Thursday, April 15, 2010


Raabe, 'Wizard of Oz' Munchkin actor, dies at 94
(Source:POLLY ANDERSON, Associated Press)
Meinhardt Raabe, who played the Munchkin coroner in "The Wizard of Oz" and proclaimed in the movie that the Wicked Witch of the East was "really most sincerely dead," has died. He was 94.

His caregiver, Cindy Bosnyak, said Raabe — pronounced RAH'-bee — died Friday morning at a hospital in Orange Park, Fla. He was one of the few surviving Munchkins from the 1939 film.

Bosnyak said he complained of a sore throat at his retirement community before collapsing and going into cardiac arrest.

He was taken to Orange Park Medical Center, where he later died, she said.

"He had a headful of hair at 94 and he ... remembered everything everyday," she said. "To me he was a walking history book, very alert."

Raabe was one of the 124 Munchkins in the film classic and one of only nine who had speaking parts. He was 22 years old and a show business veteran, earning money for college as a "midget" performer, as they were called then, when the movie was shot in 1938.

Raabe portrayed the diminutive Munchkin official who solemnly pronounces the witch dead after Dorothy's farmhouse lands on her: "As coroner I must aver, I thoroughly examined her, And she's not only merely dead, she's really most sincerely dead."
His costume included a huge hat with a rolled brim, and dyed yak hair was used for his handlebar mustache and long beard.

In a 1988 Associated Press interview, he said he had no idea the movie would become a classic, because at the time of its release, it was overshadowed by "Gone With the Wind."

"It was only after CBS got the film in 1956 and used it for their promotions that it became as well known," he said.

"There is nothing in the picture that dates it," he said. "There are no old vintage cars or old vintage streetcars. ... It's a fantasy picture that will be fantasy for generations to come."
Raabe was about 3 1/2 feet tall when the movie was made. He eventually grew to about 4 1/2 feet. He toured the country for 30 years in the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile, promoting hot dogs as "Little Oscar, the World's Smallest Chef."
He also enjoyed going to Oz nostalgia events and getting fan mail.

"It's an ego trip," he said. "This is our reward, the nostalgia."

In 2005, his book "Memories of a Munchkin: An Illustrated Walk Down the Yellow Brick Road," co-written by Daniel Kinske, was published. In later years, he lived in a retirement community in Penney Farms, Fla.
In 2007, Raabe was one of seven surviving Munchkins on hand when the Munchkins were honored in Los Angeles with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Raabe said he couldn't remember what he was paid for his role in the movie, but that it was very low.

"By today's standards, people would say you were crazy to work for that," he said.
Raabe, born in Watertown, Wis., in 1915, was a member of the Midget City cast at the Chicago World's Fair in 1934. He also performed at other fairs, including the San Diego Exposition in 1935.

"By working at these world's fairs as a midget, I was able to work my way through the university," Raabe said. He earned a bachelor's degree in accounting from the University of Wisconsin and, years later, a master's degree in business administration from Drexel University.

Raabe married Marie Hartline, who worked for a vaudeville show called Rose's Royal Midget Troupe, in 1946.
She died in a car crash in 1997.

Raabe said some little people resented the word "midget," but that was the description widely used when he was in show business.
"My wife and I were both in show business, were both midgets. My wife worked from 1929 to 1932 as a member of Rose's Royal Midgets, the largest midget troupe in vaudeville," he said.
Raabe became a regular visitor to the annual OzFest in Chittenango, N.Y., the birthplace of "Oz" author L. Frank Baum, after reading about it in a magazine in the late 1980s.

"Meinhardt wrote us a letter and said, `You know I'm a Munchkin. I was in this movie.
Would you ever be interested in having me come.' Of course, after we stopped screaming ...," organizer Barbara Evans said in 1998.

"Things didn't start to get really big until Meinhardt first came and we started getting the Munchkins to come," said Evans.


Associated Press writer Daniel Yee in Atlanta contributed to this report.

