Marlborough’s Violets Are in Bloom

Times Staff Writer

Marlborough School in Los Angeles’ Hancock Park, a school that calls its students “violets,” has reached 100 years, without wrinkles. More vibrant than ever, it sends five seniors to Harvard this year from a class of 70.

Last weekend, the violets staged a black-tie gala at the Western Heritage Museum to culminate a year’s activities and a final weekend, including an alumnae luncheon (honoring “A Woman From Each Decade”), a headmaster’s wine reception, an evening of musical comedy (“Then and Now”), a Saturday of seminars and a Sunday of class reunion brunches at homes all over the city.

Centennial Celebration Committee chairman Terry Von Hagen Bucher, class of ’59, who spent five months in Antarctica this year doing postgraduate research on penguins, was ecstatic about the celebration: “Marlborough has succeeded for 100 years because of people; people will help us survive another 100 years.”

At the black-tie gathering trustees chairman Susanne Fitger Donnelly, ’50, noted: “The one thing that we hope will never change is the teaching of values--that is what has distinguished Marlborough in its 100-year history.”


The committee chose Pam Mullin and Barbara Myerson to chair the party and the duo staged a huge tent washed in mauve lights and projected violets on the tent ceiling. Then the crowd danced the night away on a black-and-white checkerboard. Among the many were Louise (centennial co-chair) and Peter Reich, Patti and Pat Doheny (she was the generations tea co-chairman with their daughter Kacey McCoy, who was at Cate School for son Patrick’s graduation), Suzy and Don Crowell, Bill and Daryn Horton.

Trustees Peter Mullin, Hugh Evans, Donn Miller, Marjorie Wong Chen and Dr. Henry Takei were among the crowd. Shelley Dickerson and Betsy Barash flew in from New York. Said trustee Martha Porter Mitchel (wearing splendid green taffeta) on the arm of husband Glen: “We have come a long way and all these Marlborough students look terrific.” Said Peter Mullin: “Marlborough has changed in the sense that the curriculum is a broader experience. From a proper girls’ school, it now prepares students for a broader and more complicated world.”

COOLING DOWN: There were no penguins, no polar bears, no snow or icicles--except on the invitation Lisa Williamson designed for the “housecooling” party in San Marino of the English manor house owned for years by her grandmother, the late Ruth Chandler von Platen. Warren (Spud) Williamson, Sue Dulin and Norman (Tad) Williamson, Mrs. Von Platen’s children, extended the invitations to old and close friends because they are parting with the manor house and its five acres of gardens, the scene for countless black-tie Christmas parties, weddings and charity affairs.

The night was special for Spud and Alyce Williamson’s son, Henry. Not only was it his 27th birthday, but he announced his engagement to Robin Ferrante, daughter of Lucy and Orlando Ferrante (a Disney executive) of San Marino. It also was special for Adams, Duque & Hazeltine attorney Waller Taylor. The house was built for his grandmother, the late Mrs. Frank Emery, in the 1920s.


For the occasion, the hosts imported Igor and His Cowboy Jazz Band from Arizona. There was a lot of heated stomping by a good percentage of the Polytechnic Class of 1943--Spud’s class--including Bill Taverner, Karl von Platen Jr., David Wilson, Ben Shattuck, Stuart O’Melveny, Anne Shattuck.

The party was held under a huge clear tent with sparkly lights, not too unlike that erected when Sue Williamson and Bob Dulin married. All their children were there--Jim Dulin, Cinnie Herr and Ken Dulin with their respective spouses, Sarah, Frank and Sally. The Jim Dulins and the Herrs live in Chicago, the Ken Dulins in Denver. More good friends were Sally and Bill Wenzlau, Sallie and Harry Colmery, Connie and Gordon Fish.

Toward the end, Tad Williamson picked up his banjo, and to the whistles from son Jonathan, played those old-time sing-along favorites while his wife, Victoria, and son Fred and his new wife, Kate, and son Chandler and daughter Emily gave support.

More in the crowd were Charles Thornton, Dodie and Otis Booth, Martha Chandler, Ruth Williamson, neighbors Julie and Art Pizzinat, Sally Lewis, Gwen and Bob Cheesewright, Frannie Clayton, Anne and Susan Babcock, Mimi and Nelson Jones. Attempting two parties in one night, Spike and Debbe Booth, Bob and Janice Carpenter and Eunice and Doug Goodan managed to attend both the housecooling and the Marlborough centennial.

