Sunday, October 26, 2014

Mamie Van Doren Honored By Palm Springs Historical Society... Andreas Hotel

Mamie Van Doren & her close friend Janie Hughes

Mamie Van Doren

Mamie Van Doren & Palm Springs Historical Society staff (left to right) Nicolette Wenzell, Renee Brown & Jeri Vogelsong

Mamie Van Doren, Janie Hughes & Harrison Held

What a great party honoring the forever young & beautiful Mamie Van Doren at the Andreas Hotel in Palm Springs last nite!  The well attended event was a fundraiser for the Palm Springs Historical Society which now features a stunning Mamie Van Doren collection open to the public.  Mamie won Miss Palm Springs when she was a teenager and was discovered by Howard Hughes who saw the pageant... a star was born!   "Palm Springs is such a special place for me. It's where my career started when Howard Hughes discovered me in the Miss Palm Springs beauty contest.  Over the years it seems that the Springs has been the focal point for so many good things in my life" says Mamie.  Indeed it has...  last year I attended the unveiling of the beautiful  Mamie Van Doren Suite at the Andreas.  It was such a fun memorable nite & lucky guests from around the world have kept the glamorous art deco suite occupied since!   Mamie's lovely friend Janie Hughes, a cousin to Howard, did a fine job yesterday as the official MC of the nite while party guests enjoyed spending time with Mamie who was genuinely thrilled & touched by the festivites.   Delicious hors d'oeuvres were provided by LuLu California Bistro & tasty cake by Manhattan in the Dessert.  Lucky me... I won the last raffle of the nite, a walking tour for two which I am looking forward to.  Homebase for the Palm Springs Historical Society is located in the heart of downtown at 221 South Palm Canyon Drive - for more information call 760 323 8297.  Thanks to the Palm Springs Historical Society & the Andreas Hotel for their warm hospitality!   Report by Harrison Held/Photos by Billy Bennight
Mamie Van Doren & Harrison Held

Friday, October 17, 2014

Premeditation... Encuentro 2014 National Theatre Festival @ LATC

Premeditation's Great Cast... (left to right) Geoffrey Rivas, Lucy Rodriguez,  Sal Lopez & Evelina Fernandez

Sal Lopez & Evelina Fernandez star in Premeditation @ LATC... photos: Ed Krieger

Kudos to the entire team behind "Premeditation" a stylish new comedy written by talented lead actress  Evelina Fernandez.  The play  opened last nite at Encuentro 2014 National Theatre Festival at the LATC downtown on Spring street.  The story takes place in the present but has a distinctive very appealing noir look.  The cast and production values are first rate and well directed by Jose Luis Valenzuela...  I've enjoyed previous work by Fernandez & Valenzuela & Premeditation,  their latest collaboration,  really works...   2 polar opposite couples discover they have a lot more in common then you would think.  The play begins with snazzy,  surprising choreography and music and features excellent rear screen projection throughout.  Evelina Fernandez is a wonderful actress & writer.  She's written a great new piece which showcases her acting well and that of her co-stars.  Her yuppie professor husband is well played by Geoffrey Rivas and the other couple are great as well, played with blue collar gusto by Sal Lopez & Lucy Rodriguez.  The plot takes a surprising 360 in this fast moving 90 minute piece performed with no intermission.  Premeditation runs till November 7th. Visit for more information about this play and other productions in the Encuentro 2014 National Theatre Festival...  HH


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Jeffrey Foundation Red Carpet Naming Event

Event hosts Ruta Lee & Peter Mark Richman with Alyce Morris Winston, CEO & Founder of The Jeffrey Foundation

Chair Beverly Cohen, Florence LaRue, Elaine Dupont, Peter Mark Richmond & Francine York

