Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Happy Birthday, Carol Channing!

The cast of Thoroughly Modern Millie
Carol Channing is fabulous! I must admit most of knowledge and ultimate love of her came from your influence Richard! I absolutely think she deserves every acknowledgment there is. She is most deserving of that award! 
-Emma Bell

Happy Birthday, Carol Channing!


 Anyone who knows me knows how much I love Carol Channing. I feel as if I have devoted my life to her. My office is a virtual museum to her. However, today, I've decided to celebrate through pictures, video clips, and the comments of others. Carol, THIS is for you! You know I LOVE you!
 Instantly recognizable by her saucer eyes, mop of platinum hair, and gravelly voice, Broadway legend CAROL CHANNING (born 1921) rocketed to success as Lorelei Lee in a 1949 production of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. She was “husky enough to kick in the teeth of any gentleman on the stage, but mincing coyly in high-heel shoes and looking out on a confused world through big, wide, starry eyes. There has never been anything like this before in human society,” raved New York Times theater critic Brooks Atkinson.

What a wonderful thing to want to give back!!! She's an icon and obviously cares enough to want to give her love of the arts to the next generations.Carol Channing became a household name. An icon. Synonymous with musical theatre! Do we really need more reason??
Louise Pitrie, soon to play Mame Dennis at The Papermill Playhouse



Because of my involvement with Carol Channing and hers and my involvement with the Foundation, I always ask about Carol and what she means to those I am writing about. Today is no exception. Kim Coles says Carol is one of a kind and there is no one like her. So undeniably Carol Channing. Kim had the opportunity to meet Carol at a party given by the William Morris agency.
 Both Carol and Kim were clients at the time.
Every year a big party was given in which each agent could bring one client. And that year, Kim was chosen. Major stars and major agents and someone took Kim over to meet Carol. And there she was in all of her Carol Channing glory: the hair, the eyes, and lashes, the lips, the epaulets.
Kim says she was so warm to her, "Yes, I think I recognize your face!"  Kim says maybe she did, maybe she didn't. But she didn't feel for an instant that she didn't. Kim says she was so gracious. And she didn't realize until that moment, perhaps now as we do this interview, people want to be acknowledged. And the two worst words you can say to Kim right now are "Remember me"? And Kim doesn't want to say, "No, I'm sorry I don't".
Kim meets hundreds of thousands of people in her travels and from time to time someone will come up and say, "Remember me?"  Kim says, "Can you refresh my memory?" and even if she doesn't remember, she'll say "It's so nice to see you again!" Kim doesn't want to lie. She genuinely wants to remember you.
It was that Carol moment that turned Kim around. Again, maybe Carol remembered her, maybe she didn't.
That is a gift that Carol possesses. Kim said she felt acknowledged, she felt "touched by an angel", and she realized that's what people want, and that's what Carol gave Kim.

Carol Channing is a NATIONAL TREASURE and I am SHOCKED that she is not already one of the honorees at the Kennedy Center.  They should be ashamed of themselves.
Anita Gillette

She's an American icon.  Even if you don't know much theatre, you probably know Carol Channing.  She has drive and perseverance and great comic timing.
Stephanie Wahl 


Carol Channing with Joan Crawford in background, Helen Hayes, James Stewart
I adore Carol Channing!  She’s a cultural treasure and should definitely receive the Kennedy Center Honor in 2012.  Carol is a complete theater animal.  
Who was more memorable than Carol Channing in Hello Dolly?  Or as Lorelei Lee?  She’s won three Tony Awards and even won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a musical against Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl.
That’s no mean feat.  She’s already been inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame, won a Lifetime Achievement Tony Award and an Oscar Hammerstein Award for Lifetime Achievement in Musical Theatre.  The Kennedy Center doesn’t have a more deserving recipient to honor than Carol.  Like Joan Crawford, she has a signature look and is completely unique.  I met her a few times and a friend of mine interviewed her for Reuters.  She was adorable – every bit as funny and sweet and magical as she is onstage.
I also admire that she and her late husband Harry Kullijian did so much to promote arts in education through their non-profit, Foundation for the Arts.  Arts education needs to be returned to public schools.  We need to encourage the greatness of human beings through the arts.  That’s what keeps us all linked to one another.  Creativity is not a marginal experience assigned to geniuses.  It’s our birthright. 
Donna Marie Nowak, Author of Just Joan: A Joan Crawford Appreciation

