Fashions, Auctions and All That Jazz Set the Tone at Cancer League Benefit

Talk about loving thy neighbor: More than 600 residents of Huntington Harbour swept into the Irvine Hilton on Saturday night to raise a whopping $125,000 for cancer programs.

Dubbed “Jazz Hot & Cool,” the annual event was staged by the Huntington Harbour Cancer League, a couples’ support group of the Orange County Unit of the American Cancer Society.

“I’ve figured out what this event has that others don’t,” said Orange County Supervisor Harriett M. Wieder after a round of serious table hopping. “A neighborhood!”

Indeed. Name tags would be declasse at the benefit that for 8 consecutive years has raised more money in Orange County for cancer research, education and patient services than any other.


Just about everybody is on a first-name basis.

Chairwoman Missy Prowell, regal in floor-length and flounced black lace, summed up Huntington Harbour when she pronounced it a “small town with a big heart.” A town “that wants to fight cancer,” she said. “We really love the opportunity to donate.”

And donate residents did, from the staggering $43,000 in ads they placed in the 207-page souvenir program (along with tributes to friends and relatives who have died of cancer) to the dozens of items featured in the live and silent auctions.

After a cocktail reception, with all-that-jazz entertainment (Shorty Rogers & The Giants), guests settled back to watch the evening’s highlight, a fashion extravaganza that showcased volunteer models from Huntington Harbour.


Kitty Leslie, fashion coordinator for Newport Center Fashion Island, provided the commentary on a sartorial lineup that began with a flurry of little black dresses (paired with elegant, black gloves trimmed with poufs of ostrich feathers) and ended with a flourish of gowns in--what else?--jazzy-hot and cool colors.

And while the fashion splash has traditionally held the event’s most prized moments--"It brings tears to my eyes to see my wife up there,” said Paul Greenwald, husband of model Isabel Greenwald--this year’s live auction offered some heady moments of its own.

One came when the Newport Center Fashion Island shopping spree went on the block. After a blazing battle of the paddles, Cindy Galardi snatched the opportunity to shop till she dropped with a $4,250 bid.

Other heated moments:

Ed Olivarez bidding the magic number--$1,800--to fetch the coveted “Gone With the Wind Party” for 22 guests at the Tara-like home of James Dawson.

Ellen Goodwin bidding a breathtaking $8,750 on a trip aboard the QE-II that would come as a surprise to her husband, Don. (Don Goodwin, owner of Goodwin’s Ammonia, was en route to Cabo San Lucas).

Post auction, guests settled back to dance to the Home Savings & Loan Band and dine on Dizzy Gillespie Salad--butter lettuce with radicchio, endive and wild mushrooms; Entree A La Louis Armstrong--filet of beef with shrimp, and Ella’s Delight--puffs of pastry brimming with strawberries.

Also on the committee: program chairwoman Jenny Huntsinger, wearing a flirty, fuchsia-trimmed dress of her own design, with husband, Mel, and Jill and Phil Lupton, who headed up the auction committee.


Also attending: Irv Wieder; Court Prowell; Barbara and Dick Shively, Cancer League president, and Myra and John Stillman, chairman of the American Cancer Society’s Orange County unit.

Some enchanted evening: It isn’t every day that Orange County gets to see Jeanette Segerstrom’s magic touch on a dinner party. The wife of Harold Segerstrom, co-managing partner of C.J. Segerstrom & Sons, owner of South Coast Plaza, prefers shadows to spotlights.

But when it comes to Opera Pacific and the glittering ball it stages every year, Jeanette is willing to go on stage. This year, she decided to team up with Gerry Schroeder to underwrite a black-tie dinner party for ball underwriters at the Ritz restaurant in Newport Beach.

On Sunday, elegantly attired guests filed into the cozy sanctum to dine on a menu inspired by the Nov. 19 ball’s theme: “Moonlight in an English Garden” (a romantic nod to the opera “Norma,” which will star Dame Joan Sutherland when it runs at the Performing Arts Center in February.)

Food courses, taken while guests enjoyed string serenades by Murray Korda and a fashion presentation by Saint Laurent Rive Gauche of South Coast Plaza, included smoked Scottish salmon with onions and capers; exotic field greens with grilled quail; roast prime rib of milk-fed veal; Stilton cheese with toasted walnuts (served with a perfectly sweet port, of course) and a raspberry souffle fit for a queen (several were rushed to tables by Ritz owner Hans Prager himself).

Among those on the scene and adoring every minute: Ed and Floss Schumacher, board chairman of Opera Pacific; Dr. Lock Gee and Ruth Ding, ball founder and underwriting chairwoman; Walter Schroeder; ball co-chairwomen Martha Green and Milli Wieseneck (with husbands Malcolm Green and Herbert Wieseneck); Maxine and Bob Gibson; Carolyn and Charles Paap; Jeanette and Louis Knobbe; Sheila and Niles Gates, and Phillip Quarre with Betty Eastman.