Friday, February 3, 2012

The Thalians!


The costumes, the scenery, the makeup, the props
The audience that lifts you when you're down 

-There's No Business Like Show Business, Irving Berlin


Happy Friday!
I hope that you all have had an arts filled week and that you are taking that through the weekend.
Courtesy: Ken Falin
I've had a great week immersing myself in the world of art through my blogs and interviews. I've written about the next generation with Emma Bell, celebrated Carol Channing's birthday, wrote about Amber Edwards whose series celebrating Michael Feinstein and his passion for the great American Songbook, Barbara Van Orden and today I'm celebrating The Thalians.
(This was suggested to me by Daniel Gettelman)
From Ruta Lee's message on their website, "For 55 years we Thalians have been a spotlight, shining into the darkness of mental disease and bringing it into the light of healing.
I am eternally grateful for your loyalty and loving generosity in helping us build and support The Thalians Mental Health Center.



 With your financial help and the unstinting gifts of time, talent and energy of the brightest Hollywood luminaries – we made miracles!"


If I were to write all about The Thalians, this would read like Gone With The Wind. I'm just hitting upon a few highlights taken from their website. I hope you enjoy a look back as they move forward to the next chapter!

 …After a half century of leadership Debbie Reynolds and Ruta Lee are stepping down into Emeritus status.





 It is now time for new Thalians to take center stage with new programs and events emphasizing young Hollywood talent and leadership.

They have relocated their office from The Thalians Building at Cedars-Sinai to:
"The King and Who?" Donald O' Conner and Murial Landers Photo courtesy: Daniel Gettleman
15451 San Fernando Mission Blvd. Suite 100, Mission Hills, CA. 91345 with a new phone number 818-792-4510.

 Let's go back to the beginning...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 and 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.

 And then in 1956,  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 in 1957 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.

 In 1958, 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." Their 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 in 1959. A whopping $55,000 filled The Thalians' coffers.
Richard Crane
 In 1960, 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.

In 1961, the year I was born, 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!

1962, The Thalians Golden Gala at the Beverly Hilton was chaired Kem Dibbs. Kem who has been with The Thalians from the beginning served for over 3 decades as their Acting President.

 1963, 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.

 1967:
Joan Crawford was Ball Chairman and Harold Lloyd received 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.
 

 1972:
Fred Astaire graced the stage for their 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.

 1976:
They 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 their Bicentennial Ball, they 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 and Webb Lowe.

WOW! Can you imagine these nights? For more, please visit The Thalians website and here's to the next chapter!

 Thank you, Thalians, for the gifts you give to the world! 

NO COPY WRITE INFRINGEMENT INTENDED.  FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY!

Please do what YOU can to be more aware that words and actions DO HURT...but they can also heal and help!
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                              Tomorrow's blog will be...CELEBRATING KT SULLIVAN!

 Thank you, to all the mentioned in this blog!


Here's to an INCREDIBLE day for ALL...with NO challenges!



Now, GO OUT AND DO SOMETHING FOR SOMEONE ELSE TOMORROW!

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TILL TOMORROW...HERE'S TO AN ARTS DAY
Richard Skipper, Richard@RichardSkipper.com



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