A group of talented young stars were tired of hearing about how
irresponsible actors and entertainers were. The image was that young
'Hollywood" stars just partied, and partied and then married and divorced.
They got together to change that image. This group included Nicky Blair,
Bill Brown Jr., Milton Cohen, Gary Crosby, Kim Dibbs, Bill & Nori Gold, Jack
Haley Jr., Mac Krim, Hugh O' Brian, Bob Petersen and Margaret Whiting. They
had their first meeting at Jayne Mansfield's Pink Palace in Beverly Hills,
on Mother's Day, May 1955. They decided to devote their energy and money to
children with mental health problems. They called themselves "The Thalians,"
after the Goddess of Comedy, Thalia.
After a year of intense planning and hard work, The Thalians threw a fund raising party to celebrate the new charitable organization. The inaugural Thalians party was held at Elaine Stewart's Malibu Beach house. Natalie Wood won the pie eating contest. Jeanne Blair took first place in the sack race, everyone indulged in a hysterical free-far-all clothing swap and even a suntan lotion squirting battle. Then, it was back to work!
Debbie Reynolds was elected President and she really thought it was for a short term. 52 years later, she is still Madame President! Long live The Prez! She has also been Chairman of the Board on alternate years with Ruta Lee. The Thalians Christmas Ball was The Social event of the year. Mac Krim and Kim Novak attended the Academy Awards together and all wondered if she were going to be Kim Krim.
As a fund raising vehicle, The Thalians matched up muscular movie stars against boxing fighters. Mac Krim coordinated the event that included Rory Calhoun, Richard Crane, Michael Landon, Audie Murphy and Stuart Whitman. And they did great! Not one of the movie stars wound up taking on this new career. The Annual Thalians Ball featured a take off on the mega-hit 'The King and I." Our version was called "Goodbye Gimp, Hello, Bangkok," or simply "The King and Who?" Donald O' Connor, complete with skull cap, was the king and funny lady Muriel Landers was Anna.
The Thalians Variety Show boasted 20 STARS including June Allyson, Desi Arnaz, Milton Berle, Marge Champion, Cyd Charisse, Tony Curtis, Bill Dana, Glenn Ford, Pat Harrington, Jr., Ernie Kovacs, Janet Leigh, Jerry Lewis, Tony Martin, David Niven, Hugh O'Brian, and Debbie Reynolds. A whopping $55,000 filled The Thalians' coffers.
Board members included Cheryl Clarke, Kem Dibbs, Mac Krim, Norma Kendall, Lori Nelson, Margaret Whiting, Bill Holmes and Earl Leaf. They were all busy planning our 6th Annual Ball ballyhooing our new Thalians Clinic. Frances Allen becomes a Thalian.
Debbie was surprised by Ralph Edwards. "This is Your Life," Debbie Reynolds! She really was surprised. Her loving family was there as were some of her Thalians family; Jack Haley Jr., Hugh O' Brian, Dick Powell, and Margaret Whiting… remembered Mary Frances!
The Thalians Golden Gala at the Beverly Hilton was chaired Kem Dibbs. Kem who has been with us from the beginning served for over 3 decades as our Acting President.
The proceeds from the exciting and eagerly anticipated premiere of Marlon Brando in "Mutiny on the Bounty" were headed to The Thalians coffers. Committee members included Jimmie Baker, Elmer Bernstein, Cheryl Clarke, Kem Dibbs, Chad Douglas, Marshall Edson, Bill Holmes, Mac Krim, Ruta Lee, Eileen O' Neil and Liam Sullivan. They received kudos for their hard work and the success of the event.
The Thalians Ball, "One Night in a Thousand" continues The Thalians tradition of excitement, entertainment, fun, and fund raising. Hugh O' Brian donated his salary for a cameo role in Otto Preminger's 'In Harm's way" to The Thalians. Hugh was our first President. He accepted the role at Preminger's request with the stipulation that The Thalians received the monies involved. Way to go "President" O'Brian!
The Annual Gala Ball had a great title…"Cloak & Dagger." Carolyn Jones & Ed Begley Sr. joined our Ball Committee. Stephanie Hibler joins The Thalians.
Walt Disney very graciously designs our Mr. & Ms. Wonderful Award with "Goofy" incorporating the masks of comedy and tragedy. It was a wonderful, unique and fun award and we have never even thought of changing it. Why change a winner? This year, The Thalians premiered 'Is Paris Burning." It brought out Richard Crenna, Bill Dana, Kirk Douglas, Carolyn Jones, Jim Nabors, Paul Newman, Hugh O' Brian, Donald O' Connor, Bob Petersen, Connie Stevens, Robert Vaughn and Natalie Wood. Debbie Reynolds moves up to Chairman of the Board, a job that she has alternated with Ruta Lee for many years.
Joan Crawford was our Ball Chairman and Harold Lloyd received our 2nd Mr. Wonderful Award. Donald O' Connor hosted a benefit at the Greek Theater and presented a $40,000 check to Anson I. Dreisen, Chairman of the Board of (then) Cedars Hospital.
