There was no ignoring the gulf crisis, even amid the fur coats, jeweled necklines and dinner tables sprouting yellow orchids at the annual scholarship fund-raiser for Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
Security on Sunday night was noticeably beefed up at the Century Plaza because of concerns about terrorist activity in U.S. hotels, and there was a certain pall to the gaiety.
Noted Gregory Peck: “What can I say? The university is a center of culture, learning and enlightening that exists in constant fear of being obliterated. Everyone’s aware we’re in a crisis situation, but the Hebrew University goes on and has been in crisis situations before.”
Former Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban, via satellite from Jerusalem--where it was early Monday morning, the “eve of a great turning point in history,” said Eban--commanded the rapt attention of the ballroom full of supporters in Los Angeles. He assured them of Israel’s existence, no matter what.
For the rest of the evening, the focus was on composer/performer/producer Quincy Jones, recipient of the American Friends of Hebrew University’s 1991 Scopus Award for his international humanitarian efforts.
“How could I muster the chutzpah to be here?” said Jones, who displayed an impressive Yiddish vocabulary throughout the evening. Jones pointed out that much of the Hebrew University student body is multiracial and multidenominational and includes students from Third World countries.
It was also announced that a Quincy Jones International Scholars for Survival program was established with a $500,000 perpetual endowment from Time Warner Inc. for scholars from underdeveloped nations to study new agricultural techniques.
Jones was applauded by an impressive list of former Scopus honorees, including Peck, Frank and Barbara Sinatra, Barbra Streisand (there with James Newton Howard), Jerry and Jane Morgan Weintraub, Mehli Mehta, Milton Rudin, Harvey L. Silbert and Dr. Franklin D. Murphy.
Others attending were Sidney Poitier, Vin Scully, L. A. Clippers owner Donald T. Sterling, Warner Inc. president Terry Semel, Dionne Warwick, George Burns, Robert Guillaume, Brock Peters, Vidal Sassoon, Barbara and Marvin Davis, Ruth and Harry Roman, Ray Charles and Carol Channing.