Utahn remembers Hammer as "dear friend"; see D7.
What was to have been Armand Hammer's bar mitzvah instead became a tribute to the industrialist one day after his death."The beauty of it is that while we are celebrating this evening, my grandfather is celebrating the best bar mitzvah ever in heaven," said Michael Hammer said Tuesday night at the star-studded ceremony at the Beverly Hilton.
Eight hundred guests paid as much as $500 a plate to attend the event, with the money going to Jewish charities.
Hammer, who died Monday at age 92, had planned the event as both a fund-raiser and a long-delayed observance of the ceremony marking a Jewish boy's passage into adulthood. Hammer was born a Jew but didn't have a bar mitzvah at the traditional age of 13 because his socialist father eschewed religious practices.
As it turned out, the event marked the final fund-raiser organized by the flamboyant, globe-trotting chairman of Occidental Petroleum Corp. who raised millions for cancer research and other causes.
"I think he was a trailblazer and contributed a great deal of resources to cure cancer, to free Soviet Jews and to help children all over the world," said actor Elliot Gould, emcee of the event.
Others who attended included former Govs. Edmund G. "Pat" Brown Sr. and Edmund G. "Jerry" Brown Jr; actors Cesar Romero and Shelley Winters; and Ida Nudel, a Soviet refusenik brought from Moscow to Israel by Hammer in 1987.
Hammer, who promoted and profited from trade with the Soviet Union throughout most of the 20th century, knew every Soviet leader from Lenin to Mikhail Gorbachev.
He is to be entombed Thursday in the family mausoleum at Westwood Village Memorial Park in Los Angeles, not far from Occidental Petroleum's headquarters and the Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Culture, which opened last month.
LDS express grief
Leaders of the LDS Church expressed sorrow over the death of Armand Hammer, praising the entrepreneur for his humanitarian legacy.
"We were saddened to learn of the death of Armand Hammer and express our condolences and sympathy to his family. Dr. Hammer lived a long life full of concern for others," read the statement, issured by Bruce Olsen, spokesman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.