The legends were alive and well at the Ritz-Carlton Saturday to benefit Family Compass on May 4. Their coming together was as a result of a revamping of the formerly known Celebrity Waiter Dinner. At least, that’s what the original plan was.
A Legendary Evening Co-chairs Brynn Bagot Allday, Amy Camp and Michelle Meadows had decided that the celebrity waiter dinner had run its course. Perhaps instead of having celebrities step and fetch utensils, napkins and pull stunts for “tips,” it would be more fun just to have a “legend” sit and chat with guests during dinner.
For its kick-off year, the trio had Honorary Chair The Dazzling Johnstons (Diane and Daryl). Joining them were legends Ron Anderson, Hugh Aynesworth, Gloria Campos, Mike Cantrell, Natalie Clarke, Kris Clinton, Todd Conger, Colleen Coyle, Rudy Gatlin, Justin Leonard, Ryan Moats, Melissa Poe, Tracy Rathbun, Mico Rodriquez, David Anthony Temple (aka “Chef DAT”), Martha Tiller, Marty Turco, Spud Webb, Jocelyn White, Bob Wright and James Yarbrough.
But the original plan quickly took a right turn as Dale Hansen doubled as legendary guest and emcee. Despite the lack of a spotlight, he lit the place up like the Omni Hotel Dallas at night. Just to get the entire group’s attention in the ballroom, he asked everyone to stand for the national anthem. All guests and staff silenced and stood. He then announced there wouldn’t be an anthem, but he did want to get things going.
During the rest of the evening whenever there was a lull or the auctioneer needed support, Dale was the go-to-man.
His first duty was the welcome and introduction of the legends, with some of them getting special attention:
- Melissa Poe — “She’s a reality TV star, which I believe is an oxymoron.”
- Dr. Ron Anderson — “If he chokes on his dessert or has a heart attack, he wants us to take him to Baylor Hospital.”
- Gloria Campos, with whom he’s worked for 28/29 years — “I can’t stand the woman.”
- Kris Clinton — “A black T-shirt? That’s the look we’re going with tonight?”
- Rudy Gatlin — “I thought he’d died nine years ago, but Rudy Gatlin is here!”
- Dale on Dale — “I got an email from Jessica (Family Compass Executive Director Jessica Slie Trudeau) saying, ‘Dale, we want you to be the master of ceremonies, because Scott Murray has already turned us down.’”
And when he wasn’t lifesaving the moment or causing eyebrows to meet browlines, he was the center of attention at the table of the evening’s honoree, Kelly Compton. She had specifically had husband Brock seated next to Dale, because Brock’s been such a trouper in attending so many dinners for her. Brock never stopped smiling the entire evening.
But Dale learned quickly that the very ladylike Kelly was no creampuff. In accepting the Spirit of Compassion Award on stage, she announced to the audience including her folks Sally and Forrest Hoglund (aka to the grandkids, “The Geezers”) and sister Kristy Robinson, “I know it’s (the evening) going to be fun when I see my husband Brock sitting next to Dale Hansen. These are the two men that I go to bed with every night!” The boys were blown away and the room exploded in laughter.
But she didn’t allow the importance of the evening to be overlooked with humor. Kelly told of how the Hoglund Foundation has been working with Family Compass and the SMU psychology department on a program involving in-home services that helps families learn how to be better parents and discipline appropriately.
Dale returned to the stage asking, “Is there anybody who hasn’t been introduced yet? And they put me by SMU people. Hope they forget what happened in 1986.”
Following a dinner of artisan greens with tomato Carpaccio, cucumber, shallot vinaigrette and parmesan tuile; mushroom-stuffed chicken breast with mimolette liquid polenta, braised leeks and baby carrots, English peas and morel sauce; and s’mores tart (graham cake with marshmallow vodka, dark chocolate ganache, liquid graham cracker and toasted marshmallow), they played heads and tails for five cases of wine. Gloria Campos asked Dale if she could borrow $20 to play. And, of course, Dale let the room know, “The woman makes $800 million a year, and I gotta pay $20 to get her in the game.”
When heads was called, Honorary Co-chair Daryl complained that the “referee” didn’t catch the coin toss. Said Dale, “The man who couldn’t catch a ball from seven yards is complaining? . . . You are the honorary chair, which doesn’t mean crap.” As the field narrowed, Dale honed in on a guest still standing attired in a tuxedo: “This gentleman has to get the tuxedo back to Al’s in an hour. Otherwise it’s another $38.”
Then it was time for the live auction. It started off with great promise, but then an awkward moment arose. To the delight of all, the Masters package was going, going, gone for $16,000. Smiles filled the room. Well, that is except for one table at the back of the room. The chap, who had supposedly made the winning bid, looked like he had just been told a meteor had hit his house. Within seconds, the cheers had been replaced with “Darn it.”
Quickly, the package was back on the bloc as the shell-shocked-bidder tried to explain the misunderstanding to his tablemates and sipped his Coke.
Another auction item that broke the traditional bidding process was the Uncle Julio dinner with Rudy Gatlin. Rudy said, “I’ll sing all the hits, and even throw in some of the misses. Makes you appreciate the hits.” Dale bid $2,500. Rudy added, “We’re all going over to Hansen’s pool to get nekkid.” A guitar signed by Rudy was added plus backstage pass, of which Rudy reported, “Hell, we can’t sell ‘em, might as well give ‘em away.” Dale cracked up. Then Rudy added, “Thank the good lord, I haven’t had a drink in 28 years. Course I couldn’t have done it without the drugs, but . . .” Dale was outbid and the package went for $4,250.
Then an “Ask for Cash” was put out. As Dale told the group, “If you’ll give us $5,000 for Family Compass, Rudy Gatlin will not come to your house!”
By 9:45 the bidding and donating was winding down, as DJ Andre cranked up the music and the co-chairs hit the dance floor. The money had been raised and Elvis. . . uh, Dale, had left the building.