State College

On Centre | Centre Region: Silver hairs re-enact iconic silver-screen moments for calendar

October 2015: “Violent SCREECH!” Barnes McCormick, 88, and Mary Heflin, 89, in “Psycho.”
October 2015: “Violent SCREECH!” Barnes McCormick, 88, and Mary Heflin, 89, in “Psycho.” Photo provided

When the casting call went out in August, 24 people stepped up to play a role of a lifetime — not quite on the silver screen, but close enough.

Residents of The Village at Penn State had an opportunity to portray some of Hollywood’s biggest stars in iconic films such as “The Sound of Music,” “Gone with the Wind” and “Psycho,” not in a talking picture, but in stills that would be published as the 2015 “Golden Moments of the Silver Screen” calendar.

On Tuesday, the residents will put on their long dresses and bow ties and roll out the red carpet for the unveiling of the final product. They’ll dine on hors d’oeuvres, watch a video of the making of the calendar and — for the first time — get to see the finished photos.

Karen Bergey, assistant vice president for communications and marketing with Liberty Lutheran, was inspired by the senior “calendar girls” in Ireland who, in 2000, created a pin-up calendar to raise money for leukemia research.

She wondered if Liberty Lutheran could pull off a similar project and thought of Helen Manfull, a Village resident and Penn State professor emeritus of theater.

Manfull ran with it, enlisting the help of associate professor and self-described “movie freak” Richard St. Clair, who is the head of costume design at Penn State.

Once the cast was in place, the action began and roles naturally formed. Manfull, who directed, and St. Clair had ideas about the films they wanted to feature and worked with the obliging residents to replicate just the right iconic scenes.

A married couple in their 90s elegantly portray Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire in “Swing Time.” Norma Desmond is played by 96-year-old Virginia Robertson in “Sunset Boulevard.” And Philip Keeney, 89, of Keeney Beany Creamery ice cream fame, patched one eye to play Rooster Cogburn in “True Grit.”

St. Clair culled through the tens of thousands of costumes at the School of Theatre and was meticulous in his planning, pulling vintage 1940s attire for the “Casablanca” photo and borrowing the perfect Snow White dress from the Philadelphia Theatre Company.

But it was a collaborative production, St. Clair said, “just like it is in the theater.”

And it was fun.

“It was such a wonderful project,” Bergey said. “It was wonderful to see the joy” on the residents’ faces after posing in front of green screens, then getting their first glances at the results.

On Tuesday, they’ll get to see the scenes, not the green screens. Everyone who auditioned got a role, and now they can all take a bow.

Proceeds from the sale of the calendar will benefit the Village’s Benevolent Care Fund, which helps residents who have depleted their assets to continue to receive care at the senior-living community.

The calendars cost $20 and can be purchased by calling The Village at Penn State at 238-1949.

That’s a wrap.