On Thursday, September 20th, hundreds of people gathered at The Hollywood Museum to pay tribute to publicist and Actors Fund Board of Trustee member, Dale Olson. The beautiful ceremony included remembrances of Dale by Harlan Boll, Maxwell Caulfield, Donelle Dadigan (President of The Hollywood Museum who donated the space), Diane Ladd, Charlotte Rae, David Rambo, Doris Roberts, Marion Ross, Kevin Thomas and Actors Fund Western Region Director Keith McNutt, who spoke about Dale’s commitment and dedication to The Fund.
Directed by John Bowab, the event also featured Patricia Morison, who sang “So in Love,” and Davis Gaines, who performed “Someone to Watch Over Me” – two of Dale’s favorite songs.
The last speaker was Gene Harbin, Olson’s husband and companion for over 30 years, and we especially thank him for helping us pay tribute to this incredibly special man, who we all will miss very much.
We thought we’d share some photos from the event below. For more, check out The Hollywood Reporter’s piece on Dale’s memorial, and read our interview with Dale about some of his work with Rock Hudson.
Everyone in The Actors Fund family is still riding high from Monday night’s incredibly wonderful Gala, during which we honored David Steiner and Jerry Stiller & Anne Meara with our Medal of Honor, and Harry Belafonte with The Lee Strasberg Artistic Achievement Award. We’ll be posting video highlights of the evening soon, so keep an eye out for updates!
We are incredibly grateful to the many, many people who contributed to the evening’s success: Angela Lansbury, for opening the evening; Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and Douglas Steiner for honoring Medal of Honor awardee David Steiner; the Tony nominated star of End of the Rainbow Michael Cumpsty for making a special appeal for donations with some help from his co-star and co-nominee Tracie Bennett; Annette Bening for her amazing Actors Fund PSA; comic treasures Julie Halston, Charles Busch, Jason Alexander, Phyllis Newman & Lewis J. Stadlen, Ben Stiller, and Oscar winner Christopher Plummer for their hilarious and thoughtful tributes to Stiller & Meara; and Carmen deLavallade, Marge Champion, Tyne Daly, Alan and Marilyn Bergman, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Drum Circle and Judith Clurman’s Essential Voices USA, and The Honorable David Dinkins for their moving tributes to Harry Belafonte. Extra-special thanks go to our producers Abby Schroeder and Michael Kerker for putting on such a wonderfully moving and entertaining show!
And finally, we thank our honorees for their dedication to the entertainment industry, their commitment of social justice, and their support of The Actors Fund. We’ll also be posting their not-to-be-missed acceptance speeches, but in the meantime, here’s a bit of Stiller & Meara on Friday’s Morning Joe – we’re grateful they took some time to speak out for The Fund!
Last Thursday, Actors Fund Western Region Director Keith McNutt and Director of Social Services Tina Hookom were guests on Samm Brown’s For The Record, KPFK 90.7 FM’s weekly radio show that delves into various behind-the-scenes entertainment industry issues. Keith and Tina’s one-hour live chat with Samm included a discussion of the Actors Fund’s fascinating history, what makes our work possible, a bit on who we help and how we help them, the realities of working in the entertainment industry, and an overview of The Fund’s programs and services. They took some interesting listener calls throughout the broadcast, too.
If you’d like to check out the archived show, go to http://archive.kpfk.org/index.php?shokey=fortherecord, scroll to the April 5th program, and click the “play” link to download and listen in your music player.
Don’t Miss December’s Special Performances Curtain Speeches: Andrew Rannells in The Book of Mormon and Joel Grey in Anything Goes
The last few weeks have been jam-packed with incredible events benefiting The Actors Fund. From events in Los Angeles (a Musical Monday with Betty Buckley and a reading of It’s a Wonderful Life at the Geffen Playhouse) to New York (performances of The Visit starring Chita Rivera and John Cullum and Meredith Willson’s Miracle on 34th Street) our minds are absolutely spinning at the amount of amazing talent – including actors, musicians, directors, dressers, make-up artists, stage managers, company managers, theatre managers, press agents, and many others – who are donating their time throughout the busy holiday season to support The Fund.
