The Havana of the ‘40s, and of Today

A kickoff cocktail party was held high on a hill above the San Ysidro Ranch at the dream home of Teran and Michael Davis. The get-together was meant to herald the “Havana of the ‘40s” fundraising gala on October 20, where Pat Nesbitt’s polo estate will be turned into a “Pearl of the Caribbean” with Jeff and Beau Bridges as honorary co-chairmen and Mary Hart (of “Entertainment Tonight”) as honorary entertainment chair.

For the cocktail party, Hart came all the way from Los Angeles in the Friday rush hour, along with Valerie Sobel, who is founder of the Andre Sobel River of Life Foundation, the beneficiary for the Havana event. Sobel established the foundation in 2000 after her 18-year-old son died from a brain tumor and her husband killed himself a year thereafter. His suicide note said he couldn’t bear outliving his son.

Sobel realized what a blessing it was to have money and to have been able to devote her time solely to her ill child. The mission of her foundation is to provide emergency financial help to single parents in despair with “catastrophically and terminally ill” children. Almost $4 million has been given to 2,700 families, all within 24 hours of hearing about their case. Sobel was profiled in the April 2 issue of People Magazine as the magazine’s “hero of the week.”

Among the guests enjoying the panoramic view while sipping the bubbly and tasting tapas were Patty DeDominic, the foundation’s board treasurer; designer Luis Estevez; Anne and Michael Towbes; Santa Barbara Magazine Executive Editor Gina Tolleson; actor/author Darryl Hickman; and publicist Tommy Cook, who as a kid played Red Ryder’s sidekick Little Beaver.

Some of the celebs signed on for October’s Havana event are actor Alan Thicke, actress Terry Moore (former wife of Howard Hughes), “Tarzan” Ron Ely, Andy Garcia and Sharon and Lyle Waggoner (“Carol Burnett Show”), who will be auctioneers. More than 400 glamorous guests will see a stunning stage review, eat great food and drink mojitos and champagne while dancing mambo, salsa and rumba to the rhythms of Latin and Afro-Cuban big band music in a “vintage Havana nightclub.” See you there!

For information call 310-276-7111.

Hats Off to the Ladies

“Cover your hat with brown paper to keep your ostrich plumes dry” – Miss Manners, 1880

There’s something elegant about ladies wearing hats no matter what the era! The Lobero Theatre Associates host a Hats Off Luncheon every spring at the Four Seasons Biltmore Hotel. Actually, it’s a “hats on” event. Chapeauxs are everywhere in a rainbow of colors – and one hat was a rainbow. The Loggia room was done in hot pink and baby blue with every hue of pink roses centering the tables. Gil Rosas was at the keyboard throughout the event.

Event chairs Paige Beard, Marilyn Schuermann, Jasmine Batis and President Lily Marx were bustling around during social hour. Some of those looking over the silent auction were Eileen Winters, Marcia St. Clair, designer Peggy Gouger, Bridget Colleary, Hope Kelly, Elaine Stepanek and Caroline Thompson. Two of the six founders of the Lobero Associates 35 years ago, Schuermann and June Buell, were in attendance. The Associates give financial support to the theatre. This year they had one live auction item – a customized party for 50 guests on the stage of the Lobero. That means the works, from food and wine to entertainment and music. An anonymous bidder gave the $10,000 minimum to give a surprise birthday bash for her husband.

Honored guest speaker was Marcy Carsey, who has been named one of the 50 most reputable women in television and radio. She produced numerous television shows, including “The Cosby Show,” “That ‘70s Show” and “Roseanne.” In June, she is opening a new shop in Summerland call Just Folk filled with Americana items. If that isn’t enough she has kids, step-kids, dogs and a 99-year-old mother who lives with her. She gave us a list of the 10 worst pieces of worst advice she was ever given. Her advice, “Don’t listen!”

And remember, “Never chew gum while wearing a veiled hat.”

The Joy of Getting a Tan

Fans of author Amy Tan gathered in Campbell Hall for another UCSB Arts & Lectures event. Tan walked on stage and set a bag beside her on the floor. Little did the audience know that her tiny dog Lilli was inside and remained there during the whole conversation Tan had with writer and part-time Santa Barbaran Pico Iyer.

“The Joy Luck Club” came out 18 years ago and Tan has been famous ever since. Responding to Iyer’s introduction, she said “it makes me sound so fruitful. I think I’m lazy.” She grew up with a Chinese mother who spoke broken English, saying things like “So-so Security” instead of Social Security. She may have been right, but Amy wanted to be American like all of her friends. She would look at her leg and think, “It’s a Chinese leg because I eat too much Chinese food.”

Tan says her mom believed “I was a reincarnation of someone she had wronged.” She also believed in Chinese ghosts but Tan’s minister father only believed in the Holy Ghost. Though Tan could never please her mother as a child, Mom was extremely proud of her success as a writer. When fans would tell Tan her characters were just like their mother or daughter and say, “You must have been in our living room,” Tan would reply, “Oh, I’m so sorry.” She would think they might want to sue her. She never thought her characters were universal.

After the interview the audience bought signed copies of Tan’s latest, “Saving Fish From Drowning.” Director of Arts & Lectures Celesta Billeci thanked Jon and Lillian Lovelace for supporting the UCSB event. Afterwards, about 70 people headed for Montecito to the home of Patricia and Jim Selbert, who hosted a private dinner with Tan. She mixed and mingled along with dog Lilli, who had arrived in her bag. Lilli had dog food and we had a delightful dinner.