I’ve already sent you my request to have Carol win that award.  I can’t imagine her not winning one. She is one of the “center pieces of the American Musical. You can’t really replace her. Someone else can take the part –but – it won’t be the same. It never is – but in this case we’re speaking about someone so unique that a part becomes her rather than she becoming the part (although she does and is real as well as large.)
Bobbie Horowitz

Carol Channing is a Broadway treasure and a Broadway Legend. How can anyone not love Carol Channing?  It is like, not liking Lucille Ball, Jerry Lewis or Carol Burnett.To see Carol Channing's sweet face, simply makes me smile and feel happy. Her performance in Hello, Dolly! is iconic. Many people have tried to play the role of Dolly Levi over the years, but absolutely none compare (or come close) to Carol Channing's interpretation. No one, not even Barbra, my idol, Carol alone IS DOLLY LEVI. Period!
I also met Carol years ago, and spoke with her while we were waiting for the Fire Island Ferry in Sayville, Long Island. She was going to visit Jerry Herman, and I was staying with some friends there. So we talked for a while, and than sat together on the ferry over. She is such a sweet, sincere and kind soul , and sooo funny and down to earth. I remember that we had a great time conversing together that day sitting in the inside birth of the ferry. At our arrival, she introduced me to Jerry Herman and also invited me to visit. Both of them were very gracious and kind.

Ben Cooper Stevens



She is truly unique, and I love that. There is no one , and never will be anyone, quite like her. She is funny, talented, charming and adorable.
Anna Bergman


I adore Carol. I’ve had a soft spot for her ever since I saw her as Muzzy in “Thoroughly Modern Millie” when I was a kid. She’s unique, charming, full of humor and completely herself at all times – qualities I hold in the highest regard.
 The Kennedy Center Honors were created to celebrate those who’ve made exemplary  and consistent cultural contributions to American life. Carol Channing is the very definition of this achievement. She should certainly be recognized for her lifetime body of work, not the least of which is the foundation she formed with her late husband to promote arts education.
Source: Broadway.com
Natalie Douglas


I love Carol Channing. “Luther” was in the Saint James theatre and we moved to the Lunt-Fontanne so “Dolly” could move in to the St. James.
Danny Goggin


I saw her do "Hello Dolly!" when I was a very young actor and I couldn't believe how hilarious she was.  You'd never know she'd been doing the show for 25 years.  She seemed so fresh.  I also saw her a few years ago when she was on her book tour and again, she was remarkable.  Just sitting on a folding chair, telling stories, she had the audience in the palm of her hand.   Such a pro.  


I think Carol Channing is absolutely wonderful.  Most celebrities seem to be all about themselves, but the fact that Carol is using her celebrity to focus on the future generation and their expansion as human beings is as admirable as anything I can think of.


Thank you, Carol, for the gifts you give to the world!
 Check  out this special tribute to Carol exclusively for me by Carly Sakolove


 
Part of Your World- Carol Channing for Kennedy Center Honor

The Divas in Order:

Idina Menzel
Judy Garland
Liza Minnelli
Jennifer Coolidge
Heather Headley
Liza Minnelli
Patti Lupone
Ethel Merman
Idina Menzel
Julie Andrews
Elaine Stritch
Bernadette Peters
Alice Ripley
Ethel Merman
Sean Connery
Bernadette Peters
Carol Channing

I would like to thank Broadway.com and Playbill.com for portions of this website.

NO COPY WRITE INFRINGEMENT INTENDED.  FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY!
Please do what YOU can to be more aware that words and actions DO HURT...but they can also heal and help! Follow me on Twitter If you've seen one of my appearances/shows, add your thoughts to my guestbook at www.RichardSkipper.com 



                              Tomorrow's blog will be...CELEBRATING AMBER EDWARDS

 Thank you, to all the mentioned in this blog!
Carol Channing and husband Harry Kullijian, who was her boyfriend in seventh grade, are featured in "Carol Channing: Larger Than Life." Kullijian died shortly after the documentary was made.
  Here's to an INCREDIBLE tomorrow for ALL...with NO challenges!


Now, GO OUT AND DO SOMETHING FOR SOMEONE ELSE TODAY!

 Become A Facebook friend of mine!
Please contribute to the DR. CAROL CHANNING  and HARRY KULLIJIAN FOUNDATION FOR THE ARTS


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



This blog is dedicated to Carol Channing with all my love!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Emma Bell!