An Evening With Lee Roy Reams at the Castle

The theatrical definition of a triple threat is someone who can act, sing and dance,
but Lee Roy Reams takes this definition to even greater heights by not only being a
great performer, but director and choreographer as well. Last night's performance
of “An Evening with Lee Roy Reams” at Cabaret at the Castle in Los Angeles was
extremely well received by an audience that included MaryJo Catlett, JoAnne Worley,
Nancy Dussault, Sterling Clark, Bonnie Franklin, Rita McKenzie, Karen Morrow, Tony
Charmoli, Carol DeLuise, Carole Cook, Carol Lawrence, Telly Leuoug, Jane Kean,
Charlotte Rae, and Alison Arngrim, to name only a few. A portion of the proceeds
from this engagement will benefit the Sealed With A Wish Foundation, Inc.

Broadway has produced some of the greatest talents the world has ever known and in
this, slightly over an hour, performance given by Lee Roy Reams, we are reminded
that occasionally there are those remarkable individuals who raised the theatrical
(Lee Roy Reams, pictured here with Stewart F. Lane)

With the incomparable talents of Ron Abel on piano, Mr. Reams launched the evening's
festivities with his own theatrical anthem, “Lullaby of Broadway,” then dedicated
Irving Berlin's “Pretty Women” to “… all of the lovely ladies in the room … and
those under suspicion.” He shared memories and anecdotes from the stage with an
appreciative audience about all the leading ladies he has had the privilege of
working with, an impressive list second only to Jerry Herman, including Juliet
Prowse, Gwen Verdon, Carol Channing, Pearl Bailey, Carol Burnett, Lauren Bacall,
Carole Cook, Ethel Merman, Ruby Keeler and many more. Of particular interest, were
the images he shared from a childhood spent in Covington, KY.

Considering Mr. Reams has one the greatest resumes in Broadway history, which
includes 10 Broadway hits, he could have easily kept patrons entertained for hours
longer. Most recently, Mr. Reams won critical acclaim as Roger DeBris in the First
National Tour of Mel Brooks' musical hit, The Producers as well as Lumiere in
Disney's Beauty and the Beast. Many fondly remember his role(s) of Albin/ZaZa in La
Cage Aux Folles, Cornelius Hackl in Hello Dolly! and Henry Spofford in Lorelei (both
starring Carol Channing). As if that weren't enough there was his appearance as
Duane Fox in Applause starring Lauren Bacall, Will Parker in Richard Rodgers'
revival of Oklahoma! Bob Fosse's Sweet Charity starring Gwen Verdon, An Evening With
Jerry Herman and, of course, his TONY nominated role of Billy Lawlor in “42nd

The Magic Castle is the world's most famous club for magicians and magic enthusiasts
and home to The Academy of Magical Arts, Inc. Know worldwide as THE showplace for
some of the greatest magicians from around the globe, its latest artistic
contribution, the Cabaret at the Castle has become THE cabaret stage to appear and
whose recent performers have included, Carol Channing, Florence Henderson, JoAnne
Worley, Jason Graae, Ilene Graff, Rachel York and the recent addition of the popular
New York hit Cast Party with Jim Caruso and Billy Stritch once a month.

Scheduled to appear in the next two months are the “Kitten With a Quip” girl
herself, Ms. Shelly Goldstein, in ONE FINE DAY: THE GROOVY GIRLS OF THE 60s on
Sunday, April 18th; MAGIC WITH MIRANDA SINGS starring Colleen Ballinger and magician
Chris Ballinger on Monday, April 19th, Kathryn Crosby's one woman show (Date TBA)
and the master mimic himself, Rich Little, on Sunday, May 23rd. Call 323-851-3313
x434 or email for tickets or more information.

Networking Events and Actor Etiquette
Do’s and Don’ts at a Professional Mixer

(SOURCE: Sean Pratt)
Your behavior when attending an opening night celebration, awards show or cocktail party, can have a definite impact on your career.

We’ve all been to the actor’s party after a show at a cast member’s house. Actors cluster together to gossip, talk shop and commiserate about their careers. And while these gatherings are an important way to stay in touch, blow off steam and perhaps meet new people, they are definitely informal in nature. Unfortunately, many actors fail to realize that while their behavior at those parties can be free and easy their conduct at professional networking events needs to be a bit more serious…and sober. Many actors end up embarrassing themselves and leaving behind a bad impression as a result. Let’s look at your preparation for and arrival to the event and go over some do’s and don’ts.

