The Crowd: A Russian night for Beckstrand Cancer Foundation

She did it again. Lil Spitzer, executive director of the Beckstrand Cancer Foundation, produced what many called "the party of the year" Oct. 13 in the Hangar at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa.

Spitzer joined forces with community philanthropist Renetta Caya, returning once again as gala chairwoman for the 2012 Beckstrand Cancer Foundation's ninth annual Diamond and Pearl Ball. Here is the most impressive news of all: Donations are expected to pass the $1-million mark in net proceeds.

The spectacular event was created around a theme billed as An Evening in Russia at Moscow's Red Square and was dedicated to the memory of the late actress Farrah Fawcett perhaps best known for her role in the television series "Charlie's Angels" as well as for her memorable swimsuit poster. She died of anal cancer in 2009 following a very long, difficult and public fight. She was aided along the way by close friend Alana Stewart, the former wife of both George Hamilton and Rod Stewart. On hand for the tribute to Fawcett, Alana Stewart, now an author and filmmaker in her own right, serves as president of the Farrah Fawcett Foundation. She joined Fawcett's longtime partner Ryan O'Neal at the gala accepting honors from the crowd.

The star-studded event was once again hosted by the beautiful-inside-and-out actress Eva La Rue, co-star of the television series "CSI: Miami." La Rue's personal warmth could have melted the ice castles created by Spitzer and team decorating and transforming the Hangar into Moscow's Red Square.

She joined her husband, fishing fleet mogul Joe Cappuccio, welcoming fellow Hollywood glitterati including the "Love Boat's" Dick Van Patten and his wife, Pat, and their actor son Nels Van Patten. From the mega-popular television series "NCIS: Los Angeles" Daniela Ruah graced the party along with the "Real Housewives of Orange County's" Gretchen Rossi.

From the daytime drama "The Bold and the Beautiful" Don Diamont and his wife, Cindy, mixed with Orange County VIPs including the stunning Jan Salta and her automotive kingpin husband, Mike Salta, Jim and Alexandra Downey, Steve and Michele George, Andy and Susan Phillips, Jeff and Holly Miller, Keith and Mara Murray, and another of O.C.'s biggest automotive dealers, the impressive Dave Wilson and his lovely wife, Holly.

The Hangar's transformation was nothing short of incredible. The space was draped in dramatic Russian red accented with towering iconic buildings, genuine ice curtains and even Fabergé egg recreations as centerpieces on the dining tables. Russian attired vodka girls descended from the rafters pouring Russian Standard Vodka for the nearly 500 guests. That was a sight to behold. There was even a dead ringer in the crowd for Mikhail Gorbachev, turning heads in amazement throughout the night.

Since 1974 the Beckstrand Cancer Foundation has provided patients with financial support, enabling them to remain focused on treatment and recovery. Its purpose is to provide direct financial assistance for critical survival needs including rent or mortgage payments, utilities, food, transportation and medical needs not covered by insurance.

Rallying for the cause were Beth Bidna, Adrienne and R.J. Brandes, Joni and Hal Brice, Tami and Michael Kahn, Cathie and Mike Lawler, designer Oday Shakar with Asia Shakar and Gheith Shakar, Alexandra Spitzer, Joan and Wally Gayner, and Anne and Brian Vallone.

To learn more about the work of Beckstrand, visit

THE CROWD runs Thursdays and Saturdays. B.W. Cook is editor of the Bay Window, the official publication of the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.

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