Emma Bell in Cool

"The most beautiful and most profound experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the sower of all true science. 
He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead."  I believe magic is all around us and wants us all to acknowledge it. True happiness,creativity and love all comes from that place."
-Albert Einstein

Happy Monday!

I  hope you are having a great day and off to a great week. I am very excited about today's blog. I have known Emma since she was a young girl. She has been to parties at my home and she has even assisted me as a stage manager on some of my shows and then she moved out to Hollywood, and except for Facebook, we really haven't been in touch with each other. When I was out in LA earlier this month and reconnected with her mother, Tessa Bell, an old and dear friend. When Tessa started telling me about all that Emma had been doing, I said I simply had to do a blog interview. I'm glad that Emma was excited as I was about this and now I desire all of my blog followers to help me celebrate Emma Bell today!

The first ever show Emma remembers seeing was Peter Pan in NYC. Cathy Rigby played Peter and when "he" shows Wendy, John and Michael that they can fly because of the fairy dust, Peter flew out over the audience. Emma was so enraptured. It was truly magical. It was on Broadway and Emma remembers all of the lights. Interestingly enough, Peter Pan, either with Mary Martin or Cathy Rigby, has been a common thread as far as a first theatrical experience with several artists that I have interviewed. 

The arts were a very large part of Emma's life growing up. I can attest to that! Her mother's side of the family were all incredibly musical and on her father's side were a plethora of writers. Her father worked for a news station and would always take them in to see certain taped shows they would be airing. She grew to love musical theater and dance especially. When she was 12, her mother became a cabaret singer  in NYC and Emma followed her onto the stage.I want to say her that Tessa has been an incredibly encouraging mother and supporting her kids in their artistic endeavors.

The show that Emma and Tessa did together was called, "Miracles in a Minor". Emma was 13 and the idea of driving into the big apple every weekend to perform was exhilarating. They played at "Don't Tell Mama" on Restaurant Row.  Tessa would be on for the first half of the show by herself and then Emma would appear mid-way during a duet. Emma said she was always so nervous behind the scenes, coaching myself that it would all be ok and I could do it. She remembers the song, "I Don't Care" running through my head. That show was very fun and quite challenging for Emma. It struck her how one night the room could be filled with people and the next there would only be crickets applauding them at the end of the numbers. This was her first experience of the double-edged sword of the business and Emma is grateful to have had it early on.

All My Children's Amanda Setfried
 Emma's first professional job was an 'under 5' on  the ABC soup-opera-All my Children. By this time. she was 14 years old and busing myself into the city after each day at school. She had sent out a mass mailing of some homemade headshots her Dad shot, and low and behold, was called in to extra on the show. From there she worked upward to the 'under 5' status which basically means she had less than 5 lines in a scene one time. Amanda Seyfried was the lead on that show at the time.

Emma believes, as I do, that arts in education is imperative. It's upsetting when the arts are the first subject to be cut from curriculums. More importantly it's sad any subject has to be cut. Human beings are instinctively creative. When we are young is when our imaginations are running at their highest capacity as well. They've proven it's easier to learn languages or math alongside music. Being comfortable expressing yourself through dance, music, drama or art helps build a confidence and forces the child to use their brains in different ways thus strengthening their capacity to think intuitively. Not to mention all inventions come from imagination. The light bulb, running water, the first car etc. Obviously she feels very strongly about art in education.

What makes you cry out of the blue when you see or hear it?
If I hear the "Braveheart" soundtrack playing anywhere.. I mean ANYWHERE... I instantly start crying.


Your thoughts on Carol Channing (All my blogs focus on Carol Channing’s Foundation For The Arts)

I’m campaigning for Carol Channing to receive the 2012 Kennedy Center Honor in 2012. If you agree that she should receive this honor, can you say why you think this should happen 
 Carol Channing is fabulous! I must admit most of knowledge and ultimate love of her came from your influence Richard! I absolutely think she deserves every acknowledgment there is. She is most deserving of that award! 

Most recent appearance
 My most recent job was as the lead in Final Destination 5. It was a fun/challenging shoot in Vancouver. It's a great popcorn movie. Now no more dying in movies! For my mom's sake!

Next appearance
My next appearance is up in the air. I have shot several independent features, but in this economy no ones knows if they will every see the light of day. So it's on to the next. Right now is pilot season, when all TV shows cast their new series. Fingers crossed!
 
