Last night on New Broadway ...

Yanna Avis, that glamorous French chanteuse boarded the baby grand with panache and sophistication in an evening of multi-lingual songs, opening last night at the King Kong Room of the Supper Club at 240 West 47th Street. Rex Reed said, "... this entrancing and svelte femme fatale conducts a guided tour through a landscape of love that roams sensually from the boites of Edith Piaf's Paris to the cellars of Marlene Dietrich's Berlin."

Last night Yanna brought out lots of her pals including her husband, Rent-a-car tycoon Warren Avis, Reinaldo and Carolina Herrera, Liz Smith, Dominick Dunne, Alex Hitz, Fernando Sanchez, Dolores Smithies, Lee Thaw, Kenny Lane, Aileen Mehle, Boaz Mazor, Mario Buatta, Phillip Junot, Heather Cohane, Mary McFadden, David Beer, et al.

Thommie Walsh directs. $25 cover, $15 food/drink minimum.  Friday and Saturday, December 5th and 6th at 9 PM.

Yanna singing "old love, new love, every love but true love ... Love for Sale"
Palm Beach, they say, was filled to capacity with New Yorkers over the long Thanksgiving weekend (which in Palm Beach is one day short of a week). And the fete de fetes was, hands down, David and Julia Koch’s cocktail buffet last Saturday at their fabulous villa “El Sarmiento.” The whole town turned out. Well, not quite, but close enough.

David and Julia Koch
The glamorous Kochs have one of the town’s most glamorous houses – all 25,000 square feet of it – once the home of Dolly O’Brien back in the days when Clark Gable and The Duke and the Duchess of Windsor came to stay. And stay. Well, not at the same time.

Mrs. O’Brien was, in fact, Countess Dolly Hylan Heminway Fleischmann O’Brien Dorelis. She was an insurance man’s daughter from Philadelphia and so charming in her ways that she gave both the future and the past a good name. Count Jose Rex Holstein Dorelis was the man who gave her the title and after that she was Countess Dolly Dorelis. And he was history, at least in her house.

The count, who was a perfumer by trade, first hit Palm Beach in 1939 when it was a sleepy little island of mansions and millionaires and parties till dawn. He was from a country where they didn’t have counts – Rumania. That’s okay, there was always the King of Bulgaria, who granted him the title. It all sounded a little hokey even to people in Palm Beach, so just to be on the safe side, the count carried around the papers with him, a kind of drivers license for social entrepreneurs.

The count was easy to spot at the B&T or the Everglades, or anywhere else for that matter: he always wore monocles – two – at the same time. Lotta squinting there, no? He was also distinguishable to any head he turned by the gold tassel which protruded from an antique flint box which he kept in his right rear pocket. You had to be there.
Dolly Hylan Heminway Fleischmann O'Brien, Charles Munn and Joanne Connelley Sweeny Ortiz-Patino at a ball in Palm Beach (circa 1950).
But that was then and this is now. The Kochs, who also live in Southampton and in Manhattan in the apartment that belonged to Jacqueline Onassis, are the proud parents of two young children and Saturday night’s party as well as the occasional major charity benefit don’t/won’t/couldn’t/wouldn’t hold a candle to the times that went on in the days of the Count and Countess Dorelis.

Julia Koch, in a short gold beaded dress and her long tall husband who reputedly has to make do on $30 million a year or such, greeted their several hundred guests as they entered the famous mansion. The party was so beautiful, according to one guest who’s seen the best of them, that “it was reminiscent of the old glorious days in Palm Beach.” There was a major traffic jam on South Ocean Boulevard with guests arriving and departing. There were cocktails in the house and in the garden. After cocktails there were tables in the ballroom for the buffet and music, music, music.

