SHARE’s Boomtown Gala, a grand Hollywood tradition

The legendary Boomtown Gala celebrated 66 years of ‘SHARE-ing’ with the gorgeous ladies of SHARE kicking up their heels for fun and philanthropy.

The gorgeous ladies of SHARE.               (photo credit MargieBarron)

 It’s part of Hollywood history and a grand tradition. For 66 years the  great gang of philanthropic ladies have lived up to their acronym that stands for “Share Happily and Reap Endlessly” by raising funds to help children’s charities. They do this by presenting the annual SHARE Boomtown Gala, which has become legendary thanks to all the illustrious stars (Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Johnny Carson, etc.) who have performed and supported it over the years.

The Boomtown Gala 2019      (photo credit MargieBarron)

 The real sparkling stars of the show have always been the SHARE gals who perform show-stopping dance numbers for the delight of the crowd. So it was appropriate for the Shining Spirit Award to be presented to Joni Berry, a founding members of SHARE, at this year’s Boomtown Gala on May 19 at the Beverly Hilton. An avid dancer since she was three, Joni can brag about dancing with such luminaries as Sammy Davis Jr., Gene Kelly, and Donald O’Connor. Joni received her Shining Spirit honor from legendary dancer-performer Mitzi Gaynor.

Mitzi Gaynor (photo credit MargieBarron)

 “So, how you been kids?” Mitzi asked when took the stage to honor Joni. Moving slow, yet still showing off her signature razzle-dazzle, the South Pacific movie star was very funny telling the crowd, “I’m glad to be here, at my age I’m glad to be anywhere. And I’d go anywhere to talk about my best friend Joni Berry. She is head of the Board of the Professional Dancers Society. She is marvelous, kind and generous, and she must have been been torn from her mother’s arms to be one of the founders of SHARE.”

Joni Berry & author Stephen Maitland-Lewis (photo credit EugenePowers)

 Deeply moved by her honor, Joni thanked “my beloved SHARE sisters,” and then recalled, “Over 65 years ago I became a SHARE girl. Our goal was to raise funds to help children. So Jeanne Martin, another SHARE founder, asked her husband Dean Martin to help, and he got Jerry Lewis to join him to be our first entertainment at Ciro’s nightclub. Dean emceed the show for 20 years after that. That was our start.”

 The tradition of wearing dressy western attire to the event was started to create a fun and comfortable atmosphere for everyone. And it was a concession to all the husbands and boyfriends who didn’t want to attend another black-tie event.

 This year the theme was “SHARE Salutes Broadway” for the 66th Boomtown Gala, with special guest stars The Midtown Men, from the original “Jersey Boys” musical.

September Sarno, Joni Berry, Corinna Fields (PhotoEugenePowers)

 President of SHARE, Corinna Tsopei Fields (a former Miss Universe from Greece) presented the “Member of the Year” award to Christine Wallace, who was thrilled to be pulled from backstage as she prepared for the first big dance number “Bushel and a Peck.” “Let’s get on with the show,” Wallace roared, and great Broadway numbers followed starting with “Guys and Dolls.” The night ended with the musical “Chicago” and everybody dancing to the “The Hot Honey Rag.”

 Wowing the crowd was the SHARE chorus line that included Barbara Aaron, Terry Baldwin, Beverly Bergmann, Aphrodite Camelo, Samantha Faulkner, Ellen Feder, Nancy Gregory, Roberta Haft, Jane Jelenko, Natalie Lander, Adele Langdon, Bonnie Lythgoe, Dana Grilikhes Nassi, Hannah Noval, Esther Rosenfield, Sasha Salinger, September Sarno, Linda Schlesinger, Maxine Smith, Katya Sussman, and Christine Wallace.

 VIPs attending the big event included Neile Adams McQueen, Michele Lee, Shari Belafonte, Barbi Benton, Gia Bay, Cindy Ambuehl and Don Diamonte, Dawn McCoy, Chad Brittian, Erica Piccininni (Jersey Boys), broadcast legend Chuck Southcott, and legendary Laugh-In producer George Schlatter with wife Jolene. Plus author Stephen Maitland-Lewis (Joni Berry’s hubby), and Chris Lythgoe with singer-wife Becky, who produce the wonderful singing and dancing Lythgoe Family British Panto shows.

Carole Gaba, Bonnie Lythgoe, Lois Bloom, Nancy Gregory, and Margie Barron.

 Famed Broadway choreographer Charlene Painter (wife of director/choreographer Walter Painter) directed the show, produced by Gary Smith, with Diane Forester as the First Vice President of the Boomtown Show benefiting local charities including Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, CASA, Stuart House, Exceptional Children’s Foundation (ECF), and Team Primetime. To date, SHARE Inc. has raised more than $65 million benefiting those in need thanks to the great gals who love to kick up their heels for fun and charity.

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Margie Barron has written for a wide variety of outlets including Gannett newspapers, Nickelodeon, Tiger Beat and 16 Magazine, Fresh!, Senior Life, Production Update, airline magazines, etc. Margie is also proud to have been half of the husband & wife writing team Frank & Margie Barron, who had written together for various entertainment and travel publications for more than 38 years.