Anna Hesse – 54 (27 when the comet hit). Veena’s mother. Before the comet hit, she was in residency at St. Mary-Corwin Hospital in Pueblo, Colorado. She studied to be an internist and vascular surgeon. Her goal was to move the family to Houston and join top teams in cardiovascular surgery. Her neighbor and friend, Rita Ruiz, had similar interests in medicine, as she was a biomedical researcher specializing in stem cell biogenetic medicine. Years after they survived the comet, Anna knew someone needed to take over her role as medical practitioner. So she handed down her skills and knowledge to her daughter Veena. In those first dark days after the comet struck, Anna began an evening meditation for the clan. The meditation began as a survival technique to help deal with the loneliness and claustrophobia. Later it became a tradition as important to the clan as harvesting food and water. It became the bedrock of their spiritual lives. It was also a powerful tool for dealing with interpersonal conflicts. It offered perspective when all else seemed to fail.
Lisa began her theatrical career starring as ‘Wendla’ in SPRING’S AWAKENING at the Circle Repertory Theatre in New York City. She made her television debut as the ingénue in the Hallmark Hall of Fame production of THE COUNTRY GIRL with Jason Robards and Shirley Knight. Her feature film debut was as the young ‘Julia’ in Fred Zinnemann’s JULIA sharing the title role with Vanessa Redgrave.
Lisa’s most recent theatrical venture on the New York stage was the original play, PANACHE, which elicited great critical response, notably from the New York Times who raved over “the tight new screwball comedy, clever writing, sparkling direction,” particularly lauding Pelikan’s character of Mrs. Trafalgar as “a pampered self which slowly dissolves into someone with spirit.” Other reviews said, “Lisa Pelikan, whose obvious gift for comedy recreates a Judy Holiday mind, couched in the porcelain beauty of Deborah Kerr;” “Pelikan, abetted by the playwright’s concept, is a delight as she turns this character into an original;” “…she pulls out the real substance underneath. She makes you feel her pain.” For this role she won an ADA award (Artistic Directors Award) as Best Actress In A Comedy.
Lisa’s acting talent ranges from the comedic to the tragic, having also starred in the world premiere of ONLY A BROKEN STRING OF PEARLS, a one woman play about Zelda Fitzgerald. For her portrayal of the beautiful and tormented Zelda, Lisa won a Drama-Logue Award as well as glowing reviews from Los Angeles critics who raved: “Pelikan’s performance is brimming with compassion and sympathy;” “She provides incandescence, moving with ease, painting a richly layered portrait of a gallant doomed woman;” ” A dynamic solo tour de force.” “Pelikan’s performance is a personal triumph” and “There’s something extraordinary in the way Pelikan’s delicate face transforms from a youthful glow to world wariness with just a turn of her head.”
With credits and awards in theater, television and film under her acting belt, it is amazing to learn that it was just a twist of fate that brought Lisa to an acting career in the first place. Although she had been seriously interested in dancing and art from an early age, surgery in high school cut short all possibilities of a career in dance. Lisa was leaning toward a career in math or science when, on a dare, she applied to The Juilliard School of Drama. On the basis of her very first audition, she was not only accepted, but offered a full scholarship. The die was cast and it’s been acting for Lisa ever since.
The fourth day after she had moved to New York City, she was spotted by an agent who was taken with her delicate beauty, her auburn hair and porcelain skin. During her first year at school, Lisa was cast in the Hallmark Hall of Fame’s production of THE COUNTRY GIRL starring Jason Robards, Shirley Knight and George Grizzard. Juilliard forbids students working before graduation, but the late John Houseman, then school director, became Lisa’s biggest supporter and mentor, and allowed Lisa to juggle classes and acting jobs for the first two years.
Her film debut came when she was cast as the young “Julia” in the acclaimed film, JULIA, sharing the title role with Vanessa Redgrave. On working with the renowned director, Fred Zinnemann, Lisa relates, “That was a magical entry into the world of filmmaking. Mr. Zinnemann took me under his wing when he saw how much I wanted to learn, not only about acting, but about the entire process of filmmaking. He made me feel that my ideas were important, and he actually listened to what I had to say. It was a very special time.”
Lisa’s background also includes such theatrical films as RETURN TO THE BLUE LAGOON and LIONHEART. For the film JENNIFER, Lisa received a Best Actress award from the International Science Fiction & Horror Film Festival. TV movies include PERFECT GENTLEMAN, with Lauren Bacall, ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS, as well as the miniseries THE LAST CONVERTIBLE and STUDS LONIGAN.
She has starred in many World Premiere stage productions including Arthur Miller’s THE AMERICAN CLOCK, and Jim Leonard’s THE DIVINERS. Other theater credits include the New York Circle Repertory Theatre’s SPRING’S AWAKENING, the west coast premiere of Craig Lucas’ and Norman Rene’s BLUE WINDOW, and Des McAnuff’s production of TWELFTH NIGHT.
As a child, Lisa was raised in Italy and Japan where her father was the financial attaché for the US government, and her mother was a prominent psychologist. She endured the trauma of being raised with the name ‘Pelikan’ which is always misspelled as ‘Lisa Pelican’, ‘Lisa Pelligan’, ‘Lisa Pelian’, ‘Lisa Pellikan’, or ‘Lisa Pellican’; and having curly red hair. Now she enjoys both her red hair and her odd name.
Lisa has always had a natural affinity for the arts, but she never anticipated a career in the performing arts until fate stepped into her life.
On a more personal note, Lisa was married to Bruce Davison for 20 years and they share a son of whom they are both very proud.