By Irene Lacher Posted December 8, 2011, 9:20 AM EST
LOS ANGELES The March of Dimes practically wrote the playbook for charities that borrow celebrities’ spotlights for their causes. That's thanks to founder Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who asked for Hollywood’s help in getting out the word 75 years ago, much as stars had helped with the war bond effort. Fortunately for the organization dedicated to healthy pregnancies and births, today's Hollywood is experiencing its own baby boom. That's what helped make its sixth-annual Celebration of Babies luncheon Friday at the Beverly Hills Hotel a huge success, raising nearly $1 million—many times more than last year’s take of $135,000.
“It far exceeded our expectations,” said Monica Riebli, state director of revenue development for the March of Dimes. “It was nice to feel a rebirth in Hollywood.”
Much credit also goes to the charity’s event partner, Universal Pictures, whose co-chair, Donna Langley, was the luncheon’s marquee honoree. Langley, a mother of two, received the inaugural March of Dimes Grace Kelly Award, named for another Hollywood mom who helped lead the organization’s Mothers March in the '50s. She was tapped for the honor by event chairs Joi and Jimmy Horowitz (Universal Pictures president), whose 13-year-old daughter was born prematurely. Horowitz also recruited other studio heavy hitters as co-chairs—Kelly and Ron Meyer, Universal Studios president, and Hillary and Adam Fogelson, Universal Pictures chair—as well as a lunchtime parade of stars and producers with kids as sponsors, guests, and onscreen presences.
Not surprisingly, the event’s design celebrated the charity's long relationship with the entertainment industry. Joi Horowitz worked with event designer Eden Rodriguez of End Design “to make the event classy and elegant and a nod to old Hollywood,” Riebli said.
The reception area outside the Crystal Ballroom, where the step-and-repeat was positioned during prelunch cocktails, was perfumed with white gardenias in clusters of clear glass vases of varying sizes. Three cocktail tables were topped by ironwork that supported picture cubes with vintage photos of Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, and other yesteryear stars appearing on behalf of the March of Dimes. The ballroom entrance was heavily draped in white fabric, echoing the room’s white tablecloths, and seats coupled with black metal frames. The interior suggested an indoor garden, with tall arrangements of leaves, branches, and blooms suspended without planters from ironwork pedestals on some of the tables.