Junior League Of Dallas’ Peacock Terrace Brings Out The Fine-Feathered Flock To Experience An Omni Time

Brenda Spencer

When Ball Chair Elizabeth Gambrell announced plans for the Junior League of Dallas‘ 50th anniversary gala last May, she had all her peacocks. . . uh, ducks, in a row. It would take place on Saturday, February 25, with “A Night at the Peacock Terrace, circa 1922” theme at the Hilton Anatole. What a great occasion to pull out the vintage look or a brand new pair of feathery Alias!

Tracy Madans' Alias

Last Saturday all came true except for one thing– the venue. Sometime during the past ten months, the party was moved to the just-opened Omni Dallas. While it caught some social calendars off guard, it proved to be an initiation for some Dallas out-and-abouts with the city’s convention hotel, and vice versa.

But first an explanation for the theme. Way long time ago, Dallas’ two leading hotels were the Adolphus and the Baker. They were right across the street from each other. The lavish parties and tales of oil men cutting deals were legendary. The Baker had a fabulous rooftop club called the Peacock Terrace, where the chic and rich dined, drank and danced to the big bands.

So it was a natural fit to take a touch of hotel history to hotel-oh-so-new. The crowd was definitely in keeping with the feel, the youth and the look of the historic Peacock Terrace. Only this group had Lexuses instead of Stutz Bearcats. And that subject was the first challenge facing the guests. Where to arrive at the Omni? Front door? Side door? Surely signage would direct drivers to the right spot. Sorta. There was signage. It pointed drivers in one direction for self-parking and another for valet, but oops! for this evening, the valet was in the same direction as the self-parking. Not to worry. It’s like that dance with a new partner. You’ve got to learn the moves. Guess guests were used to the Anatole’s ever-changing signage that directs guests where they should head.

Once inside the Omni a greeter advised folks to take the elevator to the top level, where check-in took place. Over to the side behind a couple of elegant white curtains, the high-rollers disappeared for the VIP reception in a series of little rooms with a band playing in the hallway.

The rest of the crowd worked its way through a narrow hallway to the lobby of the ballroom. It was a good news, bad news situation. The good news was people ran into friends and stopped to chat. The bad news was they stayed stopped. Wedging through the friends was like trying to get your thunder thighs into petite leggings. Making it even more of a stopover was the nearby bar. Shoot, why move when you’ve got friends and liquid refreshments in one place.

Peacock lady

Ah, but those who did make their way through to the lobby were greeted by the mother of all peacocks. Upon on a small stage a model in turquoise body suit stood with a fantail of peacock feathers that would have turned any bird to coq au vin. Adding to the shock-and-awe were the feathered creature’s makeup, including lime green eyelashes that had to have been six inches long. While the tuxedoed set posed for pictures in front of the beautiful and statuesque creature, hotel staff members couldn’t help but eyeball the impressive bird. . . person. . . whatever.

Alex Laurenzi, Elizabeth Tripplehorn, Dianne Cash, David Tripplehorn

To the left of the prized peacock was a wall of silent auction items where Annette Starr and Mark McCants checked out the goodies, along with Tara (in an Alice + Olivia) and Bill Durham. But not everyone was in the line to peruse the items. Honorary Chair Dianne Cash was looking for her kids. When asked how daughter Elizabeth Tripplehorn “was doing” with BF Alex Laurenzi, she smiled and answered vaguely, “Fine,” going no farther in the conversation. Ah, her vagueness created a cause to track the Elizabeth down. When found, she was arm-in-arm with Alex. “So, how are you two doing?” was posed. “We’re getting married.” Nothing vague about that answer. The big questions are when and where. Get married quietly, honeymoon and return to a big party? Or, get married, have a big party and honeymoon?

Minutes later Mom Dianne and Papa David Tripplehorn were on the scene for a group photo. Hope someone has told Dianne that she’s got another wedding up ahead.

Alex Weaver, Catherine Snider, Amanda Shufeld and Isabell Novakov

To all the world, Isabell Novakov and Amanda Shufeld looked just like any other guests. They gave no indication that they were arrangements co-chairs. Guess it pays off to have everything all tied up before the festivities begin. Why they even had gardenia wrist corsages for the past gala chairs!


Once the doors of the ballroom opened, the 800+ guests discovered a fabulous “peacock terrace” that put the original to shame, thanks to Tom Addis. Huge vases with floral arrangements were on some tables. They were so tall that they didn’t even block your view of the guest across the table. But, alas, blocking did become a bit of a problem thanks to two gargantuan displays at the corners of the dance floor. They were truly breathtaking with life-sized, stuffed peacocks

Jazz dancers

standing on huge nests of colorful floral arrangements. On paper, it probably looked dazzling, but in real life they obstructed the view of guests trying to see the professional dancers on the dance floor. Think of being at Cowboys Stadium and seated behind a pillar. Too bad, because the dancers were festive and fun. From the foursome doing the Charleston to the teenage duo, “Nicholas and Alexandra” performing a fabulous samba, they were marvelous and in keeping with the spirit of the evening theme.

Nicholas and Alexandra

Then it was dinner time and an interesting exercise. In addition to a cheese course with mixed greens, the entree was next on the menu. The beef hunk of tenderloin looked quite delicious. Cutting into it was not so appetizing due to the utensils at hand. Instead of steak knives, dinner knives were in place at settings and ready to be used. Only problem was the Omni knives, while being quite attractive, give no hint as to which side of the blade is serrated. Ah, but it provided great entertainment as guests came up with unique ways of discovering which side could be used for slicing into the steak. One person ran both sides of the blade on the edge of their plate. Another held it up to candlelight. Most folks just ran their fingers on both sides to detect the smooth from the rough. One person simply shrugged and decided to skip the tenderloin for the salmon that shared the plate. Guess the chap should have read his program menu. One bite and he discovered his salmon to be sweet potato vanilla-orange gratin. But, no complaints. It all made for interesting dinner conversation and a getting-to-know-you opportunity for guests at the Omni.

