Love story has faith, hope – and a charity

New York Daily News, NY
May 1 2004

Love story has faith, hope – and a charity

We interrupt this war to bring you a love story. And news of a very
important charity. They’re connected. First, the love story:
On May 10, Carol Channing, the great Broadway star of “Hello Dolly,”
will celebrate her first wedding anniversary to Harry Kullijian, 84,
her very first love, with whom she reunited last year after 67 years

On Friday, Channing will perform at Molloy College in Rockville Centre,
L.I., followed by a party and silent auction to raise money for the De
La Salle School in Freeport, a small Christian Brothers Catholic school
that provides a highly structured Catholic education for 25 inner-city

“Recently a foundation was formed to support Catholic schools in
disadvantaged areas that educate over 4,000 underserved students in 18
states,” says Marty Bevilacqua, who was a wild Brooklyn kid before his
parents enrolled him in the La Salle Military Academy, which changed
his life.

Bevilacqua and other La Salle alumni, working with Brother Thomas
Casey, founded the Freeport School two years ago to keep the traditions
of Lasallian education alive.

“The goal is to help young boys become civilized ‘gentlemen,’ ready to
thrive in society,” Bevilacqua said.

While at La Salle, Bevilacqua, today a successful builder, became a
gentleman and developed a deep love for opera and Broadway musicals,
which has made him a patron of the arts.

Through his association with Glenn Roven, a Broadway conductor,
Channing has agreed to do the benefit concert for the De La Salle
School to help those inner-city kids get a shot in life.

The concert will be Friday at the Hayes Theater of Molloy College.
Tickets are $75 for the show and $50 for the meet and greet party with
Channing afterwards.

Which brings us back to the love story.

“I love what this charity stands for,” Channing says. “I also truly
love my new husband, Harry. Harry was my first love. We went steady as
teenagers. But at 16, I went away to Bennington College in Vermont and
later to New York to become an actress.

“I always loved Harry, but I wasn’t aware that I was still in love with

The two lost touch. While Channing strode the Broadway boards to fame
and fortune, she married three times before she was widowed in 1998.

Meanwhile, back in California, Harry Kullijian, a successful real
estate entrepreneur had become a widower.

“I thought sure Harry must be dead,” Channing says.

Then last year, a good buddy of Kullijian’s read Channing’s
autobiography, “Just Lucky, I Guess,” in which she wrote glowing words
about her first love. The friend urged him to give ole Carol a buzz. He

A week after that, he drove 125 miles north from Imperial Valley to
Channing’s condo in Rancho Mirage. Channing said, “Hello, Harry!”

It was so nice to have each other back where they belonged after all
those years.

“It was like we just picked up our lives where we left off 67 years
ago,” says Channing.

“Two weeks later, I proposed to her,” Kullijian says.

They married, moved into Kullijian’s Modesto farmhouse, and they’ve
been running around the country like a couple of newlyweds ever since,
doing paid gigs and charity benefits, many for Kullijian’s favorite
Armenian organizations.

When Roven asked her to do a concert for underprivileged kids at the La
Salle School in New York, Channing jumped at the opportunity.

“Carol will also be getting the Oscar Hammerstein Award while we’re in
New York,” Kullijian says.

“This marriage is going to work,” Channing says. “I’m happier than I’ve
ever been. It’s my pleasure to spread some of this good feeling

For tickets, call (516) 536-2223.