Washington Life Magazine
Washington Life Magazine

Around Town

Not many of us have our lives and our global destinations tightly scheduled for the next five years, but Carl Tanner does. Tanner, the tenor who won kudos at the Choral Arts Society's Christmas Benefit Concert, has a dizzying international schedule set through 2009.

During dinner after his performance at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium, he confided that although he is an Arlington native who has sung all over the globe, this concert was his first appearance in his home town, and his family was thrilled. He will make his Washington Opera debut in May.

He had lively table, which included Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her husband Marty as well as Lynda and Bill Webster. Incidentally, even if the justice weren't already esteemed as a jurist, she could go down in history for passing on one secret for a happy wedded life. It was given her as a bride by her mother-in-law who told her: "In a marriage, it's often a good idea to be a little deaf." Wise words.

At the next table were NBC's Bob Ryan and his wife Olga, a Russian teacher who found herself giving an impromptu lesson when she learned Tanner would be singing in that language. Olga volunteered that there are certain sounds that give special trouble to non-Russians, and she demonstrated them on the spot.

Webster Stone

Seen in the throng: Dorothy and Bill McSweeny, Jane de Graff Sloat, Hilda and Arturo Brillembourg, Lucky Roosevelt, Mary and Robert Haft, Janet Howard, Howard and Barbara Burriss, Albert and Shirley Small, Debbie Sigmund, Melody and Peter Ladd Gilsey and Alexine and Dr. Aaron Jackson.

There was a spate of stunning holiday parties, and a smashing Christmas dinner at Ginny and Donald Dawson's. Ginny is a gourmet cook and a collector of fine china. The elegant menu, from mini crab cakes to a finish of five desserts, each more luscious than the other, was served on "Rothschild" Herend. She has a set that serves 60 in that pattern. One guest observed that Donald, who is a major general, could have served a platoon with it.

Just outside the room's picture window, next the garden fountain, the guests (including Barbara and Tom Walsh, Tom's mother Marie, Jackie Arango, Baron Gianfranco Fiorio, and Ginny's son Robert Fox) could admire a fully decorated Christmas tree as they ate. Another excellent hostess is Margaret Hodges, whose annual brunch at Congressional Country Club heralds the holiday season. Ellie and Philip Merrill, Betty and Paul Elicker, Barbara Sloat, Maggie Wimsatt (who just got a well-deserved bouquet in write-up in the December Washingtonian

Magazine's list of area citizens who make a difference.) Also in the group of 200 or so who brunched and danced the afternoon away were Donna and John Pflieger, Anne Camalier, Jackie and Jorge Carnicero, the Wayne Gibbenses, and former West Palm Beach Rep. Paul Rogers and wife Becky.

Jack Valenti and Nellie Connally

Le Tout DC was gathered around the fondue pot and scarfing the sliced steak at the party the former senator and actor (now appearing as the D.A. in TV's "Law and Order") Fred Thompson and his wife Jerri hosted with Susan and Doug Bennett at the latter's handsome home. Seen: the Charlie Wilsons', Cristina and John McLaughlin, Jim Kimsey, Katherine Wood, Mel and Suellen Estrin, Janet Donovan, Fred and Marlene Malek, Pamela Armstrong and Bob Baron, Mary and Mandy Ourisman, Brandon and Mariana Grove, Sen. Bill Frist and his wife Karen, Karon Cullen, Richard Carlson, and Sen. John Warner, who a few days later married Jean van der Hyde.

Many of the same guests were at the next two parties, and vice-versa as the go-go-go social set geared up for the year's end.

At the Ourismans' a red tent draped with crushed red velvet took care of the overflow from the house, and featured a caviar bar with eight bottles of vodka in eight flavors lined in up in frozen ice holders. The seafood and the panoply of hot dishes fit right into the sumptuous surroundings, (as well as into the guests.) At every corner there was a magnificent flower arrangement, subtly lighted.

Seen: John Damgard and Britty Cudlip, Chief of Protocol Donald Ensenat and his wife Taylor, the ambassador of the Netherlands Boudewijn van Eenennaam and his wife Jellie, Rima Al-Sabah (wife of the Ambassador of Kuwait,) Nini Fergusonü Carole and Bob Foley, Natalie and Brad Stoddard, Baba Groom and in from Virginia horse country, glamorous Rose Marie Bogley. Also circulating between parties were Buzz and Lois Aldrin and Ishaq and Hafizah Shahryar. (Even in this blasˇ town, heads will turn for Aldrin. How many people do YOU know who have walked on the moon?)

