This year, the Oakmont League of Glendale celebrates 75 years of service to the community.
The first event in the group's Diamond Jubilee year was a recent dinner meeting at the Oakmont Country Club. These gals can never be accused of inviting staid guest speakers. Quite the opposite. Some 60 members and guests gave their full attention to the sometimes controversial, always colorful, criminal defense lawyer Mark Geragos.
Geragos is known for defending such well-known clients as superstar Michael Jackson, actress Winona Ryder and politician Gary Condit. His book "Mistrial, An Inside Look at How the Criminal Justice System Works" hit the best-seller lists.
But at this event, there was a local connection. Glendale resident Glady Kabateck's parish priest married Geragos' parents in 1950 in Fresno. She and husband, Jack Kabateck, sat front-row, center as Geragos described his relationship with the Kabateck family. Their attorney son, Brian, gets into the act, having worked on some of Geragos' cases over the years.
A connection to Glendale's Armenian population is Geragos' family name, shortened from "Geragosian" at Ellis Island at the turn of the century.
Utilizing his legal background, Geragos won a case involving the descendants of Armenian genocide victims.
In the early 1900s, insurance companies marketed to Christians in Turkey, a primarily Muslim country. Geragos was able to successfully sue two insurance companies for policies issued in another country over insurance premiums that had stopped being paid in "occupied Armenia" with its many small villages.
This practice "wiped out" many Armenians, according to Geragos.
Geragos' cases have earned him guest spots on TV and radio shows.
"The most dangerous place in America is between me and a mic," Geragos said. The garrulous attorney has appeared on NBC's "Today" show, ABC's "Good Morning America" and the 20th anniversary of "The Larry King Show" on CNN.
A La Cañada Flintridge resident, Geragos began his working career with three paper routes and was a singing waiter at Emily's, now the Parkway Grill in Pasadena. After those humble beginnings, Geragos started a short-lived career in concert production. But it was law that called to him.
Geragos is active in the local chapter of the Armenian Committee of America and has been praised by the National Armenian Committee of America.
Those in the audience applauding Geragos' remarks included League First Vice President of Programs Lynn Dittrick, guided by League President Chris Halajian.
Others present included R.J. Beaton, and his father, Ron, and his mother, Carolyn, who is the league's social chairman. The Beatons are owners of A.M. 870 KRLA in Glendale. Geragos' "Champions of Justice" show has been a staple in the KRLA lineup.
Also attending were Jeraldine Saunders of "Love Boat" fame, Marian and Paul Greene, League Immediate Past President Donna Sauer, league mover and shaker Jeri Benton and Richard Rands of La Crescenta.
The league will hold its major fundraiser benefit and fashion show "Bella Italia" at the Glendale Hilton on March 13
Glendale's best-kept secret is free Monday night lessons in ballroom dance for Glendale YMCA members.
As part of the Y's aerobic program, dancing lessons have been offered for just over a year. Jumping on TV's "Dancing with the Stars" craze is 13-year veteran dance instructor Joel Solorio, who is owner of "Baile Divino-Reveal Your Rhythm," a ballroom dance company in Glendale.
A six-week series of dance instruction is offered on Tuesdays and Wednesdays to the public for $60 per person at the YMCA. Each Tuesday in February, Solorio will teach the salsa, while Wednesdays in February and March will feature the slow waltz.
On Jan. 27, Glendale residents Arman Mkryan and Juliet Hovanesian were experts at the tango after four weeks of instruction by Solorio and his wife, Francis Feliciano. About 25 students regularly attend.
Solorio makes the free Monday class, from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m., fly by with quips such as, "Every guy is a radio station. Ladies, you tune in."
Monthly dance parties are free and open to the public. The next will be on Valentine's Day. Solorio urges dance enthusiasts to come with or without a dance partner.
RUTH SOWBY may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.