The North Bend Eagle


Helgenberger moving on, leaving CSI

by Mary Le Arneal
Published 1/25/12

North Bend native Marg Helgenberger has been making the talk show rounds as she prepares for her final appearance on the television show CSI. Helgenberger has been one of the stars of the show since its beginning 11 1/2 years ago and is reported to be one of the highest paid actresses on TV.


StarWayne and Sue Gilson of Schuyler pose with the Hollywood Walk star of their neice, Marg Helgenberger.

“I think her decision to retire was a long time coming,” said her aunt, Sue Gilson of Schuyler. “She was getting burned out with the long days.”

Helgenberger, 53, said it was not a decision made lightly. She just felt the need to “make a change while I still had the energy, enthusiasm and curiosity to switch.”

In the past two weeks she has made appearances on CBS Sunday Morning, CBS This Morning, Kelly!Live, Entertainment Tonight and Late Night with David Letterman.
On Monday Helgenberger was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Sue and her husband, Wayne Gilson, joined other family members in California for the occasion.

Gilson, who is just 10 years older than Helgenberger, remembers her as the little girl she took to school every day, the one who got into her lipstick.

“From the time she started in plays in high school, she’s come a long way,” Gilson said. “She’s made us all proud. I know her dad (the late North Bend businessman Hugh Helgenberger,) would be proud of her. She always remembers her family, North Bend, even her time in the packing plant.”

Helgenberger was in North Bend last August to show her boyfriend, businessman Alan Finkelstein, where she grew up. She had made arrangements to meet her aunt for lunch in North Bend but it was a Sunday afternoon and there was no place open to eat.

Helgenberger, a 1977 graduate of North Bend Central, was discovered while acting in a play at Northwestern University near Chicago. She was cast in the soap opera Ryan’s Hope and then went on to China Beach where she won an Emmy. Since 2000 she has played Catherine Willow on CSI, which has proven to be one of the most widely viewed dramas in the world during its run.

In her appearances on television interview shows she frequently mentioned her hometown. On Kelly!Live the fact that her hometown named a street after her was discussed. The street post at 12th and Locust streets in North Bend still bears the honorary Helgenberger Avenue marking in front of her childhood home.

Helgenberger’s mother Kay Snyder, a former NBC school nurse, now winters in California and traveled with Marg to New York City for the taping of the shows and was shown waving on Kelly!Live.

Monday evening Gilson reported that they had a rainy day for the Hollywood Walk unveiling ceremony, but said it was a great experience.

The half-hour ceremony included talks by Dana Delany, Helgenberger’s co-star from China Beach and Georgia Fox, a CSI co-star and Helgenberger herself. Gilson said that there were lots of cast and production workers from CSI and the stage manager from her Ryan’s Hope days. A reception followed at Helgenberger’s home.

In spite of all her fame and stars, Gilson will still see Marg Helgenberger as the little girl she took to school and babysat for.

“She’s worked hard for everything she got,” her aunt said. “She had her good Nebraska work ethic.”

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