Former JLD gala chairs

Just before the dance floor filled with guests, the former gala chairs lined up for a photo. While they begged Elizabeth to join them, she was still a general at the forefront and not ready to be in the collection of veterans who had already earned their stripes.

For the after-party, the 1920’s theme continued. In order to get into the Club 1922 Late Night Party, a “ticket and password were required for entry.” Clever!

However, it should be noted that while raising loads of money for the 90-year-old Junior League of Dallas, the ladies winked a bit at Dallas history. Oh, horrors! John Neely Bryan‘s cabin may come tumbling down! It seems that in 1922, there was no Baker Hotel nor Peacock Terrace. They didn’t join the Dallas scene until 1925. However, this year the Junior League is celebrating its founding in 1922, so that’s why “circa” kept popping up whenever “A Night at the Peacock Terrace  . . . circa 1922” was mentioned. Translation: Circa means “not exactly but in the neighborhood.”

Guess that means you don’t have to tell your real age or weight. All you have to do is just put a works-for-me-number down preceded by the word “circa.”  

Coat Alert: Tonight’s Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge Celebration

First lighting test of Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge (File photo)

Remember that coat that you were thinking about filing away for the season? Strongly suggest you take it along for tonight’s Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge celebration. A jacket would be nice, but that coat would be better. Between 7 and 10 p.m., the MySweetCharity elves in charge of weather forecasting claim temperatures will be:

  • 7 p.m. — 62°
  • 8 p.m. — 59°
  • 9 p.m. — 56°
  • 10 p.m. — 54°
  • 11 p.m. — 52°

Do you see a trend? Yup.

Now, if you add a basic wind factor of 11 mph, which is conservative when you add in the height of the MHHB above the Trinity basin, you’re going to want something warm as you stroll the MHHB.

Now, let’s not get all in a dither about the cool temperatures. The skies are going to be clear with a perfect view of Dallas — both east and west — so don’t spoil your good time by leaving your fav coat at home.

Now aren’t you glad you didn’t go out and get a spray tan?

Texas Independence Day Ain’t A Holiday, But It’s A Great Day To Be A Texan

Today is Texas Independence Day. No, it’s not as grand as the Fourth of July, but it’s a day when every kid who studied Texas history knows that it was a major turning point for the Lone Star State. Before oil was found or wheeler dealers played billion-dollar games, some independent-thinking types 176 years ago decided that this big piece of real estate needed to be special, a place called Texas.

On this day, we salute the people who sacrificed their lives and loves throughout the years to provide us with this one-of-kind state of mind and heart.

As the late Texas historian A.C. Greene once said, “If you were born here, moved here or want to be here, you’re a Texan.”

20th Annual Promises Award Reception Recognizes People And Organizations Helping Children

Since it was established in 1992 by Rainbow Days, the Promise Awards has honored nearly 200 individuals, corporations and organizations that have “made extraordinary contributions to benefit the children and further the mission” of Rainbow Days.

Thursday the following honorees were recognized at Brook Hollow Golf Club –

  • Board member: Chuck Curtis and Jason Hammons
  • Community organization: MetroCare Services
  • Education partnership: Mountain View College
  • Foundation: Graham and Carolyn Holloway Family Foundation
  • Government official: Senator Florence Shapiro
  • Individual: Susan Hoff
  • Local partnership: Hunger Busters
  • Unsung heroes: Michele Danches and Rosie the therapy dog
  • Individual volunteer: Josephine Rihoo
  • Corporate volunteer: Bank of America
  • Youth services: Chelsea and Dori Neason
  • Memorial: Mike Williams

Share-A-Date: 3rd Annual ArtsPark

ArtPark at NorthPark

Saturday, March 24: Everyone from foundations to corporations are singing the tune that the arts are important to Dallas’ health and future growth. You should have heard Mayor “Big Mike” Rawlings at last week’s TACA Silver Cup Award luncheon extolling the value of the arts.

However, many don’t realize how truly abundant the area is when it comes to the legions of different artistic and cultural groups that make their homes in the area. Perhaps that’s why the Business Council for the Arts and NorthPark Center have once again put together ArtsPark, a one-day, free event showcasing the various organizations from the area counties (Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant).

From noon to 4 p.m. at NorthPark, there will be special performances, programs and demonstrations, along with opportunities to learn new creative skills and get involved in the various artistic and cultural endeavors.

In the past the following groups have been involved in this artistic/cultural buffet of talent: African American Museum, Art & Seek, ArtCentre of Plano, Arts Incubator of Richardson, AT&T Performing Arts Center, Bath House cultural Center at White Rock Lake, Big Thought, Cara Mia Theatre Company, Children’s chorus of Greater Dallas, Contemporary Art Dealers of Dallas, Contemporary Theatre of Dallas, Creative Arts Center of Dallas, Crow Collection of Asian Art, , Dallas Arts District, Dallas Black Dance Theatre, Dallas Children’s Theater, Dallas Contemporary, Dallas Film Society, Dallas Handweavers & Spinners Guild, Dallas Holocaust Museum, Dallas Songwriters Association, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Friends of Fair Park, Friends of The Bath House Cultural Center, Goss-Michael Foundation, International Museum of Cultures, Italian Club of Dallas, Japan-America Society of Dallas/Fort Worth, KERA, KXT 91.7, Le Theatre de Marionette, Lyric Stage, Mahogany Dance Theatre of Dallas, Men of Note Chorus, Museum of Geometric & MADI Art, Museum of Nature and Science, Nasher Sculpture Center, Orchestra of New Spain, Plano Children’s Theater, Richland College Emeritus Plus 50 Program, Scola Cantorum of Texas, Shakespeare Dallas, Texas Ballet Theater, Texas Discovery Gardens at Fair Park, Texas Winds Musical Outreach, The 500, Inc., The Black Academy of Arts and Letters, Inc., The Craft Guild of Dallas, The Dallas Opera, The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, The Women’s Chorus of Dallas, The Writer’s Garret, Today Marks the Beginning, Trinity River Audubon Center, UNT College of Visual Arts & Design, Van Cliburn Foundation, New Music Ensemble of Dallas and WRR Classical 101.1 FM/Office of Cultural Affairs/Public Art.