This past week also featured two fabulous Actors Fund Special Performances, the amazingly electric shows that have been a popular part of the entertainment community for more than 80 years. Each year, Broadway companies in New York and on the road add an additional performance to one of their already exhausting eight-show weeks. Everyone involved – actors, musicians, crew, ushers, and more – generously donate their time so that all proceeds go to support The Actors Fund.
On December 7th, The Book of Mormon – the Tony-winning can’t-get-tickets-to-it show – finally had a chance to give its Special Performance, as the original date in September fell victim to the wrath of Hurricane Irene. An excited audience packed the Eugene O’Neill Theatre a Wednesday at 1pm, and in a single matinee the show’s team raised $250,000 to support The Fund’s programs and services! Andrew Rannells (Elder Price), followed the curtain call with this heartfelt curtain speech:
A few days later, the Roundabout Theatre Company‘s production of Anything Goes gave a spectacular Sunday night performance to a sold-out house, featuring the ailing Sutton Foster’s understudy Kristen Beth Williams. After the show, Tony and Oscar–winning legend Joel Grey gave one of the most incredible Actors Fund curtain speeches to date, kicking off with a little Cabaret treat. He went on to talk about his amazing Actors Fund Special Performance history (which began with Cabraret in the 1960s), then read an emotional text from Sutton Foster, who had so wished she could be there, which thanked Kristen for stepping in with her wonderful interpretation of Reno Sweeney.
The Fund would like to thank the actors, musicians, stage managers, theater managers, company managements, and the many others that are part of both of these wonderful shows – and all of the productions that offer Special Performances – for donating their time so that all proceeds go to The Actors Fund.
We can’t wait for January’s upcoming Special Performances of Follies (January 15) and Relatively Speaking (January 29), and are looking forward to the many, many more to come! To purchase tickets to these or any of our upcoming events benefiting The Fund, visit our website.
As we scoured the Internet for footage celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the Dreamgirls 20th Anniversary Benefit Concert for The Actors Fund a few weeks ago, we discovered this wonderful video of Lillias White blowing the lid off of the iconic “Don’t Rain On My Parade” from the 2002 benefit production of Funny Girl. The concert version of the acclaimed musical about Ziegfeld Follies star Fanny Brice took place on September 23, 2002 at Ziegfeld’s own New Amsterdam Theater, the Follies‘ home. In an unusual twist, the role of Ms. Brice was shared by a collection of Broadway’s brightest, and the evening’s performers included Gary Beach, Len Cariou, Carolee Carmello, Kristin Chenoweth, Sutton Foster, Peter Gallagher, Ana Gasteyer, Whoopi Goldberg, Jane Krakowski, Judy Kuhn, Julia Murney, LaChanze, Ricki Lake, Andrea Martin, Idina Menzel, Bebe Neuwirth, Alice Playten, The Rockettes, and Ms. White.
It’s been ten years since the unforgettable one-night-only 20th Anniversary performance of Dreamgirls, the Tony Award–winning musical by librettist Tom Eyen and composer Henry Krieger. The event, which was a benefit for The Actors Fund, took place September 24, 2001, at The Ford Center (now The Foxwoods Theatre) — not long after the 9/11 attacks. Actors Fund President Brian Stokes Mitchell, who had a cameo in the show, began the evening with a pre-show speech to remind everyone that, in the face of the horrible events everyone in New York City had just witnessed, it was more important than ever to remind ourselves that the show must go on.
Under the Musical and Artistic Direction of Seth Rudetsky, the evening starred the incredible trio of Audra McDonald, Heather Headley and Lillas White, and also featured appearances by Malcom Gets, Darius de Haas, Norm Lewis, Alice Ripley, Brad Oscar, Billy Porter, Emily Skinner, James Stovall, Tamara Tunie and Patrick Wilson. Danny Herman and Brenda Braxton co-directed and co-choreographed the evening. Nonesuch Records released a recording of the event, which is still available.
The event raised over a million dollars for The Fund, and just a few of the supporters who came out for the show included Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker, Betty Buckley, Celeste Holm and Patti LuPone.
Check out this preview performance by Audra, Heather, and Lillas on The Rosie O’Donnell Show: