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Busy time in Palm Beach at the height of the season

Palm Beach siesta. Photo: JH.
Monday, March 4, 2013. Two weeks and three days til Spring. I saw witch hazel in bloom in Carl Schurz Park yesterday. Right now it’s cold in New York – 31 degrees; and dry. Yesterday was one of those white-bright sunny winter days where even the sidewalks had a glare to make you squint. But not horrible if you’ve got a warm place to put your feet up.

I can see from the coming calendar that things are beginning to pick up on the social circuit, although it’s still relatively quiet. I happened to dine both Friday and Saturday night at Sette Mezzo. The place was packed and turning tables twice and thrice. So there are people around.
Sette Mezzo on Saturday night.
Down among the sheltering palms in Palm Beach is where the thickest New York scene is these days. The season is in full swing. Palm Beach is at its zenith in the American social world. There are many other winter resorts, well-populated and luxe, but PB is the icing on the cake. It hasn’t seen glory like this since the 19-teens and '20s when Mizner and Fatio and all those boys were building palaces for pashas of American industry and Wall Street.

It’s bigger now and like everything else where there is money to spend, it’s State of the Art, And it’s very social by which I mean, people get out, dining, cocktails, charity galas, concerts, private dinners at home. So although it’s a small town, it has a big time nightlife when the season’s at its height, that rivals the Mother City of New York. Different, of course, but comparatively as active. The following explains what I mean. It’s also very accessible to the Northerners — be it Jet Blue or private, the planes are loaded with weekenders right now.

Pepe and Emilia.
Chris Meigher and the birthday girl, Grace.
Mr. Pepys in PB from early Feb onwards:

Busy time at the height of the season — Emilia and Pepe Fanjul's dinner at their beautiful house on Wednesday, February 6: salad, roast lamb and a delicious chocolate dessert. The guests: Kate Ford, Frank Chopin, Margaretha and Eric Javits, Annette and Joe Allen, Mr. and Mrs. Hashem Khosrovani, Jill Fuller, Jim Mitchell, Mila and former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, Darlene and Jerry Jordan, Linda and Barry Donahue, Jackie Weld and Rod Drake, Gail and Harry Theodoracopulos ...

Friday, February 8: Linda and Barry Donahue gave a big cocktail party at their big beautiful house that once belonged to Francie Young ... it was a book signing party for Robert L. Forbes and his new book of poetry, Beast Friends Forever!: Animal Lovers in Rhyme.

It was also Grace Meigher’s birthday (hint: she was 39 last year). There were lots of the guests in black tie — many were going to the Red Cross Ball, others to Diana and Bill Wisters' dinner.

Among the guests at the Donahues were Grace and Chris Meigher (Grace a vision in white silk) Kate Ford, in strapless black silk and magnificent diamonds, with Frank Chopin, Ginny Burke, Ed Cox, Annabel and Dennis Coleman, Hilary (in silver and white), and Wilbur Ross, Marilyn Bardes, Britty Cudlip, Johnny Damgard, Annette and Joe Allen, Lucy Musso, Eileen Burns, Felix Miranda, Maureen Donnell, Kit Pannill, and lots more on a beautiful 80-degree evening in Palm Beach.

Saturday February 9: Candy and Bill Hamm's big dinner at the Everglades Club was for the former Ambassador to France under George W. Bush, Howard Leach and his wife Gretchen, formerly of San Francisco, now of Palm beach.

It seems a lot of those girls down there have birthdays in February. Gracie, Pauline Pitt, and Kate Ford. There was also a big dinner to celebrate Kate Ford’s.
Howard Leach and his wife Gretchen. Candy and Bill Hamm.
The Everglades Club.
The Armada Room: Once the club's dining room, it's now used for receptions and dinner parties. The carved paneling and chandeliers are Mizner originals, as is the leather chair on the far right, under the wall mural (the other is a reproduction). The melodramatic murals depict England's defeat of the Spanish Armada, but the artist got one important detail wrong. The mural gives the date of the battle as 1538, when it actually occurred in 1588. (Ray Graham/The Palm Beach Post)
Christopher Idone, one of the founders of Glorious Food with Sean Driscoll, arrived to stay with Linda and Barry Donahue on February 12. That night, Franny Scaife threw a big cocktail at her house on the lake. Some of the guests: Anne Slater and John Cahill who drove in from their house in Wellington; Nancy Brinker, Marylou Whitney and John Hendrickson, Nancy Paul, Freddy Melhado, Bob Hardwick, Princess Maria Pia de Savoia and Prince Michel de Bourbon-Parma, Ed Allison, Donna Shalek, Jan West, Darcy and George Gould, Susan and Rip McIntosh, Alice Lynch down from Hobe Sound, Maureen Donnell, Gigi Benson (without Harry), Susan Lloyd. Later that night was Marilyn Bardes hosted a “ladies only” evening — 80 women for dinner.
Princess Maria Pia and Katherine Mezzacappa.
February 13 was Hope and Jack Annan's dinner at the Everglades Club.