Photo provided by ArtsPark

Report From Today’s Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge Press Conference

The flag and the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge

#2 UPDATE: Less than 125 tickets are left. Groveling may not work, so get your tickets ASAP, or listen to Lyle’s newest CD and wait for cover on MySweetCharity.

UPDATE: WFAA‘s tall Brad Watson just reported city officials were going to enforce the limit of 6,750 people on the bridge Friday night. Well, uh, event planners are only planning on a max of 3,000 2,720 guests for the gala. Think the limit only applies for the Saturday and Sunday events. It was nevah an issue for the Friday night party. No doubt the lead will be changed by the 10 p.m. newscast.

Just back from a press conference on the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge about the upcoming weekend of celebrations. Everyone from Bridge-o-Rama, Trinity Trust, Trinity Levee Run, musicians to event producer Todd Fiscus was on hand to put rumors to rest.

What rumors? Like Mary McDermott Cook donning Victoria Secret wings and para-gliding off the top of the MHHB arch or Lyda Hill flying a plane under the arch. 

Let’s get the big message over with — the celebration is taking place regardless of when the traffic will be allowed on the bridge or whatever the weather may be.

That last one has been an ever-changing subject of discussion. Texas weather has caused more ulcers than a bride’s mother the week before the wedding. Every day the forecast for Friday has changed lately. One minute it’s going to be clear and in the 70’s. The next report says 20% chance of showers.

Why just as the press conference was taking place, clouds hovered overhead and disappeared and temperatures went from nice to a bit of chill.

Todd assured everyone the weather backup plan is for the Friday night fundraising gala with Lyle Lovett to take place at Gilley’s if Mother Nature cries on the big night.

As the media listened to every word of the press conference, Dallas City Manager Mary Suhm sat on the sidelines holding a turquoise blue MHHB Celebration T-shirt. Perhaps she’s saving it for Friday night. 

It’s going to an incredible weekend, but three caveats — now pay attention:

  1. The nightly fireworks over the Trinity are going to be dazzling. Make sure you have your cameras out, but absolutely under no circumstances, stop on one of the nearby bridges to view the light show. That is, unless you want to get to know a tow truck driver.
  2. City officials have let it be known that while they’re expecting more than 20,000 for the Saturday and Sunday events, there will be a limit on how many people can be on the bridge at any one time. That number is 6,750. 
  3. No pets (except service animals) allowed on the bridge at any time. 

Check back with MySweetCharity for any changes for the upcoming MHHB celebration. 

Oh, and tickets for Friday night are still available, though, Celebration Chair Lynn McBee is selling them at an average of 20 per hour.

On The Heels Of Taking Home Five Academy Awards, 3D “Hugo” Slated For Nasher’s Spring Break Til Midnight

til Midnight at the Nasher

You’ve got to hand it to the folks at the Nasher. Their timing is darn good. After last night’s five wins at the Academy Awards, the Nasher Sculpture Center is having a “Special Spring Break ’til Midnight” on Friday, March 16, with a 3D screening of “Hugo.” You know! That’s the film that Marty Scorsese directed and the Joule’s Tim Headington produced.

Here’s the game plan:

  • 6 p.m. – doors open
  • 7 p.m. – Emerald City performs
  • 9 p.m. – “Hugo” is shown

And it’s all free. Well, almost. The Wolfgang Puck picnic baskets and salads, sandwiches, snacks and beverages at Café Nasher have price tags, but they make life so much easier. Remember, you’ve got to pre-reserve your picnic baskets. They don’t grow on trees!

Dallas International Film Festival’s First 15 Films Announced Plus Presenting Sponsor

Dallas International Film Festival 2012

Get the popcorn out. It’s movie time! Yes, there is the Academy Award presentation this Sunday, but it’s also time for the Dallas Film Society to start announcing all types of news for its April 12-22 Dallas International Film Festival. First out of the box, let’s give some credit to the group that will be supporting the 11-day festival with transportation. As presenting sponsor, Boardwalk Auto Group Volkswagen Dealers will provide a Volkswagen fleet to transport filmmakers and festival guests around town.

“For the last five years we have watched the impressive evolution of the Dallas International Film Festival,” said Scott K. Ginsburg, owner of Boardwalk Auto Group Volkswagen Dealers. “As the festival enters into its sixth year, we are thrilled to be a part of the celebration of the arts within our community. At Boardwalk Auto Group Volkswagen Dealers, we have a fierce commitment to integrity and service performance and in this we feel a natural synergy with the Dallas International Film Festival – it is renowned for its hospitality and putting the filmmakers and their work on a pedestal. We celebrate that.”

Before naming the films and the legendary names associated with them, you’ll want to know some basics about this year’s DIFF:

  • There will be a Festival Village at Mockingbird Station, where filmmakers and film fans will have the chance to mingle and network at the Festival Lounge, and CBS Radio will present its first-ever Music Lounge showcasing local music to the public every evening for the festival’s eleven-day duration.”
  • This year’s Dallas Film Society Honors will be held Friday, April 20, at the Hotel Palomar, where prizes will be awarded for various competitions.
  • On sale now, passes range from $100 for a Festival Lounge Pass to $750 for an all-access Star Pass.

