Bill Hersey’s Partyline March 1981

There’s no business like show business and the past week has really been something here in Tokyo with some of the world’s top entertainment personalities including Stevie Wonder, Perry Como, Dudley Moore and Sammy Cahn converging on our city for the 10th Tokyo Music Festival. There’s been party after party after party for this international event, and we’ll be covering most of them in the next column.

As you know (if you read the column) I took off for a few days of sun and fun in Manila on Mar. 17. I’d like to go back a bit this week and cover a few important events before I left.

On Saturday the 14th I started out at the Sanno Hotel where there was a cocktail reception and dinner hosted by the Far East Division of the University of Maryland. The occasion was to present degrees to the Class of 1981. In addition to all the hard-working students who received their degrees that evening, the University of Maryland conferred upon Joan B. Claybrook the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Public Service. Ms. Claybrook was Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, U.S. Dept. of Transportation, under President Carter. I couldn’t stay for the dinner, but was happy to have a chance to meet and congratulate some of the graduates. It was also nice to see Jane Trinkle who just returned to Japan after three years back in the States. Jane studied at San Francisco State, got her B.A. in English Literature and will teach at two universities here. My congratulations to Jane—and to all the students who received their degrees that evening.

My next stop was the Okura Hotel where a group of friends were hosting a “book-launching party” for one of Japan’s best known cosmetic surgeons, Dr. Yukio Ito. Dr. Ito, who has studied and worked in Brazil, is the owner of the Doctor’s Memorial Clinic in Shibuya. In addition to cosmetic surgery, he’s earned an international reputation for his corrective plastic surgery, and much of that is on a charity basis. Guests that evening included many motion picture, TV and fashion personalities.

One was singer Yukio Hashi, and I learned later that Dr. Ito had cured Yukio’s young daughter of a severe overweight problem. During the course of the evening there was an excellent speech by the warden of one of Japan’s biggest prisons. He talked about how helpful plastic surgery was in the rehabilitation of many young prisoners. It’s used to erase elaborate tatoos which often signify that one belongs to or is associated with the criminal element here in Japan. Dr. Ito’s new book is on keeping fit, and he told me he has plans to open a fitness center in the near future.

On Monday the 16th The Kahala Hilton hosted a glittering reception at The Tokyo Hilton. The occasion was to meet Jan A. Oudendijk, general manager; the hotel’s star performer Danny Kaleikini; Lynne Kimoto Madden, director of sales; Isao Yoshii, director of sales for Japan; and Sheila Shigemura Scarlett, Kahala Hilton’s front office manager. A huge ice carving that spelled out “Kahala Hilton” dominated the main buffet table and there were smaller ice carvings of pineapples and things Hawaiian at the dessert and coffee tables. The guests were an interesting mix of diplomats, people from both the foreign and Japanese entertainment world and prime movers in the travel and tourism business.

The buffet was really very special, but food at the Tokyo Hilton always is. In addition to all usual continental dishes, there was a tremendous selection of Chinese food and some Hawaiian specialities. The highlight of the evening was a show that featured Danny, two lovely ladies from Aloha Airlines and some of the biggest names in Hawaiian music in Japan. Harry Quini (who’s with TBS and knows Hawaiian music) introduced me to people such as Ethel Nakada and the Yamaguchi Brothers “who were right on top of the Hawaiian boom here in Japan before Japanese could afford to go to Hawaii.”

Let’s start this week’s coverage by going to an evening with the Debs—always very special—and that evening was no exception. It was a dinner party and the occasion was to introduce their son-in-law Nabil Akkari. Hadi and Maha’s oldest daughter Hana and Nabil were married in Paris Sept. 16; this was their first trip to Japan since their marriage. The Debs women . . . Maha, who looks more like the girl’s older sister than their mother, Hana, Hadia (grown up to be a very pretty lady) and Dania, just 11 years old . . . were all radiant. Hadi, one of the most successful businessmen in Japan, is justifiably proud of his family. (Their son Bassam is going to school in England.)

Chichan (Yokoi) Sakakura, Hana Debs, hostess Maha and Hadia Debs.

It was a very fashionable international gathering; guests included people from the diplomatic, business and social worlds. Nabil is an architect, and travels a great deal and he and Hana make their home in Paris. Hana told me, “I like Paris, it’s interesting and I’m starting to get to know my way around, but I do miss Tokyo and the people here.” I plan to take Hana up on that “home-cooked meal” she offered the next time I’m over that way. I couldn’t stay for dinner that evening, but was happy to have the opportunity to meet Nabil and wish him and Hana a long, happy life together.

*Main Photo:

Joan’s ‘It’s My Turn’—a smash!

Backstage at the Hakuhinkan Theater on Ginza, songbirds Joan Shepherd and Dolly Baker are visited in their dressing room (above) by their good friend Dr. Ken Matsuo who was celebrating his birthday coincident with the opening night of Joan’s “It’s My Turn” revue. Dolly was guest artist and the twosome knocked the audiences dead for three consecutive nights. Below, Setsuko Ninomiya, Max Factor’s PR Manager, and Billboard’s (not to mention Asahi Evening News’) Shig Fujita come-a-calling. Max Factor was a co-sponsor of the event; Joan sings their TV commercial songs. Omedeto, Joan, Dolly et al.

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