"Dear Miss Van Horne. You bitch. Sincerely, Ed Sullivan.”
Besides an obvious knack for composing pithy missives to his critics, Mr. Sunday Night also possessed a keen affinity for minorities, blacks in particular, whom he regularly invited to perform on his show, the pre-egalitarian grumblings of various sponsors notwithstanding. Clearly, the civil rights gene ran in his family, for in 1934 two of his kinfolk, Claire and Elizabeth Sullivan, founded Casita Maria, the first charitable organization in the “settlement house” tradition to serve Hispanics in New York City.
At the annual Fiesta fund-raiser at the über-posh Mandarin Oriental, the Casita Maria Gold Medal of Honor was presented to renowned philanthropist Emilia Fanjul, erstwhile Rio de Janeiro burgomaster Israel Klabin, New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, and Carmen Sánchez Pérez, publisher of Hola! magazine.
Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia co-chaired the event with Jacqueline Weld Drake, Carolina Herrera, and Aileen Mehle, while Mario Buatta emceed.
Notables who dined and danced the night away included Ken Starr and Diane Passage, Somers and Jonathan Farkas, George and Mariana Kaufman, Cornelia and Marty Bregman, and Barbara and Donald Tober. For those with deep pockets, there was a silent luxury auction headed by Maria “Mati” Bonetti Buccini.
As a legendary TV host would have remarked, it was a reeeeally big show!