Now let’s get to the first-out-of-the-box lineup of the 180 films that will be presented. This initial group of 15 includes two world premieres and nine Texas premieres. They also have such familiar names as Lawrence Kasdan and Takashi Shimizu associated with a couple of the films. They’re all listed with descriptions after the jump. The one with Diane Keaton and Kevin Kline should be a fast sell-out. [Read more…]

Mad Hatter’s Tea Judges And Categories Announced Friday Evening At Cicada Before Adjourning To The Mansion

It’s rare that you have an announcement party on a Friday evening, but Mad Hatter’s Tea chairs Barbara Daseke and Carmaleta Whiteley promised it would be a quickie at Cicada in Snider Plaza — exactly one hour, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Oops, it didn’t work out that way. The guests were still there at 7:15.

The reason for the gathering was the announcement of the judges, categories and retailers involved in the April 12 “The Art of Nature” show-and-swell hatfest presented by Nancy C. and Richard R. Rogers at the Dallas Arboretum. This year’s luncheon/fashion show is expected to attract 600 chapeau-wearing ladies and gents with runway fashions provided by Forty Five Ten, Cicada, Betty Reiter and V.O.D.

Sharon Ballew and Carmaleta Whiteley

Carmaleta had to make the announcements solo. Seems her co-chair Barbara had a flat tire and was stuck elsewhere and Honorary Chair Nancy Rogers was MIA. Luckily Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden President Sharon Ballew was standing in the wings supporting Carmaleta.

This year’s judges come with blue-ribbon credentials from the art world, since the theme focuses on “The Art of Nature.” They will include

  • Lita Asscher, President, Royal Asscher® Diamonds — Born in Amsterdam, Holland, Lita Asscher is President of Royal Asscher® of America and heiress to the world famous Asscher diamond dynasty. Her ancestors were responsible for such eminent achievements as the creation of the original 1902 Asscher Cut diamond, and the cutting of the largest diamond ever found, the 3105 carat Cullinan diamond for Great Britain’s Crown Jewels. Royal Asscher® is jeweler to the crown of many nations; the company has a legendary European heritage and an exclusive clientele of international royalty and celebrities.
    Brenda Bogart, artist, is blessed with an abundance of creativity as well as the talent and know-how to express it in many ways. She spent a number of years in interior design and was also the owner of an enormously popular children’s clothing business. In 2006 she picked up her paintbrush and began painting in earnest, exploring a range of themes in oil on canvas.
    Kenneth Craighead and partner, Steve Green, opened Craighead Green Gallery in 1992 in the Uptown Dallas Arts District. They relocated the Gallery to Dragon Street in the Design District. Craighead Green is recognized as one of the finest contemporary art galleries throughout Texas and the Southwest, representing over 40 artists of all mediums.
  • Billy Fulmer, Patricia Meadows and Shane Walker

    Patricia Meadows, President of Art Connections — Curator, consultant, juror, speaker, advocate for contemporary art and artists.

  • Gail Sachson, MFA, has been a cheerleader for the arts in the area ever since 1978, when she founded ASK ME ABOUT ART, an educational service offering lectures, programs , writings and consultation. Sachson serves on a myriad of arts related and educational Boards of Directors, teaches “50 Reasons to Love Dallas” through  SMU/CAPE, blogs for KERA’s ART & Seek and is a Dallas Commissioner of Cultural Affairs  and a member of the Dallas Public Art Committee.
  • Jeremy Strick, Director of the Nasher Sculpture Center since March 2009. Jeremy oversees collections, exhibitions, and operations at the 2.4-acre facility located in the heart of downtown Dallas’ Arts District. Opened in 2003, the Nasher Sculpture Center is home to one of the finest and most comprehensive collections of modern and contemporary sculpture in the world, formed largely by the late Raymond and Patsy Nasher. Previously, Strick served nearly ten years as Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA).

Disappointing news was that earlier-announced Bonnie Pitman had to withdraw from the judging duties due to health issues.

This year’s categories include:

  • Gents Top Hats: Diamonds in the Rough
  • Most True to Theme: Organically Chic
  • Botanical: Nature’s Bounty
  • Most Whimsical: Florals’ Follies
  • Most Elegant: Nature’s Glamorous Jewels
  • Best of Show: Horticulturally Hip
  • Most Outlandish:  Mother Nature’s Humor

Steve Kemble

When word started making its way through the crowd including Steve Kemble, Shane Walker and Billy Fulmer that the party would continue at the Mansion for post-party drinks, the place began to empty. That is, except for Doris Jacobs, who had to join husband Jack at Cafe Pacific to celebrate his birthday.

And then there was Jan Strimple, who will be producing the Mad Hatter’s Tea fashion show. She was still having fun checking the clothes on the racks.



Memories Of Margaret Hunt Hill And Bridge Artwork Were Centerpieces For Thursday Night’s Bridge Patron Party

The folks on both sides of the Trinity are in a countdown mode for the real live, official March 2-4 opening of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge (MHHB). Before going into brain overload, about 200 gathered Thursday at the Omni Dallas for the MHHB Celebration patrons party.

The program was not to start until 6:30 p.m., but due to a multitude of other commitments by guests, organizers kicked it off at 6:15.

Artwork by Emmanuel Ramirez

There was a lot to cover. Not only did Celebration Gala Chair Lynn McBee review all the plans for the weekend including the Bridge-O-Rama doings, but Toni Brinker also announced the winners of the children’s art contest. Area school children submitted art drawings of the bridge that might win prizes for themselves and their schools. Among the winners was the grand prize champ Emmanuel Ramirez‘s submission.

Al Hill Jr.

