By Robert W. Nudelman
After two and a half years as president of Hollywood Heritage, I have stepped down from that position as a result of a two-term limit for offices of our organization (Recording Secretary Anne Epstein has also stepped down after two consecutive terms). I will continue on the board and now serve as the Director of Preservation Issues, which takes up plenty of time. Time that is very important for myself and others to see to it that historic Hollywood doesn't "exist" only in Florida theme parks.
I'd like to extend special thanks to the board of Hollywood Heritage who have worked tirelessly to build and improve the organization. Our board is working without a full-time staff, so the board, especially officers, staff the operation of the offices, museum, Wattles mansion and gardens, Silent Society, website, and much more.
I'd also like to extend a special thank you to Director of Membership Development Mary Sullivan, who, while working on a part-time basis, has organized the membership program for two years. Membership is up over 400% during this time. Wattles Director Stephen Sylvester has, over the past two years turned in record-breaking rentals at the mansion which has made possible over $50,000 worth of improvements to the structure and gardens. We have also seen hundreds of hours from dozens of volunteers, during the past two years, including Anne Epstein's efforts in organizing regular rose prunings at Wattles.
All board members have been a great help in rebuilding Hollywood Heritage over the past two and a half years, but a couple deserve special mention. John Clifford has put together the newsletters and website for over 3 years; Bob Birchard has supplied regular newsletter articles, museum exhibit information, photos, and past presidential advice at all hours; Phil Docktor rebuilt the museum's photographic collection though his large donations of time and services; Randy Haberkamp, along with Jere Guldin, have continued for 16 years to present the truly innovative programs of the Silent Society; Natalie Shivers put together and continues to implement the Getty Grant for the Wattles Mansion; Delmar Watson loaned his family's archive for a popular museum exhibit; and Kay Tornborg, our new president, rebuilt the volunteer base of Hollywood Heritage, helped to assemble the archive, and revamped the financial program for the computer age (a major undertaking). Marc Wanamaker, a de facto boardmember continues to provide extraordinary service to Hollywood Heritage with photos, research, and advice, as he has since the beginning.
Also, thanks to several key people who returned to the fold at Hollywood Heritage after having stepped aside over the years –co-founders Marian Gibbons and current Vice President Fran Offenhauser have invested much time and money to help rebuild Hollywood Heritage back to the necessary organization that they created back in 1980. The families of Jesse L. Lasky and Cecil B. DeMille once again became supportive and involved through Betty Lasky and Cecilia DeMille Presley.
Numerous stars have lent their time at autograph shows, with space provided by members Sharon and Ray Courts: Richard and Robert Sherman, David Raksin, Ann Savage, Leonard Rosenman, Jan Sterling, Jonathan Winters, Michael York, Ken Annakin, and especially Charlton Heston, whose three appearances for Hollywood Heritage, and later signings at his home have made a remarkable contribution to the museum and the DeMille legacy. All of these individuals generously provided the museum with the funds to accomplish goals that I originally thought could not be reached in two years. Between them and other fundraising, including key contributions from Marian Gibbons and Johnny Grant and the Hollywood Historic Trust, we have raised over $48,000 for museum improvements since October 1999.
Hollywood Heritage will continue to improve these two historic treasures, with donations of funds and materials always welcome.
A special thank you to our members who have made it possible, through their support and informative involvement. Keep renewing and increase your membership level if you can. And bring a friend or two, or more, as new members.
Finally, a special thank you and welcome to the hot seat for new president Kay Tornborg. Kay has come a long way since seeking our help a year and a half ago to help protect a 1909 Craftsman house from becoming a parking lot. She organized her neighbors, dealt with politicians and the property owner and WON! She continued her involvement with Hollywood Heritage and was elected to the board in 2000, had her own 1908 Craftsman house designated a city landmark, reorganized our bookkeeping for computer technology, brought our volunteer operation back to life, having been dormant since 1996, and helped to re-establish more programming at the museum. She is a true "friend of Hollywood."