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What makes a gentleman worthy of that honorific? The subject came up often at the fifth annual GQ Gentlemen’s Ball on Wednesday at the Edison Ballroom.

“A gentleman treats other men like gentlemen, until they prove otherwise,” said Phoenix Suns basketball star Steve Nash. “He knows how to win. And if the score isn’t in his favor, he wins in his own way.”

This story first appeared in the October 28, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Kathie Lee Gifford, in a video segment, opined, “A gentleman cares about the world and the world around him more than he cares about himself.”

All likely true — although MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski may have put a finer point on the colloquy when she noted, “If necessary, he’ll kick someone’s ass.”

That point was probably well taken by the winner of GQ’s Better Men, Better World Search, former Marine Jake Wood, who is now president of Team Rubicon Disaster Relief. The organization provides rapid relief in disaster areas like Haiti and, most recently, in Turkey following the earthquake there on Sunday.

Accepting his award, Wood pointed out that in a bittersweet way, the U.S.’ wars in Iraq and Afghanistan may have helped create a generation of men who better understand the notions of dedication, sacrifice and honor.

In the well-dressed crowd were Ashton Kutcher in Hugo Boss, Josh Lucas in Burberry, New York Knick Carmelo Anthony, Michael Bastian, Thom Browne, John Varvatos, MSNBC’s Willie Geist, and Brad Goreski in Tommy Hilfiger. Jason Sudeikis (also in Hilfiger) couldn’t resist a litany of double entendres involving GQ, gentlemen and balls — despite the presence of the evening’s youngest honoree, eight-year-old Wyatt Workman, who raised nearly $4,000 for ocean conservation.

The evening raised $354,000 for the American Red Cross, Oceana and The Demi and Ashton Foundation, which was founded by Kutcher and his wife, Demi Moore.

Kutcher, who may have been a tad over the top in his speech on child sexual abuse and modern-day slavery, elicited one dinner guest to say, “Does ‘Two and a Half Men’ make everyone go a little nuts?”

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