Steve Geppi, who has made a fortune as the largest distributor of American comic books, has been discovered. It seems that every organization in town is either honoring him or making him the honorary chair of its event.
The latest kudos took place Tuesday at the Omni Inner Harbor Hotel, where he was presented with the Pioneer Award by the Advertising and Professional Club of Baltimore. The Omni ballroom was filled with friends and associates from his three areas of interest -- Diamond Comic Distributors, the Orioles and Baltimore magazine, which he bought last year.
He was joined at the head table by the Ad Club's president and vice president-husband-wife team, Michael and Lois Hodes; Sister Rosemarie Nassif, president of Notre Dame College; former Gov. William Donald Schaefer; State Comptroller Louis Goldstein; Lou Grasmick, Grasmick Lumber; Clarisse Mechanic, the club's program chairwoman; George Stamas, Orioles general counsel; and Geppi's significant other, Mindy Moran. Attorney General Joe Curran popped in to wish Geppi well.
Baltimore magazine was well represented by managing editor Ken Iglehart, editor Ramsey Flynn and Margie Gilmore, advertising director. Others at the luncheon included Judge Mary Arabian; Jim Speros, owner Baltimore's Canadian Football League team; Bob Leffler, ad agency owner; Lourdes Morales, World Travel Assoc.; John Hayes, attorney; Barbara Patz, owner of Paladin Advertising & Public Relations, and her mother, Doris.
Also, David Cohan, attorney, with his favorite client artist, Baosong Zhang; Sheldon and Sue Dagurt (he's a former Ad Club president); Nancy Grasmick, state superintendent of schools; and Ad Club old-timers Gerry Kavanagh, Sam Winik, Frank Battaglia and Baltimore's former postmaster, Warren Bloomberg. It was Bloomberg whom the honoree recognized as his former boss from about 20 years ago, when Geppi was a mail carrier for the post office.
At the zoo
For those who regularly attend the Baltimore Zoo's annual Zoomerang!, it doesn't matter whether the money is used for bears, elephants or giraffes -- they just know it's a good party. This year's "12th do at the zoo" was a winner for both sides with more than 2,200 people attending the party, which raised more than $100,000 to support the zoo's African Slender Snouted Crocodile population.
Tents, pitched throughout the zoo, were filled with foods prepared by 70 restaurants and caterers and 12 bars. Steamers in Essex received rave reviews, and everyone seemed to meet at Harvey's food station to partake of huge strawberries filled with Grand Marnier.
Among the guests was a large contingent from Maryland Commercial Insurance Group led by its president, Doug Gaudet, and his wife, Melissa. Others in his party were Kim and Robb O'Conor; Art and Lois Perschetz; Sandy and Dean Herring; and Sarah Adams.
Also making the scene were Steve Miles, attorney; Craig Pfeiffer, Maryland Screen Printers; Orioles owner Peter Angelos; former Rep. Helen Delich Bentley; State Sen. Vernon Boozer and his son, Chris, who's in the real estate business; and Wayne and Judy Gioioso, Gioioso Investments.
Jay Leno wowed the crowd that filled the Lyric Opera House for the Save-Heart-Foundation's annual celebrity fund-raiser last week. Almost as impressive as his 70-minute act was his down-to-earth manner, before and after the show, as he signed autographs and chatted for long periods of time.
Other highlights came when WJZ-TV news anchor Denise Koch emceed the program, which included the presentation of the 1995 Humanitarian Award to Valu Food president Louis Denrich, who was there with his wife, Barbara, son Jason and other members of his family family. The eighth annual Jerry Turner Memorial Award for Outstanding Broadcasting was given to Dr. Howard Torman, medical and health correspondent for "CBS This Morning."
They are hoping to have raised over $100,000, thanks to lots of work from a large committee of volunteers led by this year's chairman, Gary Goldberg, and Save-A-Heart president Philip Willen.
Hats off for Howard
The music of the late Baltimore-born lyricist, Howard Ashman, is back on stage. "Hundreds of Hats" opened this week at the WPA Theater off Broadway in New York and is being called a campy musical revue.
Ashman, who died of AIDS in 1992, is best known for the music he wrote for "The Little Mermaid," "Beauty and the Beast" and "Aladdin."
This musical celebration features some of Ashman's Disney numbers as well as material from "Smile," his one Broadway show; a couple of other off-Broadway efforts including "Little Shop of Horrors"; and several unfinished works.
The show runs through July 2 Tuesday-Saturday 8 p.m. and Sunday, 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 and may be reserved by calling (212) 206-0523.