Joan Rivers and Dina Merrill

Susan Lucci and Helmut Huber

They Said It Wouldn’t Last
But We’re Celebrating Still

Story by Roger Webster
Photos by Billy Farrell/PMc

OLLYWOOD legend Arlene Dahl and her husband Marc Rosen celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary with a black tie dinner at the posh Doubles Club in New York’s Sherry Netherland Hotel, the absolute perfect spot for this kind of an affair—a musical love-in.

Arlene’s son with Fernando Lamas, Lorenzo Lamas, sang Surrey With a Fringe On Top to a standing ovation. (Someone later mentioned that he’d love to do a Broadway show.) Then Yanna Avis sang La Vie En Rose and Lilliane Montevecchi sang Mon Homme. Dick Gallagher, who wrote the off-Broadway hit When Pigs Fly was the musical director and the accompanist. “They all came to me to rehearse their numbers at least once,” he said.

Tommy Tune sang the Rodgers and Hart’s I'll Tell the Man on the Street, with lyrics he altered to fit the occasion including references to the Web and AOL. Christopher Barker, a son from Arlene’s marriage to movie Tarzan Lex Barker, who had flown in from Geneva for the evening, sang On The Street Where You Live.

David Staller jumped up on the piano to sing Irving Berlin’s (I’ll Be Loving You) Always, prefacing it with the story about how Berlin gave the song to his wife Ellin MacKay as a wedding gift, after her father had disinherited her for marrying a Jew. Ironically, Clarence MacKay hit a financial rough spot during the Depression and Berlin lent him money.

Jeffrey Butler was emcee. Many pals and family members took the microphone to express their affection. Cindy Adams brought down the house when she said that she and Mark had gone into business together with a perfume called Gossip.

“The only thing is, we didn’t make any money,” she explained. Turning to Marc, she asked, “What did you do, cook the books?”

Joan Rivers jumped up and, without missing a beat, shouted, “I don’t like to talk in public—I swear to God— but I had to say something because I went into the perfume business with Marc too, and I didn’t make any money either! You’re under arrest!” she said in that Rivers mock-seriousness.

Rick Hilton said to Rivers and Adams, “I don’t know what is wrong with you two. I went into the perfume business with Marc and made a fortune. In fact the money is still rolling in.”

All their children were there. Daughter Carole Holmes McCarthy, who has her mother’s classic features, said, “They were married on a cruise ship, and life is not a cruise without waves, but your marriage has been smooth sailing.” The youngest, Stephan Schaum, perfectly summed up the mood saying, “I love you very much.”

Granddaughter Shayne Lamas said that her grandmother, who she calls GaGa was her idol, “and yes, I will follow in her footsteps. Just look at the glow in GaGa’s face and you can see how happy she is.” she said. “We call Marc, Papa Marc,’ and he’s awesome,” she added.

Marc Rosen, Arlene Dahl, Lorenzo and
Shayne Lamas

Arlene was beaming when she made her toast. “Life is a wonderful bouquet of beautiful flowers,” she said. “I thank Marc for bringing so many friends into my life, the ones who are here and the ones who have called from all points of the Zodiac and the world.”

It was also at Marc’s 56th birthday. “They all said it wouldn’t last because I was younger than she—and her sixth husband,” he reminded the guests.

“But I’m here to tell you that I’ve lasted ten years longer than her last longest marriage—and twenty years later, I look older than Arlene.”

Among the other guests singing Happy Birthday when the cake came out were Dina Merrill with Ted Hartley, Rita Gam and Peter Powell, Marty Richards, Wendy Carduner, Marylou Whitney and John Hendrickson, James Earl Jones and his wife Cecilia, Sally Jesse Raphael and Karl Soderlund, Arizona Diamondback star Steve Finley with his wife interior designer Amy Finley, TCM’s Robert Osbourne, Tom and Diahn McGrath, Barbara Taylor and Robert Bradford, Patrice Munsel, Susan Lucci and Helmet Huber, Frances Scaife, Kathy Hilton, Parker Ladd and Arnold Scaasi, Barbara de Portago, Mario Buatta and Isabel Leeds.

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