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Legendary Heroes - Big Brothers & Big Sisters Honored

By Marci Weiner

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Three deceased heroes, John Wayne, Nelson Mandela and Dr.Donald Morton could not be there in person, but their spirit was very much in evidence at the Odyssey Ball benefiting the John Wayne Cancer Institute at Saint John’s Health Center. The Wayne family presented the “True Grit” Award to the Mandela Family for continuing the mission of the former President of South Africa, who helped bring an end to apartheid.  CNN Reporter Nadia Bilchik, sister of honoree Dr. Anton Bilchik, Chief of Medicine at the John Wayne Cancer Institute, presented HRH Princess Zaziwe Diamini-Manaway and HRH Princess Zamaswazi Diamini, granddaughters of Mandela, necklaces engraved with quote from their grandfather, “It always seems impossible until it is done.”

Brindell Roberts Gottleib & Fred Willard

Auxiliary President Anita Swift acknowledged Dr. Bilchik for his worldwide dedication to advance knowledge of cancer research and treatment.  Also hailing from South Africa, he received the “Duke Award” from his son, Dean Bilchik.  As for the late Dr. Donald Morton, former head of the Clinic, the Wayne Family stated, “Both John Wayne and Dr. Morton were from humble beginnings, who worked hard and wanted to see a world without cancer in their lifetime.”  With the assistance of medical research and pioneers like Dr. Bilchik, perhaps their wishes will come true!

Mary Willard & Heather Tom at BB/BS

At another event at the Beverly Hills Hotel, The Guild of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of LA presented their annual Accessories for Success Spring luncheon, featuring a fashion show from Kyle by Alene, Too.  Honorees included Sandra Stern, CEO of Lionsgate TV, Lee Phillip Bell, Co-creator of The Young & The Restless, and The Bold& The Beautiful, and Brindell Roberts Gottlieb, community activist and humanitarian.

Guild President Mary Willard welcomed guests and introduced five-time Emmy Award winning actress Heather Tom, who emceed.  The mission of this organization is to provide children facing adversity with support with one-to-one mentoring. For 59 years they have provided mentors, matching them with youth, and helping build higher self-esteem and reach their goals.

Patrick Wayne, Dr Anton Bilchik & Mandela Granddaughters, at John Wayne Odyssey Ball

A highlight of the afternoon was when Award winning actor Fred Willard presented the Sterling Award to Brindell Roberts Gottlieb. Funny man, Fred, the handsome hubby of President, Mary Willard, provided just the right touch of levity to an afternoon of laughter & loving.  

Save the date:   On Saturday, June7, LA Opera& Hispanics for the Opera will present the 19th Annual Placido Domingo Awards Dinner, benefiting the Company’s artistic and educational programs.  The event will immediately follow that evening’s performance of Thais, starring Mr. Domingo, which is the closing mainstage opera performance of LA Opera’s dynamic 2013/14 season.

Anita Swift (John Wayne's Granddaughter & President) with J.R. Martinez, Emcee (above four photos by Vince Bucci)

The recipient of the Award, composer Lee Holdridge has had a long association with the Company, and most recently thru the world premiere of his opera Dulce Rosa, at the Broad Stage, conducted by Domingo.

Guests will enjoy a gourmet dinner, catered by Patina, and dance the night away with live music.  Tickets to the Awards dinner start at $500; and tables of ten, begin at $7,500.

Placido Domingo with Alicia & Ed Clark, Founders of Hispanics for the Opera

Tickets for Thais are available starting at $19 and can be purchased at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion box office.

For tickets to the Placido Domingo Awards dinner, please call Sophia Sanchez at 213-972-8097.  Hope to see you there! 

Composer Lee Holdridge, to receive Placido Domingo Award

Published on May 02, 2014

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