Jimmy Durante and his "schnoznolla" are honored by The Thalians. His acceptance speech was filled with schmaltzy love as only Jimmy Durante could deliver. Debbie did a sensational impression of Barbra Streisand. Eve Arden & Kay Ballard did a truly funny "Laugh In" sketch as Rowan & Martin.
Donald O' Connor takes over as President and Debbie Reynolds continues as Chairman of the Board. Francis Albert Sinatra is our honoree and he agrees to sing for his super. Anne Baxter chairs the evening. The guest list includes Lucille Ball, Edgar Bergen, Charles Bronson, Hugh Hefner, Anthony Quinn, Edward G. Robinson, TomSelleck and Raquel Welch.
Ed Sullivan was the "Toast" of The Thalians as our Mr. Wonderful was treated to "The Ed Thalians Show." Tom Jones was our blockbuster headliner and closed with such stalwarts as John Byner, Rich Little and Mickey Rooney taking part on stage.Norm Dolin, Bud Testa, Phyllis Berkett and Dr.Warren Harvard Low were new Thalians.
Ruta Lee, (President & Ball Chairman), and Debbie Reynolds, backed by "The Little Dancers," tapped their way into our hearts as well as that of honoree Busby Berkeley. June Allyson teamed with HER real life "sprigs" (aka kids) Pam & Dick Jr. for "Flirtation Walk." Debbie and Carleton Carpenter recreated their hit, Abba Dabba Honeymoon" and Sammy Davis, Ross Martin, Army Archered, Jack Carter and Jesse White did a knock-down funny "Hollywood Squares" sketch. Macdonald Carey played in The Thalians 2nd Annual Tennis Tournament. Dr. Lehrhoff founded the Thalians Presidents Club, Frances Allen, Sidney Cooperman, Kem Dibbs, Chris and Lynda Day-George, Marty and Lita Heller were the first members of the Presidents Club. A party that included a champagne flight on a private jet flew a number of The Thalians to the Desert Inn, Las Vegas, for a Thalian surprise birthday tribute to Debbie. Sidney Cooperman, Ilene Gerber, Dixie Brown and Longina Postal were added to The Thalians roster.
Fred Astaire graced our stage for our Mr. Wonderful Gene Kelly. Fred was joined by Billy Barty, Lloyd Bridges, Gloria DeHaven, Mama Cass Elliott, Betty Garrett, Laurence Harvey, Dorothy Lamour, Janet Leigh, Peter Marshall and Ann Miller. Hugh Hefner's Playboy Mansion was the site of the 1st President's Club event. Next was a "Razzle Dazzle" Sunday By the Sea at The Balboa Bay Club. One of The Thalians favorite events this year featured the Viennese Opera Ball. Ruta Lee presented a silver tray to opera legend, Lily Pons as Jack Benny and Marry Costa appeared in concert. Stan Herman staged his 1st Backgammon Tournament that quickly became "THE" must do gaming for The Thalians.
Sammy Davis Jr. was Mr. Wonderful. If ever a star deserved to be Mr. Wonderful, he deserved it…and loved every moment of it too. Our "Fun Follies" show starred Gloria DeHaven, Phyllis Diller, David Frye, Gene Kelly, Don Knotts, Don Rickles and Cesar Romero. This year included "D-Day" (Dedication Day) for The Thalians Mental Health Center. We gave cedars an opening gift of $75,000 and through the years we have amassed over $22 million for our beloved clinic and yes we are proud! Stan Herman hosted his fellow Thalians at pre-opening of PIPS for a Valentine Party. The Presidents Club went to Jack Ryan's Special Island which was not only his home, but a truly exotic showplace and fun zone. Dick Mclnnes, Ida Myers, and Adriane Rogers joined The Thalians ranks this year.
Lucille Ball became the first "Mrs." Wonderful to be honored by The Thalians. The show was not to be believed! Billy Barty made his entrance on an elephant (gives you some idea that this was a BIG show)! Among the stars performing on stage were Steve Allen, Eve Arden, Desi Arnaz, Jr. Lucie Arnaz, Carol Burnett, Sammy Davis, Doris Day, Gloria Dehaven, Shecky Greene, Ruta Lee, Jayne Meadows, Liza Minnelli, Andy Williams and Raquel Welch.
Debbie Reynolds was finally recognized for all her years of hard work, and was honored as Ms. Wonderful at our 20th Anniversary Ball. There was a galaxy of stars onstage applauding Ms. Wonderful Reynolds. This included such stars as George Burns, Sonny Bono, Lita Baron, June Allyson, Jack Carter, Marge Champion, Gary Collins, June Haver, Anne Francis, Allen Ludden, Jack Oakie, Fred Mac Murray, Jayne Meadows, Mary Ann Mobley, Lee Meriweather, Leland Palmer, Dick Patterson, Harve Presnell , Larry Storch. Paula Kent-Meehan and John Meehan hosted "A Day at Santa Anita" for Presidents Club members. The climactic 8th race was dedicated to The Thalians and The Meehans donated the purse to The Thalians Mental Health Center.
