Magazine article Variety

Barbara Davis Keeps the Carousel of Hope Charity Ball Turning

Magazine article Variety

Barbara Davis Keeps the Carousel of Hope Charity Ball Turning

Article excerpt

In many ways, Barbara Davis has led a charmed life. Around the time she graduated college, the then-Barbara Levine married oil baron Marvin Davis. They settled in Denver, had five children, and lived in such wealth that they eventually became a model for the Carrington clan on the hit primetime soap opera "Dynasty"

After Marvin acquired 20th Century Fox in 1981, Barbara and her family became Hollywood royalty. Today, anyone who's anyone knows the chipper octogenarian philanthropist, whose Carousel of Hope has raised more than $100 million toward children's diabetes research.

But Barbara Davis' extraordinary philanthropic efforts arose from a challenge inside her own family.

Their youngest daughter, Dana, was diagnosed with Type l diabetes at age 7. At first, they didn't fully understand what she was going through. It was something that "happened to other people," Davis recalls. But as soon as they got a clear picture of the diagnosis, her husband said one thing: "Fix it."

So there began a longstanding involvement with childhood-diabetes philanthropy and research. Davis founded the Children's Diabetes Foundation in 1977.

"One day, Marvin said to me,?How would you like to build a diabetes hospital so we can take care of Dana and all the children like her?'And I said,?Yes. I would love it.'" Davis says. The result was the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes at the University of Colorado Hospital, in Denver, which treats 7,000 patients.

Davis remains charismatic, charming, and passionate as she talks about her daughter's cause, and the illnesses her family has battled.

A year after launching the foundation, she says, the Davises started the Carousel of Hope Ball at their Palm Springs home - with some help from Frank Sinatra. "Frank said to Dana one evening at dinner,?Tell your mom to have a big party and I'll come and sing and your mom can raise money for her hospital.'"

Even today, the Carousel of Hope attracts some of the biggest names in the industry. Past attendees include Elizabeth Taylor, Sean Connery, and George Clooney. One Carousel Ball mainstay is former "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno - an avid Barbara Davis fan.

"You could talk to her like a regular person. Even though her husband was this powerful guy, she never threw her weight around," says Leno. …

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