pierre Levai, director of the Marlborough Gallery in New York, and Red Grooms, the day Grooms' show opened at the Museum of Contemporary Art downtown. A few guests: the Richard Kosheleks (he's head of MOCA), Alan Shayne, the Glen Larsons, John Alexander, Maurice and Sari Tuchman, Phil and Bea Gersh, Jerry and Linda Janger and art dealer Jan Turner.

The Museum Afro-American Service Council of the California Afro-American Museum in Exposition Park hosts a champagne brunch and membership meeting Saturday at 10 a.m. It's one of five councils that comprise the museum's cadre of volunteers. Dolores Hicks Brown is president.

Three old-fashioned Easter egg hunts will highlight activities Saturday for Las Primeras Guild of Childrens Hospital of Los Angeles. Judy Pabst-Hayes of Tarzana is chairman of the 34th annual event, to be held at Campbell Hall School, 4533 Laurel Canyon Blvd., North Hollywood. Gates open at 10 a.m. for the family fun and modestly priced tickets of $2 for adults and $1 for children.

"The Best of Beverly Hills" in the fashion sense is part of the Celebration of Spring by the Eras Center today in the International Ballroom of the Beverly Hilton.

Mary Ann Mobley and Gary Collins are on tap and a host of celebrity models. Smith Barney is sponsoring the occasion for chairman Gloria Franks and a committee including Violet Benjamin, Joni Horowitz, Anne Johnson, Lee Harris, Harriet Rosen, Kathy Rubin, Arlene Saffro, Harriet Wilf, Ann Carroll, Geri Barton, Susan Choueke, Miriam Goldstein, Julie De Jardin, Michelle Malinow, Maureen Perou, Joan Saltzman, Mishelle Ross Owens and Dori Schneider.

Proceeds will aid the learning handicapped child.

Barbara Conn heads the Junior League of Long Beach's "State of the City Forum" today at City Council chambers. Councilwoman Jan Hall will chair the forum.

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