Extraordinary 16th Anniversary Dinner for Marymount Writing Center
Despite the economy, Lewis Frumkes pulled out every stop to thank writers and supporters of Marymount Manhattan College’s remarkable Writing Center, which has put Marymount on the map as a first class center of culture on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Frumkes made the point to the exclusive audience gathered at “Doubles” in the Sherry Netherland Hotel that he abhors long speeches and simply wanted guests to follow the advice of Mark Twain, who once said to patrons, “Good friends, good conversation, and a sleepy conscience; that is the ideal life.” “Enjoy your dinner!” said Frumkes.
Present to honor the writer Bruce Jay Friedman and benefactor Ethel LeFrak were Susan Isaacs, Barbara Taylor Bradford, Mary Higgins Clark, Ben Cheever, Jeanette Conant, Hilma and Meg Wolitzer, Bel Kaufman, Tony Hendra, Dan Greenburg, Barbara Goldsmith, Roy Blount Jr., Daphne Merkin, Sana Krasikov, last year’s Pulitzer-prize winner Debbie Applegate, Patricia Volk, Malachy and Alphie McCourt, Carol Gilligan, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, as well as practically every other important writer in New York. Also present were Judson Shaver, the President of Marymount Manhattan College, Regina Peruggi, the former President of Marymount who is now the President of Kingsborough Community College, William Becker, the head of Janus Films, the artists Elizabeth Strong-Cuevas and Everett Raymond Kinstler, David and Lisa Schiff, Jeannette Watson and Alex Sanger, Russell and Judy Carson, who gave five million dollars to the college, Jones Yorke and Betsy Bartlett, Denise LeFrak Calicchio and John Calicchio, Hope Knight, Maria Wirth, Frank and Helen Handley Houghton, interior designer Mario Buatta, Stephen Jacobi, Associate Publisher of Esquire, and writer/philanthropist Clementina Santi Flaherty, who underwrote the dinner.
Just after musicologist Mingmei Yip, one of the entertainers, played the Qin (the oldest stringed instrument in the world) while singing an ancient Chinese love song in a high-pitched, lilting voice, Frumkes broke the audience up by quipping, “I used to sing that to Alana years ago when we were courting.” Then, presenting an award to Ethel LeFrak, Frumkes explained how the first time he met Ethel years ago she had given him a calling card reading, “Ethel LeFrak advisor”. From the audience, Ethel replied, “Lewis I’m retired now. Anyone who wants to reach me can call 1-800-Tired.” Again, the distinguished audience laughed. And they laughed a third time after Frumkes introduced Bruce Jay Friedman when Friedman said, “In the old days when you couldn’t get Frank Sinatra, you got Joey Bishop. I’m your Joey Bishop.”
Everyone had a grand time, laughing frequently and applauding and, despite the economy, seemed to heed Frumkes’ low-key approach to fundraising. “We’re over the top,” Frumkes said softly with a smile on his face as he left. Well deserved, say we! #