Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Persian Room Presents...Patty Farmer and Barbara Van Orden!

Today, I'm taking a look once again at old New York as I celebrate Patty Farmer, author of The Persian Room Presents, an oral history of one of the most elegant night spots that New York has ever known, the Persian Room in the landmark Plaza Hotel. The first-ever oral history of the Persian Room -New York’s premiere cabaret for four decades.
 This book is nostalgia at its finest, indulging in the rich, elegant, mysterious history of one of the quintessential “old New York” nightspots.

It could be called a collective memoir, a biography of a place, or a historical tell-all, The Persian Room Presents features dozens of celebrities—including Andy Williams, Marge Champion, Polly Bergen, Diahann Carroll, Connie Stevens, Leslie Gore, Patti Page, Carol Lawrence, Jack Jones, Michele Lee, Lainie Kazan, Julie Wilson, Tony Butala, Tony Sandler, Celeste Holm, Kaye Ballard, Roslyn Kind, Don Dellair, and Eloise illustrator Hilary Knight—as they reminisce about their experiences performing and partying at the Plaza.

Calling this a memoir of the past is too vague. In fact, as readers get to the second page they soon learn this is far more like an ‘ode;’ a pure homage to a time that is sorely missed. 
with Leslie Uggams
For everyone who loves the past and wishes they could go back to New York City when the champagne flowed, celebrities mixed with the commoners, and The Plaza was the only place to be, this book offers it all.
-Ellen Feld, Feathered Quill Book 

In March, I had the distinct pleasure of attending a book launch party for "The Persian Room Presents: An Oral History of New York’s Most Magical Night Spot" (Vantage Press). The party was held at the Plaza Hotel, where the famed Persian Room nightclub reigned supreme from 1934-75.


Yesterday, I wrote about two of those women, Connie Stevens and Lainie Kazan. Today, I want to focus on the woman who wrote the book and one of her subjects, Barbara Van Orden. I am proud to call each friend. I first became acquainted with both through their publicist, Harlan Boll. I've interviewed both separately and I am there to support anything having to do with this book. First of all, it covers an era in show business that I live vicariously through. Second, it's a GREAT
book.

Third, but not necessarily in that order, they are two wonderful women!

Patty Farmer and Barbara Van Orden will be appearing along with Michele Lee, Connie Stevens and Lainie Kazan at the Barnes and Noble, The Grove at Farmers Market in Los Angeles, CA on Wednesday, May 9.
They’ll be signing copies of The Persian Room Presents beginning at 7pm.
God, I wish I could be there!
Diahann Carroll even recorded an album at The Persian Room, The Persian Room Presents Diahann Carroll (1959).
George Marcy, me, Carol Lawrence, Patty Farmer
Kevin Scott Hall wrote in The Edge New York, " The room would have been almost forgotten if not for the curiosity of author Patty Farmer, who moved into the hotel in 2006 and began doing some sleuthing. "The Plaza celebrated its 100th birthday a few years ago and I was curious about what had happened here and started asking questions. It was difficult at first because people kept telling me there were no archives," Farmer told me. "Now I’ve become the historian of the Plaza."  What interested her most, though, was the cabaret room, the jewel of nightclubs during its heyday. 
Farmer began looking for and interviewing those who had played the room. And boy, did they have tales to tell! "We’re getting calls from all over the country," Farmer said of the book. "I mean, the Persian Room was so diverse-Duke Ellington and Billie Holliday played there. People do love this history."

For the book, Farmer mainly provides historical data about each decade and then lets the performers tell their stories. The night of the party, several were in attendance: Carol Lawrence, Leslie Uggams, Tony Butala (original member of The Lettermen), Julie Wilson, Barbara Van Orden (a Vegas regular and opener for Sinatra), Tommy Tune, Cathryn Kenzel (who, at fifteen, was the youngest to ever play the room), and Marge Champion, 92 years young and spry as ever."

Patty Farmer is the perfect person to author "The Persian Room Presents: An Oral History of New York's Most Magical Night Spot", because she is a resident, living in the Plaza Hotel's new condominiums that used to be the rooms that the celebrity performers occupied while appearing at the former elite nightclub.

Ethel Merman, Gary Morton and Lucille Ball at the Persian Room - Credit: D'Arlene Studios

 Farmer's book offers a glimpse of the ghosts from an elegant era, when people dressed for theatre and cabaret and the term celebrity, pre-reality TV, was still met with respect and admiration. The Persian Room was the definition of class and the headliners always household names. The intimate space was "THE" destination for the world's biggest names (both on and off stage) such as Lucille Ball, Ethel Merman, Liza Minnelli, Liberace, Cary Grant, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, Joan Crawford, George Burns, Gracie Allen and even John F. Kennedy.

