What do you get for the man who has everything? Milt Larsen can look back on a great life as the co-founder (with his late brother Bill) of the legendary Magic Castle in Hollywood, along with being a TV writer, performer, author, and many other notable entertainment credits. He has a great wife, Arlene, who every year creates magic of her own organizing a wild, fun-filled birthday party for him. This year it was a “Moustache Party” at the Castle’s Inner Circle to help celebrate Milt turning 83. Everyone invited was asked to wear a mustache — and yes, men and women sported various forms of Milt’s trademark mustache. Of course everyone looked silly — that was the point.
Among those on hand to pay homage to their dear friend were Mary Poppins composer Richard Sherman and his wife Elizabeth, Fred Willard and his wife Mary, Leonard Maltin and wife Alice, JoAnne Worley, Tippi Hedren, Chuck McCann, Joe Furlow, Gay Blackstone, magic’s royalty “Princess” Irene Larsen, and many more magical personalities. Rumor had it that Debbie Reynolds was incognito somewhere in the crowd, hiding behind a moustache. The music of the terrific “Super Casanova Band” — with leader Eric Bonerz, bass player Chris Haller, and on keyboard Bob Remstein — was enjoyed, and additional entertainment came from the fun accordionist Shalom Sherman, and balloon whiz Dennis Forel.
Milt’s pal and a pillar of the Castle, Dale Hindman admitted he labored over “what to get for the man who has everything. So I thought it would be great to give Milt something with one of his childhood heroes, and I commissioned a painting from the outstanding artist Jim Mulligan.” Dale presented the original artwork entitled “Dreamers” which depicted Walt Disney and his Disneyland castle side by side Milt Larsen and his Magic Castle. Milt blinked back tears when it was unveiled and there were cheers from the crowd for the “Dreamers.”
Milt gave a little speech about being born “the day that Vaudeville died, and I’ve been trying to revive it ever since.” Larsen keeps busy with lots of shows throughout the year and just produced (with Terry Hill) the annual It’s Magic show at The Norris Theatre in Rolling Hills Estates. The longest running magic revue, It’s Magic is Milt’s brainstorm and is now celebrating its 58th year showcasing the best magicians and top variety acts from around the world. The recent shows have featured Liberty Larsen, granddaughter of the Castle’s Irene Larsen. The family’s legacy continues, and Milt Larsen’s recent book entitled My Magical Journey: The First 30,000 Days chronicles a lot of fun stories from the birthday boy.
At another party in Glendale chef Michael Mina’s new Bourbon Steak was launched at The Americana at Brand. The party was hosted by developer Rick Caruso, and Mario Lopez and his wife Courtney were there to enjoy good food and jazz. I was reminded that April is National Jazz Appreciation month, and the hot new place is putting together a great lineup of jazz artists.
Speaking of wildlife, a great way to celebrate Earth Day is to enjoy the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens with a weekend expo spotlighting California wildlife and the role it plays in the health of our planet. On April 26th and 27th with paid admission to the LA Zoo in Griffith Park, activities for the Earth Day Expo will feature interactive stations to explore ideas about animal conservation and preservation, sustainable living for humans, recycling, and how to make Earth a better place to live.
Proving that good food and wine never go out of style, the Beverly Hills Bar Association’s Vintage Bouquet celebrates its special al fresco food and wine tasting event on Sunday, April 27, from noon to 4 p.m., at the Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills. Unlimited tastings of exceptional wines and samples from top restaurants, paired with silent auctions and exceptional musical entertainment, are the cornerstone of the event. Proceeds benefit the Beverly Hills Bar Foundation’s pro bono legal services, including free wills for firefighters and emergency responders.