We honored not one, not two, BUT three Hollywood legends. And there's nothing quite as legendary as Bing Crosby, Dorothy Lamour and Bob Hope! Since this was our Bicentennial Ball, we even had John Wayne presenting the awards. Bing sang, Bob joked. The funniest moments were when Dottie trying to get her lines in with Bing and Bob jumping in and out just, stepping on her lines, just like in their movies. Super start singer Peggy Lee fascinated the Gala attendees with her timeless beauty and profound talent. Mort and Lita Heller hosted the President's Club at the 8th Annual International Horse Show held at the Forum. Our Presidents Club Party at the Playboy Mansion was a Valentine for the newlyweds - Ruta Lee & Webb Lowe.
She was never lovelier and yes, we're talking about Rita Hayworth! Stunning film clips of "Love Goddess" by Jack Haley, Jr. Debbie's incredible mimicry of Barbra, Zsa Zsa, Mae West, and brought the house down "Annie Get Your Gun" only as she can do it! Watching Gene Kelly present Rita with the award brought back so many memories of all those Technicolor days of yesteryear.
For The Thalians 23rd Anniversary the theme was "All That Jazz" as we saluted Mr. Wonderful Count Basie. He led his orchestra for what had to one of the great moments in music history, and had the whole room stamping and jiving, Linda Hopkins, Cab Calloway and Marvin Hamlisch joined forces and did an Errol Garner medley. The evening a smash! Lots of Thalians attended "A Party at Pickfair" that honored the 75th birthday of late comedian Jack Oakie. He was definitely there in sprit. Our 1977 Ms. Wonderful Rita Hayworth did a spectacular tango with Cesar Romero, Alice Faye song "You'll Never Know." Marlene Dalton and Sterling Tallman joined The Thalians.
"Comedy Tonight" heralded the "crowning" of Clown Prince Jack Lemmon as our Mr., Wonderful at the Hollywood Palladium - just down the street from Columbia Pictures, where Jack became a star. Lucille Ball, acknowledged as the Queen of Comedy called Jack - "The King." His co-stars included June Allyson, Peter Falk, Tony Curtis, Ray Bolger and Henry Fonda. They all relayed stories of fond memories with him. "Madame" and Wayland Flowers headed the list of new comedy acts and they stole the show. Funniest entrance goes to Richard Dean Anderson (now best known as MacGyver) and Deidre Hall (Queen of Daytime TV) as they arrived in an Army tank! Arriving the usual way was Edie Adams, Ruth Buzzi, Louise Fletcher, Gene Kelly, Penny Marshall, and Cindy Williams.
The Silver Anniversary "To Lena with Love," was a love that The Thalians felt for the incomparable Leno Horne. We were blessed to have the Lena sing for us. She sang "Love Me Or Leave Me" and a wonderful rendition of a song from "The Wiz" - "If You Believe." It was simply electrifying. Harry Belafonte serenaded Lena and then Sammy Davis lit a fire under the audience with his tribute to the "Lady." And just as it seemed that this could not be topped, the fantastic Nicholas Brothers added their memories about Lena at the Cotton Club. Margie and Bob Peterson chaired the evening. For the Presidents Club, Ruta Lee's immortal words, "Los Hadas is where God goes for vacation" sums up the junket to the famed resort. This is where Bo Derek once jogged down the Poula beach. For another Presidents Club event Paula Kent-Meehan and John Meehan opened up their Beverly Hills estate (once the home of Elvis and Priscilla Presley) for "A Sunday Al Fresco" to celebrate the Presidents Club's and its many supporters.
The Thalians go a little bit Country as our honorees "Mr. & Mrs." Wonderful are Kenny and Marianne Rogers. They actually bought the color back page of our award winning magazine to officially thank The Thalians. It read, "Our thanks to Debbie, Ruta and all The Thalians for your gift beyond price children adolescents, adults and senior citizens are living productive lives because you restored their mental health - Marianne and Kenny Rogers." What a wonderful and thoughtful gesture. The Presidents Club members were treated to a duo of international flavored events. An "Italian Evening at Orlando-Orsini Restarante" brought out the best Italian in us. The food was superb and the entire evening was Bella. Next we traveled to Kastell Karnphuyzen high in the Hills of Beverly for the elegant " Midsummer's Night Ball" …Dutch style of course.
Jane Wyman of 'Falcon Crest" was our Ms. Wonderful. Her 58th film seemed appropriate for our 27th Ball, "Just for You." Shirley Jones, Rita Moreno, Juliet Prowse, Debbie Reynolds and Ruta Lee all entertained. Jane's co-star from "Johnny Belinda", Lew Ayres introduced film clips from Jane's illustrious career and highlighting her Oscar winning Performance. Lana Turner, also made an appearance. Ed and Penny Jacobs of Somper Furs invited the Presidents Club to their Beverly Hills home. Another Presidents Club event was held on John Wayne's yacht the "Wild Goose" with a sunset cruise. The Presidents Club was invited to a Gala party at the Princess Restaurant in Century City. And adding to all this was the Regency Wilshire Residential Condominiums became the setting for our "Monte Carlo Night" with full gaming tables, wonderful prizes, and fun into the wee hours.
