First published in the Dec. 18 print issue of the Burbank Leader.
’Tis the season for holiday parties, and after putting festive gatherings on hold for the better part of two years, Burbankers are as ready as anyone to get out, mix and mingle with those who are near and dear to them.
Among the sweetest of local soirées to take place this season was a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-themed open house hosted by actress and longtime Burbank resident Carolyn Hennesy.
Best known for her role as Diane Miller on the daytime television drama “General Hospital,” for which she earned two Daytime Emmy Award nominations, Hennesy also won a Daytime Emmy for portraying Karen Blackwell in the digital series “The Bay.”
Hennesy, the author of “The Secret Life of Damian Spinelli,” (Hyperion, 2011) a novel that features characters from “General Hospital,” is also known for her work as an advocate for animals with the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
She is the daughter of the late production designer and art director Dale Hennesy, who won an Academy Award for Best Art Direction for the 1966 film “Fantastic Voyage.”
Along with his work on “The King and I,” “South Pacific” and “Logan’s Run,” the legacy of Dale Hennesy lives on at Warner Bros. where a backlot street he designed for “Annie” was named Hennesy Street in his honor when he died unexpectedly of a heart attack during production of the 1981 film.
His legacy also lives on in his daughter’s home, which along with being a charming and whimsically decorated cottage, serves as a repository for memorabilia pertaining to her father’s legendary career.
At last Sunday’s party, decked out as the eccentric owner of the Wonka Chocolate Factory, Hennesy welcomed guests who were invited to indulge in her “Candy Room,” which included buckets, platters, plates, bowls and various other receptacles filled with a delectable choice of confections.
Once having duly partaken of more than their daily adult requirement of sugar (there is such a thing, no?), guests from the world of entertainment as well as neighbors mingled in Hennesy’s magical backyard which was alive with holiday cheer and laughter.
Nothing sparks lively conversation and the telling of great stories like a gathering of creatives on a sugar rush, and the evening proved to be as festooned with tasty tales as it was with holiday sweets and decorations.
Among those who were fortunate enough to receive a golden ticket to Hennesy’s surgery shindig were animal advocate and fashionista Nikki Brucato; actress and voice over artist Debi Derryberry; film critic and writer Norman Gidney; actress Tracy Powell; filmmaker Lisa Stetlar; writer Sharon MaHarry; and Jacqueline Lewis, the president of Jacqueline Lewis Productions, who was a past president of the Burbank Jaycees and producer of the Miss Burbank Pageant, which she is looking to bring back.
Other notables who enjoyed the early evening open house included publicist Harlan Boll, who oversees the estate of the late Blackwell and Bob Hope Enterprises, Inc.
Boll, the author of the “Portraits of Life, With Love,” (General Publishing Group, 1994) which documents his friendships with 141 luminaries from various walks of life, including Elizabeth Taylor, Barbara Walters, Mother Teresa, Muhammad Ali, Walter Cronkite, Jane Goodall, Henry Mancini and Johnny Cash, wrote his book to benefit children living with HIV/AIDS.
Back in Burbank, from his home in Ojai, for an appearance at the Hollywood Museum and Hennesy’s party was actor and entrepreneur Anson Williams, best-known for his role as Warren “Potsie” Weber on the venerable ABC sitcom “Happy Days.” Williams, who grew up in Burbank, attended Burbank High School, where he was captain of the track team and acted in multiple school productions.
Also in attendance was actress Kate Linder who has been playing the role of Esther Valentine on the CBS soap opera “The Young and the Restless” for more than 35 years and serves as a governor at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
DAVID LAURELL may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or (818) 563-1007.