Another highpoint during the evening were the memories shared by the late Margaret Hunt Hill’s (MHH) children, Al Hill Jr. and Lyda Hill. Al recalled the story of his mother’s wedding to Al Hill Sr. in 1938 when she tossed the bouquet to a group of young women. Margaret Milam caught the bouquet, meaning that she would be the next to wed. Well, that didn’t happen for 17 years, but Margaret Milam claimed it was because she had to wait for the best man in the world — Eugene McDermott. In response to that, MHH said, “The second-best man in the world.”

Al summed up the friendship between the two women by saying that he was glad that Margaret McD would be riding over the MMHB in the days ahead, as well as over her own bridge in three years.

Next up were Ruth Altshuler, Gene Jones and Billie Leigh Rippey with tales of their late friend. One thing that has become very apparent to gatherings of late is you don’t want to follow Ruth on the podium. With a twinkle in her eye, she admitted that the late MHH could be intimidating. One time when meeting a young gal, who evidently was having “complexion challenges,” MMH said, “Hello, I’ll give you the name of my dermatologist.”

And then there was MHH’s answering machine message — “Leave your message.”

But there was another side to MHH that Ruth related. Prior to marrying Dr. Ken Altshuler, Ruth was married to the late Charles Sharp, who was a lovely and handsome man (Ruth has very good taste in men). Unfortunately, he battled Parkinson’s, but did not want to stay at home and let the disease alter his life. MHH and her late husband Al realized that attending events was challenging for the Sharps, so the Hills would arrive early and save two seats for Ruth and Charles.

Next at the podium was Gene, who acknowledged that no one should want to follow Ruth. Gene told of how MHH and her granddaughter Heather Washburne and husband Ray were in Washington D.C. for a Dallas Cowboys game. When the Joneses learned that Heather and Ray were then headed to Europe and MHH would be flying home alone, they insisted that she fly home on the Cowboys jet with them. MHH responded, “Yes, I can go.” But what about her luggage? MHH’s replied, “Heather can take care of it.” After flying home surrounded by players, coaches and Joneses, MHH said she had had a grand time being treated so royally adding, “I don’t ever ride first class.”

Billie Leigh was last up to bat and recalled how MHH was like a big sister for her and how they would kick off their shoes and watch old Doris Day/Rock Hudson movies. She also recalled that during MHH’s tenure as president of the Dallas Woman’s Club, MHH had a larger-than-life clock installed on the back wall of the DWC’s wall. The reason? To let speakers know “when to get off the stage.”

And then there was the time that Billie Leigh’s grandson Brent Besing was five-years old. Upon being introduced to MHH, the youngster extended his hand and said his name. MHH told him, “You extend your hand with a firm grip and saying your name.” Brent replied to Billie Leigh and MHH, “I see why you’re best friends.”  

Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge Celebration-Wrapped Bus Is Unwrapped

Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge wrapped bus

Over the weekend, the finishing touches were being polished up on this Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge Celebration wrapped bus — blues skies with the white Calatrava-designed bridge! It was literally under wraps until today, when it was scheduled to hit the streets of Dallas.

Understand there are still tickets available for the Friday night gala with Lyle Lovett center stage.


Today Dallas Celebrates 100 Years Of Margaret Milam McDermott Greatness Her Way And The Legend Continues

Magaret Milam McDermott (File photo)

In Dallas we’re so very fortunate to have legends living among us. Last year we celebrated the 100th birthday of one of those people, when Ebby Halliday entered her second century of life with mega-festivities that raised money for numerous groups.

Today we are witnessing the way a second generous legend enters her next 100 years: Margaret Milam McDermott. While the uber-private widow of Eugene McDermott will be surrounded by friends, family, cards, flowers and best wishes, she’s demonstrating yet another way of growing older without getting old.

Speaking of legends, years ago when electric typewriters were considered high technology and weddings were written up for anyone who submitted a form, a story was passed down through the then-Women’s Section of the Dallas Morning News. According to the tale, a young society writer who had covered her beat professionally and diligently in the late 1930’s/early 1940’s received a call from a not-so-happy, mother-of-the-bride. She was not pleased at all with the coverage of her daughter’s wedding. As the story goes, the writer politely took the call and the bruising complaints. Upon hanging up with the mother, the writer called her travel agent, told them that she had saved up $200 and asked how far that would take her. They said she could get a round-trip-cruise to South America. Without hesitation she booked the trip, handed in her resignation and walked out the door. For decades young Women’s Section writers who followed in getting complaints from MOB’s lived with that heroine in their hearts, souls and fingers as they typed and typed all types of engagement and wedding announcements. Who was that writer? The legend claims it was Margaret Milam, who eventually married Texas Instruments co-founder/philanthropist Eugene McDermott.

Still another story that took on a life of its own was during the 1980’s and 1990’s when such powerhouses as Ralph Rogers were building the foundations of so many institutions that separate Dallas from the rest. It was during this time that the Dallas Morning News had a section called “High Profile” which weekly had a cover story on the biggest of the boldface types. So, many paid publicists hoping to be the subject of the much-vaunted cover story. One pr group even charged their clients by the column inch if they scored a story. And yet there was a cluster of extremely great men and women who shunned all attempts by the staff to be the subjects of these lengthy interviews. After digging into why they rejected overtures, the explanation was often, “Margaret doesn’t think it would be a good idea.” Whether this was the case or not, it was in keeping with the legends that have grown up around this woman, who has showered Dallas with generosity and grace.

Today may be her 100th birthday, but we are the ones who have been gifted with her presence.

Lyle Lovett Releases “Release Me!” Just A Couple Of Days Before Headlining Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge Celebration

It’s a little more two weeks until from the March 3 and 4 official opening festivities for the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. The weekend is going to be jam-packed with activities open to the public. What is going to help pay for all the street fair, fireworks, local entertainment and fun will be monies raised from the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge Celebration Party on Friday, March 2, fundraising gala.

