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Monday, November 10, 2014

With a Little Help from My (Hemophilia) Friends

While I'm on vaction this week, please enjoy this fascinating bit of hemophilia rock trivia from our colleague Richard Atwood of North Carolina!


During their 1964 tour of America, the Beatles stayed in Los Angeles for five days. The band rented a mansion at 356 St. Pierre Road in the Hidden Hills neighborhood of Bel Air. They held a sold-out concert on Saturday, August 23 for almost 19,000 paying fans seated inside the Hollywood Bowl, plus another 10-15,000 gate-crashers in the trees outside the amphitheater. Capitol Records planned to record the live concert but the continual shrieking by the audience prevented a good sound recording. After their performance, the band members partied until dawn at their gated house with about 30 starlets, including Peggy Lipton, Joan Baez, Billy Preston, and Ray Hildebrand and Jill Jackson (known as Paul and Paula).

Then on Sunday afternoon, Brian Epstein and the Beatles attended a charity garden party hosted by Alan Livingston, the president of Capitol Records, in the Brentwood backyard of Livingstons mother-in-law. The party was a fundraiser for the Hemophilia Foundation of Southern California. Livingstons wife, the actress Nancy Olson, was a foundation board member. Hollywood celebrities were charged $25 each to bring their children. This event, held on August 24, 1964, raised $10,000.

At the party, Livingston went to great lengths to accommodate the Beatles, who, after being cold-shouldered by the label, had rocketed Capitols profits into stratosphere. No expense had been spared to stage a Hollywood-style spectacular. A festive striped tent had been set up in the spacious backyard, where vendors dispensed soft ice cream and lemonade to a litter of gorgeously groomed children. There were pony rides and games. Security was unparalleled, befitting a presidential visit, with a fully armed riot squad stashed in the garage, just in case. The guest list was a whos who of local dignitaries, complete with a selection of hand-picked celebrities, each of whom was required by the hosts to bring a child: Edward G. Robinson had in tow his granddaughter, Francesa; Lloyd Bridges, his son Jeff; Rita Hayworth, her daughter, Princess Yasmin Khan; Donald OConnor, his son, Freddy, and daughter, Alicia; Jack Palance, his daughter, Holly; Eva Marie Saint, her son Darrell, and daughter, Laurie; Barbara Rush, her son Christopher; Jeanne Martin brought five of Deans children a few feet in front of Jerry Lewis, who bolted as soon as he saw them, leaving his son, Gary, behind rather than risk an encounter with his estranged partner.(pp. 527-528).

The Beatles were not impressed with the fundraiser. We saw a couple of film stars,John [Lennon] relented, but added: We were expecting to see more.(p. 528).

Richard writes: The hemophilia fundraiser was just a minor event in the definitive biography of the Beatles. Captured on news footage and reported by Saul Halpert, the hemophilia fundraising event has since been posted on YouTube. Other celebrity guests who reportedly attended but were not recognized in the biography included John Forsyth; Groucho Marx; Jack Benny; Jack Lemmon; Rock Hudson; Dean Martin; Richard Chamberlain; Hayley Mills; Shelly Winters; Hollywood columnist Hedda Hopper; Los Angeles mayor Sam Yorty, his wife, and his son, Bill; and Kenneth Hahn with his daughter, Janice. A multitude of teenage fans and press reporters remained outside the mansion gates that Sunday afternoon. 

From Bob Spitz, 2005, The Beatles: The Biography. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company. 984 pages.The 984-page biography of the band includes 32 pages of photographs, 4 pages for Acknowledgments, 87 pages for Notes, 11 pages for a Bibliography, 3 pages for a Discography, and 21 pages for an Index. The author lives in Connecticut.

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