Culver City Observer -

Elegance Reigns At Senior Center


Sandy Mansson, 1st place, Ms. Culver City Elegance

"Spread your wings and fly" was the theme for a dazzling afternoon Sunday, May 15 at the Culver City Senior Center when 10lovely ladies strutted their stuff in formal attire, displaying their own unique elegance as they were judged on poise, personality and congeniality through modeling and an on-stage interview during the first Ms. Culver City Elegance event.

Fashion designer Elie Saab described elegance as "a statement, an attitude. Elegant women are women of character, with confidence," and Audrey Hepburn believed "elegance is the only beauty that never fades,"

These perceptions were clearly evident during this delightful presentation organized by Judie McAskill, Show Director and member of the Culver City Senior Citizens Association and Marilyn Kohler, Show Co-Director, two very accomplished and dedicated women.

In 1997 and 1998 Kohler was second runner up in the Ms. Senior California state pageant program, becoming the California State Director in 2000, a position from which she is now retired.

In 2008 at the national Ms. Senior America pageant this Honorary Ms. Senior America was commended for being the most successful pageant director in the nation.

McAskill, who loves to travel, has lived in Culver City since 1993, worked as court reporter for 32 years, has an adopted daughter and is a talented artist and performer, was described by Kohler as "one of the most dedicated supporters of senior events."

"This concept originated," McAskill explained, "because in 2014 a tradition came to an end. It was the last of the series of pageants for Ms. Senior Culver City. There was a desire by Marilyn and myself to have an event to honor women over 60 who live in the area, and late last year the Culver City Senior Citizens Association and Culver City Exchange Club agreed to co-sponsor the Ms. Culver City Elegance show."

"To further enhance the show," Kohler said, "former pageant winners are performing: the dazzling Syni Champion, Ms. Senior Culver City 2010; the lovely Alise Richel Adler, Ms. Senior California 2013; the blond and beautiful Gayla Jackson, Ms. Senior Culver City 2014; the smiling, dark-haired dancer, Marcia Zadian, Ms. Senior Culver City 2013; and the Broadway performer, Susan Cashman, Ms. Senior California 2007."

The entertaining and inspiring afternoon kicked off with a welcome by Debbie Cahill, the center's Senior Program Specialist. The distinguished group assisting included Al Hicks as MC; judges Carol Matlow, Mayor Jim B. Clarke, Klyda Mahoney, Richard Champion and Lea London; Rick Talbot as Official Judges' Foreman; Judy Talbot as his assistant and score calculator; and Don Stafford, videographer.

The 10 impressive contestants, whose diverse backgrounds include American Indian, German, African American and Spanish, frequently participate in some of the myriad activities offered by the center, such as exercise, clay modeling, knitting, painting, acting and improvisation.

Yvonne Griffin Beraldi, a great-grandmother, once weighed 350 pounds, lost 175, and expressed her passion to help others by becoming a Zumba® instructor, teaching at the center and other locales. This year she will host her third annual Zumbathon® to benefit the Culver City Senior Citizens Association.

A motivational speaker, she is also a Healthy Living Instructor trained by Kaiser Permanente.

Former New Yorker Adele Cooper has resided in Los Angeles since she was 21 and transitioned from secretary to 20 years in real estate sales. Her love for films resulted in a brief stint as talent agent. World travels brought her many adventures. Having retired from real estate she enjoys being with friends, volunteering, filmgoing, and sampling a variety of international cuisines.

After Sandy Mansson started dancing at five, she was hooked for life. Following graduation from UCLA she performed in musicals such as Little Mary Sunshine, A Family Affair, Gypsy, and The Music Man, earning her Equity card. Most recent appearances were in Assassins at the Pico Playhouse and as Miss Carrie in Coeurage Theatre Company's production of Tennessee Williams' Vieux Carré at the Lankershim Arts Center.

Meia Carr, having recently retired from newspaper advertising, keeps busy through her involvement with acting classes, volunteer work, and chasing after her three cats.

Irma Overding, who is adept at painting, ceramics and Chinese watercolor, was born in Germany, lived in Canada for 11 years, and came to California in 1968. A hairdresser for 57 years, her most famous client was Joan Rivers.

Margarita Medina was born in Madrid, Spain, came to America in 1955 to attend school and learn English, returned to Madrid in 1957 to work for the American Air Force, finally moving to America in 1960. For years she worked three jobs while raising her son. Special memories include winning the Ms. Burgermeister Beer contest in 1964 and becoming an American citizen because, as she will proudly tell you, "I love this country!"

Lois Rubin, who grew up in Los Angeles, was an Executive Administrative Assistant. She enjoys reading, music, gardening, long walks, camping and cooking. At the center she participates in "Acting for the Camera," engages in a Rummy tile game, and loves going to wine tastings.

Fran Friday came to California for adventure and got that and more. She jumped from being a Texas reporter to teaching modeling, acting, and hosting a talk show. This former Miss LA Press Club now performs standup comedy.

Genevieve E. De Pew has been very active at the center for four years, volunteers with W.W.P., is currently vice president of the Merry Makers and is on the CCSCA Board of Directors. She enjoys bowling, traveling, and attending church.

Irma Overding, 2nd place Sandy Mansson, 1st place, Carole "Nee-Ta-Kee" Marie, 3rd place

A proud citizen of the Chickasaw Tribal Nation of Oklahoma, Carole "Nee-Ta-Kee" Marie is an actor, writer and filmmaker. In her teens she appeared in the film New York, New York and was a Starfleet Cadet in the first Star Trek movie. She recently appeared with Zack Galifianakis in the FX comedy Baskets, currently teaches an "Acting for the Camera" class, and participates in "The Bucket List Actors" group at the center.

And, finally, the top three winners from this appealing assemblage . . .

Third place went to Carole "Nee-Ta-Kee" Marie, second place to Irma Overding, and Sandy Mansson became the inaugural Ms. Culver City Elegance.

The Culver City Senior Center is clearly a magnet for charming, delightful women gifted with warm and winning personalities, all proving that there is no expiration date on elegance.


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