Lyle Lovett

In addition to having the bridge as a setting and Todd Fiscus in charge of the mega-hoopla is the entertainment — Lyle Lovett! Talk about beyond perfect timing — Long, tall Texan Lyle performing on Texas Independence Day! Ah, but there’s more. Seems that Lyle’s newest studio album, “Release Me,” is being released on Tuesday, February 28.

Tickets for the Friday celebration of Dallas’ newest landmark are $200. 

You’re wondering about the weather situation. Negotiations are underway with Mother Nature, but organizers promise that a back-up plan is in place. For newcomers, when there is a lock-down, back-up plan, the weather usually turns out perfect. Will keep you posted as the we get closer to the big weekend.

Photo provided by The Trinity Trust

MySweetCharity High Horse: Bad Manners Or Just Plain Old Stealing?

There is a very gracious host/hostess who not just opens his/her home for fundraising events and nonprofits to meet, but also provides “refreshments.” To eliminate numerous trips to the store for beverages, s/he keeps a well-stocked kitchen and bar. So you can imagine how s/he felt recently when the morning-after one of these events s/he learned that the organizers of the previous night’s event had left with two cases of wine.

Let’s just say that this organization won’t be the recipient of future hospitality at that household.  

The Dallas Foundation’s “Good Card” Is The Best Card For Your Valentine(s)

It’s countdown time for Valentine’s Day. Remember in grade school when you gave a valentine to everyone from your circle of best friends to your first crush? Why, even your teachers got valentines! Just because you’re all grown up, it doesn’t mean you are limited to only giving a sweet something to the top tier of favorite people in your life.  Ah, but what? Flowers? Candy? Card?

Why not try something a little different and original? Yes, you see it coming. It’s a pitch, but it’s a good pitch. . . or rather,  a pitch for good.

The Dallas Foundation's Valentine's Day's "Good Card"

The Dallas Foundation staff found the Good Card program they offered at Christmas was such a hit, selling 1,300 in the first three months, they created a “Happy Valentine’s Day” version. It’s simple and sweet and requires very little brain scratching on your part. All you have to do is go to the Giving Card page, select how much you want to put on the card, designate to whom the card is to be given and The Dallas Foundation folks do the rest. Your valentine will receive the card and decide what lucky 501(c)(3) group will receive the $$.

Only problem is the deadline for ordering it in time for V-day is Thursday, February 9, so hop to it.

Graphic courtesy of The Dallas Foundation

PR Person Pushes The Wrong Button And The MSC Elves Head For Cover

Yipes! The MSC elves have been quivering in the cubbyholes and the root cellar. Queenie was up before the crack of dawn to attend the la-di-da arrival of the Emirates inaugural flight from Dubai

Emirates arrival participants

to DFW International. Due to a lack of caffeine and bulldozer media, she was in a very bad place of mind. Then it happened — the call that pushed our beloved Queenie into what we refer to as the “guillotine-state-of-mind.”

A pr person called. OK, so that didn’t push the old broad over the edge. It was the pr person’s question, “So I hear that you’re writing about one of my clients in the People Newspapers. What are you going to write?”

The elves who were with Q immediately swore they were victims of Taco Bell Salmonella and tried to make a quick “excuse me.” The vision of the hundreds wounded in the rail yard of “Gone With The Wind” suddenly seemed like Six Flags Over Texas. Elves scampered in all directions.

“You need to buy an issue of the paper when it comes out,” Q said trying to maintain some type of regal decorum.

(Elves’ note: Our beloved Queenie is a real journalistic groupie going to sleep at night with the AP Stylebook and Strunk and White’s “The Elements of Style” on her bed table.)

“So you’re not going to tell me what you’re going to be writing about my client?” the pr novice said with a nervous giggle in her voice realizing that all you-know-what was about to break loose.

In unison the shaking of elves’ heads looked like a wave at the Super Bowl.

“Excuse me, what did you say?” Queenie said as we all heard her teeth gnashing, saw her eyes bulging from their sockets and scrambled to find her a fresh cup of blood.

Luckily, the MSC headquarters has a bomb shelter and the elves have decided to hunker down there for the storm.

Dog’s BFF Jack Knox Provides Lights, Cameras And Hope For Dallas Animal Services Pets

Jack Knox

Jack Knox is a debonair fellow. Tall, good looking, smart, charming, he just happens to own the equally delicious Cafe Pacific in Highland Park Village. Jack is a well-known animal lover. Why just this past summer he was honored at Paws in the City’s “Top Hat & Tails.”

Realizing that first impressions mean everything, Jack felt that the critters at Dallas Animal Services could use a little help in getting adopted. As with other animal organizations, photos of the adoptable critters are put up for consideration. But let’s face it. As the late Marlene Dietrich knew so well, lighting and a good camera can make a world of difference. According to the DAS folks,

“With a tremendous donation from Jack Knox, Mary Spencer was able to order and coordinate photography equipment for DAS to have our own photo studio. Professional photographer Teresa Berg taught employees, and a few others from the community, how to take photos of the animals, and set up the equipment. “

Want to see how the Knox investment changed the look of a pooch? Follow the jump for the before and after photos of a DAS resident. [Read more…]

Once Again TACA Comes Through Distributing $1M To Area Performing Arts Groups And New Opportunity For New Works

TACA distribution audience

To a bunch of the performing arts community, tonight was Christmas. TACA handed out $1M to 41 organi- zations at the Wyly for its annual grants distribution. Lucky TACA maven Becky Young was receiving more kisses and hugs than a newly crowned Miss America. And it might be added that many of the recipients clasped their hands in happiness over the envelopes with checks.

