Dick Van Dyke Honored at Princess Grace Gala

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Dick Van Dyke

After more than 20 years, the gala returned to Los Angeles

The Princess Grace Awards Gala was held in the presence of his Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco and Her Serene Highness Princess Charlene of Monaco Wednesday night at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.

The gala finally made its way back to Los Angeles, where it was last held in 1988. Since then, the gala has been held in New York. “You haven’t celebrated the past 25 years in Manhattan; you’ve merely been backed up on the 405,” joked Jane Lynch, who hosted the evening.

Sponsored by Christian Dior Couture, the event celebrated the legacy of Grace Kelly and had such guests as Quincy Jones, Anne Sweeney and Bob Iger in attendance. Special honors were given to actor Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis), American Ballet Theater principal dancer David Hallberg and Dick Van Dyke.

Geena Davis presented the awards for excellence in film, and Dancing With the StarsAdam Shankman recognized young students who received the prestigious honor in dance. Shankman didn’t sugarcoat his advice to the aspiring dancers when he suggested not to dance if you don’t have to.

“If you’re one of the lucky ones and you get to be a judge on one of the global shows like So You Think You Can Dance, you end up at a string of parties where inevitably some really nice but crazy drunk lady grabs you and pulls you out on the floor and says, ‘Dance with me,’ ” said Shankman. “You end up saying things like, ‘I’m gay,’ and ‘I’m 50. It’s not happening.’ ”

Isaac received the Princess Grace Statue Award and reflected on how the Princess Grace Foundation played a significant role in starting his career. Isaac received the Grace LeVine Award from the foundation 10 years ago when he was studying at Juilliard.

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“Not only did it pay for the rest of my schooling, I got to play Macbeth, I got a manager at the showcase, I got everything,” said Isaac. “I left debt free … I actually got to focus on being an artist. This really does mean the world to me because I really needed it at the time and you guys came through for me.”

Conan O’Brien introduced Van Dyke as the recipient of the Prince Rainier III Award. O’Brien expressed how growing up he wanted to be like the actor.

“I felt I had a shot,” joked O’Brien. “Like Dick, I’m tall. Although impossibly graceful, he, like me, seemed gangly, loose limbed and just a bit goofy. He was funny and a gentile.”

Prince Albert II presented the Prince Rainier III Award to Van Dyke, calling him “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.”

“He remains that most rare of performers,” said Prince Albert II. “Someone whose work touches people of every generation and will continue to touch lives for generations to come.”

The foundation will donate $25,000 to Van Dyke’s choice organization, Midnight Mission, where he is an active volunteer. Van Dyke, who said the most memorable moment in his career was starring in Mary Poppins (with fellow Prince Rainier III recipient Julie Andrews), says he still has his moves.

“If I can be of any help further, I still sing and dance a little,” said Van Dyke. “I ran into Fred Astaire when he was about 85 years old, and I said, ‘Do you still dance?’ He said, ‘Yes, but it hurts now,’ and I know what he was saying.”

Buzz Aldrin, Nigel Lythgoe, Eva Longoria, Tippi Hedren, Eva Marie Saint, Odeya Rush and Anne Jeffreys also were in attendance. The Princess Grace Awards Gala was co-chaired by Dick and Noelle Wolf, Iger and wife Willow Bay, and Sidney Toledano of Christian Dior Couture. During the live auction, a trip on the yacht used by Prince Rainier III and Grace Kelly on their honeymoon sold for $100,000, and a ticket to be the first car out of the valet line sold for $1,000.

Princess Grace Foundation president John F. Lehman also announced a special congratulations to Princess Charlene for being pregnant with twins. The night ended with a performance by The Tenors.

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