Fresno: Channing wows crowd at Armenian Home – Stars in two shows

Fresno Bee (California)
April 25, 2004, Sunday FINAL EDITION

Channing wows crowd at Armenian Home Broadway legend stars in two
shows in Fresno to raise funds for home.

by Louis Galvan

It didn’t take long for actress Carol Channing to win over the staff
and residents at Fresno’s California Armenian Home for the Aged
during her tour there Saturday.

Channing, the 83-year-old Broadway legend, is in Fresno to help raise
funds for the home, including a two-show performance today at the
Tower Theatre.

“You’re just so cute!” she told 99-year-old Anna Tusan, one of two
residents chosen to greet her and her husband, Harry Kullijian.

“Welcome to the California Armenian Home,” said a shy Tusan, who had
nervously rehearsed her message for 20 minutes before Channing’s

“I want to make sure I say it right,” Tusan told Elizabeth
Manaselian, 81, the other resident chosen to take part in the

Tusan, the second-oldest resident of the facility in southeast
Fresno, will turn 100 on July 8.

Introduced to Nikki Vartikian, the home’s administrator, Channing
held her hand and slowly repeated her surname. “Vartikian … what a
beautiful name,” said Channing. “I love it.”

A few minutes later, she stood in front of about 100 residents, many
of them in wheelchairs, and she joked about soon having to join them
at the home.

She was coaxed into singing the title song of one her biggest
Broadway shows, “Hello, Dolly,” and also did a soft-shoe number,
accompanied by her husband.

And of course, she told her fans, she too is proud now to have an
Armenian name.

“You can call me Mrs. Kullijian,” she said.

Last year Channing married Kullijian, 84, a prominent Modesto
real-estate entrepreneur who has long been involved in charitable
Armenian causes and whose sister, Lucille Pilibos, lives in Fresno.
Marian Arakelian, a cousin of Kullijian’s, is a resident at the
Armenian home.

Channing is best known to generations of fans for her work on
Broadway, including 5,000 performances in the role of Dolly Levi in
the musical comedy “Hello, Dolly,” and hundreds of appearances on
television variety and talk shows.

She is scheduled for two performances today at the Tower Theatre of
“Hello, Fresno” to benefit the Armenian home. The shows also will
feature Fresno native Mike Connors, formerly Krekor Ohanian, of TV’s

George Juarez, assistant administrator of the Armenian home, said the
benefit will raise funds for improvements, including:

A remodeling project.

The purchase of equipment, including wheelchairs and beds.

The updating of the physical therapy room.

“We also need a lot of work on the floors,” he said, “including some
new carpeting.”

Channing also was treated to a luncheon put on by the home’s Ani
Guild, celebrating its 37th anniversary. Jennifer Glove-Croghan, Miss
California USA in 2001 and Miss California in the 2002 Miss America
Pageant, entertained at the luncheon.

The reporter can be reached at [email protected] or (559)



What: Carol Channing’s “Hello, Fresno”

When: 2 and 7 p.m. today

Where: Tower Theatre, Fresno

Cost: $40 for matinee, $45 for evening show

Details: Patrick’s Music, (559) 224-7287, or Tower Theatre, (559)

GRAPHIC: JOHN WALKER — THE FRESNO BEE Nick Zakarian is hugged by
Broadway legend Carol Channing during her Saturday visit to Fresno’s
California Armenian Home for the Aged.