One On One with Cissy Wellman
Passion—that about sums up Cissy Wellman. In a stimulating nutshell, Cissy, her real name with a “Y,” not an “IE,” is a woman with intense depth of feeling and joyous energy; an actress with a rich history, experiencing a glorious present. Besides her return to acting after a very successful stint as a top realtor for Caldwell Banker, Cissy Wellman is utterly passionate about being a part of the company The Born To Act Players. Very fitting, as Cissy was brought up by a mother, Dorothy Coonan Wellman, who was a Busby Berkeley dancer, and a father, William Wellman, who was one of the great Hollywood directors. Quite a legacy! “Mother is alive and well, and still kicking. She was in 42nd Street,” glows Cissy. “And she still lives in the family home in Brentwood.” When I asked how it was in such a heady atmosphere, she said, “Fabulous. I got to sit on Clark Gable’s lap.” Her amazing dad brought her up to pattern herself after Carole Lombard, Anne Baxter and Barbara Stanwyck. “I had good role models,” she notes.
I think her dad would be proud of the grounded and good woman that Cissy Wellman is today. She has been married for 21 years to Greg Guydus, and is now living in Studio City after 15 years in Toluca Lake—definitely a community asset.
When you Google Cissy Wellman, you get a peek at her extensive acting background. She appeared with Clint Eastwood (whom she loves) in several films including “The Outlaw Josey Wales” (as Josey’s Wife). Cissy also played Sissy Walker on “The Waltons” from 1973–78.
When talking to Cissy Wellman, she is not that interested in talking about her extensive film and television career, she wants to talk about her now, and forever, passion, The Born To Act Players. Cissy will be performing with this amazing group in “The Jewel At The Junction” at Valley College’s Horseshoe Theater on June 27-28. (Admission is $15 for adults and $10 for children under 12, and seniors). We’ll be there, not just for the bargain but for the enchantment these players bring to the stage.
In 1996, in North Hollywood, a handful of young people with Down Syndrome began meeting weekly to memorize lines, and play theater games. Today, founder of The Born To Act Players Mary Rings (mother of a player and professional actor), teaches weekly with the BTAP who have found a home at Los Angeles Valley College. Many members of the company are working actors, both those with disabilities and those without. Some of their credits include: “ER,” “The Guardian,” “CSI,” “Family Law,” “Any Day Now,” and many more.
Cissy Wellman is so thrilled when parents of The Born To Act Players say their children have developed important life skills while participating in the program. The cast members learn body awareness, to stay focused and in the moment, how to exercise their voices and improvisational skills. Students learn full plays; one-acts, and monologues by famous authors from Woody Allen to Shakespeare. Musical training includes singing and dancing, both choreographed and interpretive, and the students participate in productions and showcases presented twice a year at Valley College. (This is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization.)
In February of 2008, they performed the great American classic, “Our Town.” Check the internet for their remarkable history.
To learn more and reserve tickets for the June 27/28 production of “The Jewel At The Junction” (and see Cissy singing, dancing and having a hoot), call (818) 776-9670 or the inspiring Web site BTAP@earthlink.net. (I include this information to see just how radiant Cissy Wellman will be to see it in the Tolucan Times, and know that she is helping to shine a light on her delightful and able colleagues.) It makes me radiantly happy to know that when a talented and determined female actor decides to return to her first love, she gets hired. Last year, Cissy played a beauty queen in “Break These Chains,” and has several films coming out this year. She has appeared in decades of movies and television, her first appearance was in 1954 playing herself on “This Is Your Life,” the William Wellman episode.
Cissy Wellman’s life deserves an episode of her own.