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Celebrity Forum

Celebrating 51 Years of Celebrity Forum

4 rows of celebrity faces


At the end of the 2018-19 season, Foothill’s nationally renowned speaker series Celebrity Forum ended a noteworthy 51-year run with the closing of its home at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts at De Anza College and the retirement of founder Dick Henning.

More than 350 well-known political leaders, entertainers, explorers, writers and thinkers brought their unique perspectives to the Celebrity Forum stage, educating and entertaining community members from throughout the region.

Thanks to you, the community!

The success of the subscription series depended as much on the support of an interested and enlightened local community of lifelong learners as it did on the celebrity of the speakers. Foothill College is indebted to Dick Henning, a community icon who guided Celebrity Forum to become one of the top speaker programs in the nation, and to the program’s local subscribers, many of whom have supported Celebrity Forum for most of its years.

It has been our honor

Foothill College is honored to have been there from the beginning to support Dick Henning and Celebrity Forum, which became a place for making new friends with seatmates and at pre- and post-speaker get-togethers.

Celebrity Forum created a space for people to come together to learn about, discuss, enjoy and interact with world leaders in a variety of fields ranging from:

  • Former U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Natanyahu
  • Cellist Yo-Yo M, operatic soprano Beverly Sills and singer/songwriter Harry Belafonte to actors Carey Grant, Shirley MacLaine and Jason Alexander
  • Poet Allen Ginsberg to novelists James Baldwin, Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison and Tom Wolfe
  • Cosmologist Carl Sagan and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson to oceanographic explorer Jean-Michel Costeau, primatologist Jane Goodall and Bill Nye the Science Guy
  • Filmmakers Ken Burns and Oliver Stone to broadcast journalists Walter Cronkite and Mike Wallace and historians Doris Kearns Goodwin and David McCullough
  • Political and social activists from journalist Gloria Steinhem, psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and South African cleric Desmond Tutu to opinion leaders and commentators David Brooks, Thomas Friedman and Robert Reich.

Check out the full speakers’ list of newsmakers who have taken a turn at Celebrity Forum and read more about Dick Henning.

From the beginning

From the beginning night in January 1968, Celebrity Forum was a sell-out.

In 1967–68, Dick Henning was director of student activities at Foothill College, and he had a challenge when students coming back from Vietnam decided they didn't want the community college lumping the cost of student body cards into enrollment fees. 

Read more about how he convinced the students that the card was worth well in excess of the $20 they were paying.

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Jean McCarron