What is your biggest success in Show Business
 Working on the Walking Dead has been my most successful job on a multitude of levels. Firstly, I was able to work with some very big entertainment giants. Frank Darabont directed the pilot episode and was instrumental in the creation of the show. I have loved him ever since 'Green Mile'. I hadn't watched 'Shawshank Redemption' until much later on. There was also Gayle Anne Hurd, who I've heard about through my mother for years as being her role-model for woman in the producing world. Alongside an amazing cast of people, Andrew Lincoln, Sarah Wayne Callies, Jon Bernthal, Laurie Holden, Jeff DeMunn and Steven Yeun. All that aside, it was also a character I could really since my teeth into. The series was started from one of the most popular Comic book series as well, making the pressure to create and live an adequate rendition for the fans daunting. People have fallen head over heels for the show and it's incredibly gratifying. I am only on the first season, but it's still the project most people associate with myself. 

What was your lowest low and how did you surpass that
 My lowest lows are circular. I think I have a 'lowest low' every year. This business is roller-coaster. One day you can be on a hit TV show and starring in a world-wide blockbuster and then 6 months later, not be able to pay your bills. Kinda like the room full of an audience or no one in the theater. Whenever I am in one of those low times, rallying my loved ones and spending time pursuing other interests in my life is what definitely gets me through. There have been a few times where I got so desperate I thought about leaving it all and going back home. Then I remember I chose this path and have to stick to it to get to the top. The good thing I always remind myself, is that what goes down must come back up and it always does.

What one change would you like to see in today’s industry?
 I wish money didn't rule this industry. The world really. I can't tell you how many amazing stories there are out there desperately trying to be told. Unless they have millions of dollars, or a star actor or director attached, the story becomes just a nice idea instead of a wonderful reality. It used to be, 5 years ago, that actors would be cast in independent films based on talent and/or being right for the character. It was a platform for undiscovered writers, directors, cinematographers, and actors to emerge. Of course there are always going to be those independent films that accomplish that thankfully, but it seems more and more film makers can only get money for their stories if they have famous people attached. This leaves little to no room for unknowns to be known. (This, by the way, is a very common thread in most of my interviews)

Who are your TOP FIVE models and influences as an artist?
 This is a great question and one I feel unprepared to answer, but I'll give it a shot. Certainly I have been influenced from every fairytale I've ever read, or any performance I've witnessed that touched my heart. Certainly I have favorite actors I would love to emanate. Those would be Cate Blanchett and Kate Winslet.  They are both strong and beautiful actors. Meryl Streep continually shows me that there is ALWAYS more to learn as an actress.  For my other artistic endeavors as a writer, I'm gonna be super cheesy and say Shakespeare. I started reading his plays and sonnets when I was a pre-teen. I had never experienced such perfectly written passages of what the heart feels. He is just a word smith and brilliant. Lastly, being in and around nature inspires me everyday. Art is beauty in whatever form that takes for the individual. I find nature the most beautiful.

What do you think ultimately made you become a performer? 
I can't imagine doing anything else with my life. I've always wanted to tell stories, or more exactly, live in stories. The world is such a wondrous, beautiful place, but it's also full of tragedy. Sometimes that can be overwhelming; When we think of all the things we can do better for the world and all the things that need to be changed. At first the idea of being able to portray other people for me was  a way to experience different realities. Ones that were full of happiness or ones that forced me to deal with unhappy feelings we all have inside of us. As I grew older, I realized I'm a story teller. If it wasn't the medium of acting it would be another medium. I love expressing all the stories out there, hard and easy. And it's a way to connect to people. We've gotten further and further away from our natural connection as humans, art connects us all.  
 
Are you happy at the point you are right now in your career? 
My problem and fuel as it were is that I'm a perfectionist. The not so simple answer is yes and no. Yes because I have been able to support myself as an actor for the better part of 8 years now. Yes because I have an amazing team behind me and have worked with some of the most amazing people in the business. Yes because I regularly get out there to take advantage of the opportunities a lot of people don't have. No because in my mind I would like to be past the lows that I talked about earlier. No because I'm not quite in the position to do the projects that really speak to my heart. No because I still have auditions where I feel like the worst actor in the world. It's an upward climb no matter what peg of the ladder you are on. This I am aware of. Plus in those moments of not being content I vow to push harder, to keep growing and striving towards my ultimate goals as an actor and person. 

