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Philharmonic Friends Tune Up for Ball

Times Staff Writer

The downbeat, maestro. There’s a new tradition. The Los Angeles Junior Philharmonic Committee will present its first Philharmonic Ball to launch the opening of the orchestra’s season.

Philharmonic Conductor Andre Previn will conduct the Philharmonic in Viennese waltzes for dancing. Gordon Getty is composing waltzes. There’s to be a Grand Opening Cotillion. Ladies are expected to buy out the town’s couture. Doc Severinsen and his band will play for dancing.

It all happens Oct. 19 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, where the inaugural ball will pay tribute to Lillian (Mrs. Walt) Disney in recognition of her $50-million gift to initiate construction at the Music Center of the new Philharmonic Hall.

Most people don’t know that the 70-year-old orchestra, a cornerstone of the Los Angeles performing arts, entertains more than 1 million people each year.

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Thus the Philharmonic Committee, searching for a real mission, revitalized purposes and significant increases in its fund raising, suffered a soul-searching “speak-up” members’ session last year. (Two years ago members raised $178,000, but last year only $85,000, due, they believe, to donors’ reactions to new tax laws.)

The committee decided on a higher profile, a new image. Members, including Frances Muir, general chairman, approached Ernest Fleischmann, the Philharmonic’s executive director, about a ball to launch the season. He said yes.

Last week Friends of the Philharmonic, headed by Mary Ann Heidt and Joan Riach, feted large donors including Russell and Jeanne Smith and Curtis and Priscilla Tamkin at a cocktail supper party at Pam and Peter Mullins’ historic Engine Company 28 site.

Informal fashions from Bill Blass and Bob Mackie were presented by I. Magnin, Beverly Hills, with Laykin et Cie jewels.

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Mary Hesburgh heads the committee as president. Ginger Ludwick is doing the decorations. More tuning up the soiree are Sally Williams, Joan MacLaughlin, Martha Lee Davis, Susan Rhoades and Val Toms, Joy McCarthy, Connie Gee, Jackie Coakley, Judy Bartholomew, Barbara Bundy, Joan Wrede, Dolly Gillin and Shauna Trabert.

ZOOPENDOUS: “Well, you never know where a frog may jump,” auctioneer Peter McCoy said at the Beastly Ball, referring to the $185,000 that bidders paid to “adopt” animals.

The remark had double significance a few days later when chairman Helen Maher revealed that the gala had grossed $400,000 and netted $285,000. Everyone commented that the party at the zoo, under a mountain glittering with twinkly lights, around tables centered with stuffed zebras, was nifty.

Greater Los Angeles Zoo Assn. chairman Thomas R. Tellefsen counted up 780 at the party--"the most ever.”

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That pleased new GLAZA president Bruce A. Nasby. It was a night of wonders: Father Maurice Chase rode an elephant with Mary Davis, who’s been on lots of safaris. Right behind them were Randy and Deborah Herbertson of San Francisco and Tom and Paula Wilson (Tom’s father, Bob Wilson, is a zoo trustee). Ed Beall of Palos Verdes Estates caught the spirit, and wore a pith helmet and carried a butterfly net. Tim Childs wore a Barry Goldwater elephant on his hat.

The bidding to sponsor animals was zoopendous, too. Lance Erickson won a salmon-crested cockatoo for $5,000. Trustee Camron Cooper 1paid $8,000 for a downy chick that will grow into a King vulture with a 6-foot wing span. When Betty White, co-auctioneer, noted that the bat-eared fox has “more teeth than any land mammal other than Mary Tyler Moore,” Shelby and Sheldon Sloan upped their bid to $10,000.

The Sloans also couldn’t resist the Harris hawk. The fluffy baby ostrich drew ooohs from the crowd, and $14,500 from Sue Quinn and Bill Keck.

It took six zoo attendants to carry the ring python onto the dance floor for the bids. When winner John Maher, husband of chairwoman Helen, walked up to have his photograph taken with the huge python, McCoy quipped, “Come up and be hugged by that baby; he’ll love you to death.”

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Jackie Autry, though, was top bidder of the night, paying $23,000 for a baby ape.

The night had more supporters: Gloria and Jimmy Stewart, Ed and Ruth Shannon, Ron Arnault, Nancy and Alex Furlatti, Bill and Margaret Carr, Polly and George Turpin, Lotsie Giersch, Charles Larson, Connie and Richard Goodyear, Puff and Bob Laverty, William Ahmanson, Karen Carpenter, Carol and Bill Mitsch, David Gerber.

CHEERS: Bob and Kim Rollo had caterer Sue Campoy frying Polish sausages and chimichangas Sunday evening for a warm welcome to newcomers John and Anne Torell.

The Torells are living in Pasadena; he’s the new chairman of CalFed, Inc., succeeding Bob Dockson, Kim’s father, who was there with wife Kay and circled by cute Rollo children. Among the many: Mo and Shirley Benson, Richard and Nancy Call, John and Liz Argue, Peter and Robin Barker, Cheryl and William Doyle, Ed and Nancy Majors, Ray and Sue Henze, John and Pam King and Charie and John Laugharn and Maude Ferry (Richard is in Ireland). . . .

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Gege and Hank Elder, “just for fun,” crowded chums around their pool and buffet in West Los Angeles this week for conviviality: Bill and Dree Davidson, Joni and Clark Smith, Kenneth and Betty Morgan, Gretchen and Jack Schumacher, Carol and Mike Inman, Jean and Dick Archer, Merrill and Jack Bessolo and Bobsie and Brook Townsend.


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