Archive » February 19, 2009
By Richard Mineards
A bridal couple at the Biltmore got more than they bargained for after their nuptials at the tony hostelry overlooking Butterfly Beach.
The newly wed twosome got the ultimate wedding gift, and an unforgettable memory, when talk show titan Oprah Winfrey turned up with a group of friends, including record producer Quincy Jones, singer Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, Oscar nominee Barry DeVorzon, and multiple Grammy winner David Foster, at the Ty Lounge after celebrating her 55th birthday at her 42-acre Montecito estate, just a tiara's toss or two up the road.
"They all went crazy," says my mole with the lemon drop martini. "When they all walked in it was a normal crowd at the bar, but when word got out Oprah was there the place got absolutely jammed in a matter of minutes. Everyone, but everyone, was on their cell phones, spreading the word or taking pictures.
"Oprah had been sitting with her friends in the lobby and then decided, with all the musical celebrities present, they should find a piano and let rip. It was certainly an impressive cast of characters and all so impromptu.
"Even the resident band joined in as Oprah's guests, including Babyface and DeVorzon, went through their singing paces for more than half an hour. The crowd was going out of its mind and ended the show giving rapturous applause.
"Oprah even apologized for butting in on everybody, saying 'I hope you don't mind, but we want to have some fun!'"
And did they...
Keisha Whitaker, the oh-so leggy former Eileen Ford model wife of Oscar-winning actor, Forest, towered over everybody at Angel, the Coast Village Road boutique, when she launched the latest range in her two-year old lipstick collection, Kissable Couture, at an oh-so chic soiree.
Montecito resident Betsy Lewis, met Keisha, 36, – host of the TLC channel's "Who Are You Wearing?" and co-host with actor Harry Hamlin's wife, Lisa Rinna, of this Sunday's TV Guide Channel fashion parade at the Oscars – on a cross-country flight and suggested her popular lipsticks, which also sell at Fred Segal in L.A. and Henri Bendel in New York, might be a good fit with the tony demographic in our rarefied enclave.
"This is now my fourth collection of lip gloss," Keisha tells me. "And I hope, in due course, to expand into other beauty products and sell them on a home shopping channel, like QVC."
Having seen the success my friends, Joan Rivers, – I was gossip on her syndicated TV show for five years – and Ivana Trump have had touting their jewelry and beauty products on TV over the years, I can safely predict the telegenic and charismatic Keisha will be an enormous success.
Vanity Fair Cover Shot
Former Beverly Hills crimper, Gene Woolf, who has lived in Montecito for the past 30 years, is front row and center in the latest issue of the Condé Nast celebrity glossy, Vanity Fair.
It has taken four years for the article by Matt Tyrnauer, which covers the convoluted and unorthodox living arrangements of the family known as the "Woolf Pack," to see the light of day.
"It was always destined for the magazine's annual Hollywood issue, given the subject matter, but for the past three years got bumped out because of space issues," Gene, one of two adopted sons of L.A. celebrity architect John Elgin Woolf, told me at a launch bash in the intimate but socially gridlocked bar at the Montecito Inn.
Gene's adoptive father's "Hollywood Regency" projects read like a Who's Who of Hollywood, including Cary Grant, Errol Flynn, Bob Hope and Fanny Brice, but his most famous work was undoubtedly the 1942 Pendleton house in Beverly Hills, now the home of colorful and much-married producer Bob Evans, where I have been a frequent visitor in the past.
"It really is a quite fascinating story about life, love and intertwining relationships," says Gene, a top hairdresser in his heyday at the Elizabeth Arden salon.
I couldn't agree more...
Domestic Violence Solutions, which helps provide shelter for battered women and children, launched its "Saving Grace" campaign to raise $200,000 within the next six months with a bash hosted by retired district attorney Stan Roden and his wife, Phyllis de Picciotto, at the Sea Meadow club.
The charity, which helps 600 people a year with shelters in Santa Barbara, Lompoc and Santa Maria, has a $2.6 million annual budget, with $1.4 million coming from state government and private foundations, and another $500,000 from individuals, as well as other funding.
But, having recently lost a $185,000 state grant, the group is expecting a deficit of $300,000 in due course and has asked its leading benefactors to become "ambassadors" to "nudge, cajole and schmooze" donations, as board president Sally Hamilton puts it.
