Posted: Friday, July 21, 2017 – 12:56 PM
Now that the summer doldrums have arrived and the party scene is taking a much needed break for a few weeks, I wanted to reflect on two of my very favorite annual events, and just contemplate the time and effort it takes to stage them to keep them fresh year after year. These are SHARE’s Boomtown Gala and the Professional Dancers Society’s Gypsy Award Luncheon.
Selfishly, I have to admit being a frustrated dancer myself. I got the urge from age 3 in New York dreaming about Broadway and Hollywood magic…just thinking of how it would be to be Ginger Rogers or Judy Garland dancing with the likes of Beverly Hills’ own Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. The closest I got was dancing up a storm at the Roseland Ballroom in Manhattan.
The Beverly Hills-based SHARE (Share Happily And Reap Endlessly), Inc. has been around for 64 years and its most recent Boomtown Gala at The Beverly Hilton brought in a near record $650,000+ for the benefit of developmentally disabled, abused and neglected children as well as medical research.
This year the group honored philanthropist Glorya Kaufman, who has endowed the art of dance in a variety of institutions including UCLA, USC, L.A. Music Center, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, Julliard School, Fordham, and the Geffen Playhouse. She also established an eye clinic at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.
The event, as always, had top flight entertainment (i.e. The 5th Dimension), but was highlighted with a lengthy performance by the “Ladies of SHARE,” a chorus line of members—who work and slave for weeks perfecting their show-stopping dance numbers, all choreographed by Anita Mann Kohl. This year’s 20 dancers were Barbara Aaron, Terry Baldwin, Gia Bay, Beverly Bergmann, Lois Bloom, Samantha Faulkner, Ellen Feder, Wendy Hammers, Joy Jolise, Anita Mann Kohl, Adele Langdon, Bonnie Lythgoe, Renee Marino, Dolores Nemiro, Hannah Noval, Esther Rosenfield, September Sarno, Linda Schlesinger, Sandra Siegel and Christine Wallace.
Affiliated with the Actors Fund, the also Beverly Hills-based Professional Dancers Society, is—as the name indicates—a group that looks after and cares for dancers of all ages, active and retired, who have given their heart and soul to their profession whether on stage or screen.
The Gypsy Award luncheon, also at The Beverly Hilton, annually salutes a major star whose career notoriety is due entirely or in part to the art of dancing. These include such names as Shirley MacLaine, Ann Margret, Sammy Davis Jr., Dick Van Dyke, Ginger Rogers, Bob Hope, Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Cyd Charisse, Mickey Rooney, Buddy Ebsen, June Haver, Carol Burnett, Jane Powell, Julie Andrews, Carl Reiner, Leslie Caron, June Allyson, Rita Moreno, Paula Abdul, Ben Vereen, Joel Gray, Angela Lansbury, Ben Vereen, Marge Champion, Carol Channing, Florence Henderson and Mary Tyler Moore, etc.
Mitzi Gaynor is president of PDS while its board chair is the equally beloved Joni Berry. The latter has been this charity’s driving force for years and also a founder and longtime major benefactor of SHARE’s Boomtown Gala. Dancing is in Joni’s blood and has been since the age of 2.
Next May 20 will mark the 65th anniversary of the SHARE Boomtown Gala while the PDS Gypsy Awards will be held in April. Both are thoroughly entertaining and the envy of any production you’ll ever see on stage or screen. Don’t miss either of them.