Debbie Waltzes in and Carries the Day

Jean Meisenzahl, Debbie Reynolds, Patti Travis

Jean Meisenzahl, Debbie Reynolds and Patti Travis

PALM BEACH, FL – Despite its ailing special guest pulling out within days of the luncheon, the “Old Bags” benefit didn’t miss a beat as legendary actress, singer and dancer Debbie Reynolds stepped in for daughter Carrie Fisher.

It was the 15th annual luncheon for the Center for Family Services, and raised more than $400,000 for programs helping children suffering from domestic violence, sexual abuse or homelessness.

Lynda Levitsky and Anneliese Langner

Lynda Levitsky and Anneliese Langner

The charity originally booked Fisher – an actress, author and Reynolds’ daughter – but she canceled a week before the event due to her brief hospitalization for treatment of bipolar disorder.

Since the show must go on, it did – and featured a silent auction of more than 300 designer handbags, jewelry, shoes, and a raffle.

Judi Richards was the lucky bidder to take home a Vhernier-Saks Fifth Avenue Palm Beach contribution, which served as the signature image of the 2013 Old Bags Luncheon invitation: a one-of-a-kind diamond studded seashell brooch designed by Vhernier attached to a turquoise crocodile handbag valued at $32,000.

Board members Jean Meisenzahl and Patricia Travis chaired the event, which honored all of the past chairladies, including: Sharon Apple, Ansley Dileo, Lisa Erdmann, Frances Fisher, Connie Frankino, Mary Freitas, Arlette Gordon, Joan Klann, Erin McGould, Patty Myura, Judi Richards, Kitty Silverstein, Amie Swan and Karen Swanson.

Stanton Collemer, Judi Richards, Peter Schuette

Stanton Collemer, Judi Richards and Peter Schuette

WPTV Chief Meteorologist Steve Weagal was master of ceremonies at the March 7, 2013, program at The Breakers. The luncheon’s major sponsors were Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus, while the Grand Raffle sponsor was Kaufmann de Suisse.

Reynolds, who co-starred in “Singin’ in the Rain” and was a Best Actress nominee for “The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” shared personal anecdotes of her colorful life.

For more information, call Stanton Collemer at (561) 616-1257, e-mail or visit www.ctrfam.org.

Photos by Lucien Capehart Photography.

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