"We want everyone to see what we're doing and the impact we have on people's lives," says Sally. "It really is an extraordinarily worthy cause."
Lynda Millner, a docent at Casa del Herrero, the 1925 11-acre Spanish colonial George Washington Smith Montecito estate, had a very definite one-in-a-million flashback when she gave one of the first tours of the year last week. Among the 15 tour guests was Mary Bailiff, who was a high school classmate of Lynda at Lake Chelam, near Spokane, Washington, more than half a century ago.
"Talk about small world!" exclaimed Lynda, who lives a hop, skip and jump from the National Historic Landmark estate and has written regularly for this illustrious organ since its inception. "You could have knocked me over with a feather," she says.
It turns out Bailiff, who lives in Manson, not far from the lake, was visiting her daughter, Ruth Intorre, who lives in Santa Barbara.
"There were only forty-four students in our graduating class, so this was really kind of amazing," she says. "I hope now we'll keep in touch."
St. Jude Benefit
The Santa Barbara Chapter of the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, launched itself in grand style with a "Hearts for Hope" gala at the Biltmore on Friday, hoping to raise $100,000 for the charity, which helps youngsters with cancer and their families. They raised, it turned out, much more.
More than 120 guests, including actress Bo Derek and her actor beau, John Corbett, and celebrity attorney, Gerry Spence and his wife, Imaging, turned out for the bash and had the chance to meet a local St. Jude patient mother and her son who overcame a rare brain tumor when just seven years old.
Tony Thomas, son of the 47-year-old charity's founder, the late comedian Danny Thomas, and his sister, Terre, also turned out for the launch, which was orchestrated by three local couples, Michael and Angie Ferraro, John and Janet McCann and Kerry and Geonine Moriarty.
Among the many auction prizes was a dinner at the beach house of comedian Dennis and Carolyn Miller prepared by celebrity chef Bradley Ogden...
Palminteri is Prime
I had a most amusing interlude as the guest on the morning drive time show of dynamic duo Spencer Fischer and his sidekick, Adam Lundquist, on KJEE radio the other day.
Working at a frenetic pace in the tiniest of studios above a Goodwill store, the twosome managed to squeeze in a ten-minute interview with me about my career, including 25 years of broadcasting, which also involved the ubiquitous John Palminteri, who's not only the senior reporter on KEYT, but also does regular news segments on KJEE, as well as managing to churn out weekly columns for all and sundry.
A human dynamo, not to mention a persuasive and popular charity auctioneer, to be sure...
Happy 200th Birthday
Local culture vultures had a field day at the weekend. The Santa Barbara Symphony under maestro Nir Kabaretti, celebrated what would have been composer Felix Mendelssohn's 200th birthday with two works, including his concerto for violin and orchestra in E minor, with New York-based violinist Jennifer Koh, whose extraordinary dexterity can only be described as mesmerizing. She got a well deserved standing ovation from the packed Granada Theatre audience.
Mozart's instantly recognizable Symphony No. 40 in G minor, completed the thoroughly entertaining program.
Leni Fe Bland, one of the area's great philanthropists, sponsored Koh's visit...
Over at Trinity Episcopal Church members of the UCSB music faculty and the esteemed Young Artists String Quartet were no less entertaining in "Hearts for the Arts, A Valentine Serenade."
The varied program included works from Liszt, Rachmaninoff , Schumann and Mendelssohn, who's obviously going to be extremely popular this year...
Polo Lounge Lunch
Lunch at the legendary Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel with Santa Barbara polo club sponsor, gas and beans heiress Cat Pollon.
With the Oscars looming large on Sunday, food specials on the menu were named in honor of Academy Award nominees, including the "Milk" smoked sablefish and the "Benjamin Button" cajun fried chicken.
As for me, I plumped for the "Slumdog Millionaire, Rags to Riches" rice pudding...
Sightings: Michael Keaton and Adam Sandler at Pierre Lafond in the Upper Village....Sigourney Weaver at a coffee house on Coast Village Road....Dennis Franz at Vons.... Jimmy Connors at Trattoria Mollie... Ken Liatis at Montecito Deli.
Pip! Pip! for now.
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