Hollywood Stars Honor Tucsonans
Hollywood Stars Honor Tucsonans
Open Hearts Celebration
On April 21, Arizona — and indeed, the Old Pueblo — will be fully represented at the home of an international star, with proceeds from the event benefiting four worthy causes.
Jane Seymour, known to the world for a wide range of roles — everything from a James Bond heroine to a frontier doctor to a contestant on Dancing With the Stars — and her husband James Keach will be holding the fundraiser at their amazing Malibu home.
“It’s one of those charitable events where people don’t leave — it’s a big, long night,” Seymour says with a laugh. “I think it’s because it reaches so many people’s hearts. They realize that it’s not like a normal charity where it’s just one cause; it’s really about taking the challenges in your life and turning them into opportunities for others.”
If you look at the list of honorees, two things immediately jump out: the wide range of organizations and causes, and the number of folks with an Arizona connection. Three of the four to be honored on April 21 have direct ties to the Grand Canyon State. Glen Campbell was a long-time Phoenix resident; Rodney Peete went to high school in Tucson; and John and Roxanna Green still live here.
“This year we’re excited because Glen Campbell and his wife will be there,” Seymour says. “Glen has made the announcement that he has Alzheimer’s and Kim is being honored for her caregiving because the biggest issue with Alzheimer’s is the caregiver. It’s an unbelievably stressful experience for the whole family. And caregiving in general is often something that’s not noticed.”
Likewise, actress Holly Robinson Peete and her husband, former NFL quarterback Rodney Peete, have drawn attention to two urgent causes: Parkinson’s (which claimed the life of Holly’s father), and autism, which affects the couple’s oldest son. They started the charity the HollyRod Foundation.
The tragedy that struck John and Roxanna Green played out on the public stage. Their daughter, nine-year-old Christina-Taylor Green, was one of the victims of the Jan. 8. 2011, shootings outside a Tucson Safeway. The family has started The Christina-Taylor Green Foundation to support charitable and educational projects that reflect their late daughter’s interests, values and dreams.
Also being honored at the event is Olympic Gold Medalist and World Champion figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi. “I met her through Dancing With the Stars,” Seymour explains. “I don’t think most people know that she was born with a club foot. She took her experiences and turned it into an organization that encourages kids to always dream.” Called — naturally — the Always Dream Foundation, Yamaguchi’s group assists children’s charities.
It’s no surprise that Seymour, who is a whirlwind of energy, is heavily involved in charitable work. She and her husband started the Open Hearts Foundation after a family trip to Africa with the American Red Cross. The goal of the organization, which is drawn from the philosophy of Seymour’s mother, “is to inspire people and help them to move on through life, find a way that they uniquely can help others.”
The fundraising event that Seymour will hold is certainly unique, too, offering a chance to see a little slice of paradise. “We have the most amazing gardens here, and that’s one of the highlights of the event. We grow everything from rare English roses, to giant redwoods, pygmy palms and lots of flowers. We grow our own organic fruits and vegetables — bananas, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, artichokes, potatoes, carrots, peaches and apples. If it grows in California, we have it. It’s an amazing experience for me coming from England where there were seasons when only certain things would grow. Here, it’s exploding all the time.”
Fans of Seymour’s acting will be pleased to hear that they will likely see a lot of her shortly. On May 6, the Hallmark Channel will broadcast a film called Lake Effects in which she stars. “It’s a lovely movie about mothers and adult daughters, the misunderstandings that a family has and the relationships between them. The dreams, aspirations and the choices you make in life ... it’s a perfect Mother’s Day movie.”
She also recently completed work on Austenland (from the same team who made Napoleon Dynamite), an ABC Family movie called Elixir, and an episode of the TNT series Franklin and Bash (where she plays Peter Bash’s mother).
She has yet another life, however: that of a visual artist. She speaks of her passion for painting with such exuberance that you can see each work come to life just from her words. “I have a full-time art career. I do about 14 one-woman shows all over the country,” she elaborates. “If you go to janeseymour.com, you can see the kind of paintings that I do. I’ve raised more than a million dollars for charities just with my art over the years. I also design furniture, home furnishings and a great collection of permanent botanicals.”
As for what motivates her artwork ... she’s surrounded by it. “I’m very inspired by nature, and we live right on the ocean, so I paint a lot of pictures with the ocean. Any kind of body of water — whether it’s a pond, a waterfall, the ocean or a swimming pool — it’s a very important element in my life.”
And though it’s hard to imagine this woman — who is the very picture of elegance on screen — with paint in her hair, she’s swears that’s how you’ll often find her. “I’m a very messy painter. I paint in my studio, sometimes at the kitchen table. Once I get going, I can’t stop!” she adds mirthfully.
Those who can’t go to the Open Hearts Foundation event can still support the organization on its website. And they may even see an Open Hearts Foundation gala in their own town, one day. “I think our intention in the future is to have events in different parts of the country so we can inspire people locally and benefit their charities,” Seymour concludes.
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