Who didn't love Mary Martin as Ms. Wonderful? To some she's Nellie Forbush, Flaming Agnes … Annie Oakley … Venus di Milo … Maria Von Trapp … and to the child in all of us . . . she's definitely Peter Pan. Sammy Davis opened with " Lullaby of Broadway" and then Florence Henderson, Ruta Lee, John Raitt, George Chakiris, Carol Lawrence and Carol Channing made a surprise visit, all singing Mary's songs and praises. It was a very musical year for The Thalians. The President's Club members "bussed" over to the Hollywood Bowl for a "Classy Classical Evening" with Leonard Bernstein on a warn summer's night. And then, we slapped on our Boots 'n Beads 'n Feathers 'n Fringe 'n Buttons & Bows, and the occasional sequin getup, for Ruta Lee's hootenanny blast at the Sagebrush Cantina.
Robert Preston, our "Music Man" for all seasons! Dick Gautier did a wondrous version of 'Trouble." He jumped in at the last minute to sub for an ailing Sammy Davis Jr. Barry Bostwick and Barbara Eden did "Mack & Mabel." Lucille Ball and General Hospital's Stuart Damon wowed 'em with 'Mame" (Lucy could still kick as high as the chorus gals). The only act that could follow was Mary Martin doing Flaming Agnes from "I Do, I Do." Presidents Club members dressed " Gatsby" when they went to the Griffith Park Equestrian Center for the opening night of the Polo matches which were dedicated to The Thalians. Later in the year, Kem Dibbs put together a "Fiesta" trip to Guadalajara Mexico for a fun filled weekend!
Lana Turner! It was “The Best Of Times” in tribute to this grand and stunning actress. She was treated to the company of Jackie Cooper, Danny Thomas, Robert Preston, Marvin Hamlisch, George Hamilton, Charlton Heston, Red Buttons, and Hal Linden as they presented their “side of things” in having work with this superstar. Anthony Newly headlined our fabulous show. Joining in the fun for the Gala were George Peppard, Tony Danza, Barbara Eden, Alex Trebek, Robert Stack, Lloyd Bridges, Carrie Fisher, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Cesar Romero, Robert Culp, Hack Haley, Jr. , Rhonda Fleming and Dick Gautier. Rip Taylor was fabulous as the auctioneer. Robert E. and Margie Petersen were Gala Ball Chairmen. The Presidents Club enjoyed a “Hawaiian Luau” at Le Bel Age Hotel on their roof top garden. Also the P. C. enjoyed Barbara Rush in “A Women Of Independent Means” at the Jimmy Doolittle Theater in Hollywood. The year ended with the P.C. in London, England, for a tour of the countryside and a fabulous New Year’s Eve party.
Shirley MacLaine took time off from her other lives to join The Thalians as Ms. wonderful for our 31st Anniversary Gala Ball. The theme for this fabulous evening was "You Should See Her Now!" Clint Eastwood, John Forsythe, Ruta Lee (in a wild "Irma La Douce" number), Fred MacMurray, Dean Martin and surprise guest, John Travolta along with a line of gorgeous Can-Can dancers entertained the dazzled audience. Presidents Club members were feted by Parisian Designer Pierre Le Prince who introduced his 1986 countre and prêt-a-porter collections. The Presidents Club ventured forth to salute talented Barbara Rush at a performance of her one woman smash hit show, "A Woman of Independent Means." This was followed by a sumptuous dinner at the Hamlet Gardens.
Fred MacMurray and June Haver were our first married show biz couple to be honored at our ball and it was truly wonderful Charlton Heston and Shirley MacLaine were the honorees at the "Rudolph Valentino Awards" and one of the many highlights was watching Charlton drink wine from Bette Davis' shoe an stage. Ruta Lee did "42nd Street" in San Bernardino. The Thalians trekked on down to see Madame Ruta do some of her best work! Presidents Club members and Past Thalians Presidents Donald O'Connor and Debbie Reynolds joined forces for an incredible evening of good music at the Universal Amphitheater.
"Viva Ann-Margret" saluted one of Hollywood's loveliest and most talented ladies. Dick Gautier reprised his "Bye Bye Birdie" role, Bette Midler brought the house down with her electric performance, Jack Jones then serenaded Ann which was followed by a standing ovation. The Sagebrush Cantina was once again the scene of another Thalians Hoedown. It was back to Mexico (again by popular demand) for Las Hadas 88…it was simply fantastic! Dick Mclnnes and Patti Gribow produced a fund-raiser for wheel chair bound Thalians member Lila Selik called "Hello, Lila." Debbie Reynolds and Donald O'Connor were honored by The City of Hope and The Thalians "gang" was there in full force!
It's easy to understand why The Thalians honored Carol Burnett as Ms. Wonderful… she simply is !! The 4th Rudolph Valentino Awards honored Faye Dunaway and Sylvester Stallone. Shirley MacLaine and Charlton Heston presented the awards and Howard Keel was marvelous in concert… It was a year of great theater parties. The Thalians had front row seating at the mega-hit "Les Miserables." Following the show there was an after party at PIPS Rodeo for the cast and The Thalians. We couldn't miss Julie Harris in "Driving Miss Daisy" at the Henry Fonda and of course, we went to the Brown Derby afterwords. And we certainly wouldn't have missed Debbie Reynolds as she reunited with Harve Presnell in "Unsinkable Molly Brown" in Long Beach.
