Celebs fete Frank Sinatra and support cancer research at charity dos

By Chris Willman Michael Szymanski and Degen Pener
Updated December 01, 1995 at 05:00 AM EST

The secret word in Hollywood last week? Charity. The star wattage was positively blinding at two high-profile benefits. The particulars: With Ol’ Blue Eyes now in the November of his years, few of Hollywood’s Frank Sinatra idolizers wanted to pass up the chance to bid the Chairman of the Board happy birthday at the taping of an 80th-annum salute in L.A.’s Shrine Auditorium (a benefit for wife Barbara’s Children’s Center that will air on ABC Dec. 14). It was a kitschy bill that found Norm Crosby opening for Bob Dylan, and Salt ‘N’ Pepa doing Rockette-like kicks with Eydie Gorme and Roseanne. Given Sinatra’s historic antipathy toward rock, the lineup was notably packed with pop acts, including Dylan, Little Richard, Bruce Springsteen, and Bono — ”all those guys you hang out with,” comedian Tom Dreesen quipped, getting one of the bigger laughs from Rats and Brats alike.

Rivaling the Sinatra bash as a hot ticket was the sixth annual Fire & Ice Ball. The event, held at Barneys in Beverly Hills, raised $1.6 million for the Revlon/UCLA Women’s Cancer Research Program. Among the highlights, a touching speech by breast-cancer survivor Olivia Newton-John, who remarked, ”I guess you could say the issue is close to my heart, so to speak.”

Frankie Goes To Hollywood

Show opener Bruce Springsteen, who performed ”Angel Eyes,” admitted he met the other great icon of New Jersey popular song only six months ago — and was pleased to discover Sinatra’s verbal pugilism was ”still peppered with the kind of words that made our state great.”

That’s why the gentleman is a… Just a few days after escorting Courteney Cox to the Fire & Ice Ball, Christian Slater served up dessert to Desperado sexpot Salma Hayek.

Bob Dylan opted to perform one of his own songs instead of a Sinatra standard, because his ”Restless Farewell” is a favorite of the Chairman himself. At the after-party, Roseanne gabbed Dylan’s ear off, while her bodyguards kept curious onlookers at bay — or were they there to keep Bob from getting away?

Except for a scant few notes during the climactic group sing of ”New York, New York,” Ol’ Blue Eyes, flanked by wife Barbara, was a mute witness to what many expect to be his last large-scale public lionization. Instead, pal Don Rickles capped the show by barking at the frail honoree, ”Okay, Francis, back to your room.”

In The Heat Of Night

”[Fire & Ice] is a cause that’s important to us,” said Slater, who threw cold water on rumors that he’s dating newly singled-out Courteney Cox. ”We’re just friends.” Wonder if she knows about Salma?

The hottest couples of the moment lent their pressure-cooker presences: Antonio Banderas and a blond-again Melanie Griffith, in a rare lips-unlocked pose, and the combustible Jim Carrey with girlfriend Lauren Holly (Picket Fences), who wore an eye-popping lavender satin Pamela Dennis gown. Quipped Carrey: ”I think what makes a great Hollywood party is if there’s champagne, lamp shades, and disco lights. Pass them out at the door and have one for everyone.”

Just costars, Anthony Edwards and Sherry Stringfield of ER checked out dresses for her. Edwards, though, seemed more intent on party hopping than shopping. ”I own my own tuxedo. I’m a big boy now,” he said. ”Now it doesn’t take much to get me out. Just give me free food and $15. I made $30 tonight because I made an appearance down the block at the Hard Rock Cafe first.” That’s the spirit.