Modesto is going Hollywood to help it Go Red.
Emmy-winning actress Jane Seymour will headline a pair of public events May 11-12 to highlight heart disease issues among women for the regional American Heart Association’s Go Red campaign.
“Heart disease runs in my family, so I know firsthand the importance of raising awareness and taking action to prevent complications later in life, especially for women,” Seymour said in a heart association press release. “It’s known as ‘the silent killer,’ so the more we can do to raise our voices and not be silent, the better for women’s heart health, and for the health of everyone.”
Seymour’s Modesto appearances come thanks to some networking by Julie Gallo Vander Wall of E.&J. Gallo Winery, chairwoman of this year’s luncheon, who’d seen a photo of a friend posing with Seymour.
“I thought Jane would be a great fit with all of her philanthropic work and Open Hearts (Foundation),” Gallo Vander Wall said. So she contacted her friend, who said she’d look into connecting with her.
“Fifteen minutes later, Jane Seymour called me and said, ‘I’m going to come and talk at your event,’ ” Gallo Vander Wall said. “I just couldn’t believe how generous she was.”
The television and film actress’s first appearance will be on Thursday, May 11, at a Winemaker’s Dinner hosted by the Gallo Center for the Arts, where she will mingle with guests and speak. Also speaking at the dinner will be Kate MacMurray, daughter of late actor Fred MacMurray (“My Three Sons”), who heads up MacMurray Ranch wines; and Scott Kozel, vice president of Gallo’s coastal wine making.
It will be an “Old Hollywood” affair in the art center’s lobby, Gallo Vander Wall said, with wines, a four-course meal, music and more.
On Friday, May 12, Seymour will be keynote speaker at the Modesto Go Red for Women Luncheon at Modesto Centre Plaza, sponsored by Sutter Memorial Medical Center and Gallo Winery. Also speaking will be local resident Karen Wright who will share her story as a heart disease survivor.
The luncheon also features a Health & Beauty Expo with free health screenings, educational breakout sessions and shopping options from local boutique vendors. As an added bonus, Seymour will bring along several of her own creations from her many artistic and design outlets to fill one of the vendor booths.
Proceeds from the American Heart Association events go to regional research, programs and education. The goal also is to shine a public light on the threats of heart disease and stroke, which have afflicted English-born Seymour’s mother and her father. It’s from her mother that she gets her deeply personal connection and involvement with charitable work and philanthropy.
“Her mother was in a (Japanese) concentration camp for 3 1/2 years ... and she survived by helping others,” Gallo Vander Wall said. “She told her, ‘There’s always someone worse off than you,’ and (Seymour) really lives that.”
Seymour started her Open Hearts Foundation to help those facing adversity “by creating partnerships and supporting organizations committed to positively impacting lives in the areas of health, education, arts and sports,” according to the foundation’s mission statement.
The British actress may be best known to television audiences for her title role in the 1990s hit “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.” She has appeared in numerous other TV roles, in film and on stage and is an artist and designer with lines including her Open Heart jewelry featured at Kay Jewelers stores, handbags and more.
Now that she has gotten to know Seymour personally, Gallo Vander Wall looks forward to people locally hearing her speak.
“I’m just so impressed by her and inspired by her and I’m so excited the community will get to hear her stories,” she said. “Her philosophy about how she lives her life is truly inspiring. All the people who attend the (dinner), luncheon or both will just fall in love with her.”