MGM created so many legendary stars and The Thalians thought it was time to honor two of those little darlings. So it became the Ann & Van show. Both Ms. Miller and Mr. Johnson looked terrific and their MGM buddies came out to play with them. Debbie, Russ Tamblyn and Tony Martin sang "Hallelujah", Kay Amen, Kathryn Grayson, June Allyson in a socko "thou Swell". Ann Blyth ("So in love"), Gloria DeHaven ("I'm in the mood for Love"), Ruts and Rip Taylor in Sugar Babies, Esther Williams and Cyd charisse. Ruts was royally roasted by her pals including impressionist Charles Pierce who came as "Rita Lay". Ruta's illegitimate half-sister. The Thalians loved the splendor of "The Phantom of the Opera"
Whoopi! What a talent, what a fabulous “Ms. Wonderful!” Whoopi is an avid movie fan and commented that she was honored to be among so many movie stars and celebrities on Ball night. When Carrie Fisher called Whoopi about the Gala Ball, she could hear Carrie’s mother’s voice in the background…and then realized it was Debbie Reynolds, one of her favorites. The Gala show featured Robin Williams, Lily Tomlin, and Nell Carter. The 6th Rudolph Valentino Awards and the Thalians honored Frances Ford Coppola, Richard Dreyfus, and Angelica Houston. The Thalians “roasted” their favorite President, Debbie on her birthday. Ruta lit up the desert (Palm Springs) in “Hello Dolly” at the McCallum Theater.
You want to do something special when you honor Angela Lansbury. The Thalians decided to have "La Ball Masque" as Phantom of the Operator was the theme for the 37th Anniversary Gala Ball. Many of our illustrious Thalians celebrities, members, and guests wore fabulous masks. Bea Arthur, Kaye Ballard, Nancy Dussualt, Lainie Kazan, John Schneider, Leslie Uggams and even Jerry Herman performed and sang! The show stopper was Ruta and Debbie singing a song that might have been written especially for them "Bossom Buddies." Jerry Franks celebrated 12 years of producing/directing The Thalians shows. Monty Hall presented the Monty Hall Humanitarian Award to Debbie and Ruta at a cocktail party atop the penthouse terrace of the Fred Hayman executive offices on Rodeo Drive.
James Stewart was our Mr. Wonderful. It was an enchanted evening when the Prez Club put on a Summer Musical Extravaganza with everyone from June Allyson to Jane Wyatt showing up along with such performers as Petula Clark, The Nicholas Brothers, Freda Payne, Michael MacDonald, The Four Freshman (together again for the first time in 25 years), and Little Anthony and the Imperials. In the summer, Dr. Irwin Lehrhoff and his beautiful bride, Sherry invited us to their new mansion in Chatsworth for an old fashioned "Mid Summer Merriment Garden Party." The Thalians unveiled a most innovative program called "Adopt A Doctor" created by Dick Mclnnes, and implemented by Dr. Irwin Lehrhoff in which we pay the salary of a resident at The Thalians Mental Health Center for two years
Ms. Wonderful…Liza Minnelli. She whooped and hollered throughout the evening and then got up onstage and showed us what the word "Superstar" means. Sister Lorna Luft joined her for a song fest. President Clubbers gathered at The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum for a very interesting and fun-filled evening. Bob and Margie Petersen proudly opened The Petersen Automotive Museum with the usual Petersen flair for a great party and grand opening. Sterling Tallman designed the Grand Opening Mega-Light show which received national and international publicity for the museum. Kern Dibbs got his "Golden Palm" star in Palm Springs. Ben DePinto was our surprise Santa Claus at our Christmas Parry.
“The Year of the Donald and the David!” …Donald O’Connor and David Wolper that is. Donald O’ was our Mr. Wonderful, and The Thalians Founding Member David W. received a Life Time Achievement Award. The evening was chockfull surprises, fun, dancing, and laughs…everything The Thalians are know for. New starlet Halle Berry presented the Life Time Achievement Award to David Wolper. He actually “discovered” her and helped to get her career launched. The show opened with a spectacular number performed by “A Chorus Line of Care,” with a hot number from “42nd Street” to celebrate Donald O’Connor’s career as a song and dance man. Fred Travalina performed his version of “Make ‘Em Laugh” to the delight of all. Rita McKenzie performed several numbers from her one woman show “Ethel Merman.” The big hit of the night featured Tony Danza tap dancing and singing songs “One of Those Songs,” “Toot Tootsie,” and “Walking My Baby Back Home.” Janet Leigh introduced the career film clips put together by Jack Haley, Jr. Debbie performed “Donald, You Were Meant For Me” as a personal tribute to her co-star and dear friend, “Mr. Wonderful” Donald O’Connor. The Thalians Presidents Club made its annual pilgrimage to “Las Hadas.”
