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PHILANTHROPY
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American Celebration

By Tina BorgattaPublished: December 01, 2009

In a year when many people have been cutting back on spending and giving, Chapman University’s American Celebration stage show and gala managed to raise $2.2 million for scholarships. That’s almost a whopping million more than the school had hoped to raise.
   
What’s more, it beats last year’s $2.1 million and comes close to hitting the school’s 2007 record of $2.4 million. That says a lot, when you consider there have been far more comfortable years since the inaugural event 28 years ago.
   
Chapman has a solid bank of supporters. The gala drew 700 guests. Among them: comedian Jerry Lewis.
   
This year’s cast was made up of 106 students who sang and danced to the music of the Great Depression – a period that produced some of the greatest American entertainment.
   
Chapman’s Lifetime Achievement in the Arts Award went to Mitzi Gaynor, who gained fame in the 1950s after playing the role of Nellie Forbush in the film classic “South Pacific” and starred in many television specials throughout the next two decades. Now 78, Gaynor is the subject of a PBS documentary “Razzle Dazzle: The Mitzi Gaynor Special Years.” She’s preparing to go on tour with her one-woman show “Razzle Dazzle: My Life Behind Sequins.”
   
People here in Orange County love a good party, and they don’t mind a bit if they have to pay to be part of the fun. Chapman has certainly figured out the right amount of play for the pay.

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