Roosevelt’s ‘Dedication’ to Get Its Due

The buzz: “It’s about time.” That’s what movers and shakers are saying about the salute to James Roosevelt planned for May 20 at the Irvine Hilton and Towers.

Chapman College is planning the gala benefit dinner, which has Sen. Pete Wilson heading up an honorary committee that includes former Presidents Richard M. Nixon and Gerald R. Ford; Peter Ueberroth; Gov. George Deukmejian; Athalie Clarke, and Barbara Grant, widow of actor Cary Grant.

Chairing the dinner committee is Doy Henley, CEO of Aeromil Engineering in Santa Ana.

According to Vaughn W. Kelley, director of community relations and special events for Chapman, the college plans to present a Roosevelt Award each year to an individual who exhibits the “dedication to higher education and public service” that Roosevelt has made his life’s work. The award will probably include a college scholarship, Kelley says. “Our board is working that out.”


Proceeds from the event--$300,000 is hoped for--will be used to endow the Roosevelt Award program.

More than 800 guests are expected to attend. Tickets are selling for $150 each, and tables are being sold in the $1,500 to $10,000 range. Roosevelt, eldest son of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, is a Chapman College trustee. He lives with his wife, Mary, and daughter, Becky, in Newport Beach.

For arts’ sake: Christopher Kennedy Lawford, son of Pat Kennedy Lawford and the late Peter Lawford, is expected to attend a benefit sale of art by the handicapped April 1 at Galerie Olivia in Newport Beach. Proceeds will benefit Very Special Arts California, an educational affiliate of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington. VSA, founded by Jean Kennedy Smith in 1974, is now an international program; its mission is to help individual handicapped people through encouraging them to express themselves artistically. On the sponsoring committee with Lawford is Marylyn Pauley, vice chairwoman of community relations for the Orange County Performing Arts Center. The 8-month-old gallery, which specializes in original European oil paintings, is owned by George Townsend and Franklyn Richards.

Now, that’s entertainment: Paul Newman. George Burns. Julie Andrews. Glenn Close. Liza Minnelli. Diana Ross. Those are but a few of the few hundred stars who lit up Spago last year at super-agent Irving (Swifty) Lazar’s post Academy Awards smash. Let’s face it. There’s not another party like it in the universe. And only somebodies gain admittance. (“You’re somebody if you’re there, whether you’re somebody or not,” chirps one giggling insider.) But take heart. Orange County will be stunningly represented at the nouvelle-pizza party when Newport Beach model Tina Schafnitz makes her entrance with husband Matt, an insurance broker. What to wear? Tina knows. A showstopper, of course. But she hasn’t decided which showstopper. “It will either be my black-and-white by Gildas or my charcoal-with-pearls by Bob Mackie,” says the statuesque blonde with the saucer eyes. We’re rooting for Gildas. He’s from Orange County too.

Morsels: When charming Fernanda Gilligan, a vice president with Tiffany & Co. in New York, attended a recent benefit at Tiffany in Costa Mesa, few guests realized that they were hobnobbing with the former stepdaughter of one of New York’s reigning hobnobbers, supreme socialite Mercedes Kellogg Bass. Gilligan--a bright-eyed fireball whose well-shod feet are planted firmly on the ground--is the daughter of Francis L. Kellogg, one-time husband of Mercedes, the chic Iranian-born Manhattanite who recently wed Sid Bass. While Gilligan was in town, she stayed at the Newporter Resort--"It’s so California!"--and took her daughter on a whirlwind tour of Disneyland. . . .

Leave it to billionairess Leona Helmsley of New York to wear le dernier cri in fashion at the Ritz-Carlton hotel last week when she and hubby Harry’s Helmsley Palace received the Five Diamond Award from the American Automobile Assn. The queenly brunette was all the rage in diamonds and rubies and a cloud of floaty chiffon, the gala look that’s so in for spring. Helmsley admitted that she had never heard of Orange County before she came to Dana Point. But she said she had heard of the Amen Wardy boutique in Newport Beach. She spent a day there and “bought a bunch,” she said. As for O.C., Leona, who has mansions in all the right places, pronounced it “beautiful.” “I like it. Truthfully, the air is clear here. You have the sea.” (For trivia lovers: Harry owns the Empire State Building, and last year he lit it up for Leona’s birthday. But Leona wasn’t saying which birthday.) . . . .

Birraporetti’s in Costa Mesa will be the happening place Tuesday night after “Elvis: A Musical Celebration” makes its debut at the Orange County Performing Arts Center. The 20-member cast--along with Elvis seem-alikes Johnny Seaton, Julian Whittaker and Terry Mike Jeffrey--will mingle with Center board members and enjoy a ‘50s theme party, complete with 45 r.p.m. records dangling from the ceiling. (In a perfect world, the Center board would all show up in blue suede shoes.) Be there or be square.