'Inside the Gates' of Kirkeby Mansion

Times Staff Writer

The extraordinary Bel-Air Kirkeby Mansion, the beloved home of the late Carlotta and Arnold Kirkeby, is getting every bit of the attention it deserves. Next Thursday the CHIPS (Colleague Helpers in Philanthropic Service) lead off with a major fund-raiser "Inside the Gates," giving benefactors a chance to thrill at the vistas and the mansion, restored to all its grandeur by Los Angeles' top designers.

Offspring Carla Kirkeby and her brother Arnold C. Kirkeby are the generous instigators. The prestigious Pratesi Linens Co. will associate with Harry Winston Inc. for a jewel of an event, creating what's called "the first annual Pratesi Exhibition House Tour." But, this is double time: CHIPS will host the afternoon guided tour of the estate, including the informal presentation of Dede Pratesi's new collection of imported lingerie. Carla and Arnold will host tea dancing in the ballroom for those intrepid tourists with stamina after covering the 25 exhibits on the 6 1/2-acre estate.

Then, the following Friday night, July 25, Elizabeth Taylor and the Athos Pratesis host an evening tour of the estate followed by a dinner dance honoring Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager. That's a $1,000-per-couple event to benefit the American Foundation for AIDS Research.

Design luminaries from different worlds are participating in the two-day affair. Creating a series of exhibition rooms and tableaux are Kalef Alaton, Tom Buckley, Geraldine Chutuk, Lawn Clark, Susan Cohen, Waldo Fernandez, Gail Hardesty, Jarrett Hedborg, Georgia Johnston, Barbara Lockhart, William H. Maguire, Jane Kirkeby, Stephen Tomar, Stuart Lampert, Pasquale Vazzana and more. Arnold Ashkenazy is loaning Van Gogh, Dufy and Laurencin paintings from the Ashkenazy Collection. Display artists Pierre of Pratesi and Ron Basford of Gumps will create visual presentations of Pratesi bed, table and kitchen linens. Famous for their silk sheets, the Pratesis are sending antique linens from Milan for the occasion.

In the library and private study, decorated by Jack Lowrance, Harry Winston rare jewels will be shown. Florist David Jones will create settings.

The Kirkeby Estate, considered by some to be the finest in Los Angeles, boasts a fascinating history. It was designed in the '30s by architect Sumner Spaulding for Lynn Atkinson, the engineer who built Boulder Dam. He adored the house, but the story goes that Mrs. Atkinson took an instant dislike to the place and refused to move in. During a low spot, Atkinson settled a gambling debt with hotel magnate Kirkeby, giving him the mansion in lieu of cash. The Kirkebys lived there happily from 1945 until Carlotta's death six months ago.

Mrs. Robert (Justine Bloomingdale), CHIPS president, is heading her list of invitations with founding members of the Colleagues, who held their first Glamour Sale in the ballroom. Among those expected are Betsy Bloomingdale, Eleanore Colt, Billie Converse, Marji Brandeis, Onnalee Doheny, Louise Good, Ginny Milner, Erlenne Sprague and Jeanne Trousdale.

CHIPS (they support the Children's Institute International) guiding tours (due to Bel-Air parking restrictions, guests will be shuttled from UCLA) will be Kathryn Klinger Belton, Vici Billings, Kathy Caldwell, Serena Caroll, Susan Gray, Wendy Stark Gorsuch, Marcia Hobbs, Elizabeth Flynn Jennings, Deborah Lanni, Carolyn Murphy Milner, Victoria Mouradian, Phyllis Riddell, Lyn Vandegrift and Narcissa Cox Vanderlip.

Among those joining Miss Taylor for her benefit will be Sheldon Andelson, Warren Beatty, the Phil Donohues, David Geffen, George Hamilton, Barbra Streisand, Abigail Van Buren, and from New York, Ronald Winston, the Claude Saujets and Count Enrico Carimati de Carimate.

The Medici were an Italian family that ruled Florence and later Tuscany for more than three centuries (1434-1737), and they were known as patrons of the arts, giving commissions and friendship to artistic geniuses of the Renaissance. At the Medici Awards of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce 450 black-tie guests dined beneath the moon and stars the other evening in the balm of the Huntington Library Art Gallery terrace and paid tribute to modern-day Medici in Los Angeles.

