Scene Last Night: Tom Hanks, Clarkson, Diana Krall

Matchbooks, pulp fiction novels and Tom Hanks and Patricia Clarkson crackling in a scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s “North by Northwest” sent guests to the 1950s last night.

The occasion was the Decades Ball, raising more than $400,000 for the scholarly journal Lapham’s Quarterly, founded by Lewis Lapham, who produces the World in Time podcast for Bloomberg News.

Among the guests dining on wedges of iceberg lettuce and meatloaf were Morley Safer, Agnes Gund, Jean Doumanian, Yves-Andre Istel, and Thomas Siebel, chairman of the American Agora Foundation Inc. board, which publishes Lapham’s Quarterly, and chief executive of software company C3.

The music of the decade came from Nellie McKay who performed “Crazy Rhythm” after Doris Day. “The Honeymooners” couple the Kramdens -- Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Martha Plimpton -- argued over having $75 in the bank versus owning a television.

“To begin with, the ’60s hadn’t happened, they ruined everything,” quipped Reinaldo Herrera, husband of fashion designer Carolina Herrera.

Poet Paul Muldoon, born in Northern Ireland in 1951, remembered “a huge number of horses on the land,” a byproduct of petrol rationing during World War II.

Kevin Phillips was honored with the Janus Prize for his many works of history.

Oskar Eustis, the artistic director of the Public Theater and the evening’s master of ceremonies, born in 1958, lauded the ’50s as a time when U.S. wealth was redistributed effectively.

Malibu Cottage

Ben Rosen, former chairman of Compaq Computer Corp., said he started the ’50s living in a beach cottage in Malibu for $55 a month and driving an Austin-Healey.

When the rent went up to $65, “which was outrageous,” he moved to the fourth floor of a walkup in New York City, paying $125 a month and working as an engineer. The decade closed for him in Europe, driving 3,000 miles on a Vespa. “I didn’t find myself, I got a wonderful tan.”

Library Laurels

The second Spring Dinner for Education at the New York Public Library last night honored Howard Milstein, chief executive of Emigrant Savings Bank, and his wife, Abby Milstein, a lawyer and library trustee, who first came to the library to research her Harvard undergraduate thesis.

Dinakar Singh, chief executive of TPG-Axon Capital Management and a library trustee, was a vice chairman of the event, which raised more than $1.3 million, with Diana Krall crooning Cole Porter and NBC anchor Brian Williams joking he’d croon off his latest album.

Jon Green, director of instruction for the Urban Assembly public schools, received the Brooke Russell Astor Award for helping to lift sixth-graders’ literacy past the third-grade level. More than 30,000 children spend their afternoons at branch libraries in the New York Public Library system.

New Butter

At GrowNYC’s “A Toast to Our Town” fundraiser at Gotham Bar and Grill, sponsored by Swiss Re AG, Alex Guarnaschelli said she will open a Midtown location of Butter in mid-to-late July. Another chef contributing to the meal was Marc Forgione, who’s planning an American Cut in Tribeca.

Honoree Oliver Platt, who recently finished filming “A Friggin’ Christmas Miracle” opposite Robin Williams, said he goes to the GrowNYC farmers markets at Union Square and Abingdon Square.

(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Arie Shapira is a reporter for Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are their own.)

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