Becky Young and Jon Moscone

But before the $$ was handed out, former Dallas Theater Center/current California Shakespeare Theater standout Jon Moscone in his charming, theatrical way provided the keynote talk for such artsy types in attendance as Jaap van Zweden with pal Blaine Nelson at his side, Diane and Hal Brierley, Barbara and Don Daseke (they’re spending their very first night in their “teak home” north of 75225), Ango Wynne, Charlene Howell, Duncan Graham, Nancy Carlton, Kit and Kemp Sawers (he stole the show saying that the stroll from the back of the Wyly had provided more time for applause), Karol Olmer and a slew of people in the audience who make a MAJOR diff for performing arts.

Here’s who got what:

$5,000 — Arts District Chorale, Dallas Festival of Modern Music, ENVISO, Garland Summer Musicals, Irving Chorale, Meadows School of the Arts at SMU, One Thirty Productions Matinee Series, Project X and Turtle Creek Chorale

$6,000 — African-American Repertory Theater, Lone Star Wind Orchestra and Teatro Dallas

$7,000 — Dallas Chamber Music Society and Voices of Change

$8,000 — Cara Mia Theatre Company

$9,000 — Dallas Bach Society and Sammons Jazz

$10,000 — Orchestra of New Spain and Second Thought Theatre

$11,000 — Echo Theatre

$12,000 — Chamber Music International

$15,000 — Undermain Theatre

$16,000 — Uptown Players

$18,000 — Orpheus Chamber Singers and Fine Arts Chamber Players

$20,000 — Kitchen Dog Theater

$27,000 — Junior Players

$30,000 — Children’s Chorus of Greater Dallas, Shakespeare Dallas and TITAS

$34,000 — Dallas Wind Symphony

$35,000 –Lyric Stage and Theatre Three

$36,000 — Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra

$40,000 — Texas Ballet Theater and WaterTower Theatre

$60,000 — Dallas Black Dance Theatre

$70,000 — Dallas Children’s Theater

$100,000 — Dallas Opera, Dallas Symphony Orchestra and Dallas Theater Center

Another highpoint was the announcement of a “new grants opportunity.” The TACA Donna Wilhelm Family New Works Fund will provide up to $200,000 to “support the creation of a new work.”

Donna Wilhelm

According to Donna Wilhelm, “I believe that Dallas is on the cusp of a remarkable renaissance and that the arts will play an important role. When we move the arts forward, we move Dallas forward, too.

“In the world of art, I envision new work as the metaphorical equivalent of the foundation of youth,” she said. “New Work puts forth new ideas, inspires innovation and leads to new ways of thinking and living.”

Kicking in $100,000 for the three-year project are TACA directors Shannon Brame, Diane and Hal Brierley, Marsha Cameron and Michael Halloran, Nita Clark, Lauren Embrey, Nicholas Even, Tara Lewis, Wolford McCue, Jim Nugent, Karol Omlor and Zannie Giraud Voss.

This was a giant evening for TACA and the 41 recipients of the hard work, cork pulls and efforts by the TACA volunteers and staff. A simple bravo, and a contribution to TACA for 2012 efforts, will do nicely.

Setting The Record Straight On Margaret McDermott’s Birthday

Magaret McDermott

It may be better than a storyline from “Dallas.” How old is Dallas philanthropy’s first lady, Margaret McDermott? According to an item in today’s Dallas Morning News (sub. req.), she’ll be turning 98 next month.

However, we just talked with a person who learned from Margaret herself that she is indeed going to be 100 on February 18, but definitely doesn’t want to make a big deal out of it.

Let’s salute a fine person, who has generously given to the city of Dallas and now requests the right to enter her second centennial with grace.


KRLD Restaurant Week Numbers Are In

After a lot of eating was done back in August for KRLD Restaurant Week, the totals are in. An estimated $695,000 was raised for North Texas Food Bank and Lena Pope Home.

Yum, yum!

Dallas Opera Partners Up With Cowboys Stadium For Free Simulcast of The Magic Flute On April 28

Just before the Chihuly press conference kicked off at the Dallas Arboretum at 4, the Dallas Opera folks were making a big announcement at big Cowboys Stadium. The Jones gals — Gene Jones and Charlotte Anderson Jones — were on hand to join DO General Director/CEO Keith Cerny to revealed another innovative project by the DO.

On Saturday, April 28, at 7:30 p.m. the Dallas Opera’s 2012 Cowboys Stadium Simulcast of Mozart’s The Magic Flute will be presented on the world’s largest HDTV video board that is suspended in the center of the stadium.

While the simulcast and parking will be free to the public, seating will require reservations.

Gene admitted, “Sports and art are not typically thought of as belonging together.  Yet sporting events and great art do something similar—they get people talking.”

Keith added, “One of the goals of the Dallas Opera is to bring great singing and world-class theater to the widest possible audience. As part of our commitment to expanding our community outreach we are thrilled to announce an unprecedented, ‘game-changing’ collaboration with the Cowboys organization.  Let me also say that the Dallas Opera is especially grateful for the generous support of the Jones Family, encouraging our efforts to create one of the most unique and memorable events in the history of this opera company.

“I hope that the centralized location of Cowboys Stadium will draw music and theater lovers from all across North Texas to this free simulcast of Mozart’s action-packed masterpiece, especially those who, for a variety of reasons, have perceived opera as an intimidating or challenging art form, rather than the fantastic entertainment experience it is,” Keith said.

If you’ve never been to the home of the Dallas Cowboys or been curious about opera but feared sticker shock, here is your opportunity and all it will cost is the price of gas getting to and from the event.

Don’t Say You Didn’t Know About The Chihuly Outdoor Exhibition Coming To Dallas Arboretum

Let’s face it. For most folks Joy Tipping‘s story on Dale Chihuly project (sub. req.) in the Arts Section of today’s Dallas Morning News sorta took the thunder out of this afternoon’s 4 p.m. press conference at the Dallas Arboretum. While it didn’t provide the number of pieces from Chihuly’s outdoor collection that will be on exhibition at the Arboretum from May to November, the story reduced “REALLY BIG ANNOUNCEMENT” to “big announcement”.

