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Black Tie International:
Historical Society Honors Dame Celia Lipton Farris




 Patrick Park & Dame Celia Lipton Farris

 Patrick Park & Dame Celia Lipton Farris.
Photo by:  Lucien Capehart Photography, Palm Beach


            PALM BEACH, Fla. (December 9, 2009) The Historical Society of Palm Beach County honored London and Broadway stage and television actress, recording star, executive producer, philanthropist and visual artist Dame Celia Lipton Farris at the Society’s 8th Annual Archival Evening at Club Colette, Palm Beach. Honorary Chair for the intimate dinner-dance themed “Dame Celia Lipton Farris – An Incredible Life” was Kathy Bleznak. Chairmen of the evening were Diana Ecclestone, Tom Quick, Patrick Park and Mark Stevens. Corporate Chair was Jeff Bateman. Throughout the evening, guests were able to preview an exhibition of Dame Celia’s professional and philanthropic awards, and a collection of photographs, records, and personal memorabilia from the Historical Society’s archives.

Born in Edinburgh, Scotland and raised in London, Celia Lipton was performing in leading roles on the London stage in her teens. As a patriot of her country she performed for tens of thousands of service men and women on battleships, in RAF hangars, hospitals, every Red Cross Club in London, the USO and at the Royal Albert Hall. Celia Lipton was a household name throughout the United Kingdom.  She acted and sang in leading roles on BBC Radio in productions such as “Babes in Arms,” “The Wizard of Oz,” and “Strike Up The Band” and played the London Palladium doing her own one woman show at the age of 16, and later played the lead role in the BBC radio production of “Showboat.”   

While enjoying a successful career starring on Broadway and in television, Celia Lipton met, fell in love with and married the acclaimed industrialist and inventor, Victor Farris. After 29 years of marriage and following her husband’s passing, in tribute to his great work as industrialist, inventor and philanthropist and a testament to her great vision, generosity and dedication to her community she erected the Victor W. Farris Medical Building that sits in West Palm Beach, Florida on the campus of Good Samaritan Hospital. In addition, she returned to show business working on a number of projects which included what Dame Celia proclaimed as one of the most “memorable events” of her life – she was invited to London, England to perform in Hyde Park at the VE Day Celebration. There she sang before approximately one million people, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the entire British Royal Family. She would later receive the title of “Dame Of A Most Venerable Order of St John,” which was bestowed upon her by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, an honor that is in the Personal Gift of the Sovereign. Dame Celia’s career as a stage, screen and television actress and singer is highlighted in a permanent display in the Theatre Hall of Fame at the famed Gershwin Theatre in New York City. Dame Celia was inducted in to the Theatre Hall of Fame with the great stage and film actor Nathan Lane in the early spring of 2009. 

Dame Celia has donated and raised tens of millions of dollars for such worthwhile organizations as the American Cancer Society, American Red Cross, The Salvation Army, Children’s Home Society of Florida, United Way – Community Chest, Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach, the Historical Society of Palm Beach County, International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Palm Beach County School of the Arts, Boy’s and Girl’s Clubs and the American Heart Association. The Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce honored Dame Celia Lipton Farris three times with their outstanding citizen award and with the “One and Only” award.  She was twice been honored with the Gloria Swanson Humanitarian Award.

            Dame Celia served as Honorary International Chairwoman for the International Red Cross Ball in Palm Beach.  She had for a number of years volunteered for the Red Cross during her stage, film and recording career performing for troops in the UK.  During her tenure as Honorary International Chairwoman, the organization presented her with its highest honor for volunteer service, the Clara Barton Award.  For a number of years Dame Celia served as the Honorary Chairwoman of the Children Home Society “Ultimate Dinner Party.”  She served as Honorary Chairwoman and Chairwoman Emeritus of the American Cancer Society – Town of Palm Beach Ball for over 15 years. The American Cancer Society established the Dame Celia Lipton Farris Lifetime Achievement Award; a national award created in honor of their distinguished and valued friend and patron Dame Celia Lipton Farris. Dame Farris has supported the organization for three decades.

Dame Celia underwrote an extraordinary permanent exhibit for the Historical Society of Palm Beach County entitled the “Notables” exhibit.  The exhibit features 200 of the most Notable individuals and families who have added to the history of Palm Beach County over the past 125 years.  The interactive exhibit also contains personal items that Dame Celia donated to the Society.

The Archival Evening featured a special surprise performance by Palm Beach Atlantic University’s theatre students of “There’s Nothing Like a Dame,” with customized lyrics written specifically for Dame Celia, wowed guests and delighted the beloved lady of honor, who also received a beautiful Tiffany & Co award presented by the Historical Society. Tributes were given by Honorary Chairman Kathy Bleznak, Chairmen Mark Stevens and Diana Ecclestone, and a very special British salute of “Hip Hip Hooray” led by Sir Geoffrey Leigh which nearly brought the house down. “Oh my goodness,” exclaimed a visibly moved Dame Celia, “this is really quite a night for me and my family.” After brief remarks thanking guests and encouraging support of the Historical Society of Palm Beach County, Dame Celia added “remember, what people forget they may live to regret.”

On hand to honor Dame Celia were family members Victoria “CeCe” Farris, Marian & Jamie Retterer, and Brett Hagey, with more than 150 guests including Sydelle Meyer, Liz & Jeff Bateman, Michele & Howard Kessler, Kathy & Alan Bleznak, Tiffany & George Cloutier, Nancy & Jeff Smith, Susan & Dominick Telesco, Tom Quick, Sonja Abramson & Mark Stevens, Laura Andrassy, Dr. Simon Small, Jennifer Garrigues, Diana & Llwyd Ecclestone, Hilary & Wilbur Ross, Nathalie Fernandez de La Valle & Patrick Park, Mac & Jamie Zahringer, Ross Meltzer, Michelle & Craig Millard, Veronica Atkins Mersentes & Alexis Mersentes, Carol & Tom Kirchhoff, Mark Elhilow, Kristy & Grier Pressly, Maria & David Hamilton, Betsy & Wally Turner, Paula & Mark Cook, Brantley & Peter Knowles, Herme de Wyman Miro, Catherine & Walter Ross, Patty & Anthony Myura, Luciana & Joe Vittoria, Helen Abel, Vicki & Chris Kellog, Nancy Corzine, Gladys Benenson, Kenn Karakul, Talbot Maxey, Kate Gubelman, Margo & Ashton de Peyster, Lulu & Jamie Gordon, Arnold Scaasi, Parker Ladd, Ellen & Irwin Levy, Sir Geoffrey & Lady Leigh, Dorothy Lappin, Cindy & Ted Mandes, Jane & Gordon Brown, Linda & Guy Ashley, Ava & Barclay Coleman, Gina & Jeff Sabean and Nancy & William Rollnick.   

The Historical Society’s annual Archival Evening honors the contributions of notable individuals whose accomplishments and influence have helped to define the history of Palm Beach. Previous honorees include architect John Volk, social photographer Slim Aarons, “The Late Great Grande Dames,” including Barton Gubelmann, Estee Lauder, Marjorie Merriweather Post, Mary Sanford, and Sue Whitmore, style icon Lilly Pulitzer, architect Maurice Fatio, fashion designer Philip Hulitar, and society family photographer Betty Kuhner. The Grand Corporate Sponsor of the Archival Evening is PNC Foundation and Corporate Sponsor is Tiffany & Co.

For more information about the Historical Society or Archival Evening, please call
(561) 832-4164, ext 103 or visit:



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