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Gala Chairs Tina Gittelson, Jackie Smith, Julie Solnit and Gina Furth

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Connections Made at Fall Gala

Songs and celebration filled the ballroom at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel as Women’s Guild held its 58th annual fall gala on Nov. 14. Event Chairs Gina Furth and Tina Gittelson, along with co-chairs Jackie Robbins Smith and Julie Solnit, transformed the hotel’s ballroom into a lavish 1930s-style “Supper Club,” which brought together more than 600 Women’s Guild supporters.

The evening got off on a high note as Women’s Guild President Hella Hershon announced a milestone in the group’s fundraising efforts for the Women’s Guild Simulation Center for Advanced Clinical Skills at Cedars-Sinai. “We’ve already taken in over $1 million [tonight] and we’re now halfway through our pledge,” she said, noting that in 2013 the group pledged $10 million to support the simulation center. “We’ve crossed the $5 million mark and we’ll be close to $6 million by the end of the year.”

Humanitarian Award Honorees Bernand and Judy Briskin

Humanitarian Award Honorees Bernand and Judy Briskin

Past Women’s Guild President Judy Briskin and her husband, Bernard, received the group’s Humanitarian Award for their longstanding support.

“It’s a synergistic evening because Gina has been friends with Bernie and Judy for over 30 years, and they’re also my cousins,” said Gittelson. “It all came together with these amazing relationships.”

While accepting her award, Judy Briskin expressed the deep bond she feels with Cedars-Sinai. “Looking around this room, there must be at least one or two people at each table who’ve turned to Cedars-Sinai during a time of need,” she said. “Cedars-Sinai protects us all like a shining beacon that guides us to safety. This is what tonight is all about for Bernie and me. Cedars-Sinai gives everything it has and we want to give back.”

Songwriting power couple and longtime friends of the Briskins, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, were honored with the Music Icon Award. The authors of dozens of hit songs, the Grammy-winning duo was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010.

Even with such accolades, Mann and Weil said the recognition from Women’s Guild had a special meaning for them. “This really makes me feel like we’re part of a community,” said Mann. “To be here tonight with the Briskins is really special. Our roots are in New York but I’m starting to feel more and more like a Californian.”

Music Icon Honorees Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil flanking Women’s Guild President Hella Hershson

Music Icon Honorees Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil flanking Women’s Guild President Hella Hershson

In accepting the award, Weil, too, said it was made more significant by the company in the room. “This evening is especially sweet because we get to share it with Judy and Bernie Briskin,” she said, before sending the room into rounds of laughter. “Someone once said, a good speech should be like a comet — dazzling, eye-opening and over before you know it. I know you’re all dying to get out of your Spanx.”

The evening was highlighted by a number of surprises, including a visit from “Leon,” a robotic patient in the simulation center, a live auction conduction by Sotheby’s Andrea Fiuczynski, and a special video message from Dolly Parton, who joked about her career-changing song “Here You Come Again,” written by Mann and Weil.

“Somebody said to me, ‘A monkey could have had a hit with that song,’” said the sassy singer and actress. “I said, ‘Well, a monkey did, a monkey from the jungles of East Tennessee.”

Steve Tyrell, vocalist, music producer, and longtime friend of Mann and Weil, provided the evening’s entertainment, singing the duo’s hits “On Broadway,” “Don’t Know Much,” and “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feeling.”

Mann himself took to the piano to perform “Somewhere Out There.”

Tyrell closed the performance with the perfect Mann and Weil song to capture the warm spirit of the evening: “Good Good Lovin’.”