In Memory

Barbara 'Christie' Thomas (Palmer) - Class Of 1940

Barbara 'Christie' Thomas (Palmer)

Christie Palmer, came to Hollywood as a star-struck young woman in the 1940's, but she never outgrew it. She turned being star-struck into a delightful career as well as a way to give to her community. She worked as a personal assistant and/or publicist to actors such as Lee Meriwether, Eva Gabor, Pamela Mason, Ed McMahon, Susan Oliver, Jackie Joseph, Joe Campanella, and Russ Alexander. She also collected a large group of celebrity friends and acquaintances whom she could call on to make personal appearances for charity events sponsored by her clubs such as Girls Friday of Show Business (now Women in Show Business) and PIRATES, and for the Crippled Children's Society (now Ability First, 1300 Green Street, Pasadena, CA 91106) where she was Public Relations Director for 19 years. She helped run the annual "Worlds Greatest Working Truck Show" which involved celebrities driving 18-wheelers in competition. She was known for her collection of private phone numbers which she promised "even my boss can't see", and enjoyed recounting the story of an event (which she had organized) where Cesar Romero announced to the audience "When Christie Palmer calls, you don't say no." Other employers included SAG, Arthur Murray, Gene Lesser, and the Campbell-Ewald Agency. In the 1960's she ran a florist shop on Catalina Island. For cable television she produced and hosted talk shows "Hope for the Handicapped" where she interviewed celebrities to raise funds for the Crippled Children's Society, and "Christie Palmer's Hollywood" where she spotlighted "the nicer, kinder side of Hollywood."

Palmer was a graduate of South Pasadena High School and Pasadena Junior College. She lived most of her life in and around Hollywood, but returned in 2004 to Pasadena Highlands retirement community. She died of lung cancer on July 24, 2006 at the nursing home of the Motion Picture and Television Fund in Woodland Hills. She was 83 years old. Her first husband (divorced) was writer and attorney Walter Ames . Her second husband (divorced, now deceased) was Franklin James, an actor ("The Lieutenant Wore Skirts"), and together they started KSPA (AM 1400) in Santa Paula, one of the nation's first all-Spanish language radio stations. Her son Adam Lightplay, formerly Donald James, is an actor ("Going All the Way"), comedian, and videographer ("Aimee Semple McPherson"). She is also survived by her daughter Laura Franklin Stewart and granddaughter Kayla Erin James. 

Pasadena Star-News, August 5, 2006