January 22, 2011
During a diverse and multi-talented career, Catherine Hickland has been successful at everything she's tried - actress, singer, author, cosmetics entrepreneur and hypnotist. Many celebrities would be spoiled by such success. Hickland is not your typical celebrity. The kids at Annville-Cleona High School know this. Without any fanfare, Hickland came to A-C a few years ago to discuss her book about relationships and to lead a writing assignment. She's coming back to Annville on Thursday, Feb. 17, to perform her comedy hypnosis show. And she won't be collecting a paycheck. All proceeds will go to the favorite charity of A-C students: the Four Diamonds Fund for children cancer patients. Ryan Clements, an English and journalism teacher at Annville-Cleona High School, is Hickland's local connection. Clements and the actress have been friends for about five years after meeting at a charitable event in New York City. "She is so down to earth that you wouldn't believe it," Clements said. Hickland, 54 years old with movie-star looks and long blond hair, is probably best known for two things - portraying Lindsay Rappaport on the soap "One Life to Live," and being married to actor David Hasselhoff of "Knight Rider" and "Baywatch" fame in the 1980s (they divorced in 1989). She also guest-starred on three "Knight Rider" episodes. She should be known for a third - giving back. She works closely with at least a half-dozen charities, giving her time to raise money and awareness. "She does a Christmas party for women who were homeless and now are getting back on their feet, each year in New York City," Clements said. "I've been helping her with this ever since." In an e-mail interview, Hickland said that her show, aside from the entertainment value, has an important message for teens. "First and foremost, I want to entertain them," she said. "I want to demonstrate to them the power of their own minds, their imaginations, and why dreaming is so important and what incredible things can happen when they are willing to back it up with action. "Your mind and the way you use it is everything. Everything begins and ends in the mind; always remember that. You are in control, or you are not. What's it going to be? You can create just about anything you set your mind to, and that is exactly what I mean, it is a mind-set. Learning to manage emotions and thoughts can change a life exponentially." Hickland even taped a video about her show personalized for A-C students, and wrote a letter to A-C parents. In the letter, she says, "My show is clean, inspiring and family-friendly. ... I designed this program especially for your high school to empower your teens and to teach them how important it is to carefully choose words, to show random acts of kindness, and to use their special powers for good." Clements said he and Hickland have been planning the show for months. "Over the summer we were talking about how we could do this comedy hypnotic show as a fundraiser," Clements said, "and we decided that the show here would kind of be a model (for teenagers). She is creating a special show for the Annville-Cleona kids." In her hypnosis show, Hickland puts people "under," often with hilarious results. Clips of her shows are popular on YouTube, where you can see a hypnotized subject dancing around the stage, convinced he's Lord of the Dance, and another strutting around because she believes she's Christina Aguilera. "It is always fun to see people forget their inhibitions and let go and have fun," Hickland said, "and you only see that in a hypnosis stage show. And oddly, most people have never seen one. I have a deep passion for the art and science of hypnosis, and I'm very respectful of the people who volunteer, to create sort of a safety net for them. It is all about trust and letting go." Hickland said her fascination with hypnosis started at an early age. "I saw a stage hypnotist named Pat Collins, 'The Hip Hypnotist,' when I was these kids' age, and it blew the doors off my mind," she said. "I knew then and there I wanted to understand life, how it works, and how I could use the power of my subconscious mind to create a life I could only otherwise dream about. "I went to several different schools to learn hypnosis, and eventually found a mentor who was the tipping point and inspired me to become really good at it. Hypnosis is fascinating, even to me. Every time I do a show, it blows my mind to see what the subconscious comes up with. I am laughing hysterically inside. People are so precious." In addition to her stage show, Hickland is also a certified personal hypnotist who helps clients with problems such as smoking, weight and relationships. It's part of her genuine personality that she wants to share with young people. "First, I believe that life is supposed to be joyful and fun, and it is up to us whether that is going to be our truth. I have more fun than anyone I know and I want to share it," she said. "God has given me so many gifts, and I intend to use every one of them. When you put God first, it is humbling, and it's easier to understand that we are all truly connected. "If I see someone who needs help, and I can do that without hurting myself, then I do it," she said. "Now that being said, boundaries are important, and I expect to get the respect I give, and if that is not forthcoming, I alter the relationships. This is part of my program, and very important to teach the young people of today. It's hugely important to understand what respect is, and more important, to learn the art of giving." Annville-Cleona students know this lesson well. They've been raising money for Four Diamonds for 11 years, and the major fundraiser, the overnight Mini-Thon, netted $40,000 last year. "The students at Annville-Cleona High School are masters of it, because the school has teachers of not only curriculum but also of life," Hickland said. "Especially Ryan Clements. He is an out-of-the-box thinker, which is why I am performing there." firstname.lastname@example.org; 272-5611, ext. 155.