Louis XV loved gaming. He loved dining outdoors. He adored exotic fruits, and grew pineapples, strawberries, oranges and lemons in l'orangerie of his palace at Versailles in northern France. Refinement, luxury, rococo furniture and the art of Watteau and Boucher and the music of Rameau marked the style of his court.
Jennifer Diener and Susie Barker incorporated it all at the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra's gala ball the other evening at the Regent Beverly Wilshire. They created "Une Fete Champetre" in imaginary gardens inspired by those of Le Petit Trianon (the retreat Louis XV built for his mistress Mme. de Pompadour.)
Tres elegant. Guests bid on auction items in the gaming room. They moved to an elegant country picnic, dining on lace tablecloths around baskets filled with fruits. During a musical interlude between courses, Chamber Orchestra president David L. Gersh presented a chamber group in Rameau's "Pieces de Clavecin en concerts" from 1741. Musicians sat on tapestried rococo chairs flanked by tall wisps of cherry blossoms. One could close one's eyes, absorb the harpsichord strains and imagine being at court.
On stage, the co-chairwomen giggled and chimed in unison, "We love you all and we've loved working with you" before Alan Chapman, professor of music at Occidental College (in a Louis XV white wig and blue satin coat and breeches) convulsed the audience with his courtly puns.
The party will net more than $125,000. Stephen F. Weiner, orchestra chairman, and Ronald L. Rosen, chairman emeritus, dedicated the night to philanthropists--the W. M. Keck Foundation, represented by Superior Court Judge David Thomas, and orchestra backer David K. Ingalls.
Former ball chairwoman Carolyn Wagner flew in from St. Louis. French Consul General Gerard Coste was in the crowd. Susie and William Keck chatted with his cousin, Bob Day, who escorted Kelly Gilmore. Walter and Darlene Gerken, Carolyn and Bob Volk, Anne and Franklin Johnson, Deborah Rutter, Joy Fein, Faith Porter and Deborah and Tom Tellefsen were glued to the auction area, sizing up bids on French barge trips, a visit to Chantilly, Lalique and Hermes objects and French vintage wines.
TOASTED: Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Jack Kemp, now on a crusade in Congress for the privatization of homeownership for low-income families, starred at the Ides of March IX gala roast hosted at the Regent Beverly Wilshire by the USC School of Public Administration.
Kemp got the Julius Award. In the past it's gone to William Buckley, Art Buchwald, Mayor Tom Bradley, the Doles--Elizabeth and Bob--and former President Gerald Ford. Nearly 800 guests received football cards and big laughs at the $400,000 night chaired by Robert Smith and planned by Ross Clayton and Christine Glogow as Kemp got "skewered with a smile."
That was comedian Fred Travalena's phrase. He impersonated recent Presidents and noted the upbeat on the Persian Gulf War: "Two nights ago we dropped Roseanne Barr in Saddam Hussein's bunker--it's over."
Kemp friend/fan Herb Klein, editor and chief of Copley Newspapers, paid tribute; Jeff Kemp, the secretary's oldest son and back-up quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks, referred to his "awesome parents" (Joanne Kemp was in the audience) and quipped, "Dad truly is the man he says he is." The audience was treated to a fun video of Kemp heroics as a star Buffalo Bill and a San Diego Charger. It was after 13 years as a professional football quarterback that the Los Angeles native, who went to Occidental College, went to Congress.
Fourteen Kemps were there, and the top crust of the Southland civic community--George and Judie Argyros, Judy and John Bedrosian, Gen. William and Willa Dean Lyon, Richard J. Riordan, Richard and Eileen Eamer, Bill and Susie Keck, Dr. Julius and Mickey Lesner, Ed and Nadine Carson, Caroline Ahmanson and Forrest and Patricia Shumway.
USC GALA: On midnight of March 30, "the last i will be dotted," and the ninth president of USC, James Zumberge, will leave the position he has held since 1981. Thus, the General Alumni Assn. paid tribute at a black-tie dinner at the Beverly Hilton.
Two tables of Zumberges, including USC first lady Marilyn Zumberge, were in the audience watching the videos that took Zumberge to triumphs including Antarctica (Cape Zumberge was named for him in 1961), through various college presidencies including Southern Methodist University, through his campaign for $641 million for USC.
Said Zumberge: "When you want to find out how good a university is, look at who the trustees are." Numerous ones were there, including former USC trustees chairman George Scharffenberger, current chairman Forrest Shumway and Virginia Ramo.
In a night planned by Joan Riach, General Alumni Assn. president Otis Healy and Shari Thorell, there were multiple highlights. Patrick Haden starred as emcee. Dr. James J. Femino received the Fred B. Olds Support Group Award, and alumni merit awards went to Roger F. Olson, Richard W. Cook, Edward J. Perkins, Linda Johnson Rice, Lynn Swann and Robert Zemeckis.
LAMENT: Lamenting that the United States is 17th in scientific literacy in the world and that 90% of the nation's prison inmates are high-school dropouts, Dr. Robert Ballard accepted the Friends of Harvey Mudd College Wright Prize (initiated by H. Dudley Wright) and warned, "Society can pay now, or you pay later."
A cocktail and business-suit crowd was mesmerized by Ballard's real-life tales of his underwater discovery of the Titanic and the German battleship Bismarck. Ballard, a senior scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, revolutionized marine biology when he discovered in 1977 that ecosystems exist in the perpetual darkness of ocean depths.
Also on the program were Harvey Mudd College trustees chair Clifford A. Miller and president Henry E. Riggs.
How many Mudds and Mudd relatives were in the audience couldn't be estimated, but among them were Dr. Norman and Erlenne Sprague, Dr. Norman Sprague III, Tally Mingst and son Andrew. Supporting the event were Bob Hastings and Phyllis Diller, Adelaide and Alex Hixon, Howard and Jane Wright, Gloria and Ed Renwick, Long and Polly Ellis, Phillip and Alice Williams, George and Nancy Moss, Ginie and Hank Braun, Herbert and Shirlee Haizlip, Peggy and Howard Newton, Tom and Sue Haldeman and Bob and Louisa Miller.