Do you feel you have achieved what you set out to do?
I have accomplished things I've set out to do, but I am no where near the end of the list. I have a LONG list of things I want to accomplish in this world, some having nothing to do with entertainment. 

What do you do to remain positive when life's hiccups get you down?
I think I stated this before, but people are incredibly instrumental in keeping my spirits up. Having supportive, imaginative, amazing friends helps me through darker times. Also having other interests in life besides acting. I write. I sing. I do environmental work. I babysit friend's kids. I go for long hikes. 

How on earth do you reach theatregoers now that newspapers are obsolete and there are so many channels on TV you can’t pick the right ones to advertise on and with the web being so hit and miss.
 I definitely don't know how to answer this question. I am terrible at self promotion. The internet with it's multiple social/ entertainment platforms is like the wild west to me. It's the wave of the future certainly for most entertainment, I'd assume theater goers as well. I don't personally agree with skeptics who say theater will become obsolete. People want to feel that connection that can only be had by seeing a live person perform.  As far as getting people to see theater in the future, I think the work will speak for itself. Plus some interactive internet marketing. That might help. Targeting young people to get involved in theater. Convincing them that it's not just for the older generations to appreciate. 

A genie pops out of the lamp, he grants you three wishes. What are those wishes?
 Aside from world peace and no more poverty or hunger, my three wishes would be, that the world came together to abolish using fossil fuels as a form of energy, and used the renewable, sustainable resources all around us. My second wish would be that every individual was treated with respect and love, no matter what their social status, color, gender, religious belief, and there was no more killing due to these differences. Oh and it would be rad to have wings. 
 
If you could travel anywhere in the world and spend some time there, where would you choose, and what would you do?
So my other dream in life besides my entertainment aspirations and environmental endeavors is to live in the south of France, riding a bike along cobblestone streets and making amazing organic chocolate products. I would be like Juliet Binoche in 'Chocolat'. If there was a wandering gypsy man who looked like Johnny Depp I would greatly appreciate it. 
What would you ask God if you could right now?
How we can stop the war of religions in the world?

What is the last stage show you saw.  Local or professional.  
 Some local LA theater with friends. 

If you could change places with anyone in the world for 24 hours, who would that be and why?
 I was recently introduced to an amazing humanitarian and woman named Somaly Mam. She was a victim of involuntary prostitution in her homeland Cambodia when she was a young girl. She now runs an organization that rescues girls from the same future in Cambodia and several other places around the world. Her life and the lives of those she helps, are so outrageously  different from mine I would love to see what it's like. Also to know and live in someone's shoes who carried both the honor and responsibility of what she does would be eye-opening. Her story reminds me that I can always be doing more good in the world.
 
Thank you, Emma, for the gifts you give to the world! 

NO COPY WRITE INFRINGEMENT INTENDED.  FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY!
Please do what YOU can to be more aware that words and actions DO HURT...but they can also heal and help!
Follow me on Twitter If you've seen one of my appearances/shows, add your thoughts to my guestbook at www.RichardSkipper.com 



                              Tomorrow's blog will be...CELEBRATING CAROL CHANNING...on the occasion of her 91st Birthday!

 Thank you, to all the mentioned in this blog!

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


Now, GO OUT AND DO SOMETHING FOR SOMEONE ELSE TOMORROW!

 Become A Facebook friend of mine!
Please contribute to the DR. CAROL CHANNING  and HARRY KULLIJIAN FOUNDATION FOR THE ARTS


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


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Louise Pitre: From Greece to Number Three Beekman Place!

SCREW MODERATION!!!!
Louise Pitre

Happy Sunday!
Goodspeed Musicals' spring revival of Jerry Herman, Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee's Mame will star Louise Pitre, the Canadian actress and concert star who was Tony Award-nominated for playing Donna in Mamma Mia! on Broadway. 
Having seen Carol Lawrence, Christine Ebersole, and Linda Dano over the years, I for one cannot wait. Mame was also the very first show I ever was in at the tender age of thirteen. I was in the chorus with two lines. 

I was thrilled when Louise agreed to this interview. Enjoy the latest of the Mames as I celebrate Louise Pitre.

They will be releasing other casting in the next week or so.....Go to Louise's site for the blurb that was put online! (www.louisepitre.com)

The road to Broadway actually began when Louise was in high school.  
They took a school trip to Toronto and saw "Godspell" (the one with Gilda Radner and gang!!!) Louise's best friend at the time remembers Louise turning to her and saying "I'm gonna do this.  This is what I wanna do!" (Louise did not remember this but her friend told her this when she came to see me do her "Piaf" show in Ottawa.)

 “Louise Pitre is sensational …She just doesn’t just sell a song, she lives it.”
— Paula Citron, Globe & Mail


Louise was exposed to the arts growing up. 
Her parents went to the theatre. She remembers them going to see plays in Montreal. And concerts. They had lots of records (I'm showing my age). Music was definitely a big part of their lives.She particularly remembers a van Cliburn recording of Chopin that she loved.

 Louise's very first time on stage was in Montreal. It was her first piano recital.She took lessons with an odd lady who was about 60 with bleach blond hair, super long fingernails and an old upright grand that she had painted white with lots of sparkly gold!!
 
 She put on a huge recital each year at the University of Montreal. Her students all got to play AND her daughter, who was about 20, got to do big song and dance numbers! Louise had never seen anything like those numbers live.She remembers being nervous to play but got through it fine. For her, the highlight was the song and dance numbers she got to watch that night!!

 
Louise's first paying job she got through an agent (her first agent, who is not in the business anymore....surprise!surprise!) was dressing like a rabbit (full rabbit suit!) and standing around a Cottonnelle display in a grocery store just outside of Toronto handing out suckers to kids and getting their parents to fill out a form for a chance to win a car.........how's that for humble beginnings?! ha! 

 “Full-throated emotion and cut-to-the-chase honesty are her trademarks, enhanced by a fine sense of theatricality…. She explores every aspect of heartbreak, from despair to defiance, in her own unique style.”
— Richard Ouzounian, Toronto Star

Louise's thoughts on Arts in Education:
 If everyone could just smarten up and see the value of BALANCE! Sports and arts having equal importance along with all other subjects......a well-rounded individual should be able to appreciate the skill needed to play basketball and derive great joy from playing it and watching it with an informed mind; the same can be said when listening to a piece of music or singing a song or seeing a play/musical, looking at a painting, watching acrobats at a circus, dancers at a ballet......it's all beautiful and fulfilling. The balance of it is the key.

What makes Luise cry out of the blue when she sees or hears it? 
 Being in the car, driving along, hearing a sax solo on some song on the radio and bursting into tears remembering Tasha, our 120 pound black shepherd/lab who used to sing along to the saxophone. It was the  most joyful thing in the world. I've been in horrible rush hour traffic, stopped dead on the highway, in the summer with all the windows rolled down, playing a Sinatra CD and having Tasha sing her guts out with the sax solos and making everybody around us start laughing and forget how pissed off they were at the traffic. God, I miss it and her.
Your thoughts on Carol Channing (All my blogs focus on Carol Channing’s Foundation For The Arts) 
What a wonderful thing to want to give back!!! She's an icon and obviously cares enough to want to give her love of the arts to the next generations.


I’m campaigning for Carol Channing to receive the 2012 Kennedy Center Honor in 2012. If you agree that she should receive this honor, can you say why you think this should happen 
 Carol Channing became a household name. An icon. Synonymous with musical theatre! Do we really need more reason??

Louise's most recent appearance
 I sang with the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony with Ted Sperling at the podium. The programme was Broadway 1959. 

Next appearance: 
Am doing a tour of concerts in the Maritimes and then in B.C. from Feb. 1 to 13. The programme is "La vie en rouge" (mostly French) 
"Paris to Broadway" (a mixture of French chansons and Broadway blockbusters).

 
What is Louise's biggest success in Show Business: 
Having the best marriage while being in this business!!!

What was your lowest low and how did you surpass that?
 1997. I had just had a birthday (New Year's Day is my birthday), I was living up north (the first country house I bought - by myself), had just ended a disastrous relationship, had no work; thought my career/life were a total failure. I then took a workshop of a new musical for very little money. That is where I met Joe, my husband. 
I had given up on men. Truly. But Joe came into my life and shattered all my disappointments!! I found him when I had stopped looking altogether and given up! Amazing!

What one change would you like to see in today’s industry?
 I would like to see people of a certain age play people of a certain age.
Who are your TOP FIVE models and influences as an artist?
Judy Garland, Edith Piaf, Barbra Streisand, Bette Midler, Spencer Tracy.

