"We are the most fortunate people in the world because of the friends we have," Pam Mullin said in her thickest Scottish accent, taking the microphone for a minute before Father Ellwood Kaiser said the blessing and the merriment continued at their black-tie party.
It was a time to be thankful: The rain was torrential, but not a drop seemed to splash on the 400 guests covered by sparkling white lights under the enormous Regal Rents tenting. A couple of men never tarried in their effort to poke the tent with long poles and dump the rainfall into the azaleas. When the rain seemed to splatter, Sally Keller's dinner partner plopped a napkin on her shoulders. Stephen Keller, Liz and Gordon Anderson, Joanne and Don Albrecht, and Bill and Marilyn Schulte just laughed.
Most people agree this is one of Los Angeles' most amazing parties. Compensation/benefits consultant Peter Mullin (he'll also be opening the new Engine House No. 28 restaurant downtown in March) was in the Christmas spirit with his prize-winning red Bugatti (award winner at the Pebble Beach Concours in Monterey) positioned in their Brentwood driveway, matching the poinsettia Christmas tree at the front door surrounded by "snow."
A merry group were elbow to elbow in the red-and-plaid library--Raylene and Bruce Meyer, Shell and Sandy Ausman (Los Angeles County's chief of protocol), David and Brenda Reed, with Maude and Dick Ferry, Darlene and Walter Gerken, John and Julie Forsythe, Linda Evans, newlyweds Rick and Fabienne Guerin, Bruce and Jean Juell nearby.
On the dance floor, dancing was brisk to Bob Gail's orchestra with the young Mullins--Timothy (3 years old and tucked into blue velvet pants and a lace shirt), Courtney and Darcy (with her mob of Florence Eisman-dressed pals) bopping and watching their lively elders--Si and Pat Lorne, Pierce and Joan Graves (they're spending Christmas at their Sun Valley home), Lynn and Hugh Evans, Preston and Mo Hotchkis, Hank and Gigi Elder, Stephen and Ann Hinchliffe, Susan and John Shumway.
Last year, there were electrical problems, and dessert came after midnight. This season, all was under control as the bar was moved to the kitchen, the kitchen moved to the tennis court and the pool was covered with scaffolding to support a floor, with Kathleen and Tom McCarthy, newlyweds Norman and Susie Barker, Finn and Pat Moller, Donn and Peggy Miller, Chuck and Carolyn Miller dining atop the pool.
When it was time to leave, everyone walked out with freeway mugs inscribed with the Mullins' best wishes. "Don't leave any behind," said Pam. "I always want Peter to think I underspend."
Bud and Carol Dudman were there, state Atty. Gen. John and Andrea Van de Kamp, Bridget and David Heddison, Jim and Claire Webb. Pug and Dee Winokur came from Greenwich, Conn., Leon and Diane Mezrah from Tampa, Fla.
A coterie was still about the pool table at 4:30 a.m., but the hostess, it's rumored, was asleep on the library sofa.
FATHER, SON: "I Never Sang for My Father" runs through Jan. 31 at the Ahmanson Theatre and that prompted Center Theatre Group Volunteers headed by President Kelly Schiffer to invite stars Daniel J. Travanti and Harold Gould (Dorothy McGuire couldn't make it) to star at their annual holiday celebration Tuesday at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.
Peter Brosius, director of the Mark Taper Forum's Improvisational Theatre Project (which takes theater into the schools) mesmerized the crowd with his enthusiasm. New group executive board members were in abundance--Helen Abbott, June Arden, Carolyn Hope Fried, Ellie Goldman, Sheila Poncher, Gina Posalski, Beth Pressman, Ellen Price, Lillian Prusan, Sharon Reisz. Roberta Haft was getting compliments on the white reindeer arrangements she spent hours constructing for table centers.
AT DOHENY MANSION: There's little like the Pompiian Room with its dome ceiling made by Tiffany at the Estelle Doheny Mansion on the downtown campus of Mount St. Mary's College. Luminaires chairman Cindy Yost and president Tam Dickerson chose it for their cocktail buffet to launch the holiday season.
Audree and Stan Penton were examining every marble nuance after their home tour in South Carolina. So were Lorna and Chuck Reed, Mary and Gordon Crary, Diane Downey, Julia Dockweiler (who lives nearby), Isabel Arnett, Connie and Dick Van Voorst, Joan and Charles Young, Dick and Jean Schuur, Gloria and Ed Renwick.
The evening had nostalgia for Timothy Doheny and his wife, Topsy. He remembered the ban on alcohol in the mansion by Mrs. Doheny and the wall-to-wall antique clutter. Several dozen Luminaires Juniors joined the crowd, among them Candida and George Genzmer, Debby and Randy Hoffman, Leigh Davis, Charles and Linda Cole, Don and Lucy Hromadka, Janice McCullough Gary and Katie Darnell.
CIRCLE IN RED: Keeping tradition, Rex and Susan Chandler open their Rex Restaurant next Sunday for the annual American Red Cross Champagne Brunch. Last year guests were turned away, and the popularity is expected to be a repeat to aid the local disaster fund.
CIRCLE IN HOLLY: The Paulist Boy Choristers of California (ages 9-12) will tour Paris and sing a concert at Notre Dame in June. They'll also go to Munich to spend some time with the world-famous Regensburg Boys Choir, then to Salzburg and Bolzano in the Italian Alps before stops in Venice, Florence and Rome. You can hear them here, says Sylvia B. Allado, Saturday at 8 p.m. at St. Paul the Apostle Church in Westwood when the choir performs J. S. Bach's "Magnificat" and Mozart's "Mass in C."
THE SEASON: Peter and Eileen Norton are hosting two holiday celebrations in their home overlooking Santa Monica's Rustic Canyon. He's one of Los Angeles' new breed of art patrons, as well as an avid collector of contemporary art--works of Peter Shire, David Hockney, Thermon Statom, Andy Warhol and Eric Orr.
He's just commissioned muralist Kent Twitchell to do a 13-foot mural of his neighbor and friend, Don Bachardy, on the exterior of his house, outside the kitchen window. Thus, friends dropping in are getting to see a works-in-progress event with illumination after dusk. Norton heads Peter Norton Computing.
KUDOS: Three women--Marilyn Brumder, Cornelia Hopfield and Nancy McCullough--have been named to the board of trustees of the California Arboretum Foundation. Trustees will be meeting Thursday for the Arboretum Christmas party. Mitzi Gilmartin, a volunteer, chairs the holiday event at the arboretum.
PLAUDITS: Dr. Jack K. Robbins, Oak Tree Racing Assn. vice president and chairman of the major grants committee, has committed to a five-year $250,000-per year grant (totaling $1.25 million) to support an expanded research program to be undertaken by the Equine Research Laboratory of the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. It's the association's largest gift . . . .
Mayfield Senior School's benefit "Treasures of the French Church" headed by Edward and Patty Turrentine netted $80,000.
FETE: The English-Speaking Union Christmas Party is planned for Friday at the home of Canadian Consul Gen. Joan Winser and her husband Frank in Hancock Park.
PAST TENSE: National Charity League Los Angeles chapter's Christmas luncheon in the Crystal Room of the Beverly Hills Hotel was headed by Susan Howell who introduced the Pepperdine Showcase Singers for Christmas favorites. . . .
Jaclyn Tilley Hill headed the party for the earthquake-damaged Boys and Girls Club of Whittier and approximately 200 attended.