Wayne Gibbons and Nellie Connally
Jack Valenti hosted a party to celebrate former First Lady of Texas Nellie Connally new book “From Love Field: Our Final Hours with President John F. Kennedy” at the Motion Picture Association of America. Connally’s book is a recount of the day President Kennedy was assassinated and her husband, former Governor John Connally, was seriously wounded. Connally, a passenger in the car at the time of the shooting, disputes the Warren Commission and alludes to the possibility of more than one shooter.

Buzz and Lois were also here a couple of months ago, when their old friends from California, the Shahryar's held a party at the Kalorama house where they have now moved after Ishaq left his post as ambassador from Afghanistan.

There was a pink glow in the party tent at Monica and Hermen Greenberg's house for yet another party, making all the women especially beautiful. One of the loveliest was the hostess herself, a cause for rejoicing for all the guests, because gentle Monica was so badly injured in a serious car accident some years ago. Seeing her looking so well heartened everyone.

The Greenbergs' parties have always been outstanding for the setting, the exotic flowers and the food, and this one was no exception. Seen around the tub of caviar, Bill and Buffy Cafritz, Deeda and William McCormick Blair, Roger Mudd, Gail and Simon Serfaty, Jack and the Hon. Candy Somerville, Gogo and Austin Kiplinger, Finnish Ambassador Jukka Valtasaari and wife Etel, Lloyd and Ann Hand, John Peters Irelan, Alma and Joseph Gildenhorn, Charles Cudlip and Carol and Climis Lascaris.

As for orchids, this correspondent has just returned from a three day festival at a place where orchids are as frequent a sight as dandelions are hereÑthe town where the palace of Her Royal Highness Queen Sirikit of Thailand is located.

In this constitutional monarchy, both King Bhumibol and Queen Sirikit work constantly for the welfare of their people. He, an agriculturalist, participates actively in land and irrigation issues to strengthen the country's economy.

Among her concerns, Queen Sirikit investigates and supplies help where needed through her traveling ladies-in-waiting. It was fascinating to talk to several of them about the scope of their modern roles, far from the traditional image of ladies-in waiting sitting in the castle and sewing fine seams.

George C. Marshall Foundation Trustee General and Mrs. Julius W. Becton, Jr. with Colin L.Powell
Secretary of State Colin Powell was awarded the Marshall Award late last year at the George C. Marshall Foundation Dinner at the National Building Museum in Washington DC. The award is named for General George C. Marshall, who received the Nobel Peace Prize fifty years ago for his leadership in restoring the economic health and in building democratic institutions in Europe following World War II. The Marshall Award was created in 1997 in honor of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Marshall Plan.

Under Queen Sirikit's direction, these competent women fan out to visit sites where there are issuesÑ such as the need for a clinic or a new schoolÑ to report back to her for action. Through her Support Foundation she also develops handicrafts as cottage industries, occasioning this three day stay for her private Silk Festival, which encourages production and sale of the famed Thai silk by home weavers.

For her friend, Washingtonian Esther Coopersmith, Queen Sirikit has given a special niche, the invitation to bring friends to stay with her; and this time it was Lilibet Hagel, wife of Sen. Chuck Hagel, and Terri Hamlisch, wife of music man Marvin. It was interesting to find that Terri Hamlisch knows Asia and before her marriage spent a session learning Mandarin in China.

The festival included a black-tie dinner in the orchid-laden palace, a candle-lit barbecue at tables overlooking the Mekong river, with a view of Laos only a short boat-ride away, traditional Siamese dances, and the big day itself, when the weavers displayed their fabrics to the guests amid the orchid-festooned trees surrounding the palace. Whatever wasn't sold was bought by the Queen, who awarded prizes to the winners among the weavers, all of whom went home from this ready-made market with money in hand for their products. (Most of the silks she buys are sold later to earn back the money for future development.

Barbara Mandatori, Franco Nuschese of Café Milano and Antonella Pazzaglini

Gilbert Mead, Jaylee Mead and Molly Smith



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