"Hits Just Keep On Coming at Singers, Songwriters Gala"

by Marylouise Oates, The Los Angeles Times, Apr 8, 1987

"Next year," chairman Roz Wyman said, approaching Bev and Al Zacky. "Next year it can be Zacky Chickens Present the `Betty Clooney Foundation Singers Salute the Songwriters Award.' And we'll put it on television."

None of that seems surprising, especially after the curtain fell on the three-hour spectacular that played to a full house at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion Monday night. Like love, the awards got better the second time around.

Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager, Sammy Fain, Henry Mancini, Jimmy Van Heusen and Stevie Wonder heard dozens of their hundreds of hits sung to them by an army of well-known stylists in a fast-paced night produced by Allen Sviridoff. It was nonstop showstoppers: Gloria Loring doing "Come in From the Rain," Michael Feinstein doing "I Can Dream, Can't I," Patti Austin singing "I'm Late" from "Alice in Wonderland" and then "That Old Feeling," Pat Boone doing "April Love."

The orchestra did the "Pink Panther" theme and "Theme From Peter Gunn," and Mancini took the stage to thank Billy May and then "my second pair of ears for 40 years, my wife, Ginny."

Songwriters Alan and Marilyn Bergman, among last year's honorees, presented the Arranger's Award to May.

"You can always recognize a Billy May chart," Marilyn Bergman said. "He did what few people do. He created a style."

"My cup runneth over," Wyman told the audience after the short intermission. "I'm glad you all came . . . and the date for next year is April 11." Sherman Holvey, chairman of the foundation board, said the foundation-named for Rosemary Clooney's sister, who died after suffering traumatic brain injuries-was successfully following its five-year plan.

A surprise appearance by Toots Thielemans, acknowledged as the world's greatest harmonica player, brought the audience and the orchestra to their feet, as he finished saying: "Just for you, Stevie. I love you, Stevie.

"The finale brought last year's winner, Barry Manilow, out on stage to do a medley of Jimmy Van Heusen songs.

Veteran benefit-goers such as Wendy and Leonard Goldberg, Roz and Hal Milstone, Peg Yorkin (who this week celebrates an important birthday) and the hundreds of others were clear that they were on the list to buy tickets for next year's event.

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