Cissy Wellman fits very nicely into the category of “you don’t get credit for the beauty or talent you are born with, you get credit for what you do with it.” Her significant Hollywood family history begins with the stunning work of her father William Wellman, pioneer film director of the first Academy Award winning 1927 film Wings. He wrote Public Enemy, wrote the original A Star is Born and won an Oscar for that. Her mother Dorothy Wellman, be still my heart, was one of the original Busby Berkeley dancers, and you won’t be able to stifle a smile of sheer awe when you hear Cissy tell you how long her mother hoofed.
Was Cissy aware of what her father was doing? No. She was brought up not in Hollywood, but on a four-acre farm in Brentwood with horses and chickens and chores collecting eggs. She rode her horse in Westwood where UCLA now dominates the area. There is a picture of her sitting on Clark Gable’s lap taken when her dad was filming Across the Wide Missouri. She knew some of the greats, but did she know, as a child, who these people were in their professional incarnations? No.
She wanted to be an airline stewardess and actually trained for 6 months until her inborn theatrical talent sent her on a different road. She was a Nick Castle dancer and fell in love with acting. Her work is too extensive to list here, but to give you a taste, she appeared in the first year of General Hospital, did a couple of films with Jerry Lewis, Outlaw Josie Wales (his wife), Ben Casey, Charley’s Angels, and she was the Waltons’ Cissy Walker who worked at the Dew Drop Inn and married Yancy Tucker played by Robert Donner to whom she was, in real life, married. Cissy’s is a complicated life with many gifts, successes, challenges and triumphs so best to hear it in her own thoughtful and laughter-filled voice.
Her passion now? Thanks to David Zimmerman she has, for the past 8 years, been involved with Born to Act Players actors with Down Syndrome, Autism and special abilities who take part in Original theater productions as well as televisions shows.
Love letters? Indeed. Lots of them in her life. Her close friend Howard Keel’s widow Judy is an avid letter writer. Janet Leigh was one of her closest friend of 40 years, and Cissy has those letters. She has written a loving amends letter, and to hear her talk about this is a lesson in both expectations and the power of a good apology.
She is now writing about the major men in her life and talks about the surrogate dad she found in Howard Hawks and some of the other friends who enriched her life. Cissy, a woman who lives life in gratitude, journals every morning in thanks for all she has. Truth be told, everything she writes or has received will add richness and first-hand accuracy to the history of Hollywood and the world of film.
Yes, Cissy Wellman is brains, beauty, talent, gratitude, diligence and compassion at work so we here at Love Letters Live hope she keeps writing and keeps the letters she has received in a nice safe place for posterity.