L.A. Crowd Will Visit Newport for Preview of Merv Griffin Fete

Some of L.A.'s brightest Irish eyes will be smilin’ in Newport Beach on Sept. 15 when Bev Thompson welcomes believers in “The American Dream"--title of a tribute to be held later for Merv Griffin--into her Back Bay home.

The benefit salute, set for Nov. 11 at the Beverly Hilton, will be sponsored by the American Ireland Fund.

According to gala chairman Jimmy Murphy, President John F. Kennedy established the fund in 1963 to further peace, culture and charity in Ireland. “North and South,” stressed Murphy, owner of Jimmy’s restaurant in Beverly Hills. This is “the first time Merv has been honored this way,” Murphy said.

For Thompson’s dinner party, a thank-you splash for locals who plan to attend the $500-per gala, Murphy will fill a bus with his pals and zip them down to Newport to say thanks (and drum up more interest).


Already signed up for the ride: Bob Murphy, president of Merv Griffin Productions; former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico John Gavin and wife Connie; former U.S. Sen. John Tunney; Gisela and Arty Johnson, and Alex Trebek, host of Griffin’s “Jeopardy” game show.

On the I-hope-I-can-make-it-list: John Forsythe, Linda Evans, Carroll O’Connor, Danny Thomas, Ed McMahon and Griffin himself. “We hope to have Merv there,” Jimmy said. “But he’s so busy dealing with Donald Trump, he can’t commit until the last minute.”

Talk about the American Dream. “Merv is the American Dream,” said Bev Thompson, a zany, hip socialite with a flare for mega fund-raising. “A success story each of us can aspire to.”

Thompson’s L.A. connection began 20 years ago. “I lived there for years,” she said. “Then I moved to Newport when I found out my son was allergic to (you guessed it) smog.”


But Thompson, an honorary member of the fund board, has been careful to keep her L.A. ties tied. And her party, she said, is a way to help bring L.A. and Newport together. “They have been treated like separate countries for too long. I know it’s lovely to go up there. And, I know it will be lovely for them to come down here. I think we’re going to be seeing a lot more of that.”

Morsels: Placido Domingo and good friend Peter Hemmings, general director of Los Angeles Music Center Opera, will attend the cocktail reception that Bulgari jewelers will stage Sept. 22 at the Four Seasons Hotel to benefit the Orange County Performing Arts Center. (Bulgari, which will have jewelry for sale at the reception, is testing Newport waters to see if it wants to dive into business in the area. The Italy-based jewelry firm is high profile in fund-raising for the New York arts scene.) Domingo is anxious to come, he said, because of his friendship with jazz pianist Lalo Schifrin, guest of honor at the party, and Jose Perewozki. Perewozki’s wife, Sue, is chairwoman of the event, which will be attended by members of four Center support groups: the Sound of Music chapter of the Guilds, the Angels of the Arts, the Center Stars and the Performing Arts Fraternity . . .

Singer Vikki Carr attended the 25th anniversary celebration of developer Al Baldwin and his wife, Deeann, in their three-story Emerald Bay home on Saturday night. Appropriately, the silvery moon was full for the romantic bash, attended by loads of family members and very close friends, so full that some guests were reminded of “Moonstruck,” the movie that featured a recording of Carr’s old heart-wrencher, “It Must Be Him.” “I loved the movie,” said Carr, who donned cerise silk for the bayside party. “Saw it twice!” The Baldwins, one of the county’s comeliest couples (she’s a dead ringer for Linda Evans, he’s of the blond-and-boyish Redford-Quayle mold) exchanged gifts in their bedroom before welcoming guests. Al gave Deeann, regal in black-and-gold by Carolina Herrera, a diamond-paved Piaget and Deeann gave her husband a solid gold Rolex, their way of saying my-time-is-your-time . . .

Rancher Richard O’Neill, a member of the Forbes 400, will be on hand at his El Adobe restaurant in San Juan Capistrano on next Friday when he celebrates the restaurant’s 40th year. You may recall that it was President Richard M. Nixon who put the Mexican eatery on the map. He dined there often when he stayed at the Western White House in San Clemente. Still on the menu: the President’s Choice, a combo plate that features a beef taco, chicken enchilada and a chili relleno . . .


Joey Bishop and Ruby Keeler will have their stars unveiled on the Anaheim Hilton & Towers “Walk of Stars” come Tuesday. “The biggest thrill is to be there with Ruby Keeler,” said Bishop from his home in Newport Beach. “I intend, from the minute they unveil it, to stand over the star the rest of my life so nobody walks on it.” Good news: Bishop has begun to organize notes for a book he intends to write, to be titled “I Was a Mouse in a Rat Pack.” “That means I was the little squeak with the three big guys: Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin.”