Ron Perelman speaks his mind — and what was on his mind Thursday afternoon at the Four Seasons in New York was women’s heart disease. Perelman, chairman and chief executive officer of MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings Inc. and chairman of Revlon, threw the lunch in the restaurant’s Pool Room to honor Barbra Streisand and the work done by the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles and the Women’s Initiative of the Ronald O. Perelman Heart Institute at the New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center.
“She’s one of the most beautiful and talented women in the world — and a pain in the ass, just like me,” Perelman said with a laugh as he introduced Streisand to the crowd, which included Debra Messing, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Donna Karan, Star Jones, Gayle King, newly named Cosmopolitan editor in chief Joanna Coles and Glamour editor in chief Cindi Leive. “Barbra called me about six months ago and said she thought it would be wonderful if we could work together. Through her efforts, we have the opportunity to help many more women.” Surveying the crowd of about 65 people, he added, “Next year, I’d like to fill all three rooms at the Four Seasons.” Perelman donated $1 million to Streisand’s center at Cedars-Sinai, as well.
Streisand pointed out that Americans spend $7 billion a year on potato chips and $110 billion on fast food, but only a tiny fraction of that total is spent on heart research — and only on men’s hearts, which Streisand sees as a gender equality issue. “Women have different plumbing,” said a Donna Karan-clad Streisand. “I’ve always been outspoken on civil rights, and this matters. Women are still being treated as second-class citizens when it comes to heart disease, which kills more women than all types of cancer combined. Far more women than men die of heart disease. And heart research done on women also benefits men, especially when it comes to stem-cell research.”
Deputy Mayor Patti Harris read a proclamation from Mayor Michael Bloomberg, declaring the day as Women’s Heart Health Day.
The luncheon was cohosted by Dr. Holly S. Andersen, director of education and women’s heart health at the Perelman Heart Institute, and Dr. C. Noel Bairey Merz, director of the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center.