Jackson’s point is clear enough: As founder of the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes in Denver and board member at four more hospitals, Davis is a masterful engine of charitable works in the medical arena.
Just a few steps farther, two elegant heads pop up like hatchlings from a nest. Cynthia Yorkin, the wife of producer Bud; and Irena Medavoy, the wife of producer Mike, begin sharing sparkle.
“She’s my rock,” says Medavoy of Davis. “She was my best adviser through my previous marriages.” As in? “As in, you know, ‘Dump that guy…’ ”
We return to the pilgrimage to discover that the beaming strawberry blonde who will be our neighbor is none other than United Talent über agent Tracey Jacobs (Johnny Depp, Jennifer Lopez, Gwyneth Paltrow). Today she’s dining with director Jason Reitman. Jacobs is a friend, of course (and Davis makes it known that she won’t sit down unless Jacobs agrees to assist, once again, with this October’s Carousel ball), though Reitman is family, having grown up with the Davis kids and joined them for skiing in Aspen. He’s given a friendly reminder to unearth a few photos before we take our table.
Only then, finally, is there a respite. (We’ll run into Diana Ross on our way out, but for now I’m simply enjoying the chance to take a deep breath.) We chat about past times both grand and scary. Davis didn’t turn a hair when four armed bandits in black hoods surrounded a limousine she was in en route to the Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc in Antibes in 1993 and stole more than $10 million of her jewelry: “We handed them everything, and I said, ‘If this is a business with you, take it—I hope you do well with it.’ Really, it was fine,” Davis says.
There’s a tinge of sadness as she talks about the recent passing of Edie Wasserman, widow of the mogul Lew and the reigning queen of her own day. “They were wonderful when we first came here,” Davis recalls, before casually saying something that seems to sum up her approach to getting along in a town that still seems a bit new: “It’s really good to own a studio.”
Doing so helped her summon the star power that made her galas legendary: Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and Bill and Hillary, for example. Once, when Queen Elizabeth was a guest of honor at a party, both ladies pulled out pictures of their grandchildren: “So we had two princes and two Jewish princes,” Davis says.
“King-wise,” she notes, with subdued irony, her top get was Abdullah II of Jordan and Queen Rania. “They wanted to meet movie stars—and, of course, movie stars want to meet royalty. I remember Tom Hanks saying to me, ‘You sat me next to a queen.’ ”