Remembering Gene

By Richard Mineards   |   January 24, 2019
Chris Lancashire, Diana Starr Langley, George Rusnak, and Nir Kabaretti at Gene Sinser's memorial

To Solvang for the memorial service for the late Gene Sinser, former board member of the Santa Barbara Symphony and ex director of the Montecito Fire District, who left us last month at the age of 85.

The German Holocaust survivor, whose birth name was Gunther Zinser, was a longtime member of our rarefied enclave before moving to the Santa Ynez Valley two years ago, after owning a successful art gallery in Hancock Park, where I formerly resided when a commentator with KTLA-TV.

Gene, who studied at UCLA and USC, was an avid racketeer, traveler, cook, classical music fan, and good friend.

Chris Brown of the Bethania Lutheran Church, and Dani Antman, an interfaith minister and friend of the family, delivered eulogies, as well as cousin Bernie Rubin, daughter Sabrina Sinser Burton, daughter-in-law Beth Sinser Buttles, stepson Nik DeDominic, and his widow Patty DeDominic.

Santa Barbara singer Lois Mahalia sang with a classical music trio, and Emiliano Campobello played flute.

An added aside to the event was the launch of the massive Delta IV heavy rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base 27 miles away, which was carrying a secret payload for the National Reconnaissance Office, with the sonic boom shaking buildings on the Wings Ranch estate eight minutes after take off.

Among the mourners and friends gathering to remember gentleman Gene were former mayor Helene Schneider, Nir Kabaretti, Nancy Gifford, Gillian Launie, Chris Lancashire, Judy Hopkinson, Diana Starr Langley, Peter and Gloria Clark, Howard Jay Smith, Patricia Dixon, Gail McMahon-Persoon, Rich Baker, George Isaac, and Tracy Beard.

From Highclere to Solvang

As Downton Abbey fans eagerly await the release of the first film on the Masterpiece series, Irish actor Allen Leech, 37, who played the chauffeur on the hugely popular TV show, tied the knot with American actress Jessica Blair Herman, 32, at the 10,000 acre Alisal Guest Ranch in Solvang.

Guests included Downton Abbey co-stars Michelle Dockery and Dan Stevens, and his Bohemian Rhapsody co-star Rami Malek, while Glee‘s Lea Michele and Darren Criss performed at the reception.

Leech played singer Freddie Mercury’s manager in the recent Queen biopic.

The ceremony, at which the bride wore a gown by Monique Lhuillier and the groom wore a Giorgio Armani suit, was officiated by Jessica’s mother.

Lowe Carb Life

Montecito actor Rob Lowe, 54, has been enlisted by Atkins Nutritionals as a brand spokesman for a multi million dollar TV and print campaign.

The Denver, Colorado, based company, a leader in low carb nutrition, has signed up Rob, who has been nominated for six Golden Globes and received two SAG awards, to represent the benefits of a low carbs lifestyle, which he has followed for many years.

“Life is too short to eat a bad protein bar, and Atkins has great tasting bars and shakes that satisfy my sweet tooth,” says Rob, who is currently starring in a U.K. TV series, Wild Bill.

And his bank account it would appear.

Ghostbuster Gang Returns

It looks like they found the Reit-man for the job.

Jason Reitman, 41, who won a Golden Globe and received four Oscar nominations, is to helm a new Ghostbusters sequel to the original film, which his Montecito-based father Ivan, 72, directed.

The project, due in the summer of 2020, will be a continuation of the 1984 movie and its 1989 sequel.

Dan Akroyd, Bill Murray, and Ernie Hudson will be reprising their roles.

Ivan, who has worked on several films, will produce.

The Good Ol’ Days

Oscar winning actress Natalie Portman says she was lucky enough to attend Harvard University before social media hit.

The Montecito newcomer, 37, attended the historic Cambridge, Massachusetts, college from 1999 to 2003, the same time as another famous alumni, Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook.

Reflecting on her time there, Natalie revealed she’s grateful for having been able “to go about her business without it being documented.”

She tells People missing Facebook was “really lucky. It’s good to make mistakes and do stupid things when you’re a teenager and young adult and not have it haunt you forever.

“I got in just under the wire. Thank you Mark Zuckerberg for being very young.”

Goop Lands in London

Montecito actress Gwyneth Paltrow‘s pop-up London Goop store is set to become a permanent feature.

The sprawling lifestyle and wellness emporium in oh-so exclusive Notting Hill is stocked with carefully curated skincare, homeware, health supplements, clothing, and accessories – all with a distinctly Goop twist.

Opened in September as a pop-pop venture, it was due to close this month, but will now remain open indefinitely, according to reports.

The shop, with floor to ceiling windows, is decked out in plush velvet and a strategically placed chaise longue.

Gwyneth launched Goop in 2008 as a weekly newsletter offering fans lifestyle recommendation. Now, a year after its tenth birthday, the company is a huge empire worth $250 million, according to The New York Times.

Love is Bloom-ing

This month marks three years since Santa Barbara warbler Katy Perry was first romantically linked to English actor beau Orlando Bloom when the tony twosome were spotted flirting at a Golden Globes party in Beverly Hills.

And former Dos Pueblos High student Katy, 34, has paid tribute to The Lord of the Rings star in a gushing post, branding him the “kindest and cutest” man in her life as she celebrated his 42nd birthday.

Taking to her Instagram account, the “Roar” singer uploaded a snap of Orlando posing by a swimming pool, writing: “Happiest 42nd birthday to the kindest and cutest man I’ve had the pleasure of spending time with.”

Can wedding bells be far behind?

Goodbye Dolly!

On a personal note, I mark the passing of the irrepressible actress Carol Channing, just short of her 98th birthday.

Channing, who won over audiences with her giddy, guileless charm in trademark roles in Hello Dolly and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, died after multiple strokes at her home in Rancho Mirage.

In a career that spanned several decades, the saucer-eyed, raspy voiced musical comedy star never shook her association with matchmaker Dolly Levi from the 1964 Broadway musical Hello Dolly, a role she played more than 5,000 times and won her a Tony Award.

I last saw her perform at San Francisco’s Curran Theatre in 1978 and enjoyed a memorable evening with her afterwards at a colorful reception in the Redwood Room at the Clift Hotel.

A helluva of a gal!

Sightings: Warbler Katy Perry shopping at Lazy Acres… Singer Brad Paisley and family noshing at Olio Pizzeria… Vocalist Michael McDonald at the Farmer Boy restaurant on State Street


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