Marylou Whitney and John Hendrickson are in their new house.  On February 27, Marylou gave a big birthday party for her husband in the Coral Room at the Everglades. Marylou was pretty in pink and sparkling with lots of diamonds.

Marylou Whitney and John Hendrickson.
There were masses of flowers, lots of caviar and champagne; a great dinner completed with Coconut Cake and Ice Cream Cones. Among the 50 bejeweled guests: Linda and Jay Rossbach (Linda in red silk with turquoise accessories), Frannie Scaife and Tom McArter, New York interior designer Stephen Stempler, Ann Downey, Jim Mitchell, Frayda and George Lindeman, Joyce and Bob Sterling, Hope and Jack Annan, Maura and Bill Benjamin, Elise Gillett.

Lord Charles Spencer Churchill arrived in New York with his new girlfriend Sarah on February 5, staying at the Carlyle. Then they were off  to Jamaica where Lord Charles has been vacationing since he was a boy and his father Bertie, the 10th Duke of Marlborough had a house, as did his sister Lady Sarah. Then it was on to Dominican Republic,  and finally, later in the month, Palm Beach where they were staying with Arianna and Dixon Boardman.

John and Marianne Castle, their sons Dr. James Castle, William Castle, John Sherman Castle, and their wives and the Castles’ grandchildren all abandoned Palm Beach for a few days at Sugar Bush in Vermont  to celebrate Marianne Castle’s birthday.
The famous John F. Kennedy Winter White House in Palm Beach in the early 1960s when it was owned by the President's father, Joseph P. Kennedy. Now the residence of John and Marianne Castle.
Saturday, February 16 was the big cocktail party at the Wally Findlay Galleries for the 25th Anniversary Exhibition of Quest, “Defining a Quarter of a Century of People, Places and Events” in a photographic exhibition. Maureen Donnell, who as you can see gets out and about, gave a big dinner is at the Everglades on February 19.

There are big dinners at the Everglades Club every night. A fabulous venue for large private parties, exactly as Addison Mizner imagined it. The private club has carried its luster down through the decades for almost a century. It’s a core point in the society that is known as Palm Beach. Besides the wonderful Mizner rooms, beautifully maintained and impeccable, meanwhile dripping with the atmosphere of another age in the tropics, there is wonderful music for dancing and the most delicious food in Palm Beach.
Princess Maria Pia of Savoy, Prince Michel of Bourbon-Parma, Moira Benjamin, Leslie Smith, and Grace Meigher at the 25th Anniversary Exhibition of Quest, “Defining a Quarter of a Century of People, Places and Events.”
Meanwhile, back to the calendar. On March 10, Rosita, The Duchess of Marlborough arrives to stay with her sister, Princess Elisabeth of Bavaria (Elisabeth and her husband, Prince Max, Duke of Bavaria have a house in Palm Beach). Marianne and John Castle are hosting for Rosita on Friday evening, March 15 at their Palm Beach house on North Ocean Blvd. Formerly the winter home of Joseph P. Kennedy who acquired it in the early 1930s (for a song), in the early 1960s, it was his son John F. Kennedy’s  Winter White House.

Kristy Hinze and Jim Clark, who were married last year on March 24th.
The night following the Castles’ dinner, on March 16, Rosita is going to the home of Kristy and Jim Clark (Netscape) who are hosting an Itzak Perlman musical evening and dinner with Emilia and Pepe Fanjul. The Clark's house Is the former fabulous Joseph Widener mansion on South Ocean Blvd. The 40,000 square foot residence was later the home of Walter Annenberg’s sister Janet Hooker.

Nightlife. ECHO, an Asian restaurant owned by the Breakers. It is one of the hot spots in Palm Beach at night; great food is fabulous, and the room is filled with some of the most beautiful girls in Palm Beach, beautifully dressed, long legs and high heels ... and lots of good looking men at the bar.

