The Children's Bureau of Southern California celebrated its 90th anniversary at the Regent Beverly Wilshire on Tuesday evening with a crowd of close to 700 who gathered at the $300-a-plate benefit to pay tribute to Lodwrick Cook, chairman of Arco and community leader extraordinaire.
"Before I say a word about the Lord, please allow a word about the Lod," said the Reverend Cecil Murray, pastor of First A.M.E. Church, as he stood to deliver the invocation.
With his lengthy list of volunteer chairmanships, including Junior Achievement, Rebuild L.A. and the Library Foundation of Los Angeles, Cook is widely admired as a kind of miracle worker. He's a cool guy, that much is obvious, even without the testimonials from every living U.S. President. Cook would probably be an excellent President himself, except that he's too busy.
The evening was definitely eclectic. It's hard not to admire the inspired audacity of an entertainment double bill featuring Phyllis Diller and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. Add to that First A.M.E.'s Freedom Choir. Oh, and then there was dancing to the big band sounds of Conrad Janis and the Beverly Hills Unlisted Jazz Band.
Even spicier than the entertainment was the food. Cajun-style chicken breasts with fiery corn relish disproved the theory that benefit fare need imitate airline cuisine. There wasn't a dry eye in the place, but in the end every plate was cleaned.
During his speech, the honoree delivered some helpful hints for aspiring paragons:
"One, never slap a man who chews tobacco.
"Two, never buy anything from someone out of breath.
"Three, if you had everything you ever wanted, where would you put it?
"Four, if you think the problem is bad now, wait until Congress tries to fix it.
"Five, the difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits."
On hand were Cook's wife Carole, gala co-chairs Constance Towers Gavin and Sheldon I. Ausman, dinner chairwoman Mary Jones Marshall, and guests including former Mayor Tom Bradley, Tom Selleck, Charlton Heston, Anne and Kirk Douglas, Rhonda Fleming and Ted Mann, and Aaron and Candy Spelling. Members of the dinner committee included Joan and John Hotchkis, Joanne and Roger Kozberg, Frank and Anne Johnson, and Lew and Edie Wasserman.