Helen Halpin McCarney, Ms. Senior America 2005
Helen Halpin McCarney, born in Boston, was raised in Milton, Massachusetts. The fifth of six children, Helen’s love of music, faith and family were forged in a musical, Irish-Catholic environment. She attended Tucker Grammar School, Milton Jr. High School and was graduated from Notre Dame Academy in Roxbury. At St. Mary’s of the Hills Parish, Helen’s father directed the choir and her mother was the soloist.
As a very young woman Helen began appearing in the top local clubs in Boston, such as Blinstrub’s. She rose quickly to the top and Barbara Walter’s father, Lou, hired Helen to play his club, The Latin Quarter, which at that time was the “number one” club in Boston. She won “Chance of a Lifetime,” which was the “American Idol” of that time. Along with the winning check, she won a week’s engagement at The Palace Theatre on Broadway. Her career flourished in New York as a promising young entertainer both in comedy and song. She continued to play upscale clubs like the Blue Angel and Bon Soir, working with Harry Belafonte, Eartha Kitt and other stars.
Helen was signed to a contract with NBC. She did a pilot film called “Oops! It’s Daisy” and co-starred all season on “The Saturday Night Review”, hosted by Hoagy Carmichael. George Gobel, Alan King, Donald O’Connor and other guest stars, made occasional appearances. Helen was tapped for a Broadway review called, “Catch A Star.” John Chapman of The Daily News headlined his review: “Catch A Star” Opens And HELEN HALPIN Stars.” She continued with her nightclub engagements such as Dangerfield’s and did several spots on the Ed Sullivan Show. She also appeared on the Jack Parr and Kate Smith T.V shows as well as the Jack Sterling Radio Show. She made T.V commercials and continued with local club dates.
After her marriage to fellow Bostonian, Frank McCarney, they lived in Long Island where they raised their three children. In 1972 their first born and only girl, Maryann, contracted a misdiagnosed Rheumatic fever which led to heart surgery and her tragic death at the early age of 18. Helen was fabulously successful with her talents in both music and comedy but walked away from her career to raise her family. She furthered her education by attending Nassau Community College and Post College in Long Island.
Helen and her husband have spent almost 40 summers on Cape Cod where she entertains regularly. In 1980 she founded Halpin Productions on Long Island performing during the day at fabulous restaurants like The Swan Club, Milleridge Inn and the Coral House, where hundreds of buses of seniors from the 5 boroughs of New York came to dance, dine and see shows.
Winning the 20th Annual Ms. New York Senior America 2005 in April helped her fulfill her idea that talent carries with it an obligation to “use it or lose it.” Her quest for the Ms. Senior America crown at the 25th Anniversary of the Ms. Senior America Pageant in Las Vegas on November 12th, 2005 resulted in a victory for her and the great State of New York. Helen hopes to continue to share her talents for singing and making people laugh.
As Helen put it "In Vegas, when I became one of the ten finalists, my heart sank with compassion as we were going off-stage and I saw other contestants seated in chairs, backstage. I took a seat next to one of the women who had not been selected as one of the 10 finalists. Staring bravely ahead, two dancers from her Cameo Club walked over to her, took her hands and gazed into her eyes for what seemed an eternity. Not a word was spoken. I thought, they must be thinking, “Win or lose, who can choose? Forget the quest, we’re all the best!” At that moment I saw true greatness. I saw a courageous contestant and true compassion from her Cameo sisters. After marching up 5th Avenue on March 17th in the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade with the newly-crowned Miss America, I realized that Senior America had made history that day. It occurred to me, also, that Miss America represents the future and Ms. Senior America, the past. I say “Bring it on. I’m just getting started.”
I was thrilled to be invited to other state Pageants throughout the country where I entertained and participated in the crowning of their new Queen. I wish the best of everything to the incoming Queen. She will find we are all family and like all families we have our differences. But, we must stick together! Today, I pledge my whole-hearted help and best wishes to the new Queen in continuing our mission. My thanks to all who have supported me, especially Al Mott, who founded Senior America and the New York Pageant who sponsored me. Most of all, I thank my family, and in particular, my husband, Frank McCarney, who has survived my excessive pre-occupation with the Pageants." 10-04-06