Conversations With Carol

The evening was titled “Laughter & Reflection with Carol Burnett,” and the fans that filled UCSB Campbell Hall got plenty of both. Director of Arts & Lectures Celesta Billeci commented, “There’s great energy in the Hall tonight!” There was a short film clip before Carol walked onstage to a standing ovation.

Those of us alive and sentient then remember the 11-year run (1967 to 1978) of the Carol Burnett variety show, of course, but since her show ended Ms Burnett has continued performing on Broadway, TV, and film, adding even more awards to her six Emmys and five Golden Globes.

The evening was Q & A with nostalgic film clips shown in between the nearly two-hour performance. She revealed that Bob Mackie designed all the costumes on the Carol Burnett Show – some 50 a week. Her favorite being when she played Scarlett O’Hara in a “Gone With The Wind” satirical sketch. She came down the grand staircase in the famous dress made from draperies, but the curtain rod was still in the fabric at the shoulders. When she needed to have droopy boobs Mackie used rice (uncooked) for the padding.

She remembered, “When I was young I used to cross my eyes in the mirror. My Mom would say, ‘Quit that. Nothing will come of it’.” Guess she was wrong. One of Carol’s best stories was about getting fired as an usherette in one of the old movie palaces in Hollywood. Years later, when they asked her where she wanted her Hollywood Star of Fame placed, she chose in front of that old theatre. Today the theatre is closed down so when Carol moved to Montecito and began remodeling her home, she asked the owners if she could have the door where the firing had taken place. They gave it to her and it is now the door to her home theatre.

Sweet revenge.

“Who made you laugh?” Answer: “Tim Conway.” “Who was most influential in your life?” Answer: “Nana.” Her grandmother raised her in a poor part of Hollywood. “She taught me how to survive.”

They would go to the movies frequently and steal the toilet paper from the restroom so they wouldn’t have to buy any. When Carol closed her show by pulling on her ear, she was saying goodnight to her grandmother.

When asked to do her Tarzan yell, she did and then had the entire audience do it too. One young gal told Carol she had just played Winifred in “Once Upon a Mattress,” as Carol had. She asked Carol to sing from it. Carol responded, “I will if you’ll sing it with me.” And they did a spontaneous duet on stage, which was charming.

There was a reception after to meet and mingle with the star. The evening ended the most successful season ever for Arts & Lectures. Check out the new 2007-08 catalogue. Phone 805-893-3535 or There’s something for everyone!

Compassionate Care Center

It was a House Warming and Associate’s Appreciation Day (people who pay dues and support events) at the Hospice of Santa Barbara’s new digs up near the Riviera Theater in Michael Towbes’ business center. A building was raised to make way for the new two-story Spanish-style edifice. The bottom floor is rented to Hospice of Santa Barbara and is called the “Compassionate Care Center.”

Executive Director Gail Rink used her wiles hinting to architect Barry Berkus about their space needing to be designed inside. The ever-generous Berkus volunteered his services. His decorator wife, Jo, also volunteered hers. Hospice moved in last February and the results are just what were needed – serene and softly pleasing to the eye. All the offices and counseling rooms are on the outside with windows. You can even see the ocean from some. They are centered around the vortex of the “Sacred Place,” where meditations take place. Gail is looking for the perfect fountain to add the peaceful sound of trickling water. There is also a full kitchen, which is homey and used for many events including pizza parties for the grieving kids that have lost a loved one. The teen and children’s room is decorated with art done by them and they call it the “Club House.” There’s even a room for complementary therapies, including craniosacral, massage, and Reiki.

The walls in the hallway are decorated with paintings by local artist Mary Heebner. She had them in her studio for about seven years and when she heard of Hospice’s need she donated her works. Coincidently, the paper they are painted on was made by Barry Berkus’ late wife, Gail, who was also an artist, adding a special meaning. Anne and Michael Towbes donated the furniture and decorations for Coordinator of Family and Children’s Services Joy Janssen’s office.

President of the Hospice Auxiliary Chi Chi Sanford told the guests, “Thanks go to Anne Frye and Judy Dawson for pulling the event together.” There was a long table filled with Italian goodies catered by Via Maestro to go with the wine. We watched a short and excellent film showcasing the work Hospice does. It is not only a free service for the terminally ill, but also a place where the family left behind can go for help and hugs.

Gail told me, “We began in 1974 (the second oldest in the U. S.) in a water tower near Arrellaga Street. Then moved to Carrillo where the counseling room was literally a closet, so we added a window.” The motto in silver letters on the wall in the new space says, “We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give,” Sir Winston Churchill. For information call (805)-563-8820.

Bid! Barter! Buy!

Ladies still do lunch. Joyce Shaar held a Fiesta luncheon in her patio garden recently to benefit the Profant Foundation. There was all sorts of fiesta finery for sale, some donated by the guests. A few of those enjoying the Asian setting and food were Alice Krebs, Hiroko Benko, Nancy Trotter, Judith Hill, and Moeva Bartel, along with Joyce’s two standard poodles Louie, and Lucia, decked out in a rainbow-colored feather headdress.

Some of those attending who are working on the Fiesta event are Chair Barbara Burgess, Barbara Anderson and our hostess, Joyce. The Profant Foundation sponsors the August 5 Sunday night event in the Courthouse and the Sunken Garden. The Gala is at 5 pm, and the performance at 8 pm. Call (805)-963-4408 for tickets. Costumes are encouraged. I’ll be there judging.