"Baywatch" star David Hasselhoff and his wife were among the 500 guests "ooohing and aahing" over the $25,000 collection of couture dog collars at the "Bow Wow Luau" held to raise money for the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons.
"I don't normally do many charities, but when I found out this one was for animals, I decided to come, because I feel that pets are the most integral part of people's lives. They keep families together, and they give unconditional love to the elderly," said Hasselhoff as he strolled around WNBC-TV anchorman Chuck Scarborough's Southampton, L.I., estate, where the benefit was held on Aug. 19, 2000.
"I love this one!" said Pamela Bach Hasselhoff, picking up a pink python collar studded with sterling silver dog bones.
David Yurman Donated Collars
Manhattan jeweler David Yurman donated the collars designed exclusively for a silent auction that fetched thousands of dollars. The neckwear ranged from red and yellow leather to python studded with Pave diamonds and gold and silver bones. Dog paintings, portraits, books and statues also were hawked during the silent auction.
The Hasselhoffs joined the celebrity-flecked crowd, most of whom paid $250 to $1,000 for tickets to the benefit that raised $200,000 net, said Sara Davison, ARF executive director. Some of the guests paraded around the four-acre waterfront enclave with their decked out dogs in tow. Some canines were even better dressed than their owners.
Hasselhoff, who is set to star in "Jekyll & Hyde" on Broadway this fall, said he is still recovering from the recent death of his dog – a dachshund named Weiner.
"He was the most amazing dog, and my whole family was in mourning for months, so I finally replaced him with another Weiner-dog named Precious," he said. "This dog knows how to greet me like no one else in the world can. I'm glad I came tonight to help save the lives of so many more dogs and cats."
Best Dressed Dogs
Many of the pooches at the benefit flaunted 14-karat gold charm necklaces, gem-studded hair clips and the Palm Beach Collection of jackets, scarves and coats.
"Our designer dog wear is as popular in the Hamptons as it is in Palm Beach, Los Angeles, Paris and Monte Carlo," said Corey Gelman, the 31-year-old owner and creator of "Doggie Chic, of Manhattan," a new line of canine couture for the "ultra chic and exclusive dog."
Gelman's company, which designs dog clothes for Barbra Streisand and Oprah Winfrey's pets, offers an assortment of canine coats that cost about $375 to $450. And Gelman sells black and white pearl collars with rhinestones for $85 if you care to accessorize.
At the gala, Gelman's chihuahua, named Bear, was modeling a $145 blue polka dot coat with a terry collar.
This is the second time Chuck and Ellen Scarborough have lent their Victorian home on the lip of Agawam Lake to benefit ARF – the Hamptons' leading no-kill shelter and adoption center for dogs and cats. Since it was founded in 1974 more than 10,000 pets have been placed in homes.
Celebs Believe in Adopting Pets
"We believe strongly in adopting pets," said Chuck Scarborough. "Our black cat, Stanley, and our black, flat-coated retriever dog, Oliver, came from a Harlem shelter."
Scarborough said he never knew he was a cat lover until he found Stanley. "I've had mixed relationships with cats – it's not that I don't like them, it's that they don't like me," he said. "But Stanley follows me everywhere."
Fellow cat-lover and "Today Show" co-host Katie Couric said she attended the event "because I'm a friend of Chuck's, and I'm spending the last weeks of August on vacation in the Hamptons."
Couric sat on the porch smiling broadly and holding hands with her new boyfriend, television producer Tom Werner, whose sitcom hits include "Roseanne" and "3rd Rock From the Sun." She said she has adopted cats all her life, but right now only has a Cairn terrier named Maisy.
It seems like every celebrity has a pet story. Fashion designer Nicole Miller, who also attended the party, chatted about the new love of her life – a Rhodesian ridgeback puppy.
"I hadn't had a pet since I was a child, so this is exciting for me and my son, Palmer, who is five," she said. "This dog has red hair, just like my son, and since my son likes dinosaurs, he named him, T-Rex Race Car. He said the dog will hunt dinosaurs with him."
As celebrity chef Sam Choy of Hawaii put out a spread of food that filled the huge tent, Animal Rescue Fund volunteers paraded the ARF dogs around. One ARF supporter, Ron Fleitman of East Hampton, stood watching with his own bearded collie, Newton. When asked why he brought his dog to the event, Fleitman quipped: "He paid for it. I'm his guest."