At the May 19 Albert Einstein of Medicine Women’s Division’s 61st Annual “Spirit of Achievement” Luncheon at the newly refurbished Rainbow Room, honorees Candice Bergen and Renee Fleming added comedic edge to their sober, substantive acceptance speeches.
“I’m incredibly honored to receive the Einstein Award and so happy I thought to wear the right outfit today,” said Fleming, one of the most acclaimed singers of our time, as she surveyed the 300 chic women in the room. “My parents taught vocal music [which was] like oxygen in our house. I honestly thought that all families sang four-part harmony waiting for stop signs,” said Fleming— winner of the 2013 Best Classical Vocal Grammy Award and the first classical singer to perform “The Star Spangled Banner” at the Super Bowl. “Classical singers share a trait with medical researchers [who are] on a lifelong quest to master an unruly instrument,” said Fleming who credited the mentoring she received “by extraordinary sopranos Leontyne Price and Marilyn Horne.” This was brought home to me earlier this year when my brother-in-law was confronted with stage four lung cancer [which] is being fought in innovative ways at Einstein Medical College by experts.”
Emmy Award-winning TV personality and herself a 2011 Einstein honoree, emcee Jill Martin described Bergen as one possessing “beauty, brains charisma and a wicked wit.” Bergen — whose credentials include the long-running CBS comedy “Murphy Brown” for which she received five Emmy and two Golden Globe Award, Oscar nominations for “Ghandi,” Emmys and a Golden Globe, admitted to having turned down past lunches but “Now I’m here!…You are women who are incredibly dynamic and I wanted to look my best today, so I had a man come and do my hair and makeup. After looking at me for a long moment, he said ‘My mission is to make you look like Candice Bergen.’” The audience roared.
Dubbing the achievements of medical honorees Dr. Daphne T. Hsu, Division Chief of Pediatric Cardiology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore and pediatric specialist Dr. Robert Pass (who performs 250-300 pediatric invasive cardiac procedures a year) as “staggering,” Bergen declared them “heroes.”
“I turned sixty-nine a week ago, so I am close to the flowers but not yet in them. I lost my husband [French film director Louis Malle] to lymphoma. And my very much alive husband [Marshall Rose] lost his first wife Jill to breast cancer and three friends to leukemia…So I salute you!
Co-chaired by Terri Goldberg, Andrea Stark and Women’s Division president Carol Roaman — who lost a daughter to ovarian cancer — speakers included Allen M. Spiegel, M.D., Einstein’s Marilyn and Stanley M. Katz Dean, and a heartwarming success narrative by 17-year old Brianna Barker. She charmed the audience with the detailed narrative of her “heart-stopping” odyssey from cardiac arrest as a 7-year old to a heart transplant and a full life. I will be starting college in the fall at Penn State.”
Surprise guests included last year’s Spirit honoree, star of “The Good Wife,” Christine Baranski, Olympic figure skating gold medalist Sarah Hughes and Broadway producer Daryl Roth.
The event raised $2 million for cancer research.