Hollywood Beat, Oct 16, 2009
Hollyrod Foundation Honors Michael J. Fox, Fred Travalena – Man of a Thousand Voices Memorial
Hollyrod Foundation Honors Michael J. Fox
Actor, activist and philanthropist Michael J. Fox received the Matthew T. Robinson Courage Award at HollyRod Foundation event, hosted by founders, author/actress Holly Robinson Peete and her husband, football great, Rodney Peete. Fox has inspired millions through his commitment to effecting positive changes to cure Parkinson’s disease, and actress Holly Robinson, who lost her Dad to Parkinson’s established the HollyRod Foundation in his honor.
TV presenter Laila Ali, daughter of boxing legend, Muhammad Ali, who also suffers from Parkinson’s said of the Back To The Future actor: “He carries himself with such dignity.” She added, “He doesn’t try to hide his symptoms from the public, and he’s a great man.”
Actually there is no stopping him. Not only is he nominated for two Emmys this year – one for guest work on Rescue Me, and other for his ABC special, Michael J. Fox: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist – but he is also writing another book. Michael provides inspiration to anyone struggling with illness and his optimism is infectious indeed.
Some of the many A-list celebs who turned out to honor Fox, included Samuel L. Jackson, Natalie Cole, Magic Johnson and Producer Harvey Weinstein and his designer wife, Georgina Chapman, who presented a fashion show of her fabulous Marchesa collection. The biggest hit of the evening was when Holly Robinson Peete performed “Don’t’ Let go” with En Vogue. Some of the other celebs jumping out of their seats to applaud, included Pop star, Ciara, who also bid on a Pomeranian Puppy during the live auction.
In addition to Fox, Kelly Austing was the Champion for Kids Awardee. Kelly works tirelessly for children with autism, along with Holly, whose son was also diagnosed with this disorder. With supporters like the Peete’s and their celebrity friends, hopefully in time, autism and Parkinson’s disease will be a thing of the past.
Michael J. Fox (Honoree) with Magic Johnson at Hollyrod Foundation event
Lisa Rinna with Leeza Gibbons – two fashionistas at the event
Holly Robinson Peete with her husband, Football Great, Rodney Peete
Fred Travalena – Man of a Thousand Voices Memorial
They say death comes in threes – but that is much understated in the scores of deaths in Tinseltown. Many of Hollywood’s biggest stars have passed away in recent months – including Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, Walter Cronkite, and most recently my chum, Impressionist Fred Travalena To celebrate Fred’s life – it was natural that a Vegas type tribute be paid to a gentleman who lived to entertain.
He was known for the sheer volume of his celebrity impressions, and his act included Presidents from Kennedy to Obama, Musicians from Sinatra to Springsteen, and Actors from Brando to Tom Cruise.
He was a fixture on the Vegas entertainment scene and later the opening act for many talent women, including Ann-Margaret, Helen Reddy and Shirley MacLaine. Oscar winning actress MacLaine was one of the speakers at Fred’s memorial, and she was enthusiastic about meeting her former co-star in another life. After all, she claims in her seventh book, Camino, that she was a lover of the Emperor Charlemagne in a past life – who knows what is store for the future?
Fred was a deeply religious man, and the event was held at the Living Room Theatre at the Church on the Way in Van Nuys, California. His devoted wife of many years, Lois, his two sons, and over 2,000 friends filled the huge auditorium. Others paying tribute to this talented man included famed Game Show Host, Wink Martindale, singing sensation, Clint Holmes, and comic Tom Dressen who often opened for Frank Sinatra.
Speaking of “Old Blue Eyes”, Fred (who was also a prolific songwriter & singer) wrote a show about Sinatra’s life, which is going into pre-production shortly. A fitting tribute to two great show biz legends.
Oscar winner Shirley MacLaine, who is presently up for an Emmy for her performance as Coco Channel
Legendary Game Show Host Wink Martindale
Lois Travalena (Fred's widow) surrounded by her two sons at Travalena's Celebration of Life