Everybody’s had an Eric Stonestreet in their lives. He was the guy who wasn’t the high school quarterback; he wasn’t the valedictorian, but he was the fellow who always seemed to have a shoulder to cry on and as he gave you a hug, he made a comment that made you laugh. He also always had time for you.
But Eric was also someone who, despite the chipper and compassionate attitude, knew the pain a family experiences when a loved one undergoes the battle with cancer; he appreciates the importance that doctors and nurses (his girlfriend Lindsay Schweitzer is a pediatric nurse) play in supporting cancer patients; and he sees being a cheerleader for funding cancer research and treatment as a calling.
In his discussion with Baylor Health Care System Foundation President Robin Robinson at the 2018 Celebrating Women Luncheon on Thursday, October 25, at the Anatole, the 6’1″ Cam of the hit show “Modern Family” showed his true colors, admitting he was a guy who cried recalling poignant moments like his folks supporting his childhood interests that ranged from karate to donning makeup to being a clown.
But before Eric joined the 900 in the Chantilly Ballroom that included Luncheon Chair Pat McEvoy, Underwriting Chair Shelle Sills, Lindalyn Adams Awardee Karla McKinley, Honorary Co-Chairs Christi Urschel and her mom Linda Carter, Celebrating Women Luncheon Founder Lindalyn Adams, Kristen and Baylor Scott And White Health CEO Jim Hinton, Connie Yates, Debbie Robinson, Claire Emanuelson, Lisa Cooley, Ciara Cooley, Bela Cooley, Aileen Pratt, Pam Perella, Gretchen Minyard Williams, Randi Halsell, Tiffany Divis, Jill Rowlett, Muffin Lemak, Shelby Wagner, Lyda Hill, Michael Sills, Danielle Giglio, Tucean Webb, and Tucker Enthoven, Eric was the center of attention for the meet-and-greet in the Peacock Terrace. He made it a point to talk with everyone including Celebrating Women Luncheon Founder Lindalyn Adams, who impressed him with the fact that she had run 25 marathons. Later Eric would tell folks that he loved being here because we all smelled so good, looked great and had great shoes.
Missing from the scene was Luncheon Co-Chair Michal Powell, who was in Colorado for her daughter’s wedding.
Due to the chill of the day, Nancy Rogers arrived in a Fendi coat with matching skintight Fendi boots (“I nearly ripped off my nails getting them on”) and expectant mom Nasiba Hartland-Mackie and Jessica Nowitzki entered the Terrace in matching white trench coats just as the reception was closing down.
Highlights of Eric’s conversation included
- The day’s theme “We’re in It Together — “It takes a whole group of people to support someone going through their new reality. It also says that we have to support the oncology nurses and the other family members and doctors because they’re dealing with it every day. My mom was diagnosed 16… 17 years ago with kidney cancer.” In dealing with the kidney cancer, they discovered that she also had uterine cancer. She had that taken care of … Eric’s message has been humor accompanied by hope. He has been involved with Bristol Meyers Squibb’s “Stand Up To Cancer” as well as the University of Kansas Health System, “I know how good doctors are and I now how much you are on the front line, Dr. (Joyce) O’Shaughnessy… Cancer is a bad word. It can be absolutely can be a terrible, horrible, awful word, but it’s not the same word it was five years ago, or the same word it was ten years ago. Four years ago my grandma was diagnosed with lung cancer. It’s changed a lot. That’s my message. So, I hope they do it in a compassionate and fun way.”
- Heroes — The oncology nurses, who are on the frontline every day in the battle against cancer.
- Immunology research — “It’s very exciting. Targeted cancer therapies are the buzz word and it’s important for people to know that it is exciting. But it doesn’t work for every type of cancer.” He pointed out that at least there is an option and there are a lot of exciting things happening in the battle against cancer.
- Ed O’Neill — “He sets the tone. He’s a regular guy… a football playing guy from Pittsburgh and Ohio. All he wants to do is drink a bottle of wine, put something in the a crock pot and watch MMA.”
