Dinner at Chasen’s

On December 23, 1989 Mama and I had dinner at Chasen’s in Beverly Hills. It doesn’t exist anymore but was quite the Hollywood “in” place in its day. Elizabeth Taylor used to have Chasen’s send their famous chili to her in various places around the world.

As we were led to our table we noticed Pia Zadora; we hoped that Ms. Zadora, for all her talents and charms, was not to be the height of celebrity that we would observe that evening.

Only a few feet beyond, we were delighted to see Shirley MacLaine eating a plate of something. The evening was a success before we even saw our menus. But the hits kept coming.

Mama mentioned to the waiter that she was from out of town and tickled to see luminaries of the rank of Ms. MacLaine and Ms. Zadora.

“Dean Martin’s over there. Did you see him?”

“No!” said Mama. “Where?”

“Come with me.” Leo slid the table away from the banquette to allow Mama to step out. It nudged itself into my sternum but I was happy for Mama’s fun.

Leo led Mama away and they came back in a couple of minutes. Her cheeks were flushed.

“Did you see him?”

“Oh, yes! Leo told me to follow him into the kitchen, then he said, ‘Wait here a second; we can’t be too obvious.’ Then he led me back out. He said, ‘Look to your left.’

“Then we walked out of the kitchen and there was Dean Martin. He looked old.”

Just a bit ago I used the next-to-last match in the book of Chasen’s matches I picked up that night in 1989, and I remembered the night we saw Pia Zadora, Shirley MacLaine and (for Mama, anyway) an old-looking Dean Martin.