LOS ANGELES, JUNE 29 -- Nelson Mandela, his graying head shielded from the sun by a black umbrella, soothed a hot and restless Los Angeles crowd today with words of love and respect and was to mine California's entertainment riches tonight at a soldout 70,000-ticket Hollywood gala.

Although at least two hours behind schedule most of the day, the deputy president of the African National Congress turned the next-to-last full day of his eight-city U.S. tour into a financial and spiritual triumph.

"You can help by maintaining sanctions," Mandela, after arriving from Detroit, told more than 5,000 people jammed behind barricades and perched on trees at the north end of Los Angeles City Hall. "You can help by keeping the pressure on apartheid."

The Los Angeles city government has a long history of active opposition to white rule in South Africa, including a 1985 ordinance to cut financial ties with the government. The City Council is considering amendments that would stiffen the law.

Mayor Tom Bradley, first elected in 1973, is one of the longest-serving black officials in the country and has emphasized local commercial and political support for Mandela's cause.

Some members of Mandela's delegation said they had discussed leaving for South Africa Saturday morning and canceling the tour's last day in Oakland. But the 71-year-old attorney, released in February after 27 years in South African prisons, seemed fit as his limousine moved swiftly on freeways temporarily cleared of traffic. Late today, aides said the Oakland visit would proceed as scheduled.

At city hall, Mandela seemed relaxed and alert, performing far better than Bradley, actor Gregory Peck and others whose introductory remarks lasted too long to suit a crowd that had waited hours in the sun.

"We Want Mandela! We Want Mandela!" spectators chanted, then left happy and apparently at peace after he told them, "We admire you, we respect you and, above all, we love you."

Later, he met with former Soviet political prisoner Natan Sharansky, who said afterward that the two had discussed their prison experiences and Mandela's stand on Middle East issues.

"I think that the struggle against apartheid had to have full support of Jewish people even before Mandela's visit," Sharansky said. "At the same time, that doesn't mean we have to agree with every view" of Mandela's.

Mandela acknowledged thick knots of celebrities waiting to greet him, including actress Cicely Tyson, actor Lou Gossett Jr., former boxer Muhammad Ali and hurdler Edwin Moses. Tonight's entertainment rally at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum was to include performances by Jasmine Guy, Robert Downey Jr., Alfre Woodard, Danny Glover and Ed Asner.

"For us in our youth," Mandela said, "Hollywood was the stuff of dreams, and some of our dreams in a sense are being realized."

In Detroit, Mandela had scoffed at suggestions that he could not handle the physical strain. Before his flight to Los Angeles this morning, he donned a Detroit Pistons cap and jacket and walked the streets at dawn. He told well-wishers that President Bush "sees eye to eye with us" on the need to end apartheid but objects to Mandela's refusal to rule out violent means.

Traffic and most business and government activities stood still here as crowds awaited Mandela's arrival at midday. Mandela T-shirts sold briskly.

Motilewa Chilombo, a Los Angeles photographer of African descent, said Mandela's courage during years of imprisonment appealed to a wide sector of Californians. She nodded toward the multiracial crowd waiting to greet him at city hall and said, "I feel proud that I am one of his people."

Detroit officials estimated that Mandela's stop there would earn $1.5 million for the anti-apartheid movement. Officials here said they expect even more. His schedule tonight included a fund-raising dinner where guests paid from $10,000 to $50,000 a table.

Staff writer Lynne Duke contributed to this report.