Judy Garland

Edith Piaf



Barbra Streisand
Spencer Tracy

If you could not be in show business, what would you do? 
 I would be a chef; a dog trainer or a consignment shop owner.
Are you happy at the point you are right now in your career?
 I have never been happier than right now. And I mean that in both my professional and private life.

Do you feel you have achieved what you set out to do?
 Hell no!!! Not yet! I've done a lot of things I had dreamed of doing but I keep coming up with more!! Damn!!!

What do you do to remain positive when life's hiccups get you down?  
 Drink and smoke. Doesn't everyone??

How on earth do you reach theatregoers now that newspapers are obsolete and there are so many channels on TV you can’t pick the right ones to advertise on and with the web being so hit and miss.  
I don't worry about it. I don't do a heck of a lot of it myself I have to admit. I do Facebook and old fashioned interviews/articles....I really must get more hip and tweet and do all that stuff......maybe after this next drink........

A genie pops out of the lamp, he grants you three wishes. What are those wishes? 
1. That my husband win an award for one of his songs/plays/musicals.
2. That one of my original songs be recorded by a huge recording star.
3. That all the workouts I've done over all these years could finally be ENOUGH!!!!!!!

If you could travel anywhere in the world and spend some time there, where would you choose, and what would you do?  
I would go to Italy for an extended stay and study at a chef school.

What would you ask God if you could right now?
 I would ask him to please let me keep my mind until the end of my life so that I can know my husband for as long as I live. (My father had Alzheimer's and my mother is now labeled with dementia......)

What is the last stage show you saw.  Local or professional. 
 "Seussical" at the YPT (Young People's Theatre) here in Toronto. Beautiful production.

If you could change places with anyone in the world for 24 hours, who would that be and why? 
Meryl Streep when she's on set because I would probably learn more in that 24 hours than I have in the last year at least!

When do you know it’s time for another show? 

with Tina Maddigan
 When I'm excited about the prospect of doing THAT PARTICULAR SHOW!!!! LIKE MAME!!!! I'll be honest, the thought of slugging it out 8 times a week is never appealing to me anymore. 
It's such an unforgiving schedule. It really is unnatural. That is always the daunting aspect of doing a show. But when the show in question makes your stomach jump - that's when you know you have to do it. Or let me put it this way: Goodspeed called me about doing "Mame". I got the original cast recording. Played it the first time in the car full blast. I was crying my eyes out before the overture ended. I kept driving anyhow shaking my head at how blessed I felt!


 I know her from the industry . She played Celine Dion's mother on a movie I did called Celine for Barna Alper. She is a lovely person and a very good actress. She did a great job in the role. Peter McNeil played the father. She has an incredible voice that gives me chills.The movie Celine is available on itunes both to rent and to buy. 
-Debi Drennan


Thank you, Louise, for the gifts you give to the world! 

NO COPY WRITE INFRINGEMENT INTENDED.  FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY!
Please do what YOU can to be more aware that words and actions DO HURT...but they can also heal and help! Follow me on Twitter If you've seen one of my appearances/shows, add your thoughts to my guestbook at www.RichardSkipper.com 


with Tina Maddigan and David Grindrod

                              Tomorrow's blog will be...CELEBRATING EMMA BELL!

 Thank you, to all the mentioned in this blog!
Ryan Michael Shaw, Richard and Louise Pitre
  Here's to an INCREDIBLE tomorrow for ALL...with NO challenges!


Now, GO OUT AND DO SOMETHING FOR SOMEONE ELSE TODAY!

 Become A Facebook friend of mine!
Please contribute to the DR. CAROL CHANNING  and HARRY KULLIJIAN FOUNDATION FOR THE ARTS


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

with Tina Maddigan and Carey L. Bertini
This blog is dedicated to ALL of the the great entertainers that have played Mame Dennis...and here's to the success of Louise Pitrie!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Margaret O'Brien!

in Jane Eyre
The wondrous Margaret O'Brien could jerk a tear out of Caligula's eye,a truly remarkable performer,best wishes to her.
-Facebook friend Allan Claassen

Happy Saturday! 

I hope you've all had a wonderful week and are now reaping the benefits of your labors. Those of you who are my followers and read my blog on a regular basis know that I was recently out on the West Coast. 
Palm Springs, Los Angeles, and Denver. 
And for most of that trip I was surrounded by truly legendary people. 