“Networking” is the act of meeting people who can help you professionally; of trading information and access with an eye on finding work or meeting other people through a certain contact. These extended groups of people who have similar interests as you are there to interact with and remain in informal contact for mutual aid and support. That said, events that are setup specifically for industry professionals to network (e.g. – opening night celebrations, union gatherings or cocktail parties, etc.) require a certain kind of etiquette from those attending.
Ground Rules

Since these events are formal or semi-formal in nature and will have a mix of people there who work in different aspects of the industry, it is important to know the proper protocol. Take a look at these suggestions and use them when appropriate.
Before the Event

* If you can, find out who is going to be attending the event. If a certain director, playwright, producer or agent will be there go online and find out what they’ve working on at present. Now you’ll have the perfect icebreaker when you introduce yourself.
* Find out how formal, or informal, the event will be and dress accordingly. It’s tacky showing up under or overdressed at a function and since you’re not J Lo don’t try wearing the one-piece cat suit.
* Be sure to have plenty of business cards with you as well as some extra blank cards in case the other person forgot theirs.
Don’t worry about bringing copies of your DVD reel, audio demo or Comp Card. You can send them later and anyhow, you don’t want to burden the other person with carrying these things around for the rest of the night. If they want them, you can include these things with your follow-up letter, which should also have, if possible, a review sheet, flyer, etc., with it as well.

Arriving At the Event

* Be sure to arrive on time as you don’t know how long the people you want to meet with will be staying. Carefully peruse the guest list or name tags to see who will be attending and pick three or four people to meet during the event.
* Now is the time to screw your courage to the sticking placeand be the one who introduces yourself first. The other person will appreciate your moxie; after all, that’s why you’re there in the first place! Rehearse using your full name and a short description of who you are and why you’re there; “Hi Gus, I’m Sean Pratt. I’m an actor from New York City and I’ve just relocated here to Washington, DC. I’m trying to get a feel for what the theatre scene here is like. I understand that you’re the Associate Artistic Director at Theatre X. How has your season gone so far?”
* Now here’s a tough one…especially for actors. One of the best ways to have a networking conversation is to ask questions and then actually listen to what the other person says! Your ratio of listening to talking should be about 70/30. If you follow that bit of advice people will think you’re a brilliant and charming conversationalist.

Okay, you’re prepped and ready to go. Next we’ll focus on what to do during and after the event!

“A conversation is a dialogue, not a monologue. That's why there are so few good conversations: due to scarcity, two intelligent talkers seldom meet.” – Truman Capote

Read more at Suite101: Networking Events and Actor Etiquette: Do’s and Don’ts at a Professional Mixer, Part 1

Actors Acting Against Their Best Interests (SOURCE: PAUL RUSSELL BLOG)

Often in my private One-on-One classes there comes a point when I realize that the actor sitting in front of me is too much in their head. To borrow and paraphrase from Arthur Miller; their craniums are living thoughts of quiet desperation with destructive speculations ricocheting off one another:

Is there something wrong I’m doing that is causing my career not to flourish?

Why am I not getting to the goals I want?

Failure must be my fault.

I suck.

Hopefully seeing these words in print you realize each statement is self-destructive.
Yet when that nagging inner voice gives its phantom calling to our cranium we sometimes have the tendency to wallow in the comfort of the empty self-pity they provide. There is no substance within these wretched thoughts to offering the soul healthy nourishment.

Recently while I was hibernating in the mountains I went there with the intent on completing a manuscript project.
As days of solitude passed I found my mind was lonely for company and began …


And… that’s where I stopped. Literally. Writing this post ceased. Several months ago. I got lost in my head as I was writing about others getting lost within their head. (Oh doctor? Heal thyself.)

I toiled on and off on my project (still not complete but progress is being made), I moped, channel surfed the 900 plus offerings on my mountain cable, wondered why people wander Craigslist as I myself was doing the same. I was getting nothing done fast. Doubts, anxiety and a constant nagging in my head of, What’s next? plagued me. I bet similar has happened to you. At least once. If not, please share the pills you’re taking with the rest of the class.