 

Childhelp® exists to meet the physical, emotional, educational, and spiritual needs of abused, neglected and at-risk children. They focus their efforts on advocacy, prevention, treatment, and community outreach. Call it the biography of a place, a collaborative memoir, a history-but whatever you call it, The Persian Room Presents will transport you to the most elegant and magical night spot New York has ever known.  An unparalleled array of performers graced its stage. Among the many stars who spoke for the record are Andy Williams, Marge Champion, Polly Bergen, Diahann Carroll, Connie Stevens, Lesley Gore, Patti Page, Carol Lawrence, Jack Jones, Michele Lee, Lainie Kazan, Julie Wilson, Tony Butala, Tony Sandler, Celeste Holm, Kaye Ballard, and Roslyn Kind. Hilary Knight-the legendary illustrator who brought Eloise to life-spoke wistfully of Kay Thompson and Lisa Kirk.

Barbara Van Orden, a singer and entertainer whose career has spanned decades began as a leading print model gracing the cover of many magazines and eventually segueing into a television commercial career. Eventually she made a career for herself in the entertainment industry as a singer, comedienne and actress. She became the opening act for many of the industry greats, such as Milton Berle, Don Rickles and Red Buttons, to name a few. Van Orden also performed at all of the Playboy Clubs, working with talents such as Buddy Hackett, Morey Amsterdam and Soupy Sales.
 She is is quite simple a walking miracle. She's one of the most-lovely ladies you could possibly ever meet. Her smile is contagious and everyone - and I mean every one - receives the most incredible heartfelt welcome. Barbara had a recurring role in the Classic TV hit Welcome Back Kotter! After that, Barbara opened for many Vegas headliners, including the legendary Shecky Green. While in Vegas, Frank Sinatra asked Barbara if she’d like to open up for him in The Persian Room at The Plaza Hotel in New York. The industry soon took notice … and the rest as they say “is history, folks.”

Then, "tragedy" struck! Read all about it in my exclusive blog interview with Barbara from February.
At the time of my blog in Febuary, the Southern California Motion Picture Council honored her as they presented their 76th Annual Saint Valentine's Day Ball and Golden Halo Award Presentation  at The Waterfall Ballroom at the Sportsman's Lodge in Studio City, CA.
 My timewith her and her wonderful husband, Elton, is always pure joy from start to finish – in fact; the first time we met,we kept talking about lots of different subjects as if we were long lost friends.  Barbara has the most exhilarating energy about her – an aura if you will.  It’s contagious, and for good reason:  because she really is a walking miracle. Audiences just can't get enough and keep bringing their friends who become instant fans.

Ilene Graff, Barbara Van Orden, and me
The SCMPC is a non-profit organization founded in 1936 to promote the best in entertainment. The Council encourages production of family oriented films and television programs; promotes civic-minded, educational and cultural programs of exceptional merit and presents awards for the best in movies, television, stage plays and the performing arts.



Tomorrow! May 9th, Barnes and Noble at The Grove in LA is hosting a signing and Q and A with Lainie Kazan, Michele Lee, Connie Stevens, Barbrara Van Orden and author, Patty Farmer, of "THE PERSIAN ROOM PRESENTS." Event is Free and portions of the book sales benefit Childhelp®.
WHEN: Wednesday, May 9th at 7:00 pm

WHERE: Barnes and Noble 189 Grove Drive Suite K 30, LA, CA 90036 - (323) 525-0270
Thank you to all the entertainers that played The Persian Room for the gifts you have given and continue to give to the world!

Your devoted fan,



NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED.  FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY!

May 11
7-9pm
BARNES AND NOBLE UPPER EAST SIDE, 150 East 86th Street
RICHARD SKIPPER CELEBRATES PEGGY POPE
In her new acting memoir, "Atta Girl: Tales from a Life in the Trenches of Show Business", the Obie-winning actress Peggy Pope (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peggy_Pope) details an eventful life in the theater, film and television spanning over five decades. But unlike most celebrity tell-alls, this thoughtful and deeply personal account brings to light the trials and experiences of the vast majority of actors, those who either flirt with stardom or play supporting roles throughout their careers. Richard Skipper and Peggy Pope are sitting down for an exploration of Peggy's incredible career in show business. Email me at Richard@RichardSkipper.com for more info.


Please do what YOU can to be more aware that words and actions DO HURT...but they can also heal and help!
                    
Tomorrow's blog will be..Husband and wife cabaret and songwriting duo, David Alpher and Jennifer Litt!


Thank you, to all the mentioned in this blog!







  
Here's to an INCREDIBLE tomorrow for ALL...with NO challenges!









TILL TOMORROW...HERE'S TO AN ARTS FILLED DAY
Richard Skipper, Richard@RichardSkipper.com                            

This Blog is dedicated to Harlan Boll and Al Koenig! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!! THANK YOU!!


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