Editor’s Note: A section of Margie Barron’s May 30 column was not published. Here is the full column.
Over the decades many illustrious stars (Johnny Carson, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, etc.) have performed and supported the SHARE Boomtown gala. But the real stars of the shows have always been the gorgeous ladies of SHARE (Share Happily And Reap Endlessly) who have kicked up their heels for 65 years—for fun and for philanthropy.
The 65-year-old philanthropic organization SHARE is dedicated to helping charities that aid developmentally disabled, abused and neglected children as well as support medical research with funds raised with its annual gala.
The theme this year was “65 Years of SHAREing,” bringing back some of the crowd-pleasing show-stopping dance numbers the ladies have performed in past years. It was a grand celebration on May 20 at the Beverly Hilton where guests arrived wearing dressy western attire. That tradition started when the Boomtown gala first debuted to create a fun and comfortable atmosphere for everyone. And it was a concession to all the husbands and boyfriends who didn’t want to attend another black-tie event.
Christine Wallace, the First Vice President of SHARE welcomed the crowd, and Corinna Tsopei Fields, SHARE President (and former Miss Universe from Greece), talked about how the organization changed her life. She then gave an award to the very surprised Nancy Gregory who works (and dances) tirelessly for the organization.
The gala honored philanthropist Loreen Arbus with the Shining Spirit Award presented by her friend Gloria Allred. Loreen’s accomplishments are many—programming chief at Lifetime and Showtime, producer and author. But she said it’s embracing her role as a disability rights activist that makes her most proud. A cause also embraced by the SHARE vision.
Emcee for the night was the bubbly Natalie Lander (ABC’s The Middle), who is proud to be the newest member of the SHARE chorus line and she joined the veterans for the most energetic dance routines.
The inspiring film, TV and stage choreographer Miriam Nelson, still dancing at 95, looked fabulous as she walked on stage with two chorus boys. Miriam is a founding member and the crowd was treated to a short film highlighting her brilliant choreography over the years. Looking over her body of work she quipped, “I don’t feel that old.” She received an ovation and then sang “I’m Still Here” with gusto. Wow, what a gal.
Among the many highlights of the evening was the superb choreographer-dancer Louis Van Amstel and the gals performing “Roxie.” And Martha Reeves and the Vandellas put the audience in the way-back machine singing their hit “Dancing in the Street” and more vintage hits.
The Rock’n Roll Hall of Fame’s legendary Righteous Brothers were the event’s headliners. Bill Medley and his new “brother” Bucky Heard delighted with the timeless classics that have given everyone endless memories, including “You’ve Lost That Loving Feelin’” and “Unchained Melody.” And Bill shared the spotlight with his daughter McKenna Medley who joined him for the Dirty Dancing hit “Time of My Life.” Bill said, “The movies have been good for our songs.”
Gary Smith was the executive producer of the gala, co-produced by Dolores Nemiro, and Howie Schwartz was the skilled auctioneer. Celebrities there to enjoy the big event included So You Think You Can Dance producer and judge Nigel Lythgoe, and son Chris Lythgoe with singer-wife Becky, who produce the wonderful Lythgoe Family British Panto shows.
As always it was thrilling to see all the dance numbers featuring the ladies of SHARE, directed and choreographed by the award-winning Anita Mann Kohl. It was a shining moment for all, and Anita joined her dancers for the finale “Tap Your Troubles Away.” The chorus line featured Dolores Nemiro and included Bonnie Lythgoe, September Sarno, Ellen Feder, Terry Baldwin, Beverly Bergmann, Nancy Gregory, Barbara Aaron, Jane Jelenko, Adele Langdon, Esther Rosenfield, Linda Schlesinger, Christine Wallace, Josh Garcia, Mark Marchillo, and enthusiastic emcee Natalie Lander who said, “I expect the ladies of SHARE to be kicking up their heels for another 65 years.”
Margie Barron is a member of the Television Critics Association and has written for a variety of top publications for more than 35 years and was half of the husband and wife writing team of Margie and Frank Barron.