Animals benefit as stars salute legendary actress

A galaxy of stars from television, stage and screen were joined by hundreds of supporters of Actors and Others for Animals to honor Betty White at the organization’s 40th anniversary fundraising luncheon on April 9.

The event, held at the Universal Hilton Hotel, saw the beloved octogenarian actress and lifelong animal advocate presented with the inaugural Betty White Inspirational Award, an honor that will now be bestowed annually to an individual who has inspired public awareness and appreciation of animals and their need for protection and care.

Close to 500 people, including Tipper Gore, Loretta Swit, Lee Meriwether, Tippi Hedren, Dick Van Patten and Jaime Monroy participated in the event that featured an extensive silent auction, a vegetarian lunch and a star-studded tribute to the seven-time Emmy-winner best known for her roles in “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “The Golden Girls” and most recently, TV Land’s “Hot In Cleveland,” for which she won a SAG Award for outstanding female in a comedy.

Hosted by Actors and Others for Animals President JoAnne Worley and emceed by television personality Michael Burger, the event saw White roasted and toasted by Ken Howard, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Jamie Lee Curtis, Susan Lucci, Georgia Engel, Bob Stewart, Peter Marshall, Fred Willard and her “Hot in Cleveland” co-stars Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves and Wendie Malick.

Other special guests in attendance included the organization’s Executive Director Susan Taylor, President Emeritus Earl Holliman and longtime supporters Paul Jolly, Cory Carter, Maria Dales, Sherry Miller, Val Tonione, Mary Willard, Patricia Bercel, Stuart Friedman, Jodie Mann, Maurice Tubin, Harlan Boll and Michael Stern.

Among those who made the day possible were the event’s committee, which is comprised of Helene Ashley, Douglas Clayton, Scott Dreier, Larry Fazio, Robin Finn, Jackie Joseph, Joyce Miller, Page Layne Miller, Toni Moston, Susan Rosenberg, Paul Sessa, Clara Tortomasi, Parker Williams, Greg Wilson and Jacqueline Lewis of Jacqueline M. Lewis Productions and Events, and the Burbank Jaycees, who coordinated the event’s volunteers that included R.A. and Rose Mendoza, Kevin Alson, Elana Helgensen, Chelsea Mordoff, Dan Stein, Jennie Atwood, Louis Buono, Lucrecia Cerna, Michael Park, Lori Bender and David Paredes.

Founded in 1971, Actors and Others for Animals is dedicated to eliminating pet overpopulation and ensuring the care and protection of pet companions.

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