LEADERS: Not always does the YWCA of Los Angeles bestow its Athena Award, its ultimate tribute. Caroline Ahmanson, Judith Murphy, Anna Bing Arnold and Ann Shaw are the previous recipients over 15 years. At a huge luncheon at the Bonaventure, the fifth Athena Award went to Harriet McElroy Luckman, wife of architect Charles Luckman and herself architect of the Muses and Les Dames de Champagne. “I share this with all of you,” she said. “We couldn’t get along without us.”

Receiving Silver Achievement Awards were Ruth Ashton Taylor, communications; Betty Kozasa, public service; Joan A. Payden, business and industry (entrepreneur); Nancy Dicks, business and industry (corporate), Varnette Honeywood, creative arts; Brenda Levin, professions/science; Janet Evans, sports; and Vikki Carr, volunteer community service. Maria Contreras-Sweet chaired the luncheon.

SALUTES: The Coro Public Affairs Awards recognize leadership and dynamic community involvement--and that an individual makes a difference. Bettina Chandler and Roger Kozberg co-chaired the black-tie Coro Foundation dinner at the Century Plaza with the aid of Terri Childs, Coro Foundation chairman.

The salutes went to Bill Stout (introduced by state Atty. Gen. John Van de Kamp as “a reporter with guts, brains and integrity”) and to E. Grace Payne (introduced by Ira Distenfield, president of the Board of Harbor Commissioners, as the tenacious executive director of Westminster Neighborhood Assn., the agency assisting 10,000 children and adults in South-Central Los Angeles).


It was an evening with pluses: Craig Fuller, former chief of staff to then-Vice President George Bush and now partner with Anne Wexler and Nancy Reynolds in a Washington consulting firm, moderated the “Media and Leadership” discussion between Charles Peters, the Washington Monthly editor-in-chief, and Jack Nelson, Los Angeles Times Washington bureau chief.

BUSY TOWN: Artist Peter Adams chairs the Friends of the Jeffrey Foundation “An Evening With Steve Allen and Friends” Wednesday at the Beverly Hills Hotel. . . .

California Institute of the Arts president Steven Lavine and his wife, Janet Sternburg, give a party in their Encino home Thursday honoring this year’s honorary degree recipients--choreographer Paul Taylor, playwright Luis Valdez and CalArts trustee Donn Tatum. . . .

Luncheon chairman Greta Peck plans a whopper of a day for Operation: Children on Thursday at the Beverly Hilton; Ricardo Montalban and Sybil Brand will receive accolades, and Michael Novarese will premiere his fall fashions. . . .

AND MORE: Mel Torme, Tony Orlando, Norm Crosby and Ed McMahon headline “A Night Under the Stars” for the Muscular Dystrophy Assn. and the Jerry Lewis ALS (Amniotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) Clinical Research Center at the Beverly Hilton on Friday. Ralph Mann and Katherine Lurie are co-chairs. . . .

The Los Angeles chapter of the American Jewish Committee honors lawyer Ronald L. Olson with its 1989 Learned Hand Award at a dinner Thursday at the Beverly Hilton. Dinner co-chairs include John E. Bryson, Southern California Edison executive vice president; Geoffrey Cowan, former state chairman of Common Cause; lawyer Alan V. Friedman; Tom Johnson, publisher and chief executive officer of the Los Angeles Times; and entertainment lawyer Bruce M. Ramer. The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson is keynoter.

THE SEASON: Buckley School host its Donors Reception on Thursday at Ma Maison with headmaster Walter Baumhoff on hand. . . . Mayfield Junior School continues celebrating its British heritage with its Tallyho English Country Evening on Saturday at Flintridge Riding Club, following on the heels of the tea Mollie O’Melveny held for alumni mothers. The Tallyho party is dedicated to Sister Jeanne Marie Hatch. . . .

Aaron and Candy Spelling chaired the send-off party for “Cycle for Scholarships.” This is the effort in which Nathan Reynolds, 55, headmaster of Westlake School for Girls in Los Angeles, is cycling across the United States, expecting to arrive May 27 in Washington and hoping to raise $350,000 for the school’s financial aid program.