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Joan Mangum — Professional Dancers Society Says ‘Thank Heavens For Leslie Caron’

A fantastic afternoon for a wonderful cause …  The Professional Dancers Society held its 27th Gypsy Award Luncheon at The Beverly Hilton, honoring  legendary dancer/ singer Leslie Caron.

Once again, Joni Berry, board chairman and event chair, and PDS President Mitzi Gaynor presented an afternoon that was musical, moving and get-on-your-feet cheering.

We were welcomed by Joni, who looked great after recent hip surgery… (Joni, I get first dibs on the necklace and belt you were wearing)… and thanked the  many who were instrumental in putting the luncheon together and the funny and talented Mitzi Gaynor, whose broken-French dialogue directed towards Leslie, was funny, if not always understandable.

“The Homage to Leslie Caron,” directed and choreographed by Tyce Diorio, assisted by Tara Nicole, and costumed by Ret Turner, had us on our feet, cheering the  dancers, as did the “Thank Heaven for the Iconic Leslie Caron” featuring the wonderful dancers from the Carousel Dance Company with Karen Lee Willes (artistic director) and Natalie Willes (choreographer).

Fred Astaire’s daughter, Ava, and the late Gene Kelly’s wife, Patricia, introduced the forever young and beautiful Caron.  She spoke about Gene Kelly discovering her when she was a 17-year-old ballet dancer in Paris.

They also honored the amazing husband-wife team Dee Dee Wood and Marc Breaux, with a special “PDS Choreography Award.”  They created some of the most spectacular  routines for such movies as The Sound Of Music, Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and many more. Unfortunately, Marc passed away last November, but his spirit will live with us forever through his wonderful work.

Incredibly talented Dick Van  Dyke introduced a video showing some of their work and claimed he had never been a dancer, but because of these two talented professionals, he became one. He was joined on stage by Chita Rivera.

Florence Henderson introduced a video of the late Shirley Temple showing some of her body of work.

Also a tradition started in New York in the ‘50s of passing the Gypsy Robe was created in Los Angeles in 1983…  A dressing  robe from backstage is adorned with a symbol of that show and passed on to a deserving “gypsy” in the next show…  This year’s recipient was a very surprised Rick Rozzini.

Videos put together by Lee Hale, were stunning…besides Leslie and Shirley, think Rita Hayworth, Donald O’Connor, Sammy Davis Jr., Julie Andrews, Debbie Reynolds,  Ann Miller, Marge Champion and Buddy Ebsen… What wonderful memories…

Thank you also to the following …Charlene Painter, Mariam Nelson, Joe Tremaine, Tommy Peel, Ted Sprague, James Gray, Rachel Wolfe, David Santos, Phillip Weskalnies,  Fhillip Vlasov, Jack Hayback, Jeff Thielke, Max Polyack, Lexie Weeks, Joe Hall, Radu Iftimie, Alicia Robbins, Brian Lamb, Mike Young, Luis Monroy, Jack Hays, Paul Dreher, and Richard Rosenblatt.

PDS has joined forces with The Actors Fund of America, a national organization dedicated to the welfare of all entertainment professionals. Together PDS is  achieving the long needed goals of low-income housing, plus retirement and nursing facilities for dancers on both coasts. To sum it all up, the luncheon was…  SUPERCALIFRAGILISTICEXPIALIDOCIOUS.
The Guild of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater L.A. presented its annual “Accessories for Success” Spring Luncheon/ Fashion Show at The Beverly Hills Hotel.

Honorees included Sandra Stern (Excellence in Mentoring Award), COO of Lionsgate-TV; philanthropist Brindell Roberts Gottlieb (Sterling Award), who formerly  taught adult education at Beverly Hills High School; and Lee Phillip Bell (Innovator Award), co-creator of Emmy-winning and enduring daytime soaps The Young And The Restless (41 years) and The Bold And The Beautiful (27 years).

Guild President Mary Willard  introduced actress Heather Tom, who emceed while Guild member Pam Dawber provided commentary for the informal fashion show by Beverly Hills’ boutique Kyle by Alene Too, styled by Rosana Clawson, a film -industry stylist.

Barbara Lazaroff, Lori McCreary and Nina Shaw served as honorary co-chairs, while Christine Harte and Teri Simpson co-chaired.  Lionsgate was presenting sponsor. Jeremy Weinglass entertained on piano.

Founded in 1985, the Guild is dedicated to promoting awareness and raising financial support for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater L.A (, which provides children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one mentoring relationships.
Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA celebrated the 2nd Kaleidoscope Ball – “Designing the Sweet Side of L.A”. at The Beverly Hills Hotel. Hosted by Maria Menounos,  the star-studded event honored Emmy-nominated Julianne and Derek Hough with the Kaleidoscope Award, given to members of the entertainment industry who bring light and laughter into the lives of children through their professional achievements and personal  humanitarianism.

Additional honorees at this year’s event included Maureen and Bryan Stockton (Humanitarian Award) for their commitment to civic philanthropy, and 9-year-old Grace Suomi, a former patient of Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA (Innovator Award).

The evening, co-chaired by Amanda Brown and Beth Friedman, included a special musical performance by Grammy-winning artists Vince Gill and Amy Grant. Presenting  sponsors were Mattel, Inc., Harry Winston, and Toys “R” Us. Proceeds from the gala benefit the UCLA Children’s Discovery and Innovation Institute.

During the evening, Harry Winston, Inc. announced a $1 million pledge to the institute to establish the Harry Winston Fellowships. As the first corporate sponsor  of Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA’s innovative pediatric fellowship program, Harry Winston, Inc. will support the work of young pediatric physician-scientists who are conducting research to prevent, treat, and cure disease and illness in children For information, visit

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