Ms. Wonderfuls all - honored were“The Legendary Ladies Of The Silver Screen:” June Allyson, Ann-Margaret, Patty Andrews (Andrews Sisters), Ann Blyth, Corinne Calvet, Marge Champion, Yvonne De Carlo, Cyd Charisse, Nanette Fabray, Betty Garrett, June Haver, Anne Jeffreys, Gloria Jean, Glynis Johns. Paula Kelly,Nancy Kwan, Monica Lewis, Dorothy Lamour, Ruta Lee, Janet Leigh, Joan Leslie, Shirley MacLaine, Irene Manning, Ann Miller, Virginia Mayo, Constance Moore, Patricia Morison, Julie Newmar, Sheree North, France Nuyen, Margaret O’Brien, Virginia O’Brien, Anita Page, Janis Paige, Debbie Reynolds, Lina Romay. Jane Russell, Peggy Ryan, Olga San Juan, Penny Singleton, Connie Stevens, Gale Storm, Mamie Van Doren, Jane Withers, and Patrice Wymore. Ball Chairman, Margie Petersen welcomed the black-tie, “A” list audience. Ball Underwriter was Sandy Krause and the Strauss Foundation. The “Walk of Stars” was established with Sandy Krause being the first “Star.” She was shortly thereafter joined by Robert E. and Margie Petersen, John and Donna Crean, and Hal and Cynthia Gershman. Show Producer/Director utilized Debbie Reynolds’ Las Vegas Hotel show “That’s Entertainment.” Debbie and Ruta kicked off the live auction with their interpretation of “Big Spender” with Alex Trebek serving as auctioneer. President’s Club enjoyed “Blue Suede Shoes” the Ballet, the Petersen’s hosted a fabulous back yard party at their estate, and “Las Hadas” was on the trip agenda again.
Carol Channing! The theme was “Hello Dolly” with fashion being “in” for the Gala. The fashion was of course “Get Out Your Feathers!” And resulted in an evening much like the best of the “Gay Nineties” parties with the ladies looking fabulous. “Golden Girl” Betty White kicked off the evening with a wonderful and fun welcome to Carol and the guests. The USC Marching Band was lead into the ball room by Ball Chairs Gary and Shelley Hawn. The Joe Tremaine Teen Dancers performed a fabulous “Dolly.” Debbie and Ruta turned in a stellar performance of (with special lyrics) “I Put My Hand in There.” The delighted audience then joined in a sing-a-long of “Hello Dolly” as Carol Channing made her entrance and then performed “Before the Parade Passes By.” The Presidents Club visited the Getty, headed south of the border to a fun fest in Manzanillo at the Grand Bay Resort. The Thalians Mental Health Center celebrates its 25th Anniversary.
Ms. Wonderful - Sally Field. It was an evening that was a “Feast of Entertainment.” Ed Begley, Jr. Steve Allen, Renee Taylor, Janet Leigh, Elizabeth Perkins, Candice Bergen, and Goldie Hawn introduced and shared their personal stories of “time” with Sally while presenting a variety of film clips from “Ms. Wonderful’s” fabulous career. Monte Hall was our auctioneer and helped raise a fabulous sum ($100,000+) from the live auction. Debbie and Ruta dueted “Personality” in their usual “off-the-cuff and off-the wall” style. Carol Lawrence and Grover Dale saluted Sally in song and dance. Gala Ball underwriter, Robert H. Lorsch was serenaded by the Merrie Way Jamboree (a very talented children’s group). To top things off, our 1986 Ms. Wonderful, Shirley MacLaine, presented our renowned “Ms. Wonderful” Award to Sally. The Presidents Club enjoyed Marina del Rey at The Warehouse with the “Life Saver” Award being presented to Connie Stevens. There was “Wining, Dining and Dancing under the Stars” at The Playboy Mansion. Clubbers “trooped” back to Mexico at the Grand Bay Resort at Manzanillo.
HEROES OF SPACE - America’s Astronauts. Honored for their life achievements were Alan L. Bean, Scott Carpenter, Pete Conrad, L. Gordon Cooper, Jr., Walter Cunningham, Richard F. Gordon, Jr., Dr. Mae C. Jemison,
James A. Lovell, Thomas H. Mattingly II, Charles O. Walker, Kathryn O. Sullivan, Ph.D., and Walter M. Schirra. Chairman of the Gala was Nancy Conrad. The Gala show starred Barry Manilow as our headliner with a fabulous set. Carrie Fisher did “Star Wars” trivia and fun, Carol Channing sang a tribute to the honorees, Sid Caesar did a Russian Astronaut “bit,” Bill Dana was Astronaut “Jose Jimenez.” Ray Bradbury and Leonard Nimoy were presenters of the“Mr. and Ms. Wonderful” Awards. The Presidents Club partied with “A Night in St. Petersburg” a Russian themed costume ball. Mexico trip was back to “Las Hadas.”
MTM: Mary Tyler Moore…need one say more? Gary and Shelley Hawn once again are Gala Ball Chairs. Showtime! The “Blue Men” astound everyone. Bernie Kopel, Patricia Arquette, Paula Poundstone, “The Turtles,” Ed Asner, Carl Reiner. Rose Marie, and Dick Van Dyke were live and in person! Rosie O’Donnell sent a video “bit” in tribute to our Ms. Wonderful. What a night! Presidents Club celebrated William Clark Gable with a special evening at the Andrew Weiss Galleries in Beverly Hills to celebrate his 100th Birthday. The Warehouse in Marina del Rey saw Hugh O’Brian honored as a founding member of The Thalians. This was followed by a night of fun with “Ruta’s Bingo” at DuPar’s in West Hollywood - great prizes and laugh-a-minute fun. P.C. travel was “Las Hadas” (Mexico).
