"A Big-League Winner for the Betty Clooney Foundation"

by Marylouise Oates, The Los Angeles Times, Apr 11, 1986

First time up at bat, and the Betty Clooney Foundation hit a four-bagger, filling up the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion for the first Singers' Salute to the Songwriter. Rosemary Clooney emceed, and turned out friends-like Patti Page, Tony Bennett, Jack Jones, even Bob and Dolores Hope-to do justice to the six songwriters honored. Even Jose Ferrer did a number from the musical "Little Me," and his and Rosemary's daughter-in-law Debby Boone sang-with her 1-week-old daughter backstage. Betty Clooney, who died of brain injuries, was Rosemary's sister.

Jule Styne took his award with the admonition that he credited to Samuel Goldwyn: "If you want to ad-lib, write it out." His former lyricist partner Sammy Cahn, the winner of four Oscars and one Emmy, announced: "I really am without words," then added "a word is only as great as the note it sits under." Songwriter Cy Coleman said the evening "was a present. Like every record you ever wanted." The audience seemed to agree, with no newly emptied seats after intermission.

Backstage, pandemonium, as photographers and TV cameras jockeyed for shots. "Sing the right words," Barry Manilow, who was thrilled for his first-ever honors as a songwriter, cautioned his friend, Melissa Manchester. She did, and then the balcony had its chance, as screams and yells accompanied Manilow's presentation and performance.

Marilyn and Alan Bergman were saluted in a lengthy and frequently funny telegram from appearance-shy Barbra Streisand, but throughout the evening Monday the purpose of the event was never lost. Chairperson Roz Wyman-who knows that a winning benefit is the bottom line-pointed out from the stage that every performer had donated his or her talents to the evening. (The evening grossed $350,000, with the proceeds going to the Betty Clooney Foundation for the Brain Injured.) She was also effusive in her thanks for producer Alvin Sviridoff, who had put together the extraordinary evening. Thanks abounded for Dr. Sherm and Phyllis Holvey, who are the major force in the foundation, which he chairs.

Then Rosemary Clooney took the stage to announce that next year's performance was set for April 6. And that's a mark of success.

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