Palm Springs Museum's Glorious Gala

Times Staff Writer

It was a glorious $1,000-per-person gala with Princess Di roses mingling amid twisted willow in vases on white moire tablecloths. The spotlights glowed like candlelight, focused ever so superbly on the honoree, Kay Waycott; the night's talent, songster Peggy Lee; and the Impressionist masterpieces from the Phillips Collection in Washington.

The Palm Springs Desert Museum was aglow, even though supporters had trekked in through a downpour, risking new ball gowns, for the affair. Just your everyday benefit at the desert.

"We have these events all the time--$1,000, $2,000, $5,000 a ticket," said Mrs. Sam Schahet. "Of course, I drive a Chevrolet."

That, however, didn't mean the drivers weren't delivering. Former Ambassador to England Walter Annenberg and his pretty wife, Lee, former U.S. Chief of Protocol, brought a prominent contingent of house guests from their home at Rancho Mirage. The one in most demand, however, was New Yorker Mrs. Vincent Astor. Philanthropist Brooke M. Astor glittered and gleamed in chiffon and jewels. Bandleader Tony Rose (his wife was benefit chairman) had just played "Mack the Knife" to a full dance floor. Who else but Mrs. Astor could waltz up to Rose and ask for a repeat 10 minutes later. All eyes were on her and the ambassador the second time around.

More at their table were former Ambassador to Belgium Leonard Firestone and his bride, Caroline; the L. Robert Frenches of Midland, Tex. (their "Art of the Old West" collection is also currently on exhibit at the museum), William Fuller of Ft. Worth, Tex.; and the Frenches' handsome blond son, Fuller, a student at the University of Texas at Austin. More in the eclectic coterie were Dinah Shore and Jon and Beau Bannenberg (he designs yachts, including Malcolm Forbes').

Both J. Ralph Stone, president of the museum trustees, and Mort Golden, museum director, paid respects to Mrs. Ralph Waycott, longtime trustee and supporter of the museum. She was honored for her "unending enthusiasm, willingness to become personally involved, her commitments of time and energy, as well as financial resources."

Her son, Courtney Jones, and his wife, Tanny, of Spencertown, N.Y., were a hit of the party, joining Kay Waycott's friends, including Mrs. John Finucane, Hal Broderick, Cal Vanderwoude, Kay Paschall, Bill Croxton and the Robert Hamiltons.

First to toast Mrs. Waycott was former museum president Earl Hoover, attending with his wife, Barbara. More in the crowd were Jack and Carol Hoover; the Stewart Williamses; Jacque Coveny; Joseph and Pat Heller; Tom and Claire Moore (who entertained friends at breakfast the next morning at Smoke Tree Ranch); Mary and Dr. Lawrence Cone (she did the flowers with florist Jack Kloss); Buddy Rogers, who introduced Peggy Lee (she sang from a wheelchair after her recent accident and cracked pelvis, and was staying at the nearby Maxim's); and his niece, Shirley Myers; the Sanford B. Schulhofers; and Jim Peterson and Helen Isaacs, who will be married Thursday on Maui.

SOARING: Innovators of the YWCA's Leader Luncheon XIII on April 23 are literally flying high. Sixty years after "Lucky Lindy" flew solo across the Atlantic, Jeana Yeager and her co-pilot, Dick Rutan, circled the globe in Voyager without refueling. Now the YWCA of Los Angeles will honor Yeager, as well as the achievements of eight other women, at the Westin Bonaventure.

Scheduled to receive the YWCA's fourth Athena Award is Dr. Ann Shaw, following in the footsteps of Caroline Leonetti Ahmanson, Anna Bing Arnold and Judith Harris Murphy.

President Virginia Tanzmann and luncheon chairman Mary Anne Dolan said other women in chosen fields receiving Silver Achievement Awards will be:

Fay Kanin, the first woman to gain prominence as a Hollywood writer, communications/creative arts; Patti Mancini, vice president, Rockwell International/North American Space Operations, business and industry; Dolores Sanchez, publisher, Eastern Group Publications, entrepreneur; Norma Sklarek, architect, professions; Rose Ochi, lawyer, for public service; and Bettina Chandler, president of the Downtown Women's Center, for volunteer community service.