The Thalians “VERY OWN” Chairman…and “Ms. Wonderful,” Ruta Lee. The Gala Ball got off to a fast start with Debbie Reynolds “roasting” her best friend, Ruta Lee. Frank Sinatra, Jr. headlined a fabulous show. Celebs performing included Phyllis Diller, Robert Stack, Mary Hart, Joanne Worley, Connie Stevens, and Jack Carter. Joining in the fun were Anne Jeffreys, Joanna Carson, Fred Travalina, Nanette Fabray, Ruth Buzzi, Cyd Charisse, Jane Withers, Mary Anne Mobley, Tippi Hedren, George Schlatter, Jack LaLanne, Stefanie Powers, Astronaut Buzz Aldren, June Haver, Gloria DeHaven, Hugh O’Brien, and Entertainment Newscaster George Pennacchio, Paula Kent Meehan was the Gala Ball Underwriter. The Thalians “super” secretary, Lola La Tourette after 28 years of dedicated service. Lila Niles took on the job and all the responsibilities. Lola’s going away party (she moved to Montana) was sponsored by Marilyn and Harry Lewis at their “The Gardens of Glendon” in Westwood. The Presidents Club enjoy a “Marx Brothers’ Day at the Races at Santa Anita. One race was dedicated to The Thalians.
“Laugh-a-Minute”Super Comedian, Phyllis Diller is “Ms. Wonderful!” The Gala Ball is a “Fun-Fest” of laughter and joy. The supporting cast of “jokesters” included Bonnie Hunt, Red Buttons, June Haver, Renee Taylor, Rip Taylor, The Knudsen Brothers, Carol Hughes and Pete Barbutti. Debbie Reynolds did her interpretation of Phyllis, and has the audience rolling on the floor. The Thalians joined forces with The Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center in Palm Springs for a most spectacular weekend of fun, parties, and fundraising. The Presidents Club took off to Santa Anita for a “Day at the Races” and of course, everyone picked the right horse and took home a bunch of money (don’t we wish!). The Presidents Club did a night at the theater with “The Producers.” The “Walk of Stars” added Jean Martin Nelson who also was the Gala Ball Underwriter, Wallace Annenberg, and Stephanie Rosenbloom. Paula Kent Meehan hosted the follow up party at her palatial estate “Tea House of the August Moon.”
“Mr. Wonderful” is“Mr. Music”…Burt Bacharach! Debbie Reynolds and Ruta Lee did their usual “duet” to get things off to rip-roaring start. Connie Stevens sang, The Orange County Gay Men’s Chorus performed several of Burt’s hits, and funnyman Norm Crosby did his thing. A number of Burt’s favorite singers joined in singing tributes to him. “Mr. Wonderful” Burt then took to the stage to do his own set…and brought the house down! Phyllis Diller presented Burt with the “Mr. Wonderful” Award. The Presidents Club did a night at the theater with Debbie Reynolds and John Saxon performing “Love Letters.” It was back to Palm Springs for another weekend and a “joint venture” of fun and fundraising with the Nancy Sinatra Children’s Center. The Thalians enjoyed an evening of theater at “Funny Business,” starring our own Ruta Lee.
Red Buttons! The theme for the Gala Ball was “Sayonara” an evening with costumes, dragons (don’t ask), Taiko drummers, and fun with an all encompassing Japanese theme. Headliner and Songstress Lucy Arnez really got things going. Debbie and Ruta did their usual warm-up and song and dance fest as only they can do it. Billy Barnes, Lisa Mordente, Charlotte Rae, Leslie Jordan, and Sally Struthers teamed up to sing from “The Phantom of the Opera.” Joining the on-stage fun were Norm Crosby, Jack Klugman, Don Rickles, Rich Little, Larry Gelbart, JoAnne Worley, and Phyllis Diller. Carol Channing presented the Mr. Wonderful Award. Paula Kent Meehan was the Gala Ball Underwriter. The Presidents Club hosted the “Walk of Stars” honoring Joni and Jody Berry, Gayle Levine, the William Gold Family, and Marilyn and Harry Lewis. An entire afternoon and evening celebration/party was held in front of the Thalians Mental Health Center. The streets were blocked off and lavishly decorated with entertaining and “fun” booths, music and dancing. The menu was fabulous. The Thalians Annual Holiday Party was once again held at Bel Air Country Club, and membership meetings were held a “Le Dome” on the Sunset Strip.