Aside from stimulants (legal and non) there is a way for you to get out of your head and back to life. First realize that everyone goes through similar. No one, not even cock-sure politicians, celebrities and all-star athletes are exempt from having doubts about their abilities or future. So if it is any comfort; the S.S. Self Doubt is decks full of people just like you. Once you realize that then look for ways to sink the ship. Don’t wallow on an endless journey that has no final destination other than death. Find channels for improvement in your course that is life.

If that doesn’t completely soothe the synapses into some form of sanity then it’s time to get out into the world to get out of your head.
The following is a note that I posted on my Facebook account when I returned from an outing and sat at my desk in my mountain home:
Denial Bile – Jan. 7, 2010

Ya know sometimes ya just gotta say to yourself, Screw it! I’m not going to deny myself some fun and partake in life’s pleasures.

Like many in the arts, I’ve always been pulling coin together to get by. As my brother often says of me, “Russ, you can squeeze a penny to last a week.” Why, yes. Yes I can.

And so today I gave myself a present. A day at Camelback. Back on the slopes after a four year absence. Back to doing something from my youth. Getting on two slivers of waxed wood and heading down the side of a mountain at suicidal speeds. So what if the day cost me one-hundred bucks? I had fun. Cold frigid fun. But fun none-the-less. (And some of those snow boarders are irritatingly cute.)

And so I got to thinking about how many of my entertainment friends and yet-to-be arts acquaintances deny themselves a pleasure that would make them happy because they fear not having money afterward.

Ya know what? Screw it. You gotta live once in awhile. For if not; then you’re already in the grave.
So go out and do something indulgent. Something just for yourself. I dare ya.

(Oh, man am I gonna hurt tomorrow morning.)

But I had fun acquiring the soon-to-come soreness.

Tylenol anyone?


Paul Russell


And for days after I was out of my head; living once more. Pain free in both body and spirit.

So if you find yourself one day being plagued by the Eeyore “Woe is me” inner voice tell him/her to fuck-off and to find refuge elsewhere. You have a life to live. Get out of your head and out into life. ‘Nuff said.

Paul Russell’s career as a casting director, director, acting teacher and former actor has spanned nearly thirty years. Paul has taught the business of acting and audition technique at NYU and has spoken at universities including Yale, Temple and the University of the Arts. He writes a column for Back Stage and is the author of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor. For more information, please visit

The Academy of Magical Arts, Inc
Proudly Presents
A Weekend with Rich Little
and special appearance by Toni Morrell

The master mimic of over 200 voices, Rich Little who continues to impress
in Atlantic City, Las Vegas, Reno, Hawaii, Chicago, New York & London, now comes to
the world famous Magic Castle. The two-day engagement features Mr. Little's artwork
in The Castle's Inner Circle. Rich Little Artwork available at Sunday's night's engagement will feature a tribute to
the Legendary Ladies by British Sensation, Toni Morrell, to be followed by Rich
Little's tribute to his art and the Legendary Men and their voices.

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010 8:00pm to 10pm (art show only)
Sunday, May 23rd, 2010 - 6pm (with art show to follow at 7:30pm)

The Magic Castle, 7001 Franklin Ave., Hollywood, CA 90028

$25 for non-members, Call 323-851-3313 x434 or email for tickets or more information.

Infamous for his skewing of political figures, Little has charmed, amused,
annoyed, and lampooned politicians, Little was "discovered" in the United States
when his friend, singer Mel Torme, then on the musical team of CBS' The Judy Garland
Show, asked him to make a tape. Garland thought it was "great" and Little was signed
for the show. Appearances on TV variety shows starring Ed Sullivan, Jackie Gleason,
Glen Campbell, and Dean Martin followed, as well as on such series as Laugh-In, The
John Davidson Summer Show, and The Julie Andrews Show. Little had his own variety
show in the 70's. He also was an early guest host on that TV staple, The Tonight
Show, hosting 12 times and became a household name sitting in one of the Hollywood
Squares. He was named "Comedy Star of the Year" by the American Guild of Variety
Artists. The perpetrator of nine comedy albums and three HBO comedy specials, Rich
Little's Christmas Carol with "W.C. Fields" as Scrooge, "Humphrey Bogart" as one of
the ghosts and "Paul Lynde" as Bob Cratchit won an Emmy, among other awards. Little
has appeared on the daytime soaps The Young and the Restless and Santa Barbara. In a
GQ fashion spread, Little was pictured as Richard Nixon, Jack Nicholson, Cary Grant,
George Burns, Ronald Reagan and Humphrey Bogart.