Table 26, a restaurant near the Norton Museum in West Palm Beach is also packed every night with lots of Palm Beachers. Ed from The Grill is one of the owners.

Barbara and Bill Harbach, former Palm Beachers, who now live in Fairfield, CT were given lots of parties while they were visiting Palm Beach. Bill is a former television producer and the son of the late great songwriter, Otto Harbach the great lyricist of what is now the American Songbook, collaborating with Jerome Kern, Vincent Youmans, George Gershwin, Sigmund Romberg, Oscar Hammerstein II, Harbach wrote lyrics for 50 Broadway musicals!
Barbara and Bill Harbach (from the NYSD).
Lots of people in Palm Beach. Barbara Cates (Johnny Damgard’s sister), Fern Tailer Gimbel de Naveraz (Fern is the daughter of the late socialite sportsman, T Sufferin Tailer). Her grandmother was Edith Baker, a close friend of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor) from Long Island. Fern is related to almost everyone in Palm Beach, Long Island and Newport. Newport’s Maureen Donnell, as you have read is here; also. Princess Maria Pia de Savoia (her father was King Umberto of Italy) and her husband, Prince Michel de Bourbon-Parme, is related to almost every Royal House in Europe, Countess Christina de Caraman (once married to Taki Theodoracopulos), Earle and Carol Mack, (Earle was George W. Bush’s Ambassador to Finland), Julia and David Koch, Pauline Pitt and Jerry Seay; Ginny Burke. Ginny’s mother Consuelo Vanderbilt Earl (the niece of Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan) was married to the late Mayor of Palm Beach, Earl E.T. Smith, Lesly Smith, who was also Mayor of Palm Beach and also married to the late Earl E.T. Smith.
Left to right, Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan, Col. Jacques Balsan, Mr. and Mrs. William K. Vanderbilt Jr. stepmother and father of the bride, Mrs. Armistead Davis of Washington, mother of the groom; and the newlyweds, Mr. and Mrs. Henry G. Davis (nee Consuelo Vanderbilt), at Fisher's Island, the Miami Beach Island estate of the bride's father, November 29, 1936. The couple had just been married on the bride's father's yacht, "Alva" (named for his famous mother), docked nearby.
Next month, on April 15th at 10 a.m. There will be an auction at Doyle Galleries in New York of Important Jewelry from the estate of Consuelo Vanderbilt Earl.
Cartier Rock Crystal, Yellow Gold, Onyx, Enamel and Diamond Mystery Clock. The rock crystal case outlined in gold and enamel enclosing a mother-of-pearl chapter ring with Roman numerals surrounded by a diamond bezel with diamond hands, on an onyx base, the dial signed Cartier, the bottom inscribed Cartier, NY, No 1052, European Watch & Clock Co. Inc., France, Height 5 1/2 inches.

Estimate $200,000 to $400,000.
Gold Tray. 18 kt. gold, of rectangular molded form flanked by a pair of molded outset handles, the whole within a molded border, inscribed Alva 1931, marked Tiffany & Co., makers #47421, approximately 1,649 dwt. Length 24 5/8 inches, width 9 3/8 inches. Estimate $125,000 - $175,000. The tray came from the yacht of Consuelo Vanderbilt Earl's father William K. Vanderbilt Jr, and was named for his mother Alva Vanderbilt.
Set of 12 Gold Cordial Cups. 18 kt. gold, each outscrolled rim above a circular body, raised on a conforming molded base, inscribed Ara 1924 and Alva 1931, marked Tiffany & Co Makers #18992, approximately 771 dwt. Height 2 1/2 inches, diameter 2 1/8 inches. Estimate $40,000 - $60,000. Made for the tray. "Ara" was the name of Mr. Vanderbilt's first yacht on which he made a trip halfway around the world in 1927.
Palm Beach is still reeling from former Palm Beacher, Betsy Pickering Kaiser’s death last week in Montecito, California. Betsy, one of the greatest models of the mid-20th century, before her marriage to Michael Kaiser, was once married designer Kasper, and then to Greek shipping heir, Harry Theodoracopulos (brother of Taki). Betsy and Harry's son John is married to Pauline Pitt and Dixon Boardman’s daughter, Serena. Betsy and her husband, Michael Kaiser, resided in Santa Barbara.
Dovima and Betsy Pickering, by Avedon, August, 1958.
 

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