Eli Broad, whose own company, Kaufman and Broad, won a Medici in 1985, was in the spotlight as chairman, happily noting the growth of the dinner from 250 last year to 450 this year. And Charlton Heston, the man who's "played three Presidents, three saints and two geniuses" (his pen and ink sketches have also been exhibited in New York), saluted the 1986 recipients:

La Opinion, accepted by Ignacio Lozano Jr.; Maguire Thomas Partners, accepted by Robert F. Maguire III; May Company California, Edgar S. Mangiafico; Occidental Petroleum Corp., Dr. Ray R. Irani, C. J. Segerstrom & Sons, Henry T. Segerstrom (the major benefactor in the Orange County Performing Arts Center, which opens Sept. 29), and Bank of Los Angeles/Trumps, Sheldon Andelson. In a sense, it was a thank-you for their leadership in contributing toward cultural resources.

Diane J. Paton, executive director, President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, brought warm greetings mixed with poetic touches ("Los Angeles is a wildly vibrant beach blanket beauty"). Caroline Leonetti Ahmanson was given praise for helping instigate the Medici. Roy A. Anderson, chairman of the Chamber board, praised Ray Remy, president, there with his wife Sandra, and acknowledged Betty, "my lovely wife of 38 years." More in the crowd were Edye Broad, Dr. Franklin and Judith Murphy (he is a member of the President's committee on the Arts and the Humanities), Sandy McNutt, the Bill (he's the new vice president of public relations for AT&T; here) Closseys (guests of the James E. Kenneys), from New Jersey, moving into their new home in Westwood the next day; Susie Maguire and Andrea Van de Kamp (the John Van de Kamps spent the Fourth of July at Sun Valley with the Maguires), Bill and Keith Keischnick with her granddaughter Susan Dowell of Dallas, Lloyd Cotsen, Waldo and Jean Burnside, the Royce Dieners, Marcia Weisman, Charles and Harriet Luckman, Phil and Jane Williams, Jim and Ann Agnew (her architecture will be on the September cover of Sunset), Sue and Bill Huston, Jean and Boyd Higgins, Dick and Ronnie Lippin, Yvonne Lenart, Lennie and Bernie Greenberg, Don Muchmore, Dr. Robert Gray, Gordon and Judi Davidson, Dr. and Mrs. Robert Middlekauff (he's head of the Huntington), Fred and Susan Christie, Marion and Earle Jorgensen, Nancy and Dr. Richard Call, Janet and Bruce Karatz, the Stephen D. Gavins, the David S. Tappans Jr., Richard Koshalek and Zina Bethune. By the time the evening ended "only seven minutes over schedule" at 10:05 p.m., the moon crescent had moved behind the art gallery. And the botantical gardens were emitting luscious fragrances.

Sallie and Harry Colmery's exquisite beach home in St. Malo at Oceanside will be buzzing Wednesday evening when she hosts a unique dinner party and overnighter for the energetic committee involved in planning Huntington Memorial Hospital's "Senior Prom." She's co-chairman with Katie (Mrs. George) Tuerk. They have a goal of $250,000 for Huntington's Senior Care Network, a model program committed to helping older people remain healthy and productive. Among those invited are adviser Alelaide Hixon, secretary Karen Capehart, treasurer Cynthia Jones, honorary patron co-chairmen Karl and Ruth von Platen, benefactor solicitor Ginie Braun, patron chairmen Virginia Jones, James Fullerton and Sue Colborn. Also mixing a lot of sun with the hard-core decisions will be Douglas Gregg, Polly Foley, Carol Finch, Mireya Jones, Roberta Grady, Tillie Collins, Loretta Smith, Rary Simmons, Louise Strnad, Annabelle Dahl, Deborah Hollingsworth, Weta Mathies, Kaholyn McKissick, Margot Milias, Caren Cameron, Susan Seidel, Char Vert and Sharon Thralls. St. Malo neighbors will help Sallie out with guest rooms.


Cedars-Sinai Medical Center has raised more than one-third of its $90 million endowment fund goal, says Robert L. Silverstein, chairman of the campaign. . . .

The W. M. Keck Foundation has awarded $95,000 to the Visiting Nurse Assn. of Los Angeles to assist in computerizing intake and case management systems, according to Sharon F. Grigsby, president of VNA-LA. . . .

Immediate past president John Tarr announces the Pasadena Symphony Assn. reached its $500,000 goal, eradicating the $77,000 deficit.

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