The Junior League of Dallas‘ 2023 Milestones Luncheon was an obvious hit before the ballroom doors of Omni Dallas Hotel ever opened on Friday, April 14. As guests arrived for what they thought was the 10 o’clock start for the VIP Party, Omni self-parking attendant had to admit that the parking levels attached to the hotel were already full “Those ladies filled the place up at 9 this morning. You need to go over to the valet drive.” But even there the line stretched along the wall.
The draw of all the attention was of course the occasion plus featured guest/actor/author Rob Lowe.
In the lobby of the Trinity Ballroom guests like 2004-2005 JLD President Pam Perella with daughter Lauren Wilson, 2005-2006 JLD President Christie Carter and Claire Emanuelson, who hosted the 2012 Celebrating Women Luncheon patron party when Rob was the keynoter, were directed to the far end of the ballroom to queue up for the meet-and-greet with the man of the hour. Yes, he was incredibly adorable and accommodating, so it was no wonder that even the most top-tier type looked like a starry-eyed kid wanting to chat with Santa.
Meanwhile in the lobby there seemed to be some confusion about what would take place. Was there a surprise appearance of Rob? While the numbers grew in the room, former JLD leaders like Ashley Allen, Bonner Allen, Julie Bagley, Brooke Bailey, Jan Baldwin, Meredith Camp, Christie Carter, Andrea Cheek, Elizabeth Dacus, Meredith Mosley, Karen Shuford, Joan Eleazer, Patti Flowers, Nancy Gopez, Margo Goodwin, Louise Griffeth, Laura Johnson, Linda McFarland, Debbie Oates, Pam Perella, Angela Seaman, Debbie Snell, Diane Scovell and Candace Winsow looked a bit baffled about a variety of group photos (past president, ball chairs, Sustainers of the year and luncheon chairs.
While the former leaders wondered, Rob did pop in and took his place on stage with hand mic in hand. Immediately he was rewarded with a cellphone salute from the guests. He briefly thanked all for coming and looked forward to the luncheon. After all, his mom had been a Junior Leaguer.
Quickly the guests joined the 500 others in the Dallas Ballroom, where Luncheon Co-Chairs Elizabeth Gambrell and Heather McNamara welcomed the group and asked guests to vote for their favorite Rob Lowe role. With that the cellphones lit up with voting underway as Sustainer President Monica Christopher and JLD President Emily Somerville-Cabrera presented the 2023 Sustainer of the Year award to Pam Busbee, who thanked all especially her family (Christopher Dealey, Melissa and Justin Rawlings, Celia DeMarcos, Leigh DeMarco and Beverly Dealey Glenewinkel and Spencer Glenewinkel).
Handlers requested that no photos be taken while Rob was at the table eating. No problem. But still, one adorably cute gal who hadn’t attended the meet-and-greet suggested that if she quietly took her place behind Rob, a photographer could surely capture the moment. Sorry, but the handlers had spoken and the request was denied by the photographers.
Before the chat between emcee Shelly Slater and Rob took place on stage, Emily reported on JLD’s strategic changes for its Community Program and Signature Projects that included the Mayor’s Back to School Fair and a new Park Improvement Project. She then recognized the newest members of the Sustainers’ Legacy Leader, who have been League members for 50 years or more.
As Shelly and Rob took their places on the stage, the final tally of votes for favorite Rob role was reported, with “Parks and Recreation” topping the lengthy list.
Then the twosome settled down for a chat with the following highlights:
- Not only was Rob the first man to be featured at the Milestones Luncheon, he was also the first male spokesperson for breast cancer. He had lost three generations of his family to the disease (mother, grandmother and great grandmother).
- Married to his make-up artist/jewelry designer wife Sheryl Berkoff for 32 years, he surprised her literally for her for her 60th birthday by having her on Celebrity Family Feud with Steve Harvey.
- His podcast has included Chris Pratt who had been on Parks and Recreation and Gwyneth Paltrow, who had considered Sheryl like a big sister growing up, and teaching her certain things.
- The late comedian Chris Farley liked to eat a lot. One of his favorites was two boned-in porterhouse steaks and on every bite he would put a cube of butter.
- Saturday Night Live changed his career. He attributed the learning experience at SNL with Lorne Michaels to leading him to his role on the West Wing.
- Dallas is one of his most favorite places. It had been the very first place for the sneak preview of “About Last Night” in 1986. When he said, “There’s something going on here,” Shelly quipped, “We like hot men.”
- Dallas book publisher Jan Miller got him his Horatio Alger Award which is presented at the Supreme Court.
- A lot of people are concerned about looking self deprecating. Sheryl told him, “Honey, you’re going to look like an idiot!”
- In St. Elmo’s Fire he was seen playing “Love Theme” on the saxophone. At a fundraiser where former President Bill Clinton was attending, Rob was asked to perform that same song. The problem was he had faked the performance in the movie. Luckily, the house band at the event agreed to cover for him. “Clinton was bowing. I’m blowing in Quincy’s [Jones] face. A week later I got a letter from the White House.” Rob does a perfect imitation of Clinton saying, “I didn’t know you played the saxophone. I love you, Rob.” Now Rob felt guilty that he had faked played and told the song’s writer David Foster, who told Rob that he had shared the story with Barbra Streisand who told Clinton the truth the next day.
- Sobriety — He’s been sober for 33 years. “My fear was I wasn’t going to have fun anymore… I’ve had more fun and adventures since I’ve been sober.” He added that “nobody is going to get sober for you or for the marriage or for the job. They’re only going to get sober when they’re ready.” His son John Owen Lowe has been sober for five years.
- Acting — At the age of eight he knew he wanted to be an actor. He didn’t realize until he had kids how difficult it must have been for his mother to support his decision to go into acting when he opted not to attend USC and UCLA. However, his sons John Owen Lowe attended Stanford and Mathew Edward Lowe graduated from Duke University and earned his law degree from Loyola Marymount Law School.
- In the Screen Actors Guild, only 1.5% make enough to support themselves.
- About writing he attributed, “I hate writing. I love having written” Mark Twain.
- His mother was his first editor of his first two books. He may write a third one.
- He does a great Trump impersonation.