Originating from the North of England, Toni Morrell has achieved international
recognition as a Singer-Comedienne-Entertainer and Voice Artist. She has performed
on national television in Italy and co-starred twice with Broadway Legend Carol
Channing. She was “the Voice of the Brand” worldwide on trailers and commercials
for Pixar/Disney's Tinker Bell and Disney Fairies. Toni recently premièred a new,
multi-media stage show entitled Remembering the Ladies which salutes - with song,
story and film clips - such stars as: Judy Garland, Edith Piaf, Marilyn Monroe,
Marlene Dietrich, and many more. This electrifying show is directed by Celebrity
Television Producer, Karen G. Cadle along with Musical Director and “multi-keyboard
wizard”, David Dial.
Press Contact: B. Harlan Böll
Tel 626/296-3757 Cell 323/708-4172

A sold out crowd filled the Avalon Hollywood Theatre on Sunday night, April 11th for
the 42nd annual Academy of Magical Arts Awards. The evening was not only hosted,
but also co-produced by the popular Neil Patrick Harris. The evenings color
commentary was offered by the always-funny Jason Alexander.

Often referred to as the Oscars, Grammys or TONYS of magic, the 2009 Academy of
Magical Arts Awards (AMAA) are dedicated to honoring the best in the illustrious
world of illusion. However, unlike its award contemporaries, the show dedicates a
larger part of the evening to entertainment with both jaw dropping and humorous
performances by talented individuals such as Rudy Coby, The Great Tomsoni & Co.,
Armando Lucero, Yo Kato, Andrew Goldenhersh, Jeff Hobson, John Calvert and Ed

The evening's honors went to

Lecturer of the Year: Doc Eason; Close-Up Magician of the Year: Doc Eason; Parlour
Magician of the Year: Andrew Goldenhersh; Stage Magician of the Year: Jeff Hobson;
Junior Achievement Awards were presented to Rmax Goodwin and Aaron Rabkin.

The Board of Trustees awarded the following Fellowships: Performance - Close-Up: JC
Wagner; Performance - Stage: Pam Thompson; Creative: Michael Weber; Special: Steve
Forte; Literary: Todd Karr; Masters: Norm Nielsen; Lifetime Achievement: Chuck
Jones; and the highly coveted 2009 Magician of the Year: Ed Alonzo.

The presenters for the festivities included: Christina Hendricks, Jeff Probst, Mark
Wilson, Max Maven, Mac King, Larry Wilmore and Nigel Lythgoe. Among those in
attendance were Magic Castle regulars including Alison Arngrim, Nathan Fillion, Kate
Linder, Kelly LeBrock, Lynette Chappell, and Lee Roy Reams.
Formerly known worldwide as "The Palace," the Avalon Hollywood has been restored to
its original Hollywood-era glory by Boston-based nightclub impresarios, the Lyons
Group. With its historic pedigree and present popularity, it was the perfect venue
for the 2009 AMA Awards. The art of illusion has been a favorite form of
entertainment since before written history. It has fascinated audiences of stage
and screen here in America as a standard in the early Vaudeville houses to today's
Broadway hits like Wicked! The Academy of Magical Arts have recognized some of the
greatest magicians of all time including Siegfried and Roy, Doug Henning, Lance
Burton, David Copperfield, Penn & Teller, and championed the original and the
restoration of Harry Houdini's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The Academy is
housed in the world famous Magic Castle, whose structure (originally the Lane
Mansion) celebrated its 100 anniversary in 2009. The private club boasts an equally
impressive membership over the years that has included, Cary Grant, Johnny Carson,
Carol Channing, Dom Deluise, Tippi Hedren, Hugh Hefner, Rose Marie, Hugh O'Brian,
Florence Henderson, Jason Alexander, Christina Hicks, Johnny Depp, Loni Anderson,
Rip Taylor and its recently voted Vice President, Mr. Neil Patrick Harris, to name
only a few.

