Actors Honored With Golden Halo Award
By Ivetta Babadjanian
Oct 18, 2013 - 12:58:52 AM
HOLLYWOOD—On Monday, October 14, actress Kathy Garver and actor Johnny Whitaker received the Southern California Motion Picture Council Golden Halo Award for her lifetime achievement in entertainment.
Garver's relationship with the industry began at the Meglin Kiddies Studios at the age of 3 where she began to hone her talents in singing, dancing and acting. She received her first acting role when she was 9 years old in the film "I'll Cry Tomorrow." It was not until she played a young slave in the film "The Ten Commandments," however, that Garver began to turn heads with her impeccable acting capabilities.
A young Kathy Garver in "The Ten Commandments."
Throughout her teenage years, Garver was able to venture into various forms of entertainment such as film, radio, television and stage while maintaining her education. As a freshman majoring in speech at UCLA, Garver received the role of a lifetime alongside her idol, Brian Keith.
"I was in my sorority house at UCLA when I received the call from my agent," said Garver. "I distinctly remember startling my friends as I yelled and jumped up and down excitedly."
Garver played Cissy Davis on the CBS sitcom "Family Affair" from 1966 to 1971 for a total of five seasons. Garver was able to capture the hearts of many all over the country as her passion is able to translate onto screen. "I remember there was a lot going on in the 60s. When we heard that Robert Kennedy was shot I broke down and Keith was very consoling. That line of love and support is really memorable," said Garver.
Anissa Jones and Johnny Whitaker.
Johnny Whitaker was only six when he landed the role of Jody Davis on "Family Affair" as Garver's younger brother. He had worked with Keith before in the film, "The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming." His personality and talent was what convinced Keith to insist that Whitaker be a part of the sitcom. Initially, Whitaker was only meant to have a small role on the show but that changed when they saw Whitaker's resemblance to the actress they wanted to portray Buffy, Anissa Jones. Whitaker and Jones looked as though they were siblings, thus, the script was rearranged to create two characters as twins to welcome Whitaker onto the cast.
Whitaker has many fond memories with Garver during the five years they acted side-by-side. "We would play games between scenes and we even made crafts like birdhouses," said Whitaker. Whitaker also continued his close relationship with Keith as they often spent time together both in and out of the studio.
After the show ended, Whitaker went on to star in the 1973 children's series "Sigmund and the Sea Monsters" in addition to a number of feature films and the lead role in a musical version of "Tom Sawyer."
Whitaker was able to achieve immeasurable heights outside of the industry as well as he spent two years in Portugal doing missionary work for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He later graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in Communications. He proceeded to form his own computer consulting firm and worked in a Los Angeles talent agency, Whitaker Entertainment. Whitaker also had his own broadcast on Cable Radio Network with psychiatrist Dr. Ron Zodkevich titled "The Dr. Zod and Johnny Show."
One of Whitaker's most proud accomplishments include his certification as a drug counselor. Whitaker assisted many in overcoming their addictions through various organizations and facilities. He has helped many lives through the organization he founded, Paso Por Paso, in which helps Spanish-speaking addicts and alcoholics seek the treatment they need. Whitaker has also made notable changes in peoples' lives due to his work at Tarzana Treatment Center in Southern California.
Garver's career continued to flourish after the sitcom with various roles such as "My Fair Lady," "Sunday in New York," "A Midsummer Night's Dream," and "Trojan Woman." Despite her busy schedule, Garver worked tirelessly to pursue her education as well by studying in London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and earning her master's degree in Theater Arts at UCLA.
The actress also showed an appreciation for voice-over acting for a number of cartoons such as "Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends," "Fonz and the Happy Days Gang" and "The Tom & Jerry Kids Show." "I've always loved the voice-over work. I like being in control and having the ability to play these characters while in my bathrobe is amazing," said Garver.
Garver is also a published author for "The Family Affair Cookbook" which provides unique recipes from the 1960s alongside rare photos and behind the scenes moments during her time on "Family Affair." She is in the process of publishing another book which will hit shelves in 2014 titled "Discovering Cissy." Garver will also star in an upcoming feature film, "Mom, Murder & Me," and is in the motions of producing a movie.
After all their countless accomplishments, there is still so much both Garver and Whitaker has to offer her fans. However, it is without a doubt that they are ideal candidates for the Halo Award.
Randal Malone, Kathy Garver and Don Wilson. Photo courtesy of Fred Anderson.
The Halo Lifetime Achievement Award began in 1936 and has been honored to actors such as Betty Davis, Bob Hope and Jimmy Stewart. "The award is given to those who spend their lifetime achieving greatness and contribute a lot to the entertainment industry," said SCMPC President, Randal Malone.
The ceremony is a spectacular event at the Sportsman Lodge that begins with an opening statement by Malone. "I love greeting people and providing the opening for the history of the council," said Malone. "It is amazing to meet the actors being honored and the wonderful people who come to see the program."
Garver and Whitaker were co-recipients to the award with 104-year-old Carla Laemmle who acted in many classic silent films such as "Dracula." Also attending the event were former game show host Wink Martindale, Executive Award Presenter Don Wilson and past recipient of the Golden Halo Award for Historical Preservation, Barry Barsamian.
his award acceptance speech, Whitaker thanked Garver for all her
support "as a long-time friend and older sister." The two have kept in
touch over the years as they did many talk shows and autograph shows
together for their time on "Family Affair."
"I want to thank the Motion Picture Council, Don Wilson and Randal Malone for this award. I'm also very appreciative of my fans, family and friends who have been so supportive over the years," said Garver. "I am honored to receive this award as it validates what I have done with my life. I am very blessed."
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