HomeJanuary 2013Big Doings in the Desert

Big Doings in the Desert


Mel Haber is a name as well known in the desert as Frank Sinatra.  Within a year of arriving in the desert, he had the distinction of welcoming Barbara and Frank Sinatra on the occasion of their pre-wedding dinner in 1976.

When Haber arrived here in 1975 from New York with the dream of transforming an historic inn into a hip oasis for show business personalities and Hollywood celebrities, he  was  on the right track carving out a niche and enough stories, all true to the last detail in his  book, Bedtime Stories.  Now in his 38th year as a host and innkeeper, he has capitalized on his network of stars  with the popular “Dinner With”  series,  the most recent December 4.

As 75 guests gathered for dinner on the terrace at Melvyn’s, his namesake restaurant, Margaret O’Brien, America’s beloved child star from the 1940s, remembered  by many for performances in classics such as Meet Me in St. Louis and Little Women discussed her career.

O’Brien recently presented “The Golden Halo Award of Film Achievement” to Haber at the Women in Film and Televisions luncheon   on  October 20, in Palm Springs.  Deviating from the norm, the council’s overwhelming vote to honor Haber was based on his “contribution to the Hollywood celebrities who relaxed and stayed at the Ingleside Inn.

Circle your calendar for Tuesday, January 15, at 6 p.m. for “Dinner with Loretta Young’s son, Christopher Lewis,” and  you’ll see why guests reserve their  tables in advance.  “Mel Haber is the most engaging namedropper and gossip I know, not to mention his jokes,” says Barbara Wisbey, a local columnist.

Haber told me that “Aside from sold-out Dinners with Carol Channing and Stephanie Powers, the stars are definitely getting younger.  In the last few weeks we welcomed Kirsten Dunst and Norah Jones.”  He reminded me that the Ingleside Inn has never closed in 38 years, and that includes summers where the temperatures can reach 118 degrees.

Melvyn’s is a a hot spot in the desert year round, and that’s a fact.  Contact www.inglesideinn.com.


The highlight for Patrons of Jewish Family Services of the Desert on December 6 was a cocktail supper at the residence of Mike and Bobbi Resmo, co-chaired by Carol Fragen and Barbara Fromm.  The guest list brought together philanthropic leaders, Ed Gubman, president; Keith  Harwood, vice president; Deanna Pearl, vice president; Barry Kaufman, treasurer; Annabel Goldstein, secretary; and Don Levy, immediate past president.  Board members included Audrey Bernstein, Shelli Goodman, Myra Gordon, Sally Helfer, Joan Kerns, Bertel Lewis, Royal Taxman, Michael Stafford, Howard Vogel, Joyce Wolff  and Judy Wallis.

The agency has been steadfast in its goal, to administer a “caring safety net to Coachella Valley residents overwhelmed by life’s challenges.”  During the season the organization’s next major events will light up the desert with the 15th Annual House & Garden Walk on Sunday, March 10 and Michael Childer’s “One Night Only” on Wednesday, April 24, at the McCallum Theatre.  This year the theme is “Songs of My Life.”  Get details at (760) 325-4088 or


This year the Matthew Varon Chapter of the Israel Guide Dog Center for the Blind features Laurie Rubin, mezzo-soprano as its guest artist..  Rubin is recognized as a gifted world-class opera singer.  Setting her apart in her operatic career is the fact she is blind.  But the show must go on, and that means her guide dog, Popeye takes the stage!  After her performance in Los Angeles, we met and I confided in her that one day I hoped she would perform in the desert.  At last this will take place as Laurie has an exclusive engagement in Rancho Mirage on Wednesday, February 13, at the Rancho Las Palmas Resort.  Tickets are $100 each.

For information, contact Helena Galper (619) 435-8226.


Marshall M. and Judith Gelfand, Coachella Valley humanitarians, were honored with 349th star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars on December 5 in front of the Palm Springs Art Museum.  The star, sponsored by Helen Galen, Bill Osterman and Harold  Matzner, honors the couple’s prominent role with organizations such as the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center, the Palm Springs Friends of the Philharmonic and the Palm Springs International Film Festival, not to mention that Mr. Gelfand, a founding partner of Gelfand, Rennert & Feldman, LLP, is Bob Dylan and Neil Diamond’s business manager.  Check it out at   www.PalmSpringsWalkofStars.com.

Pam Price resides in Palm Springs and is the co author of Day Trips from Los Angeles.


  1. Can’t wait to get to Melvyn’s for your Valentine Dinner. Just viewed the selections on your website. What a wonderful array.

    There is no place like Melvyn’s for special occasions, anniversaries and Special Holiday Dinners.

    Can’t wait!

    Barbara Wisbey
    Palm Springs


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