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It was a stunning night! Beckstrand Cancer Foundation’s ninth annual Diamond and Pearl Ball took its 446 guests to “An Evening in Russia,” with a magnificent Moscow Red Square recreated at The Hangar at OC Fairgrounds. The party boasted 40-foot ceilings sprinkled with sparkling chandeliers, ice curtains, towering buildings, Faberge egg centerpieces, jeweled table tops, festive dancers dancing a spirited contemporary version of Russia’s traditional Kalinka dance, and Russian vodka girls descending from the ceiling offering Standard Vodka shots to guests. There were more than a few guests with wowed expressions!

The evening, hosted by Beckstrand’s national spokesperson and CSI: Miami star Eva La Rue and the nonprofit’s dynamic Executive Director Lil Spitzer, celebrated the life of Farah Fawcett, who bravely elected to film her fight with cancer to help others and subsequently died of anal cancer in 2009. Fawcett’s longtime friend, author and filmmaker Alana Stewart was recognized for her notable contributions serving as President of The Farrah Fawcett Foundation, and her longtime companion, Ryan O’Neal, accepted her honor.

Following the delicious gourmet feast catered by the Island Hotel (loved the wait staff in Russian fur hats!), the evening turned serious for some determined bidders, who ultimately contributed a hearty $519,560 to the bottom line. At the head of the pack was La Rue’s husband Joe Cappuccio, who paid $100,000 for her to be a test driver and judge for the Robb Report Car of the Year in Napa, California. The hot item was courtesy of Presenting Sponsor Lugano Diamonds, who also showcased an awesome selection of jewelry, both on live models and in glass vitrines. The shopping day at Neiman Marcus with La Rue sold for $20,000 – twice! to both Jan Salta and Duraid and Candy Antone. Holly Wilson, who was busy raising her paddle, won the  Hermes Birkin bag from OnQueStyle for a healthy $24,000, as well as the Orange Coast Magazine fashion feature wearing a custom-designed Oday Shakar gown from the Couture Salon at Neiman Marcus for $20,000. Two ladies, Catherine Hawke and Dawn Word, each paid $5,000 to visit the sexy Gilles Marini on Dancing with the Stars, where he is vying for the Mirror Ball thropy.

There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when Leigh Anne Marchesi spoke about her daughter Emma’s fight with cancer and the amazing support from Beckstrand. “Emma is cancer-free today,” she said, “and Beckstrand was there every step of the way.”

I spotted a bevy of celebrities at the Russian affair, including a dead ringer for Mikhail Gorbachev, who in real life is Ronald V. Knapp from Irvine. Love Boat’s Dick Van Patten, his wife Pat, and his actor/son Nels Van Patten attended, as well as NCIS: Los Angeles’ Daniela Ruah, The Bold and the Beautiful’s Don Diamone and his wife Cindy, actress Patrika Darbo, and The Real Housewives of Orange County’s Gretchen Rossi.

I loved the stainless steel liquor flask gift from Lugano, and the made-to-order mini pizzas, courtesy of TJ’s Woodfire Pizaa, were just the ticket as we were departing. The evening raised a record $1.342 million to continue Beckstrand’s much-needed  mission of providing cancer patients and their families with advocacy and direct financial assistance critical for their survival needs.

Photos: Carla Rhea and Tony Lattimore