AND SAILING: Already $80,000 is in the till from the "supporting cast" to help underwrite the costs of the Women's Auxiliary of the John Wayne Cancer Clinic Odyssey Award Ball on April 11 at the Beverly Hilton. That evening, TV producer Danny Arnold of "Barney Miller" will be presented the first Odyssey. He's been chosen not only for his financial support, but for creating a major fund-raiser for the clinic, the Aku Cup, held each May in Maui. (This year it's May 20-25 at Maui's Wailea Golf Club and Wailea Tennis Club.) The award is being sculpted by Wasa.

Mrs. Howard Banchik chairs the ball. She's lined up Jerry Lewis as master of ceremonies and Jack Jones to entertain. John Pike, Natalie and Ed Friendly, Dinah Shore, and Richard and Penny Crenna will be among the multitude saluting Arnold, whose gift of $250,000 helped move the clinic to its present location at UCLA.

PAST PERFECT: Gayle Wilson, wife of Sen. Pete Wilson, lunched at the Bistro Garden (the twosome will be celebrity chefs, doing Pete's California green salad for the upcoming March of Dimes benefit in Washington), and nearby the same day Marianne Rogers gathered a coterie to celebrate the March birthdays of trio Edwina Johnson, Kathy Hilton and Joanna Carson that included Julie Hutner, Pat Moller, Joan Kardashian and Margie Hancock. . . . Young Musicians Foundation reaped the proceeds from the luncheon fashion show this week in the International Ballroom of the Beverly Hilton. Women's Council president Donna Schifrin, Margot Thomas and Donna Bronson co-chaired the show from Torie Steele Boutiques in Beverly Hills. . . . Marilyn and Harry Lewis were in Hawaii before opening their newest restaurant, Kate Mantilini, at the corner of Doheny and Wilshire with the AFI Film Fest crowd in a tribute to Hal Wallis. . . . Mrs. Stephen Flaherty and Mrs. Lawrence W. Farmer presented the Junior Mannequin Assisteens fashion show at the Wilshire Country Club.

FOR SPRING: Pat Garver and Bitsy Hotaling got the jump on spring and hosted a luncheon for more than 120 at the Bel-Air Bay Club. Friends far and wide attended: Sally Brant, Joan Eichler, Dody Booth, Ada Watson, Mary Morgan, Martha Mitchel, Louise Griffith, Sally Keon, Diane Mogan, Kay Meserve--just to name a few who found themselves matching table cards marked with flowers (such as tiger lilies and sweet peas) with bouquets of the same ilk on tables to find their seatings.

MUSEUM AGENDA: More than 200 Museum Service Council members at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art will be toasted Thursday evening on their 20th anniversary. Trustees are planning to dedicate a gallery in the Ahmanson Building in honor of the council which provides service support to the museum.

Wednesday evening the museum's Decorative Arts Council hosts a reception to view the exhibition, "Ceramics From the Smits Collection," honoring the recent gift from Howard and Gwen Laurie Smits of 182 contemporary ceramics.

SAVE THE DATES: The Craft and Folk Art Museum's California Classics Dinner Dance on May 30 honors Laura Anderson, Bernard Kester and Sam Maloof. . . . Neighbors of Watts expect 500 for their "Off-Shore Gaming on S.S. NOW" April 25 at the Biltmore Bowl. They got an early start at Artis Lane Studios, meeting Helen Reddy, honorary chairman, and Wanda James, new executive director. . . . The H.E.L.P. Group (formerly H.E.L.P. for Handicapped Chidren) presents its 20th annual luncheon May 13 at the Beverly Hilton.