George Barris

Courtney Stodden & Edward Lozzi

Courtney Stodden & Lou Ferrigno

Elaine Dupont, Guest & Francine York

Christie Brooke

Harrison Held & Elaine Dupont

Roxy Darr

Beverly Cohen & Alyce Morris Winston

Florence LaRue

Antonio Sol & Rebecca Holden

A beautiful event on a beautiful California autumn day as the Jeffrey Foundation celebrated the good news that they received a very generous transformative gift of $1.2 million dollars from the Margie and Robert E. Petersen Foundation!  The Jeffrey Foundation is one of the country's oldest children's special needs charities based in Los Angeles at at 5470 W. Washington Boulevard.  In honor of this generous support the Jeffrey Foundation renamed the main building on it's campus the Margie and Robert E. Petersen Foundation Building earlier today.  A special tribute award was presented to Mrs. Gigi Carlton, President of the Margie and Robert E. Petersen Foundation, who flew in for the occasion.  The late much beloved  Mr. & Mrs. Petersen were always known for their good will, support, generosoity & kindness.  Guests enjoyed delicous food catered by Suz Landay & fine entertainment by Larry Covin, Rebecca Holden & Antonio Sol.  To learn more about this commendable organization now is celebrating it's 43rd year of service please visit www.the - thanks to Billy Bennight Photography for the beautiful pictures & to Edward Lozzi & Associates PR for the invitation.  Report by Harrison Held

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Garbo's Cuban Lover @ Macha Theatre

Wonderful Cast...  Angela Nicholas as enigmatic screen star Greta Garbo & Odalys Nanin as Mercedes de Acosta... photo by Kelly Munis

I love talented Odalys Nanin's new reimagined version of  "Garbo's Cuban Lover" which opened last nite at the Macha Theatre on Kings Road.  The version I saw back in 2011 was great and I enjoyed the latest production even more!   The fictionalized story is co-directed with sizzle by Laura Butler and is defintely worth seeing especially if you are a fan of Greta Garbo & classic Hollywood.  The Cuban lover in the title is the gutsy and passionate Mercedes de Acosta  wonderfully portrayed by Odalys Nanin.  Mercedes was an MGM screenwriter who had affairs with some of the most illustrious actresses & writers of the 20th century.  She was ahead of her time, wore men's suits and lived as she wanted. The love of her life was Greta Garbo played superbly by Angela Nicholas.  The play is a  passionate stroll down the colorful memory lanes of Hollywood and features a great supporting cast -  Lori Allen Thomas as screenwriter Salka Viertel - Garbo's scheming best friend and former lover...  Boyanna Balta is wonderful as Mercedes' confidante and former lover dancer Isadora Duncan & as Isabela a friend who takes care of her later in life.  Dorian Martin keeps things moving along doing triple duty and a fine job as Mr. Van Stein, Editor & Irving Thalberg.  Margo Allison shines as the over sexed Marlene Dietrich & Starlet while Mantha Balourdo is a hoot as sexy Poppy Kirk (Mercedes' French lover who thinks she's Asian)  & Starlet.   The beautiful art deco set is designed by John Toom.  For more information and reservations visit or call 323 960 7862.  Enjoy! HH

Actress writer producer director Odalys Nanin (center in red) is joined by "Garbo's Cuban Lover" cast members (from left) Mantha Balourdou, entertainment reporter Harrison Held, Angela Nicholas, Dorian Martin, Margo Alison, Lori Allen Thomas & Boyana Balta...  photo by Billy Bennight

Monday, October 6, 2014

Pacifica Radio Archives' "American Women Making History & Culture"

Brian De Shazor, Andrea Marcovicci & Kat Kramer

Sonali Kolhatkar

Guest, Kat Kramer & Beverly Todd
I attended a very interesting & enjoyable fundraiser recently for the Pacifica Radio Archives at the Feminist Majority in Beverly Hills...  Don't worry guys, men were welcome too!  The evening was well hosted by KFPK's upbeat Director of Pacifica Radio Archive's Brian De Shazor & Sonali Kolhatkar host of KFPK's popular show "Uprising".  The VIP Host Committee was comprised of Karen & Kat Kramer, Lily Tomlin, Dr. Helen Caldicott, Kathleen Quinlan, The Bonpones, Sabina Virgo, Lucia Chappelle, Andrea Marcovicci, Beverly Todd, Evelyn L. McDonnell & other noted personalities.  KFPK has embarked on an important & ambitious 2 year project entitled "American Women Making History & Culture" and as a special treat we heard excerpts from the poignant,  thought provoking, sometimes humerous collection from the likes of Anais Nin, Dr. Margaret Mead, Lily Tomlin, Judy Chicago & Audre Lord.  Performer & activist Kat Kramer has appeared on KFPK several times over the past few years with her pals Tippi Hedren, Lily Tomlin, Dr. Helen Caldicott and Donna Walker talking about her film series called "Kat Kramer's Films That Change The World" & last summer she and her mom Karen participated in a Centennial Tribute to her father Stanley Kramer where they played an archival 1968 interview with him.  Photos by Billy Bennight.