Families Join in Party for Deb Daughters

Times Staff Writer

The college crowd is withdrawing socially and trekking back to class, if not already there. But the whirl of the Southland debutante season is flush with memories not to be forgotten. Penny Bianchi and her husband Adam joined with Peggy and James Galbraith for a very big number to honor Penny’s daughter Ella Leath McCormick (Valley Hunt Club and June Ball deb) and the Galbraiths’ Katie Galbraith (Las Madrinas, Valley Hunt and June deb balls).

Designer Penny ordered Regal Rents to make up a new black tent and filled it with twinkly lights. Then to warm up the evening she flew in orchestra leader Michael Carney from New York and hired vocalist Colleen Casey.

It became a New York atmosphere. Waiters sporting animal heads--dogs, bears, wolves--offered champagne and Perrier by the gallon. The ambiance was young. Las Madrinas deb Carey Hotchkis was with Matthew Morphy, Valley Hunt deb Allison Berry with Bobby Cudlip. June debs, most wearing the tight, short, slinky taffetas so popular, included Kathleen McAniff, Angelique Berger, Lisa Wines, Jennifer Allen and Hilary Werdel of Bakersfield.


At one point all the Galbraiths, including daughter Laura and son Robby, and Penny and Ella Leath, and Adam Bianchi and his daughters--Alessandra and Jacqueline Bianchi--were front stage for the proud introductions. Ella Leath, a USC freshman, was escorted by Peter Zenobi, Yale junior and captain of the soccer team, and surrounded by three Polytechnic School chums she’s gone to school with for 14 years--Stender Sweeney, Michael White and David Younger.

The effervescent Katie was escorted by Tom Brehme, and grandmother Mrs. Karl (Albertina) Rodi watched the proceedings proudly.

There was no lack of crowding at the dining room sundae table, where the chocolate and nuts were being heaped high by even the older crowd--Peter Adams, Dee and John Maechling, Chip and Tappy Hunt, Bill and Paulette Burkitt, Beau and Wendy Bianchi and Marybeth and Greg Brundage.

SWIRL: The same week, Joan and John Hotchkis feted his daughter Carey with a black-tie extravaganza. Like the debutante party for sister Sarah (in from New York) a few years back, the dance floor was black-and-white checkered. A white tent with glittery lights greeted guests arriving with heaps of deb presents for Carey.

With ingenuity, Joan Hotchkis drained the pool, scaffolded and set a dance floor on top for a disc jockey who went nonstop. Before that, the adult crowd sat for dinner at dozens of round tables in the dining room, living room and library. The young set surrounded the dance floor; all ages mixed for dancing.

Carey’s brothers, John (back from auto racing in England) and Mark (a freshman at Chapman), were prominent, John escorting Courtney Tunney. Among others there were Bill Onderdonk (Carey’s UC Berkley friend) and his parents, Kay and Steve Onderdonk; Tony and Alexandra Poer and their parents, Barbara and John Poer; Jason Pizzinat and his parents, Art and Juli Pizzinat.

The long-distance prize went to Leo and Grega Daly, in from Bangkok, Thailand. David and Dallas Price and Nancy and Tim Vreeland gave up Aspen for the party, Robin and Peter Barker came in from Sun Valley, and Carey’s aunt Kathy and her husband Doug Johnson from Tiburon.

In the dining room, hostess Joan Hotchkis picked up her fork to announce, “We’re having pasta, first course, and I like it hot.” Rococo caterers delivered it to Joanne and Roger Kozberg, Bob and Betty Strub, Mary Jones, Helen and John Maher and about 250 more.

OFF AND RUNNING: Santa Anita president Bob and Betty Strub, naturally, have priority on the Directors Room, where their guests have been bundling in furs for these chilly winter days, warming up on hot races and conviviality. Swathed in ample furs one day recently were Lotsie Giersch, Alyce Williamson, Lynn Hirsch, at least two former ambassadors and their wives--Peter and Jackie Dailey (Ireland) and John and Constance Towers Gavin (Mexico)--and former U.S. Atty. Gen. William French Smith and his wife Jean and California Atty. Gen. John Van de Kamp and wife Andrea.