Photo Flash: Actors Fund Honors Rivera At Tonys Benefit
While the world's eyes were focused on the TONY Awards in New York on Sunday June 7th, a crowd of almost 500 theatre patrons gathered in Los Angeles to celebrate by watching the ceremony live via satellite and to honor seven time nominee and two time TONY Award-winner Chita Rivera at the 13th Annual TONY Awards® Benefit presented by The Actors Fund.
The event that raised approximately $125,000 for THE ACTORS FUND had a star studded audience including Bob Banner, Theodore Bikel, Norm Crosby, Mitzi Gaynor, Mariette Hartley, Tippi Hedren, Marge Helgenberger, Peter Hunt, Leilani Jones, Carol Lawrence, Lee Merriwether, Valarie Pettiford, Charlotte Rae and Rip Taylor. The joined the evenings host Dick Van Dyke, to celebrate Chita's remarkable career. Marc Cherry (creator/producer of "Desperate Housewives") and David Rambo (producer/writer of "CSI") produced and wrote this very special production that included performances by Jason Alexander, and Dick Van Dyke's own musical group - The Vantastix (Van Dyke, Eric Bradley, Brian Chadima, Mike Mendyke and Deedee Wood). Among the evening's highlights were reunions with Chita and George Chakiris from West Side Story, as well as other original cast members, Susan Watson and Dick Gautier, from Bye Bye Birdie who joined Dick Van Dyke in singing "We Love You Chita."
Chita Rivera IS Broadway history. She is as iconic to the New York theatre going audience as The Eiffel Tower is to Paris. Upon receiving the Julie Harris Award for Lifetime Achievement from her own accomplished daughter Lisa Mordente, Chita declared, "I will put this right next to my two Tonys ... which could have been four, but Bernadette Peters and Lauren Bacall are holding the others," pausing for one moment before turning back to the audience and saying "Oh, now that's going to get me in trouble, isn't it?" Previous recipients of the highly coveted award have included Gwen Verdon, Charles Durning, Rita Moreno, James Earl Jones, Tyne Daly, Lauren Bacall, Stockard Channing, Carol Channing, Liza Minnelli, Jerry Herman, Tommy Tune and, of course, the awards namesake Julie Harris.
THE ACTORS FUND has proudly offered this event that boasts the only live feed in Los Angeles for the last 13 years, giving the thespian loving crowd a chance to see who the winners were before the rest of the West Coast.
THE ACTORS FUND is a national human services organization that helps all professionals in performing arts and entertainment. The Fund - which provides programs and services for those on stage and on screen and everyone behind the scenes in theatre, film, TV, music, dance, radio and opera - is a safety net, providing social services and emergency assistance, health services and health insurance information, employment and training programs and housing support for those who are in need, crisis or transition. Learn more about what The Actors Fund does in helping over 10,000 people every year at www.actorsfund.org.
Chita Rivera and Dick Van Dyke arrive on the red carpet
Carole Cook and Thom Troup
Dick Van Dyke opens the evening
Lee Merriwether and Chita Rivera
Collage created by Gil Kaan and signed by Chita Rivera for the silent auctioned