Support THE ARTS! LIVE THEATRE! Go see a show this week!

Send me your reviews and suggestions and I will put them in my next blog coming out next Tuesday! Here's to an ARTS-filled week! Don't forget to contribute to the DR. CAROL CHANNING & HARRY KULLIJIAN FOUNDATION FOR THE ARTS:

With grateful XOXOXs for your support!

Richard Skipper

Follow me on Twitter @RichardSkipper

Every time I go to the Iguana it just gets better! It's always a fabulous night of amazing entertainment, and such a warm and supportive community that gathers there. Thank you for inviting me to sing! You can bet I'll be back soon. Catt John,

What a great night we had at The Iguana on Feb 7th. Charisma thoroughly enjoyed performing there and being with that wonderful group of people that filled the room. The talent there that night was unbelievable. They were the most charming and talented bunch of people you could ever meet. As for you, Richard,
your voice and personality are incredible. I sincerely believe that your additional talent as an emcee is fantastic and that you can actually host a show in a cemetery and bring the audience to life. Looking forward to seeing you in the near future as well as performing with you. So long for now. Scott LaChance,

Dear Dana and Richard, I want to thank you for welcoming our group, Charisma, to the Iquana on Wednesday, April 7th. The warmth and acceptance of the crowd could not have been possible without the caring and supportive environment that you provide at the Iguana. Thank you so much for everthing. Love, Nina Grand

Apr 17
NYACK CENTER, Corner of Broadway and Depew Nyack, NY 10960
$15 in advance; $20 at the Door (visit to purchase). Hosted by Rockland's Own Richard Skipper. Entertainer~Motivational Speaker~Career Coach~ Emcee~Host. VCS Gay Pride Rockland is proud and honored that Rockland's own Richard Skipper will emcee our annual LGBT Comedy Night.

Vickie Shaw looks like the woman next door ... All-American with blond hair, lipstick and polished nails. Once she opens her mouth, you'll know she was born and raised in Texas and you'll never stop laughing. After eighteen years of marriage and three kids, something was missing in Vickie's life..."People were always coming up to me and saying, 'You should do stand-up comedy.' Vickie did become a stand-up comic and came out as a lesbian at the same time. 'I would've come out as a stand-up, but it would've killed my parents.'

Everyone's favorite ex nun, nerdelicious author & comic...Kelli Dunham has been performing for a half dozen years. Kelli's comedy is gently edgy, but she is not afraid to take her quizzical story-telling style into areas where even slam poetry dares not tread- And while Kelli's act is many times political it is also deeply deeply personal and often focuses on that magical moment of intersection when the LGBT and non-LGBT worlds meet, orÐat times collide.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: NYC Now a night out in NY to see a show at a VERY AFFORDABLE price!
Dana Lorge and I have put our OWN spin on the variety show format and are now hosting every Wednesday night in NYC at The Iguana VIP Lounge ( in the heart of NYC (240 West 54th Street 8-11PM/with an intermission).

Cover: $12 - no food or drink minimums – but remember – the food is great!
For more info, please call 845-365-0720 or visit _www.RichardSkipper.com_
No one admitted before

April 21st: Anaiza, Anthony Cheski, Henry Dee, Janice Hall, Tod Hall, Rita Ellis Hammer, Sunny Leigh & I are doing a duet!, Sina Lewis, Jim Speake

April 28th: Bryan Anthony, Hector Coris, Kecia Craig, Sandra Davis, Rosemary Loar, Gretchen Reinhagen, and Frank Stern!

May 5th: Anton Van Der Merwe and Julie Reyburn

May 19th: Adrienne Haan, Barbara Gurskey, Bobbie Horowitz, Evan Lawrence

May 26th: Michelle Collier

June 2nd: D'Yan Forest and Tod Hall, Pam Palmieri

June 16th: 2010 Julie Reyburn, Lisa Raze returns!

June 30th: KEVIN DOZIER!


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