March 4, 2013: Guild Hall Academy of the Arts presented their 28th Annual Lifetime Achievement Awards at a poignant ceremony and dinner in the Grand Ballroom of The Plaza Hotel, where Mickey Straus was honored for his leadership and philanthropic endeavors. The other honorees were Walter Isaacson for the Literary Arts, John Alexander for the Visual Arts and Nathan Lane for the Performing Arts. Marshall Brickman served as Master of Ceremonies at the event attended by over 300 people.
Visual Arts honoree, Alexander, an artist who splits his time between Amagansett and Manhattan, was introduced by his friends Dan Aykroyd and Lorne Michaels, who commented that "Talent and character don’t often reside at the same address, but with John it does." In his acceptance speech Alexander, whose work is in some of our country’s most illustrious museums said "Without Guild Hall the culture and fiber of the East End would be completely different."
Mr. Isaacson, the Literary Arts honoree is the current president and CEO of the Aspen Institute, the former chairman and CEO of CNN, the editor of Time magazine and the author of the best-sellers "Steve Jobs," and "Einstein: His Life and Universe." Writer Ken Auletta introduced his longtime friend saying "His Steve Jobs book last year sold more copies than the Bible. It was the number-one selling book in the entire world." Isaacson, who on coming to the East End discovered the Hamptons to be a tight community, "an anchor," that supported him said, "I am flattered to be getting an award like this."
The legendary Jack O’Brien, a three-time Tony Award winning director, producer, writer, and lyrist introduced Nathan Lane, the Performing Arts winner, as a beloved well know figure in the American Theater. The two are currently working together on a play "The Nance," written expressly for Lane, which opens at the Lyceum Theater on April 15. The director said "Lane was an actor, who is a comic that makes it look easy and that laughter is the greatest miracle of life from an actor and comic with heart and intelligence you get Nathan Lane."
The actor joked that he lives "in a little shtetel behind the movie theater in East Hampton" He said he felt humble to be getting a lifetime achievement award; you realize you’re getting older. He closed with "I hope I can live up to this award."
Alec Baldwin presented the Special Award for Leadership and Philanthropy to Mickey Strauss, the evening’s final honoree, who for the past 20 years has chaired the board of Guild Hall heading up the campaign to raise 14 million dollars to completely revitalize Guild Hall. Introduced by his longtime friends Richard Reiss and Eugene Zuriff, Mickey received several standing ovations before the evening was over.
"Mickey’s not a man of numbers, Mickey’s a man of people," said Mr. Zuriff. "Everybody’s welcome at Mickey’s." "He’s a supreme optimist, always kind and incredibly generous," added Mr. Reiss saying, "He’s a true friend."
n his presentation to Mickey, Baldwin said "He’s had a profound impact at Guild Hall." He said further that Mickey Strauss was a true leader, a Board Chair, who worked for change making Guild Hall a visionary arts center.
And in a final bittersweet moment in front of a sold out ballroom standing for him Mickey, who has trouble speaking, thanked everyone for allowing him the opportunity to contribute and then invited his wife, Leila, to help him. From his speech she read, "This honor is not at all necessary because I have gotten so much pleasure…my time in East Hampton has been my Heaven on Earth." And you knew what he meant.
By Patrick Christiano
Photography By Barry Gordin More Photos Coming Soon ***