Helen Henny was the original guest star that went on to become one of the permanant cast members. Helen has been one of the most versitile guests, having been the only character to appear in both the cabaret and on the main stage. She has also undergone some of the biggest character changes through the years. During the 1990s, Helen's character received even more prominence as she began to be marketed toward young girls, appearing on more merchandise than any character other than Chuck E. Cheese.
Helen Henny was the very first guest star, having appeared in 1977 while Pizza Time Theatre was still owned by Atari. She again appeared in November, 1978 at the opening of Pizza Time Theatre's second store on Kooser Rd, where she was simply described as "direct from a triumphal tour of Madagascar"1. The concept for Helen Henny was a loose parody of the famous singer Helen Reddy, as the idea for the earliest guests was to base them on famous stars2 such as the concept-characters "Elkton John" and "Glen Camel" mentioned in the original Pizza Time Theatre Program3. In Helen's first appearance, she played a guitar and looked much more like a goose than a chicken.
Shortly after her debut on the main stage, Helen appeared in the Cabaret Lounge as the "Hollywood Chicken"4. Not much is known about her time in the Cabaret, other than details that can be seen from this photo, where she is sitting on her luggage, performing outside of "Eggstravagant Motion Pictures". One of Helen's earliest showtapes was voiced by Paula Mulcahy, who was better known as the voice of Madame Oink5.
If you have any further information about Helen Helen from the late 1970s - please contact us!
Helen Henny made her return to the stage in 1983, appearing as "Broadway" Helen Henny6. Wardrobe supervisor Kathy Hopp and cosmetic designer Jul Kamen were given the task of updating Helen for her return - a preliminary draft of Helen's redesign can be seen here in Kathy Hopp's concept art. Upon her 1983 return, Helen was voiced by Nancy Lenihan, who protrayed Helen in a boisterous fashion with a constant intermittent clucking.
Shortly following Helen's reintroduction, Pizza Time Theatre began to find themselves in financial trouble which eventually culminated in a bankruptcy a few months later. During this time of financial troubles, many aspects of the company's operation were slowed down considerably, including extraneous expenses such as the creation of new characters. A few cheaper alternatives were attepmted to keep the show looking fresh, such as the Bandstand character outfits, yet the introduction of new guest stars became a thing of the past. When ShowBiz Pizza Place took control of Pizza Time Theatre, Helen survived almost by default, since she just happened to be the current guest already installed in all locations.
The 2000s - Today
1 - 1978 Kooser Store Opening Promotional Materials
2 - SP.com Correspondence with Harold Goldbrandsen
3 - 1977 Pizza Time Theatre Program
4 - 1979/1980 Pizza Time Theatre Program (CA Stores)
5 - SP.com correspondence with Paula Mulcahy-Keane
6 - The Pizza Times - Vol 3, Issue 2 (Page 4)