SOURCE: RHL Group

RHL Group

May 02, 2011 03:23 ET

The Thalians 55th Anniversary Gala Benefits America's Soldiers and Veterans at a Time of National Pride

Hugh M. Hefner Honored at Star-Studded Event

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwire - May 2, 2011) - The Thalians (www.thalians.org), the entertainment industry's leading nonprofit organization dedicated to the treatment of mental health, honored Hugh M. Hefner for a lifetime of philanthropy with the annual "Mr. Wonderful" award at their 55th Anniversary Gala at the Playboy Mansion on Saturday, April 30. The event chaired by Kira and Bob Lorsch (www.rhlgroup.com) with Thalians Chairman Ruta Lee benefited The Thalians and Operation Mend and raised nearly one million dollars with more expected to come in. Timothy A. Miller, M.D., Executive Director of Operation Mend at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center (www.operationmend.ucla.edu) and himself a Vietnam veteran, received a special award for his work in helping heal soldiers and veterans injured in Iraq and Afghanistan starting with reconstruction surgery. The event was held one day before President Obama addressed the nation announcing a major victory in the war against terror which was fought by the very men and woman honored at the event.

Highlights of the evening included the presentation to honoree Hugh M. Hefner of the "Mr. Wonderful" Award by legendary actor James Caan. Previous honoree and Oscar® winner Whoopi Goldberg sent her congratulations via video from New York. Academy Award® winner Lou Gossett, Jr. made a special presentation to Dr. Miller, Chief Surgeon of Operation Mend and Chief of the Division of Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, who performed surgery on several of the Operation Mend wounded heroes attending the event.

The show was produced by Gilbert Adler of "Valkyrie" and "Superman Returns" fame and featured an all-star line-up including Roastmaster General Jeffrey Ross, legendary impressionist Rich Little, "Last Comic Standing's" Felipe Esparza, recording artist Joy Enriquez and Christopher and Kyle Massey. The evening ended with some of the music industry's greatest musicians rocking the stage for a once-in-a-lifetime concert featuring Pop Superstar Taylor Dayne, Billy Morrison (Billy Idol/The Cult), Matt Sorum (Guns N' Roses), Donovan Leitch (Camp Freddy), Mark McGrath (Sugar Ray), Steve Stevens (Billy Idol), Franky Perez (Slash) and Grant Fitzpatrick (Darling Stilettos). Grammy® Award winner and season ten "American Idol" producer Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins was Musical Director. The night also featured dancing to music by DJ Linney, fabulous gourmet buffets, silent and a spirited live auction conducted by the Guinness Book of World Records world's fastest talker John Moschitta, Jr., and of course, Bunnies, rounded out the celebration.

The Thalians, long led by President Debbie Reynolds and Board Chair Ruta Lee, has raised over $30 million in support of mental health diseases ranging from Autism, Alzheimer's, Bi-Polar Disorder, and Schizophrenia, to Phobias, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Depression, and Addictions. The beneficiary of this year's event is UCLA Health System's Operation Mend. The Operation Mend program treats U.S. military personnel and veterans severely injured during service in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to Ruta Lee, "For 55 years, The Thalians and our Galaxy of Stars have shone a spotlight on mental illness. We now aim to heal the minds and spirits of America's wounded warriors. We are grateful to all who donated their time and joined us for a star-studded musical and comedy evening at the Playboy Mansion as we honored Hef and helped us care for our heroic young men and women to whom we owe our unending thanks."

Sponsors of The Thalians 55th Anniversary event included Kodak, MMRGlobal (OTCBB: MMRF), The Annenberg Foundation and Associated Television International. Past honorees include: Mickey Rooney, Clint Eastwood, Sir Roger Moore, Red Buttons, Burt Bacharach, Phyllis Diller, Marc Cherry, Mary Tyler Moore, Ruta Lee, Sally Field, Carol Channing, Kenny Rogers, Lena Horne, Donald O'Connor, Jack Lemmon, Liza Minnelli, Count Basie, Whoopi Goldberg, Rita Hayworth, James Stewart, Dorothy Lamour, Angela Lansbury, Bob Hope, Ann Miller, Bing Crosby, Van Johnson, Debbie Reynolds, Carol Burnett, Lucille Ball, Ann-Margaret, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Fred MacMurray, Gene Kelly, June Haver, Busby Berkeley, Shirley MacLaine, Ed Sullivan, Lana Turner, Mary Martin, Harold Lloyd, Robert Preston, Jimmy Durante, Jane Wyman, and Peter Ustinov.

About The Thalians
The Thalians, led by President Debbie Reynolds and Board Chair Ruta Lee, has raised over $30 million in support of Mental Health programs for pediatrics through geriatrics for diseases including: Autism, Alzheimer's, Bi-Polar Disorder, Schizophrenia, Phobias, Post Traumatic Stress, Depression and Addictions. The annual Gala selects its honorees for their contributions to the entertainment industry and their philanthropic endeavors. The Mr./Ms. Wonderful award was personally created and designed for The Thalians by Walt Disney himself and has become a most sought after collector's item. The Thalians cause is Mental Illness, which affects more people than all other diseases combined. Learn more at http://www.thethalians.org.

About Operation Mend
Operation Mend is a unique partnership between Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas and the V.A. Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System. It has been established to help treat U.S. military personnel severely wounded during service in Iraq and Afghanistan. Military veteran Timothy A. Miller, Chief of the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at UCLA, and Executive Director and Chief Surgeon of Operation Mend, leads the surgeries. Please visit http://www.operationmend.ucla.edu for more information.

About Hugh M. Hefner
Hugh M. Hefner has profoundly influenced society for more than 50 years. His iconic publication inspired a media empire and one of the most recognizable brands in history. A long time supporter of the arts, education, and the Hollywood film industry, Hefner has contributed millions of dollars in gifts toward the UCLA Film & Television Archive and The Hugh M. Hefner Classic American Film Program, the USC School of Cinematic Arts and the preservation of the Hollywood sign. Throughout the years, The Mansion has become a place where millions of dollars have been raised for charity and a destination for entertainment industry superstars around the world. Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel, a documentary focusing on Hefner's humanitarian efforts, was released in 2010.

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