The 50th Anniversary! The Thalians turn a major cornerstone in doing good works for mental health. This year, The Thalians honor…THE THALIANS! Shelley Hann and Frances Allen-Fridman were Ball Co-Chairs. The Gala Ball featured the Orange County Gay Men’s Chorus performing “Hello Dolly” for Debbie and Ruta as they “waltzed” through the audience and on to the stage. Comedian Bruce Vilanch entertained all with his management of the “raffle” drawing. JoAnne Worley “did” the auction which raised over $100,000. Entertainment commenced with Joey McIntyre (The Back Street Boys), followed by Susan Anton who sang a mesmerizing “Blues In The Night.” Headliners was Country West Super Star Clint Black, who closed his set with beautiful wife Lisa Hartman-Black singing a duet to close the show to a standing ovation. The Gala Ball was underwritten by, and the “Walk of Stars” added to, with William F. “Bill” Austin of Starkey Hearing Foundation and Philanthropist Gayle Levine . Connie Stevens held a “Star Party” at her beautiful home to celebrate our new “Stars.” The Annual Holiday Party was again held at the Bel Air Country Club.
“Mr. Wonderful” is Marc Cherry, Executive Producer and Creator and Senior Writer of the fabulously popular television show “Desperate Housewives.” “Ms. Wonderfuls” are Connie Stevens and daughters (stars in their own right), Tricia Leigh Fisher and Joely Fisher. It was a Gala Ball in which everyone sang! Debbie and Ruta did their “warm-up” which always gets things off to a rip-roaring start. American Idol Star Ace Young was first up, followed by Andrea Bowen singing a Stephen Sondheim medley to her boss, Marc Cherry. Not to be out done, Marc Cherry and long time singer friend Cathy Woo-Lewis did a set from songs they performed in their early careers. Yes, Marc Cherry is a song and dance man! Connie Stevens, Tricia Lee-Fisher, and Joely Fisher then took the stage and performed songs individually, and then joined in “Nothings Going To Harm You” to close the set to a standing ovation. A highlight of the show was ABC-7 “News Breaks” about The Thalians. These fun “bits” were provided by Entertainment Reporter George Pennacchio. The Presidents Club “Walk of Stars” honored June Haver through a generous donation from Robert Ahmanson. He also was the Gala Ball Underwriter.
Sir Roger Moore…”Bond, James Bond” is “Mr. Wonderful!” Sir Roger was joined by many of his co-stars including Stefanie Powers, Trina Parks, Luciana Paluzzi, Gloria Hendry, Serena Scott Thomas, Lynn-Holly Johnson, Maud Adams, Lois Chiles, Dolf Lundgren, and the ultimate presenter “Jaws” Richard Kiel. Howie Mandel of the fabulously successful “Deal or No Deal” television show was the auctioneer. He was joined by beauties Patricia (#9), Leyla (Lucky #13), Brooke (#15), and Lindsay (#26). Howie joked, teased “his” girls, and poked fun at the audience as he worked his magic raising many thousands of dollars. Headlining the show was Neil Sedaka, who performed a number of his major hits from the early years to new selections used in his touring shows. Gala Ball Underwriters were Eileen O’Neil and Nancy Reddin with Margie Petersen. The Presidents Club hosted the “Walk of Stars” that included Eileen O’Neill, Nancy Reddin, David and Laura McKenzie, and ABC 7. Paula Kent Meehan hosted the after party at her “Tea House of the August Moon.” Ruta Lee got her “Star” on Hollywood Boulevard, and was honored with the highest civilian award “Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania” by her native county for all of her years of work with mental health.
Clint Eastwood - major movie star, director, and composer, is The Thalians “Mr. Wonderful” in 2008. He has set the standard in American and international cinema for over fifty years. Simply, with eleven Oscar nominations and winning five Academy Awards, fourteen nominations and winning five Golden Globe Awards, he is truly a living legend. Joining Hosts Debbie Reynolds and Ruta Lee, was Jazz Songstress, Freda Payne performing some of her greatest hits. Herb Jeffries (95 years young and in great voice) performed “Flamingo.” Comedians George Lopez (long time Clint friend and golf buddy) and Rich Little “roasted” Clint to the great amusement of the audience. Co-star Shirley MacLaine presented Clint Eastwood with the Mr. Wonderful Award.
In 2009, The Thalians honored Mickey Rooney in a salute to AMERICA and HER TROOPS. It was an evening of USO entertainers, who over the years, have trooped all over the world and included Debbie Reynolds, Ruta Lee, Shirley Jones, Nancy Sinatra, Mitzi Gaynor, Ann Blyth, Ann Rutherford, and The Golddiggers. Comedian-ventriloquist Terry Fator, direct from Las Vegas, brought the house down with “His Cast of Thousands.” The Thalians were honored to have the Wounded Warriors Organization attend the Gala Ball. Mickey, who’s career started at age 1 ½ for a record 87 years (so far) in the “Biz” served in WWII and rose to a position of Staff Sergeant while serving with General George Patton. He is also a man with over 200 films under his belt. He earned an Honorary Oscar for Lifetime Achievement, a special Juvenile Oscar he shared with Deana Durbin in 1939, five Oscar nominations, one Emmy Award, five Emmy Nominations and two Golden Globes. He and wife Jan are still on the road performing “Let’s Make A Show!” across the USA and Europe. Mickey Rooney – “Mr. Wonderful,” actor, soldier, survivor, inventor and Hollywood Icon.