by Myrna Aquitania
On January 28, 2014, the City of Beverly Hills celebrated its 100th year anniversary with a star-studded concert of prominent Beverly Hills artists and sing-along at the famous Saban Theatre. Through the courtesy of media colleague, Evelyn Portugal, Advertising Manager of the Beverly Hills Courier, this writer was grateful for the privelege of experiencing a historical event.
To honor the city’s history since its incorporation on January 28, 1914, John A. Mirisch, Mayor of Beverly Hills hosted the event. Per his message on classy program, he said that the songs were “not just songs.” They were “written by composers and/or lyricists who made their homes in Beverly Hills.”
As a starter, there was a brief, nostalgic film presentation on the history of Beverly Hills which showed how Beverly Hills began as a residential community in 1906. An aerial view of Beverly Hills in 1921 also showed only a few homes amidst a large empty land as opposed to the aerial view of the Beverly Hills today, which is now packed with homes and almost no empty land available. And, In 1931, the Beverly Hills City Hall was built to show a “lavish Spanish revival style with ornate ceilings, marble floors, including a landmark mosaic tower which cost one million Depression-era dollars.”
“Over the years, Beverly Hills has been the home of many of the most-celebrated and accomplished American legends such as two presidents: Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, along with Elvis Presley “ Its popularity as a posh residential area began in “1919 when Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford built a hilltop mansion called Pickfair.” Thereafter, every movie star, mogul or those in the film industry wanted to live in lavish estates such as: Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Will Rogers, who was its first Honorary Mayor in 1925. Other famous movie and television stars who settled in Beverly Hills were: Elizabeth Taylor, Lucille Ball, Jimmy Stewart and Danny Thomas.
The musical program presented the LA Lawyer’s Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Beverly Hills resident, Gary S. Greene and they played sing-along hit songs such as:”Let Me Entertain You,” “Singing In The Rain,” Old Man River,” and “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Hair.”
Guest conductor Richard M. Sherman, another Beverly Hills resident, followed with his masterful style,with the LA Lawyer’s Philharnonic playing his music and lyrics of: “Chitty Chitty Bang, Bang,” “Winnie The Pooh,””Supercallifragillisticexpialidocious,” Chim Chim Cheree,” and “It’s A Small World.”Veteran actress Betty White, who graduated from the Beverly Hills High School, introduced the brief performances of the Beverly Hills High School Madrigal SIngers with their acapella rendition of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow: and “”Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” after which Golda Berkman, a 14-year old soloist sang “The Way We Were” and “Summertime.”
Guest soloist after the intermission was another Bevelry Hills resident, veteran singer/actress Florence Henderson who sang “God Bless America,” followed by Gary Greene, Esq. with his Big Band of Barristers and they played “Blue Moon,” “It Had To Be You,” and “Come Fly WIth Me.”
Another guest conductor, Charles Fox, a Beverly Hills resident along with the LA Lawyer’s Philharmonic, played his Tv musical scores such as: “Happy Days,” “Wonder Woman,” “Love Boat” and :”Wide World of Sports.”
Highlight of the evening was the appearance of guest soloist, singer/actor Pat Boone another Beverly Hills resident, who sang his soulful and riveting rendition of Neil Diamond’s “The Story of My Life.”
The Beverly Hills Marching Band played the finale song of Meredith Wilson’s “76 Trombones” and Stephen Sondheim’s “Old Friends,” which made the Beverly Hills crowd’s evening experience not only historic but meaningful and full of hope in looking forward to celebrate another 100 wonderful years.