Whole Lotta Shaking at Dinosaur Ball

Times Staff Writer

When art and history parted company more than 20 years ago and Los Angeles’ art collection moved north to Wilshire, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County seemed destined for dust and the archives. Alas, the poor dinosaurs. But, wonder of wonders, they’re having a reincarnation. Over the past half decade, momentum has been building in support of the institution. Dauntless volunteers and staff with vision have persevered. Lots of people were conjecturing over the weekend that the museum is even giving the most glamorous parties in town.

The Dinosaur Ball was out of this world, for sure. Chairman William A. Mingst gave Gump’s chief executive J. Shelton Ellis Jr. free rein to design the party. Thus, guests were greeted by hordes of white-jacketed parking attendants, ushered through a galaxy of white lighted pear trees, through the glistening Mercedes exhibit, via the California and Southwest exhibits (from 1540-1940) for hors d’oeuvres, up the marble stairs through dinosaur cartoon blowups to the grand foyer where the orchestra played for dancing round a cornucopia of dinosaur skeletons festooned with a jungle of orchids. Here, the more than 750 guests parted, two-thirds destined to dine in the main twin halls; another third in the Rotunda. Spectacular twists of balloons, a la Olympics, in blacks, oranges and buff adorned the ceilings, providing contrasts to the wild animal standing exhibits. Tables were clothed in pink, set with black china and huge center bowls of pink stargazer lilies, each with three “black Moors” fish.

It was an elegant evening for dinner--dinosaur helpings of seafood morsels in coquille shells, followed by grilled chateau of veal with morel mushrooms, baby flower zucchini Parmesan, carrots with orange glaze, baby turnips with dill butter, and chocolate seashells with raspberries and creme anglaise. For imbibers, 1982 Rodney Strong River West Chardonnay and estate bottled 1981 Simi North Coast Pinot Noir.

From there, coffee and liqueurs were served in the Main Foyer while guests danced with the dinosaurs to the music of Ron Rubin’s music. Late in the evening, Museum Director Charles Black and his Liz coaxed Jean and Irving Stone into a exuberant conga line round the dinosaurs.


It was just the kind of evening trustees such as Robert S. Attiyeh, Dr. Richard Call, Otis Booth, Mary Louise Crowe, John Harrigan, Nelson C. Rising, Mrs. James Stewart, Richard S. Volpert and James R. Young reveled in--a special night that draws attention to the fact that the museum is about to undertake its 75th anniversary campaign to raise $30 million by 1990 to include two new exhibition galleries--the Hall of Native American Cultures and the Great Bird Hall. There are also plans for a new 40,000-square-foot building with a separate gallery for the Age of Dinosaurs.

The crowd was elegant, mostly long-gowned. Museum supporters enticed community and financially endowed friends to come. Among trustees hosting tables were Otis and Bettina Chandler, Fred Gerstell with Joan Foley, George and Phila Caldwell, Mary Louise and Arthur Crowe, whose two tables of friends included George and Dorothy Russell, Douglas and Margie Gregg, Patty and Fran McComb, Douglas and Eunice Goodan, Stanton and Ernestine Avery, Robert and Betty Strub, Katy and Tule Gates, Ted and Pauline Naftzger and Patrick and Patti Doheny.

The Alliance board of directors was well-represented: Jim Agnew with Ann; Betty Reddin (in a zebra gown) with Tom, Mrs. Leon Singer, Kay Dale, Ray McCullough with Nancy, A. F. Osterloh III with Katie, James Young with Brooke.

Gowns were extraordinary. Tally Mingst’s strapless black cut-velvet Stavropoulos was stunning. The Mingsts gathered an attractive coterie: Cindy and Joe Connolly, Dr. Norman and Marianne Sprague, Jess and Phyliss Marlow, Terry and Connie Lynch and Fred and Lise Stern. More savoring the night were Judge Matt Byrne with Gail Feingarten, Carter and Bobbie DeHaven, Peter and Robin Barker, Robert and Betty Fulton, Adrienne and Steve Horn of San Francisco (who joined the Blacks’ table along with Jim and Jorene Hankla; Bill and Sharon Allen, Tom and Laney Techentin, Tom and Kay McKay, Sid and Nancy Petersen, Monty and Jo Fisher, George and Marilyn Kavanaugh, Gene and Sally St. John and so many more.


The Hollywood Bowl Summer Festival brochures arrived in the mail this week. So, it’s particularly timely that the Hollywood Bowl Patroness Committee meets May 8 at the home of Lynn and Hugh Evans for its spring luncheon organized by Alyce Williamson with a humorous assist from Patsy Edwards. It’s a big secret, but the program includes something billed as the “Patroness Closet Quartet.”

When Pitzer College secured Dr. Henry Kissinger (for a reported $25,000) for its National Issues Forum Dinner this week at the Century Plaza, dinner committee chairman Eli Broad, dinner chairman Dr. Chadwick Smith, trustee chairman Peter S. Gold, Pitzer president Frank L. Ellsworth, and dinner benefactors Giles Mead, Elise Mead and Richard Riordan hadn’t anticipated the Libyan crisis. Thus, there they were, an hour or so later, with the former Secretary of State (The insider said he wasn’t asked his opinion about the bombing, “But they know how I feel.”) providing good backup information.

Oilmen Fred Hartley and Claude Brinneger (of Unical) zeroed in on Kissinger the instant he arrived for pre-dinner cocktails for a drop of “up or down?” oil chat. Among those greeting Kissinger were Kitty and Steve Moses, Tony and Jean Barash, Connie and Bud Austin, Don and Sharon Wright, Bruce and Janet Karatz, Frederick M. Nicholas, Ronald Macaulay (dean of the faculty) and Janet, and chairman Smith’s offspring--Laura, Chuck and Michael.

It’s to be “The Dream Comes True” on Saturday evening when the Pasadena Playhouse reopens (after a long, long hiatus) with the gala premiere of George Bernard Shaw’s “Arms and the Man.” The black-tie affair is drawing a crowd at $250 and $200 for the champagne dining and dancing that follow under the big tent across the street.


Supporters such as David Houk, Margaret H. Sedenquist (gala chairman), Judith A. Farrar, Albert Lowe, William Burrows, Arline Chambers, Chaus Harrison, William Lucking, Stephen Rothman, Joseph Ryan, Ernest E. Sanchez and Michael Sharp are hoping for a renaissance of the Playhouse, built in 1923 with the accompanying heyday, then the demise in the late ‘60s.

The Playhouse is spankingly fresh and renovated with some 700 comfy new chairs--all to a tune of $4 million.

Baseball Commissioner Peter Ueberroth is speaking on “Sports Without Drugs” on Friday at the fund-raiser in the Century Plaza Hotel for Daniel Freeman Hospitals. Gold Circle tickets are $250, benefiting the hospitals, known for their sports medicine and drug rehabilitation programs. . . .

Also, Daniel Freeman Hospital Auxiliary is focusing on its Monte Carol Evening May 10 at the Bel-Air Bay Club. Dining, dancing and casino gaming are on board.