- Sofia Vergara — “She is as beautiful and wonderful inside as outside.”
- “Modern Family” — “Everyone likes each other. No one likes me. Can you say, ‘a–hole’ in Dallas?”
- Favorite actors — The late John Candy… “I love Kathy Bates. She’s one of my all time favorite actors. John Goodman is way up there on my list. There are a lot of people that I admire in life.”
- Biggest regret — Having never worked with Dennis Franz from “NYPD Blue.” He did meet him at a party before joining “Modern Family.” “I always wanted to be shoved up against a wall by him and called a turd. I finally got to meet him at a party, when I said, ‘Dennis, it’s a honor to meet you. I just think you’re a tremendous actor, one of the most important characters on TV. My biggest regret is not being a guest star on ‘NYPD Blue’ and having you shove me up against a wall.’ He said, ‘Do you want to do it now?’ I said, ‘Do you mind?’ He said, ‘Not at all. Come here.’ He takes me by the lapels and shoves me against the wall and said, ‘You turd.”
- His mother’s influence — “My mom is a very passionate person. There was a line in the pilot when I auditioned in for the show, where Cam said, ‘Oh, my god, do you love it?’ As I was reading that I just kept coming back to that line and thinking, ‘That’s so familiar to me.’ I realized it was my mom when I came home for the holidays. She gives my a shirt for Christmas or makes my favorite Christmas cookies and she says, ‘Do you love it?'”
- The secret to being Cam — “In acting the world of opposites works well. When you put the softness and the passion and the sweetness of my mom together with my physicality, it ultimately makes the character work.”
- Goal — “When ‘Modern Family’ started and I knew I would become what you all call ‘famous,’ my goal was just to never embarrass my parents.”
- Dream job — “I exceeded my dreams.” When he moved to Los Angeles, “one of my friends asked if [I] planned on being a lifeguard on ‘Baywatch.'” Eric said, “maybe as an ambulance driver or a sunburn victim on the beach.”
- Next chapter — “The idea of raising funds and awareness of things is very interesting to me. Philanthropy and raising monies for good causes is definitely on my radar.”
- First Emmy — “When I was fortunate enough to win my first Emmy, I gave it to my parents to remind them that they created the platform that allowed me to achieve the success that I have.”
- Leavenworth, Kansas — “That was where my dad’s business was, in Leavenworth. I’m from Kansas City. You tell somebody you’re from Leavenworth, they say, ‘Oh, the penitentiary?’… Every day when I went to work with my dad, we would drive by the women’s penitentiary, the men’s state penitentiary, United States Disciplinary Barracks and the Federal Penitentiary. So, basically it was the backdrop of my childhood. I would say, ‘I want to go in there.’ My dad would say, ‘The hell you do!'”
- College — He wasn’t a good student and didn’t graduate from college. “I always want to make that very clear whenever anyone asks me to speak at graduations.”
- Kansas State University Scholarship. Eric created a scholarship named after his parents (the Jamey and Vincent Stonestreet Theatre Scholarship) at Kansas State University for students who may have found their way to theater. “It’s not for theater majors. It’s for kids that aren’t theater majors.”
- In the lightning round, when asked whether preferred barbecue in Texas or Kansas, Eric countered, “This is an open-to-carry state?”
- Tina Fey was his teacher at Second City. “I had a terrific crush on her. Everyone did.”
- A bowling partner — A dying boy, who had been Eric’s bowling partner at an event on a previous visit, asked to see Eric. Eric joined the youngster and chatted with him. At one point he told the child, “You know, Robert, it’s important never to be overdressed. It’s always better to be underdressed.” Without missing a beat, Robert responded, “Eric, tell me you’re not wearing a tuxedo under that.” Eric recalled, “Here I was there to make him laugh and he made me laugh. With a catch in his throat, Eric said “We lost him four or five days later.”
For more photos of Eric and the folks at the meet-and-greet and luncheon, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.