Tom Ford Honored by Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson at Unforgettable Evening

Hosted by breast cancer survivor Tig Notaro and presented by Saks Fifth Avenue, the flagship fundraiser of the Women's Cancer Research Fund returned to the Beverly Wilshire in partnership with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, raising $1.8 million.
Getty Images/Courtesy of WCRF
From left: Quinn Ezralow; Rita Wilson; Tom Ford; Jamie Tisch; Marion Laurie; Myra Biblowit, president of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation; and Kelly Chapman Meyer

As far as cautionary statements go, these are the words one hopes to hear before attending a charity gala, especially when it's delivered by Rita Wilson: "There's going to be a lot of good times tonight." And there were.

Chris Martin surprised the sold-out Beverly Wilshire ballroom Thursday night with an unannounced appearance that saw the Coldplay rocker saddle up at the piano and perform toned-down yet soulful versions of songs by recently deceased artists including Wham!’s “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" (for George Michael), Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne,” Prince’s “Raspberry Beret” and David Bowie's “Life on Mars.” To keep the music going, Tom Hanks went table to table with a giant glass requesting tips to keep Martin at the mic. (Music would later close the show with the effervescent Jason Derulo, who sang a four-song set including hits “Trumpets” and “Wiggle.")

Breast cancer survivor Tig Notaro hosted the Saks Fifth Avenue-presented charity event An Unforgettable Evening and kept the crowd in stitches, but there was a bit of business, too.

After a three-year hiatus, the event returned to the Beverly Wilshire with proceeds — all $1.8 million of them — benefiting the Women’s Cancer Research Fund, a program of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, and it marked the first major Los Angeles party partnership between the two organizations that recently joined forces to help eradicate the disease. "This is our way of welcoming our affiliation with the BCRF to Los Angeles," a Tom Ford-clad Wilson noted, with her husband and fellow honorary chair adding, "Strength in numbers." Their words carry even more weight when Wilson's own battle with breast cancer is revisited. She underwent a bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction after a diagnosis of invasive lobular carcinoma in spring 2015. The actress has been cancer-free since and has clearly turned her own experience into added fuel in the fight against the disease. 

And at these type of events, just as Hanks said, "strength" in the honorees list helps. An Unforgettable Evening had that box checked with lauded designer-turned-filmmaker Tom Ford receiving the Courage Award and Judy and Leonard Lauder taking home the Nat King Cole Award. The latter Lauder mentioned the newish partnership between the BCRF and the WCRF, explaining how it's a match made due to shared DNA. "We've grown up together as siblings, and now we're joined at the hip," said Lauder, who received the prize from longtime friend Elizabeth Hurley, who flew in from London to do the honors. She was joined onstage by Lauder's granddaughter Danielle, whom Lauder joked was wearing a Tom Ford dress but she paid retail for it. (She even took a twirl next to the podium.) "We are going to prevent and cure breast cancer in our lifetime," he said.

Ford received his award from Hanks and Wilson and name-checked his longtime partner, Richard Buckley, a cancer survivor. On the carpet before the event, Ford told The Hollywood Reporter that the BCRF and the WCRF put the spotlight on an important cause, one that is close to his heart: "We've been together for 30 years, and three years into our relationship, [Richard] was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. Twenty-seven years later, he's alive and well and he's here because he had great treatment and great doctors." Ford continued: "Cancer is something that has touched me personally for many years, and I think touches us all through friends and family, unfortunately. So many advances have been made recently, but we need to continue to work to eradicate it."

An Unforgettable Evening is the flagship fundraising event of the WCRF, which continues to raise support for innovative cancer research while nodding to individuals for their commitment to the cause. The program, which was founded by Wilson, Jamie Tisch, Quinn Ezralow, Kate Capshaw, Kelly Chapman Meyer, Marion Laurie and Anne Douglas, recently joined forces with the BCRF, which was founded in 1993 by Evelyn H. Lauder and is the highest-rated breast cancer organization in the U.S. and largest private funder of breast cancer research in the world. Additional guests in attendance included Ron Meyer, Kinga Lampert, Erin Andrews, Sacha Baron Cohen, Sam Claflin, Lisa Eisner, Lauren Elizabeth, Isla Fisher, Lisa Kudrow, Eugene Levy, Crystal Lourd, Chord Overstreet, Wolfgang Puck, Martin Short, Destry Spielberg, Steve Tisch, Amber Valletta, Irwin Winkler and more. Saks Fifth Avenue returned to present An Unforgettable Evening for the 13th time, and has, over the last 18 years, donated nearly $40 million to cancer research and treatment organizations throughout the U.S.

But back to those good times. Before presenting Ford with his trophy, Hanks related that he was on the phone with one of the other co-chairs, a man by the name of Steven Spielberg. Hanks tipped him off to the fact that they were honoring a designer-turned-director, to which Spielberg replied, according to the actor: "You know what, it's funny, not that I'm jealous, I'm a filmmaker and now I've taken to designing clothes myself." Added Hanks: "He's working on a fine line of cable knit sweaters and clogs for me: the Steven Spielberg Collection. Look for it at Saks Fifth Avenue."