Kaki Hopkins (File photo)

It did say that Chihuly Studio reps weren’t concerned about the mammoth art pieces going up against the Texas weather. Obviously they haven’t talked with the North Texas Super Bowl or the Cattle Baron’s Mudball committess about how fickled Ma Nature can be.

However, what wasn’t in the story was the gala with Chihuly himself scheduled to attend. Gala Chair Kaki Hopkins, who’s just had time to recover from chairing the Dallas Opera gala, will provide event deets at today’s gathering.

It’s interesting to note that the event’s major sponsors AT&T and Bank of America are partnering up for this project. This probably won’t be the last time the two Dallas mega-corps joint-venture a nonprofit project. Rick Blaine‘s quote would fit the situation nicely.

Greer Garson Gala To Be 1940’s Glamour That Mrs. Miniver Would Have Loved

Where one holds a kickoff party often sets the tempo and tone of the big event to come. So Thursday night the Greer Garson Gala kickoff at Bachendorf’s Preston Center not only provided for dazzling eye candy in the display cases but among the guests as well.

Katie and Lawrence Bock, Maggie Kipp and Nancy Gopez

Initially, Greer Garson Gala Co-chair Brooke Shelby admitted concern about a turnout for the announcement of plans for the April 21 event. Just on cue as Katie and Lawrence Bock walked in the door, a crowd paraded in following them.

Jay McAuley

Good thing they arrived because the plans for the fundraiser are in keeping with the glamour, graciousness and generosity of its namesake. Texas Health Presbyterian Foundation President Jay McAuley briefly addressed the crowd, made up of those who knew Greer and those who were mere toddlers when she lived in Dallas in the penthouse at 3525. What even many knowledgeable folks didn’t realize, the late flaming-haired Academy Award-winning actress spent her final days at Presbyterian. In fact her suite was named after her and is available for residents today. Jay also told how she wanted to take care of the Presbyterian grounds even after her death and that the benches found throughout the campus were a gift from her.

Then Jay introduced Brooke and her husband/co-chair Aaron, who told that in keeping with the Garson era of cinema, the 2012 Greer Garson Gala would be “The Golden Age of Hollywood”  focusing on 1943 when the Academy Awards were presented at the Coconut Grove and GG took home the Best Actress Award for her performance in the title role of Mrs. Miniver. It was at this time that she also set a record that still stands today for giving the longest acceptance speech in AA history — five minutes and 30 seconds.

Brooke and Aaron Shelby

But unlike Greer, Brooke kept her description of the evening brief and to the point. It will be held at Union Station for 500 with dinner by Hollywood chef Wolfgang Puck and entertainment a la 1940’s.

Honorary Chair Amy and Corey Prestidge will be joined by the following cast in funds to support critical needs of Women and Infant Services at Texas Health Dallas:

2012 Committee —  Margarita and David Coale, Mary C and Bill Corrigan, Zarife Deulofeut, Jennifer and Chris LeLash, Brooke Malouf, Randi and Peter McParlin, Andrea Nayfa, Holli and Dr. James B. Park, Kristi and Chase Perry, Kim and Terry Quinn, Mollie and Randall Shelby, Keri Tonn and David Heard and Anna and Brad Voss.

2012 Host Committee — Gina and Ken Betts, Janet and Wyatt Davis, Courtney and Doug Denby, Jennifer and Richard Dix, Amy K. Donovan, Juli and Rob Elston, Angella and Blake Estess, Janet and Rick Frésquez, Giselle and David Gafford, Hillary and Eric Gilbert, Mary and John Gill M.D., Missy and Joe Hillesheim, Melissa and Bret Holland, Janet Ivy, JJ and Sean Jackson, Maggie and Grant Kipp, Katherine LaLonde, Allison and Richard Leigh, Julie and Kevin Linderman, Jodi and Brad McGary, Robin and Christian Metten, Mary Martha and John Pickens, Hon. Mary and Mike Poss, Tonya and Todd Ramsey, Heather and Ashton Randall, Kristen and Matt Rittenmeyer, Tanya S. Roberts, Honey and Louis Rothermel, Paige and John W. Slates III, D’Andra Simmons and Colin Duchin, Cindy and David Stager Jr., Tricia and Randy Touchstone, Elizabeth Tripplehorn, Paige Westhoff and Alicia Wood.

Bishop’s Gala Headliner Martin Short Is Long On Charm

Martin Short

Just back from a chat with Martin Short, who will be headlining Saturday night’s Bishop’s Gala at the Hilton Anatole. Having survived last year’s featured celebrity, it was with anxiety that the opportunity to have a one-on-one with “Marty” was undertaken. Would he be Mr. Movie Star Attitude or “I’m-The-VIP” here? Those types always suck the oxygen out of the lungs of everyone in the room.

So not the case for Short. He walked in on time, greeted each person with a handshake and smile and could not have been more accommodating or pleasant. While some may have expected Ed Grimley or one of the Three Amigos, the group got an articulate professional who graciously made time for one and all.

When one person asked him about a certain “Saturday Night Live” character, he gracefully suggested that she was thinking of Dana Carvey in such a way that no embarrassment was felt.

When asked about the three comedians who influenced him, he answered without hesitation, “Jonathan Winters.” After a bit of prodding, he added Jerry Lewis and Mike Nichols.

If you have tickets to the event, you’re going to have a good time with a very nice gentleman. If you don’t, you can still try. There are a handful of tickets left and as Marty said, “It’s for a very good cause.”

Oh, and all you Notre Damers can ask Marty about his connections to ND.