HomeCommunity NewsDavid Laurell: Sharing a Bit of Tea at a Sugary Soiree

David Laurell: Sharing a Bit of Tea at a Sugary Soiree

When it comes to celebrated confectioners, the names that first come to mind are those of men such as Milton Hershey, Russell Stover, Frank Mars, Domenico Ghirardelli, Charles See, Stephen Whitman and Roald Dahl’s “Willy Wonka.”

And yet, for those from Burbank and the surrounding area who are lucky enough to receive a “golden ticket” invite to a special annual gathering, it is a woman who is known as the “candy lady.”

That sweet soul is actress and longtime Burbank resident Carolyn Hennesy, who has made it a tradition to host an annual holiday candy party at her charming home.

Hennesy is the daughter of the late film production designer and art director Dale Hennesy, whose credits included “The King and I,” “South Pacific,” “Logan’s Run,” and “Annie.” He won an Academy Award for the 1966 film “Fantastic Voyage,” and it is for him that Hennesy Street on the Warner Bros. backlot is named.

As for his daughter, she is best-known for her role as Diane Miller on the daytime television drama “General Hospital” for which she has earned two Daytime Emmy Award nominations. She has also won a Daytime Emmy for portraying Karen Blackwell in the digital series “The Bay.”

The author of “The Secret Life of Damian Spinelli” (Hyperion, 2011), a novel that features characters from “General Hospital,” Hennesy is also known for her theatrical stage work and as an advocate for animals with the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

She has also become known for her candy parties during which every imaginable type of candy can be found in buckets, platters, plates, bowls and various other receptacles throughout her home.

Once fortified with a good sugar rush, interesting conversations abounded throughout Hennesy’s whimsical backyard as this year’s gathering of guests, many from the entertainment and media world, exchanged stories, tales, updates, good wishes and plans for 2024.

You just know it’s a special party when you take a seat on a huge rock boulder near a koi pond and get to hear Doug McIntyre, the former longtime host of “McIntyre in the Morning” on KABC radio, talk about his debut novel “Frank’s Shadow” (Greenleaf Book Group Press, 2023) that was released this summer.

Along with McIntyre, others enjoying the gathering were his wife, actress, writer and filmmaker Penny Peyser; lyricist and writer Michael Hennesy and his wife, singer and songwriter Becca Hennesy; Clifford Bell who is a director and producer in the fields of cabaret, concerts and one-person shows; and Mitchell Kaplan, a musician, director, songwriter, arranger and producer best known for his work as comedienne Sandra Bernhard’s musical director.

It was impossible to take more than a step or two through Hennesy’s grounds without falling into compelling conversation with notables such as actress Jill Allen; legendary “Candy Maker to the Stars” and President of The Thalians Frank Sheftel; and Jacqueline Lewis, the president of Jacqueline Lewis Productions, who for many years served as the president of the Burbank Jaycees and producer of the Miss Burbank Pageant.

Others in attendance were founders of the Newmont Center for Balanced Living Nick and Audrey Newmont, actress Teresa Ganzel who in her role as the “Matinee Lady” in the “Tea Time Movie” sketches was a recurring cast member of “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson”; Emmy Award-winning actress Patrika Darbo who portrayed Roseanne Barr in the 1994 biographical television film “Roseanne & Tom: Behind the Scenes” and is best-known for her roles as Nancy Wesley and Shirley Spectra in the television soap operas “Days of Our Lives” and “The Bold and the Beautiful,” respectively; and prolific stage, film and television actor Rico Anderson.

Kate Linder is tempted by the treats.

Also on the guest list were voice actress Debi Derryberry who is best-known as the voice of Jimmy Neutron; actor Christian Malmin who plays the recurring role of Mr. Fred Gray on “General Hospital,” and 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.

While Hennesy has another book in the works, her first focus for 2024 will be starring in the one-woman play “Crazy Mama.” Slated to debut in April at The Bethel Woods Center for the Arts located at the site of the 1969 Woodstock Music and Art Fair in Bethel, New York, the play was written by award-winning author Sharon MaHarry.

Adapted from MaHarry’s literary work, “Crazy Mama: A Memoir of Love and Madness,” the play tells the story of a child and young woman growing up with a mother who struggled with mental illness. The production will be directed by MaHarry’s husband, Burbank High School graduate Anson Williams who is best-known for his role of Warren “Potsie” Weber on the classic ABC series “Happy Days.”

DAVID LAURELL may be reached by email at dlaurell@aol.com or (818) 563-1007.

Among Carolyn Hennesy’s luminary guests were Doug McIntyre and his wife, Penny Peyser.
The fates allowed Nick and Audrey Newmont, Ed Hunt and Michael and Becca Hennesy to be together.
Celebrating the holidays at Hennesy’s party were Rico Anderson and Donna White.
Jill Allen and Frank Sheftel were among those who received a “golden ticket” to Carolyn Hennesy’s annual splurge of sweetness.
A party at Carolyn Hennesy’s house offers one sure thing: Candy-o-Plenty!

First published in the December 30 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

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