Bruce Performs At Thalian Ball’s 50th Anniversary

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Bruce Vilanch wickedly observed “CBS has a new show from David Geffen — Desperate Houseboys” at last week’s fabled Thalians gala, the 50th anniversary of this charity benefit.

Movie legend Debbie Reynolds and social/charity legend Ruta Lee hosted the event with their usual aplomb. (Miss Lee, one of the great chatterboxes of show biz, was struck speechless when surprised with the news that she would receive her own star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.)

Entertainment came from Clint Black and Lisa Hartman Black, Susan Anton, the Orange County Gay Men’s Chorus, the Kevin Carlisle Dance Company and crooner Joey McIntyre. A lot of what could be called Hollywood’s Old Guard (or Middle Guard) was in attendance — Robert Culp, Anne Jeffreys, Lee Meriwether, Larry Hagman, Peter Graves and Jo Anne Worley.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was an honorary chair, but did not appear. This he could come to regret. Although the Thalians is not a “hot” evening, it still attracts big money donors and attendees — L.A. types who might, with the proper nudging, contribute to Mr. S’s re-election campaign.

The Thalians benefit mental-health issues, especially among the young. Hugh O’Brien is the founding president, but here’s some fascinating trivia — back in the mid-’50s, it was blond bombshell Jayne Mansfield who was sent out to look for a “good cause” to which hip Hollywood types could lend their names and presence. (Imagine a group of today’s hot kids sitting around, shooting the breeze, and then pushing Lindsay Lohan onto Sunset Boulevard to find a charity!) Jayne came back and said, “Everything good is taken, but maybe emotionally disturbed teenagers?” And so the Thalians were born.

Jayne was remembered at this 50th anniversary gala, as well she should be. And she’d be so proud and happy to know her divine daughter, Mariska Hargitay, is the toast of TV’s Law & Order: SVU.