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SOCIETY A SAINT-OR A SOCIAL CLIMBER?

By John Hawkins |

A novice on the charity scene, Fran McNulty has fought her way past prejudice and social regimentation to co-chair what many are saying will be Dallas’s largest single fundraising event in history. Called “A Show of Support,” sponsored by Dallas Cares, the March 18 gala will benefit AIDS research and local AIDS service organizations.

Joining her as co-chairperson of the event is the powerful Caroline Rose Hunt, who some years ago vowed she would never again chair charity galas. But the urgency of the AIDS epidemic changed that. “We felt it was a cause that needed a champion,” asserted the usually shy Hunt recently. “I’m not afraid to be one.”

Hunt went to work quickly and secured Ross and Margot Perot, Surgeon General C. Everett Koop. and Lady Bird Johnson as honorary chairpersons. Then she coerced Tony Award-winning producer Barry Brown to produce the show that follows the black-tie dinner. Brown promises performances by friends Angela Lansbury. Carol Charming, and Lauren Bacall, among others.

Some of the dance-and-dine-for-disease set, however, have charged that McNulty’s project is simply social climbing at its most blatant. Unnamed social watchdogs say McNulty is hoping to ride Hunt’s high heels into the social registry. McNulty responds: “I’m working on the most unpopular disease in recent history. My friends warned me I’d be committing social suicide. How can anyone construe all that for social gain?”

Dallas literary agent Jan Miller lashes out at the critics: “I’m ashamed that some socialites have sunk to such pettiness to belittle anyone working on this project. Thank God we have two women of substance who were willing to stand up and be counted. I’m behind them 200 percent.”