annie lynnHost Jackie Watson was at the Associates for Breast and Prostate Cancer Studies (ABCs) as it hosted it’s 25th annual star-studded Talk of the Town black-tie gala at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Saturday, Nov. 22.

The Gala benefited breast and prostate cancer research at John Wayne Cancer Institute at Saint John’s Health Center.

Award-winning actor, singer, writer and artist, Billy Dee Williams, received the Spirit of Entertainment Award.

Actress, director and women’s activist, AnnaLynne McCord, was honored with the Spirit of Hope Award.

Sheri Rosenblum and Beverly Cohen co-chair the event featuring rock and roll legends, The Temptations. Comedian, rapper, actor and writer, Brandon T. Jackson hosts. The gala included a luxury boutique and silent and live auction items.

ABCs president Gloria Gebbia said this year’s honorees have made incredible contributions to the arts and to philanthropy.

“They have used their celebrity in ways that enrich and stimulate us, making us think as well as enjoy,” Gebbia said. “We are especially grateful that they will be joining us to help raise awareness and support of our mission to achieve a cure for breast and prostate cancer through the innovative research being conducted at the John Wayne Cancer Institute.”

Patrick Wayne, Chairman of the Board of the John Wayne Cancer Institute, said the generous, on-going support provided by the ABCs has been instrumental in advancing the Institute’s breast and prostate research, fundamentally changing the way cancer is detected, diagnosed and treated worldwide.

“Our physicians and scientists are continuously at the forefront of groundbreaking cancer research, which would not be possible without the philanthropic efforts of the ABCs – we are forever grateful,” Wayne said.

One of the entertainment industry’s most prolific leading men, Billy Dee Williams, made his feature film debut in 1959’s The Last Angry Man followed by a host of television and stage roles before capturing the part of real-life football player Gale Sayers in the seminal TV movie, Brian’s Song, a role that would garner him national acclaim.

As a suave and dynamic leading man, Williams co-starred with such celebrated actresses as Diana Ross in both Lady Sings the Blues and Mahogany and Diahann Carroll in Dynasty.

Generations of George Lucas fans will remember Williams as the scoundrel Lando Calrissian in The Empire Strikes Back, a role which he reprised in The Return of the Jedi.

He won universal praise for his portrayal of Motown founder Berry Gordy in the ABC miniseries, The Jacksons: An American Dream and an Independent Spirit Award nomination for his portrayal of a stern, yet loving father in the drama, The Visit. In 2006, the NAACP recognized Williams for his immense contribution to the arts with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Off camera, he is an accomplished painter, commissioned by many high-profile companies and personalities. He currently has one of his works on display at the Smithsonian.

Actress, director and women’s activist AnnaLynne McCord may be recognized for her work in a host of primetime television hits including CSI: Miami, The O.C., Close to Home, Dallas and Nip/Tuck, but the role she truly embraces is as a vocal activist, tackling sexual abuse and human trafficking throughout the world – helping to abolish slavery and empower young women to overcome abuse.

She has written, produced, directed and starred in I Choose, a compelling and thought-provoking short film offering a depiction of female empowerment, sexuality and free will against the backdrop of human trafficking.

A dedicated supporter of the Somaly Mam Foundation which strives to end modern-day slavery and human trafficking world-wide, McCord frequently travels to Cambodia to spend time with victimized young women and girls.

She is currently raising funds for The Lotus House, a five-story home she is building for Cambodian sex slave survivors in need of a safe, new beginning. In recognition of her work, McCord was recently awarded the United States Congressional Honor.

The ABCs was formed 25 years ago by a group of dedicated philanthropists who had originally been associated with the Eddie Cantor Charitable Foundation, an organization that supported a variety of causes.

These individuals wanted to devote all their charitable efforts and resources to eradicating cancer and unanimously chose to support progressive and innovative breast cancer and prostate cancer research at the John Wayne Cancer Institute. Today, the Associates for Breast and Prostate Cancer Studies are over 150 members strong and growing.

They dedicate their efforts to funding research in breast and prostate cancer at the Institute, and since 1990, have raised over $14 million. For more information, visit www.abcjw.com.

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