Diane Keaton Salutes Barbara Davis at 2022 Carousel of Hope Ball

When Oscar-winner Diane Keaton accepted the Brass Ring Award at the 2022 Carousel of Hope Ball on Sunday night, she dedicated her speech to the event’s chair, Barbara Davis, highlighting Davis’ work toward finding a cure for type 1 diabetes and the state-of-the-art center she founded, which treats more than 7,500 patients a year.

“I just want to honor one amazing, fearless, generous woman for spending much of her life championing an incredible cause,” Keaton said, pointing Davis out in the center of the Beverly Hilton Hotel ballroom. “I am surprised and humbled to be the recipient of this important award which represents a very urgent and universal cause in the world today.”

Named for the brass rings that early carousel riders would try to catch, Keaton was presented the Brass Ring by Emmy-winner Loretta Devine, who applauded her philanthropic commitment to the cause of finding a cure for diabetes.

Lyndon Smith, star of the upcoming Disney+ series “National Treasure: Edge of History,” also sang Keaton’s praises, after admiring her work and career from afar.

“When I saw that Diane Keaton was being honored for all the work that she has done in her life, I just want to be in the room with somebody who has devoted their time to things that are so wonderful,” Smith told Variety on the red carpet. “She leads with such grace and poise and really just feels like a person that you could just walk up and talk to. As a young actor to see that, she really has a role model vibe to her.”

As for the Carousel of Hope Ball itself, the biennial event that began in 1978 is focused on increasing awareness for type 1 diabetes, with the 2022 celebration raising over $1.7 million in funds for clinical care and research at the Barbara Davis Center for Diabetes and programs run by the Children’s Diabetes Foundation.

The black-tie gala also marked Howie Mandel’s first time serving as master of ceremonies since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. “The truth of the matter is, I don’t know how I am going to navigate my life. I don’t go out in public like this,” he told Variety.

After being “locked away for the last three years,” the television host and comedian — who suffers from OCD and mysophobia — admitted he was a little nervous, though he’s appeared on TV shows like “America’s Got Talent” during this period.

“But when you are on set, it is very COVID-safe,” he explained. “Until then I was doing over 200 to 300 live events each year. I can’t tell you how scared and uncomfortable I am, but there is no way, through that fear that I could say ‘No’ to this event and how important it is.”

Then, Mandel quipped: “I am very medicated as I speak to you. I am just trying to get through.”

But the star-studded guest list of attendees — which included Ed Begley Jr., Berry Gordy, Jimmy Jam and Linda Thompson — never saw Mandel sweat, as he navigated opening remarks that segued into a musical performances by Andy Grammer and Deborah Cox.

On the carpet, Grammer’s wife Aijia Grammer opened up about their personal connection to diabetes, as she grew up with family members navigating the disease. “We just spoke to some of the kids that have been rehearsing and showing us their glucose monitors — it was organizations like this pushing the tech forward — they have an automatic glucose monitor now so they don’t have to set alarms and wake themselves manually,” she told Variety. “Things like that are huge.”

At the end of her performance, Cox led the crowd in singing “Happy Birthday” to Davis, who was presented with a cake to celebrate her 92nd birthday. Davis was seated among friends and longtime supporters including Keaton, Clive Davis, who took part in the event’s production alongside George Schlatter and Quincy Jones, and Kathy Hilton, who found the whole proceeding very emotional and was moved to tears at times during the show, which closed with an inspiring set from EGOT-winner John Legend.