Among the guests: The host’s brother Bill Koch, Emilia and Pepe Fanjul, Pauline Pitt, Cristina de Caraman, just back from Paris, Evelyn and Leonard Lauder, who live just a hop, skip and a jump away; Marianne and John Castle, Maura and Bill Benjamin, Rodney Dillard and the new Mrs. Dillard, Carol and Earle Mack, Carroll Petrie, John Christensen, Jean Tailer, Giney and Ned Burke, Jim Mitchell, Charles Holman, Kit and Bill Pannill, Mai and Ridgely Harrison, Victoria and Minot Amory, Audrey and Martin Gruss, Howard Cox, Kate and Jimmy Gubelmann, Liz Mezzacappa, Polly and David Ober, Donna and Bill Acquavella, Ambassador Nancy Brinker, Maggie and Alan Scherer, Frieda and George Lindemann, Mayor Leslie Smith, Dr. James Walsh, Tina and Bill Flaherty, Hildegarde and David Jones, Geoffrey Bradfield, the David Gilmours, Grace and Chris Meigher, Mila and Brian Mulroney, Liza Leidy, Arnold Scaasi and Parker Ladd, Terry Kramer and Nick Simenuk, Alyne Massey, John Bailey, Ann Downey and her daughter Mona, the Countess de Sayve, who is now living in New York and Palm Beach; Tina Fanjul, Jim Powers, Dina Merrill and Ted Hartley whose show “Never Gonna Dance” with music by George and Ira Gershwin and based on the Astaire/Rogers musical “Swingtime” opens this Thursday on Broadway.

And the talk? Well, there’s a big divorce looming down there among the sheltering palms. The husband offered the wife 7 mill and 35 Gs a month. But she wants 21 and 50 (Gs a month). It’s never enough and it won’t ever be, even if it were a billion, considering where it goes when she’s laying it out.

Meanwhile, in the happier fields of matrimony is the ongoing rumor of the happy couple who secretly married and aren’t talking about it.
They honored Francine LeFrak and Rick Friedberg (pictured above with Veronica Kelly, DPC, and Lois and Buzz Aldrin) with the Human Spirit Award at the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation’s “A Magical Evening” gala this year at the Marriott Marquis on Broadway and 45th Street.

LeFrak and Friedberg, Mr. and Mrs. in real life, were honored for their exceptional civic and professional contributions to CRPF. They also honored Michael Graves, the accomplished architect with the CRPF Visionary Leadership Award, in recognition for his personal courage and new partnership with the organization. Graves himself was paralyzed due to an infection this year.

They also announced the two winners of this year’s Reeve-Irvine Research Medal for Spinal Cord Repair, created by the Reeve-Irvine Research center at the University of California Irvine, and Joan Irvine Smith. This year’s winnder were Dr. james Fawcett of Cambridge University and Dr. Jerry Silver of Case Western Reserve University and comes with a cash prize of $50,000.

The 13th annual A Magical Evening gala was hosted by John Lithgow. They raised approximately $1.8 million for CRPF’s spinal repair research and Quality of Life programs. In 2003, CRPF approved over $3.78 million for Individual Research Grants, $2.88 million for the Research Consortium on Spinal Cord Injury, and $1.2 million in Quality of Life Grants.

For lots more on this Magical Evening, look at Today's Party Pictures.

The Cartier Mansion on Fifth Avenue, all wrapped up for the holidays

Alpark Salon private opening honors chairwomen of The Norton Museum of Art's Vernissage 2004 Gala
L. to r.: Michael and Meg Bowen; Jean Tailer, Gail Nessel, Maura Benjamin, and Dorothy Kohl; Jill Rau and Melinda Trucks.
More from West Palm Beach, FL - The new Alpark Couture Salon in the Esplanade was the location for a gala cocktail party and private preview on November 18th, in honor of the 2004 Vernissage 2004 Gala Chairman, Mrs. Jeffrey Fisher (Frances), and her co chairmen, Mrs. William E. Benjamin II (Maura), Mrs. Sidney Kohl (Dorothy), and Mrs. Melvin B. Nessel (Gail). Honorary Chairman is Mrs. T. Suffern Tailer (Jean). The Connoisseurs and Collectors Host Committee Chairmen are Mr. William I. Koch and Mr. Donald J. Trump. The evening was graciously hosted by Alpark President Sami Alpark and CEO René Gallardo. Guests enjoyed a personal appearance and fashion extravaganza by designer Reem Acraand a presentation of dazzling jewels by VIVID Collection.

Vernissage 2004 is the opening evening of the The International Fine Art & Antique Fair, to be held on Thursday, January 29th, at the Palm Beach County Convention Center, West Palm Beach. The event benefits the Norton Museum of Art and is generously underwritten in part by Grand Corporate Sponsor, VIVID Collection; Grand Corporate Benefactor, The Private Bank at Bank of America; and Corporate Patrons, The Bruce Gendelman Company, Christie's, Graff, and Palm Beach Cottages and Gardens Magazine.
L. to r.: Frances Fisher and David Ober; Lisa and Lars Erdmann; Christina Orr-Cahall with Bob and Ellen Jaffe.

Photographs by DPC, JH, & Lucien Capehart (Palm Beach)


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