Decades after leaving Dayton for New York, the thought of Ashley’s Pastry Shop’s sand tart and pizza from The Flying Pizza conjure up happy memories for one of Hollywood’s most respected leading ladies.
“I used to go there all the time right before I went to the Dayton Ballet (in downtown Dayton),” seven-time Emmy winner Allison Janney told us in a phone interview. “I would get on the bus from Miami Valley School and get my Sicilian slice and then go to ballet class.”
The Oakwood-raised movie and television star joined a long list of Dayton innovators when she was inducted into the Dayton Region’s Walk of Fame on Sept. 28, 2018, at Sinclair Community College in downtown Dayton.
Her class includes Oscar Boonshoft and Marjorie Boonshoft; Brigadier General Benjamin O. Davis Sr.; Cathy Guisewite; David L. Hobson and Shawnee Chief Tecumseh.
The star of CBS’ “Mom” told us she is excited to join the distinguished list of entertainers and other luminaries already on the walk.
Stones honoring inductees are on West Third Street in the Wright Dunbar Historic Business District between Broadway and Shannon and along Williams Street.
“I am proud to be from Dayton,” she said. “I am really happy that I will be forever part of Dayton on the Walk of Fame and at the Miami Valley School, where I started my whole education and I learned about theater.”
Janney was featured as our Daytonian of the Week on Sept. 27, 2018.
LIFE IN DAYTON
Janney, still a supporter of Miami Valley School in Washington Twp., recalled her first job as a bus girl at the former Holland House restaurant.
She later sold handbags and hosiery at now-closed Rike’s department store in downtown Dayton.
Her first role on stage was Noah Claypole in “Oliver Twist” at Miami Valley School, where she started honing her singing voice.
She left the school after her ninth-grade year to attend boarding school at the Hotchkiss School in Connecticut.
A star of the black “dramedy” “I, Tonya” about figure skater Tonya Harding, Janney suffered a serious leg injury at a high school party in Oakwood after high school graduation.
Party-goers were planning a balloon game…
“Someone stepped on the back of my dress and it ripped, and I was afraid I was going to expose myself in front of the whole party so I ran inside and hit the plate glass,” the once aspiring figure skater remembered.
Janney was forced to take a year off between high school and college as a result of her injury.
She said there was a positive though.
“It was a horrible accident, but I got to be at home for another year,” she said. “When you are going to college, you don’t think about the fact that you are never going to be home again. I got to appreciate being at home and being taken care of by my mom and dad.”
The graduate of Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, said she doesn’t get home to Dayton often, but loves it when she does.
“My mom and dad are still there,” she said during a phone call. “My mom is in charge of my social calendar.”
She called Macy Janney, an actress herself, the best mother on the planet and a force of nature “in the Dayton community, and especially the arts.”
“She has a lot of great friends in Dayton, and I have a lot of friends in Dayton,” she said.
As for Dayton food?
“Just in terms of eating, I like to go to The Pine Club, and I love to go to The Moraine (Country) Club with my mom and dad, and I love to go to Ashley’s pastries and get my sand tarts.”
Ashley’s Pastry Shop in Oakwood offers a wide variety of traditional and specialty pastries, pies and other treats.
ABOUT THOSE COOKIES
Janney often treats her crew on “Mom” to her favorite Ashley’s cookies.
“For a while, they thought that I had baked them. I say ‘no, they are from my favorite bakery in Dayton, Ohio,’ ” she said. “They are absolutely delicious. They are like a delicious snickerdoodle with a meringue on top. They are soft and moist and chewy and so good. My mother used to have them in the house when I was growing up. They remind me of my childhood.”
Janney, one of three children born to Macy and Jervis Janney, said she was privileged to grow up with a strong mother and was inspired watching people like Faye Wattleton, the former president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
Wattleton started working for reproductive rights in Dayton and eventually became the president of Planned Parenthood.
“I watched some pretty great women,” she said.
She urges Dayton-area residents to let politicians hear their voices.
These days, Janney is using her celebrity partly to draw attention to the opioid addiction epidemic.
She said she is honored to be on a show whose characters are battling addiction.
She has spoken publicly about her brother Henry “Hal” Janney. He died of suicide in 2011 after struggling with addiction for much of his life.
Janney and Anna Faris, her “Mom” co-star, partnered with former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek H. Murthy for an addiction campaign.
She and “Mom” co-creator Chuck Lorre were part of a roundtable with the surgeon general last year.
The Emmy-winner and Tony and Golden Globe award nominated actress said she loves meeting fellow Buckeyes.
“We are salt of the Earth. We are the people who are grounded and know what’s important about life and know that treating people with respect and kindness (is important),” she said. “I’ve always felt that the people I’ve met from Dayton are great people.”
Janney said she was blown away to work with fellow Daytonians Martin Sheen and Rob Lowe on “The West Wing.” Janney played Dayton native C.J. Cregg.
The fact that I would go and work on my first big television show with two other people from Dayton, Ohio is just crazy, she said. “It is lightning in the bottle,” she said. “Dayton spawns great people.”
Janney said she knows where she will put her Dayton Walk of Fame plaque — right next to her Emmys and Screen Actors Guild awards and other honors.
Her long list of films includes roles in “The Help,” “Drop Dead Gorgeous,” “Hairspray,” “American Beauty,” “The Girl on the Train,” “The Hours,” “Finding Nemo,” “Big Night” and “Juno.”
Roles didn’t always come easily to Janney, who is 6 feet tall.
“I think I just had to be persistent because of my height,” she said. “I didn’t really start working until I was 38. I had to wait and for a long time. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. I wasn’t really getting paid a lot of money to act, and my family was really generous and helped me stay afloat. I am so grateful now that I can return the favor.”
Janney said she hopes that her hometown can continue to revitalize itself.
“I am hoping it can grow back up to a vital city with great arts and education and sports,” she said. “I just love seeing that new riverfront area down there. It is gorgeous. It would be great to see (Dayton) be a destination for people to want to come and live.”