“The Night of the Thousand Mancinis,” quipped our irrepressible wit George Schlatter. Paraphrasing the 1930s MGM catch phrase of being the studio with “a hundred stars.”
George and wife Jolene, along with Norman Lear and Lennie and Bernie Greenberg, joined the Who and the Who at the Wallis, where the musical genius of the Grand Seigneur Henry Mancini was celebrated. Performing were Kristin Chenoweth, Dave Coz, John Williams, Julie Andrews, Patti Austin, Clint Holmes, Matthew Morrison, plus others. And, of course, Henry’s lovely songbird daughter Monica Mancini and son Chris enriching the evening’s roster of talent. Fine artists delivering joy unbounded with the Mancini songbook that infused his film and television scores with jazz and rock.
And, yes, his soulful ballads from Moon River to Days Of Wine And Roses, composed by Henry with classic lyrics from the formidable Johnny Mercer that fills the hearts of all ages.
The concert hosted the 55-member Henry Mancini Orchestra that was produced by Monica’s husband Chris Field and Sequoia Productions.
Ginny Mancini related that she met Henry at an audition, and that was it. Julie Andrews revealed the time and place when Blake Edwards asked to marry her. “I’ve never told anyone this before.”
Henry was born Enrico Nicola Mancini in Cleveland, Ohio. Soon relocating to the steel town of West Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, where his father Quinto found work in the mills and enrolled his only son in piano lessons at age eight. Little did Papa Quinto imagine what great gift he was giving the future with his Aliquippa Kid.
“Henry’s songbook is the soundtrack of our lives,” noted Wallis board chairman David Bohnett. Adding that the tribute fetched “just shy of one million” for the Wallis’ Artistic, Education and Arts Outreach Program.
After performing the haunting Days Of Wine And Roses, Patti Austin recalled that Henry, when asked about the way Johnny’s lyrics ended, he winked, “With a French horn and a high C.”
Now hear this.
Born the same year, the same month, week, day. And during the same hour.
Food and wine czars Steve Wallace of Los Angeles and Darrell Corti of Sacramento celebrated their 75th birthdays this week.
A decades-long friendship bonded by their passion for la buona tavola, they wined and dined fifty guests at Chez Panisse in Berkeley. Where Alice Waters, pioneering chef and owner, created her world-renowned haven for the best of food and wine.
Steve, now retired, launched his Wally’s Wines and Spirits in 1968, hosted the evening, and reports that Cecilia Chiang, creator and owner of the lauded Mandarin restaurants, was “the life of the party at age 97!”
Healthy cusses, both, Steve and Darrell attribute their good life to the blessing of the grape.
Nowadays, Steve nods to his mom Evelyn downing a drink of Don Julio 42 tequila every afternoon. “Never sick a day in her life, and lived to be 98.”
Tequila, he reminds is a hearty spirit, distilled, as it is, from the yucca cactus. He, too, is on the tequila team. “Every day a shot glass down the hatch.”
The birthday dinner menu at Chez Panisse…
• Champagne and caviar
• Asparagus with sauce ravigote
• Sheep’s milk ricotta and geens raviolini
• James Ranch spring lamb roasted in the fireplace with Lucques olives, potato gratin and watercress
• Rhubarb tart with ginger ice cream
Accompanied with double magnums and jeroboams of rare vintage wines from France and California
Hey, Hound Dogs Steve and Darrell, onward and upward with plenty more festive birthdays!
Is it time for a hard paddle spanking – or a tar and feathering? – of Senator Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader. He chased after Hilary Paley Califano, daughter of TV tycoon Bill Paley, in a posh Manhattan dining room on the proper Upper East Side, screaming that she should not have voted for the President. “He lied,” Schumer screamed. Hilary shot back that his candidate “lied more!”
Rudeness will get you nowhere, Chuck. Flattery will.