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December 30, 2011     Post-Gazette
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December 30, 2011
 

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Page8 POST-GAZETTE, DECEMBER 30, 2011 The Social0 Set by JBlda M. Morrill Movie and stage sensation Chita Rivera, center, is welcomed to Boston by John Lanouette Brenner and Hilda Morrill, left, during Boston Ballet's "Bravo Bujones:~ gala. (File Photo, 1991) As 2011 comes to a close, it's the perfect time to reflect on the past, especially in regard to this Soc/a//y Set col- umn, which will be my last. It was in 1993 when at the invitation of publisher Pam Donnaruma I began to write, the weekly column on a regular basis after the death of John Lanouette Brenner. If it weren't for John, I never w .oculd have begun to write for the Post-Gazette at all. The year was 1977 and John and I were both writ- ing for "T" Magazine -- he wrote about fashion, the arts and society events, and I wrote about gardens. It was also the year that my husband and I bought a store on Hanover Street in the North End, not far from where John lived (on Tileston Street) and near the paper's office (on Prince Street). ! had also been writ- ing a short weekly column in my hometown paper since 1973. In addition to The Socially Set, John wrote Lifestyle features and a column titled Adam Looks at Madam, in which he would answer readers' questions about theater, fashion, the arts, food. and opera, about which he was extremely knowl- edgeable, o ~ Hi~ column-'was syndicated andS:he suggested that I syndicate my columns too. But the fact was that I had a full time job that I loved as director of public rela- tions for a home furnishings company based in Natick with locations throughout New England, New York and the Washington, D.C. region. Travel was often required. But, John was charming and in no time we were attending events together, l always learned so much from John, and he always made a point of introducing me to all his friends and acquaintances. Call 617.783.2300 ] Reginapizza.com 353 Cambridge Sfreef- AIIsfon N Visil us af the Original Regina on lhacher Sfreef in fhe Norfh End Oscar de la Renta and H/Ida Morrill at the Wang Center for the Performing Arts. (Photo by Sam Greenwald, 1990) One whom he adored was the lovely Yolanda Cellucci, whom he dubbed "Boston's First Lady of Fash- ion." Although known for the fantabulous women's fash- ions sold in her famous Waltham salon, Yolanda was the one who made sure John was always dressed to the nines. If I happened to admire a particularly attrac- tive dress shirt, he would invariably say, "Yolanda gave dotin- was a bit of~'~ovable curmudgeon, though, and I could write many funny sto-~ ries about him. One imme- diately comes to mind. My husband would often bring him leftovers from our home Edward Bernays, known as "The Father of Public Relations," welcomes Hilda Morrill to a very social party at his home in Cambridge. (File Photo, 1990) cooked dinners and John would take them to the lovely Barbara Summa of La Summa Restaurant on Fleet Street for her to "warm it up" for him since he had no oven in his fiat. However, he would insist on eating at one of her establishment's tables, denying a paying guest a place to sit. Very supportive of all I did, John once traveled to New York City to attend an event I planned for my company at the famous restaurant ROLEX ESTATE JEWELRY Bought & Sold Jewelers Exch. Bldg. Jim (617) 263-7766 A white-water rafting adventure was enjoyed by several newspaper columnists and editors at the invitation of Zoar Outdoor/Mohawk Trail of Charlemont, Mass. Among the intrepid participants were Ron Morrill, left; Pamela Donnaruma, center rear; and Hilda Morrill, center right. (File Photo, 1994) Tavern on the Green. I men- tioned that he could bring a guest, and he brought Yolanda's daughter Sondra Celli, He wrote a wonderful column about the event, which honored the Prince of Denmark, although he kid- ded me that "the Queen didn't show up." Through John ! aIso met Edward Addison, " Paul McMahon and Ralph Hodg- don,, Martha Waiters, Smoki BacOn~ and Dick Concannon. Dr. Helene Day, Caron Le Brun, and the very talented photographer Roger Farring- ton, to name a few, All would become dear friends and influence/support my writ- ings in innumerable ways. Following John's lead. I found that the majority of events tIiat I attended were "column" material, whether it was a New Year's Eve party at Carol Nashe's home, a birthday celebration for Edward Bernays or Sadie Stepner, or a radio interview with Sybil Tonkonogy and Betty Levin. But, of course, the major black tie galas and annual charity balls have always been popular with our read- ers and provided the most material. People often ask me which have been my favorites and it's really hard to choose just one because they've all been special in one way or another. Some that come to mind: The Wang Center Restora- tion Ball, The Mad Hatters Ball, The Consuls' Ball, The Camellia Ball, The Rose Ball initiated by Dr. Simon Devine, tile U~,icef Ball ho~6ring Harry Belafonte, and. the Bal de La Rose to benefit the Princess Grace Foundation. The Anthony Spinazzola Gala i~ easier to ~ecall bec.ause of the wine gii~sSes t:hfft were always included in the bountiful guest swag bffgs. In fact, even as I type this column, I have a glass by my side which reads: "The 12th Annual Anthony Spinazzola Gala, February 7. 1997," Speaking of swag bags, just like the White House party crashers, for years Boston's social events have been crashed by its own "Captain Crash." In fact, many years ago at a Boston Ballet reception held at the Domain store on Newbury Street, I photographed him walking out with at least five bags. Of course, to many event planners his gate- crashing was just plain fraud. However, once at an invitation writing commit- tee meeting at The Ritz, when his name came up, one of the grande dames of society came to his defense by mentioning that he was a good dancer after all! Mentioning The Ritz brings back so many memories! (Continued on Page 13) / Real Estate Matt6o Gallo Appraisals Sales & Rentals 376 North Street Boston, MA 02113 (617) 523-2100 Fax (617) 523-3530