KUDOS: Brian F. Cahill has been named executive director of the Hathaway Home for Children. . . . J. Nicholas Counter III, president of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, is new chairman of the Board of the Permanent Charities Committee of the Entertainment Industries. . . . Fashionettes, headed by Stella Atwill, raised $38,000 for oncology at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center at their luncheon. . . . Capt. and Mrs. Harris Boyne (Patricia Barham) attended the gala centennial anniversary dinner and concert honoring the Hearst Corporation in San Francisco this week as the personal guests of William Randolph and Austine Hearst. The concert at the new Davies Hall was followed by the black-tie dinner at the St. Francis Hotel, with guests arriving from around the country. Patte's father is the late Dr. Frank Barham, who with her brother, Guy, founded the Los Angeles Herald. And, you've heard of Barham Boulevard. . . . California Supreme Court Chief Justice Malcolm M. Lucas was special guest at the Constitution Ball at the Biltmore, the Law Affiliates of Los Angeles' 36th annual Kate and Advocate Ball to commemorate the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution. . . . Jeanne Lochart is chairman for the upcoming state conference of the National Assn. of Bank Women April 2-4. The VIP cocktail reception is Friday at the Marina Beach Hotel.

KEEPING UP: They've raised $6.5 million to date, but the Cedars-Sinai United Hostesses' Charities headed by Patti Finkel, Marilyn Gilfenbain and Nancy Nebenzahl, who's president, were raising more this week at their membership luncheon in the International Ballroom of the Beverly Hilton. I. Magnin presented the show. . . . Friends of Vieilles Maisons Francaises lunched at Jimmy's in Beverly Hills to hear director Luis Monreal of the Getty Conservation Institute talk on art conservation and preservation. Edie Frere, chairman, Southern California chapter, announces the next event is April 22 at the Bel-Air Bay Club. Angels Attic will co-host the lecture and slide show by Dan Ohlmann, French miniature cabinet maker. He's bringing a reproduction of "Chez Maxim's" with him from Paris.

CIRCLE RED: Mrs. Henry Elder chairs Marlborough Alumnae Assn.'s 12th annual Spring Perspectives on April 8. Psychic Linda McCallum will tackle the practical application of working on the intuitive level "to help people to get in touch with their inner resources." More on the committee are Mrs. George Stoneman, Alumnae Council president, and Mrs. Dennis Healy, Mrs. Michael McCarty, Joann Reno, Mrs. Ray Sutton, Mrs. Calvin Walters Jr. and Mrs. John Zaro Jr.

Table hostesses for the Loyola High School Mother's Guild 56th annual birthday luncheon include Anne Murphy, Jayne Sullivan, Marcia Hayden, Claire Shea, Chickie Byrne, Cheryl Baker and Caryl Underwood. Marion Napier, guild president, and Diana Curran and Mimi O'Keefe will be at the reception line.

Concern II, the young crowd funding children's cancer immunology research, hosts "Fashion Splash" show Saturday featuring "Growing Pains" cast members. Nordstrom will show spring finery at the Century Plaza. Tickets are $45. According to Nancy Paul, the group has raised $625,000 since 1981.

"Celebracion del Centenario" is on the minds of Kappa Alpha Theta alumnae in Southern California. Federation president Pat Finley and benefit chairman Judith Epley are arranging a dinner-dance Saturday at Lawry's California Center.

The 50th running of the $500,000 Santa Anita Derby on Saturday at Santa Anita Park is creating a flurry of luncheons. Keeping the tradition of the president of Churchill Downs (home of the Kentucky Derby) coming for the Derby here, president Thomas Meeker and his wife, Carol, will come in from Lexington, Ky. More about will be the Robert P. Strubs, the Robert Burkholders of San Francisco, Betty and Hal Ramser of Bel-Air, Virginia and Mike Sandler of Brentwood, and Marta and Ignacio Lozano of Newport Beach. Rolls-Royce Owners Club members will picnic with the ponies in the flower-splashed infield. Club president John Foster and his wife, Bunny, will motor over from Topanga, and Bentley owner George Vernon Russell will be on the scene.

World-famous chefs from around the country will stage an epicurean evening next Sunday at the Four Seasons Hotel. It's a benefit, "The Art of Dining," for Newport Harbor Art Museum. Sam Goldstein is chairman.

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