The words "legend" and "legendary" are tossed around these days ad nauseum. As a matter of fact, when I was in Palm Springs, I picked up a local magazine promoting the fact that "legendary" pop singer Tiffany was going to be appearing in Palm Springs! 
I'm sorry, but what has made HER legendary!?!?! When I think of legends, I think of Carol Channing, Judy Garland, Liza Minnelli, Barbra Streisand,… I could go on and on. They all have made lasting contributions to our culture. 
Somehow, I can't imagine the songs that are number one this week on the Billboard charts, the top grossing films of this week, the highest rated TV programs of this week, the best-selling books of this week, some of the shows on Broadway tonight being shown with the same reverence and adoration that we show all of the women that I've listed here 25 years from now. What happened? Where are our true legends? when I come in contact with those that have earned the mantle, I am in awe. I simply want to say thank you. Thank you for the gifts you've given the world.

at The MGM Gate
When I was in LA, I went over to the old MGM Studios, and just stood there and imagined that studio in its heyday: the days when it was a true dream factory, with the goal of excellence in film production. One of the truly legendary stars to come out of that studio is Margaret O'Brien. She has earned the right to be called legend. The first iconic images and memories that I have of Margaret O'Brien are probably the same that most people have. That is Margaret as Tootie in the classic Meet Me in St. Louis

 In 1974, I was 13 years old and That's Entertainment came out. I remember vividly the television specials, the stars appearing on the talk shows to promote this film, and the posters everywhere. There was a true wave of nostalgia. Most boys my age had posters of Farrah Fawcett hanging on the walls. I had a huge poster celebrating the stars of MGM. And in the middle of the poster was Judy Garland and Margaret O'Brien from Meet Me in St. Louis.

When That's Entertainment came to my hometown movie theater, the Holiday, I was one of three people in the audience. I truly was from a different era. How exciting for this kid to see these images on a real movie screen, the way they were meant to be seen. Of course, there are many favorite moments. I'm not going to list them here… Except for one… That is Judy Garland and Margaret O'Brien performing the cakewalk from Meet Me in St. Louis.


Look at the poise Margaret possesses! 
And why not? She was a veteran of eight films before getting to St. Louis. 
No surprise that she won a special Academy award for this film. 
If she had done nothing else, that would've been enough. But she went on continuing to make classic films, appearing on stage and television, and continues to work. I was lucky enough to meet Margaret when I was out in Palm Springs year before last, when Carol Channing received her star on the Palm Springs walk of fame. Margaret spoke at the dedication and for this kid from Conway, South Carolina, it was the thrill of a lifetime, to finally meet one of my favorites stars. And she was incredibly nice also. 

Margaret will be back in Palm Springs tomorrow night to celebrate a very special evening. A retrospective of her career and she will be joined by Joey Luft, who will talk about his mother, and Margaret will even be performing the cakewalk from Meet Me in St. Louis  with dancer/choreographer, Ken Prescott. On her way to Palm Springs last evening, Margaret and her friend Randal Malone stopped off at their favorite Thai restaurant and Margaret made time for this interview. 
Margaret still possesses that charm and that spark that has endured her to movie audiences the world over. 
You could hear the excitement in her voice as she talks about MGM, Judy Garland, and her rich legacy. 

But make no mistake about it, Margaret is very much in the present as she keeps herrself very busy with many projects. 
My greatest hope is that she will eventually sit down and write her autobiography. She obviously has a story to tell… But don't expect some jaded tell-all. This is the story of a young girl who grew up gracefully in the public eye, with no scandal. 
Imagine that? Margaret loved being at MGM. 
 She loved being under contract. She got along with everyone, including Louis B. Mayer.
Margaret O'Brien's father was a Irish-American circus performer who died before she was born; her mother was a famous flamenco dancer who had, years earlier, taught a few dance steps to a very young Rita Hayworth. O'Brien's mother had enough show-business savvy to recognize her daughter's talent, and young Margaret was working as a model by the time she was three years old.
 At four, she had a tiny, uncredited role in Babes on Broadway.

Margaret O'Brien with Carol Channing and Rhonda Flemming at recent Veterans Day tribute to Spirit of 45 WWII Veterans

Gladys O'Brien worked to get Margaret tested for the lead role in Journey for Margaret, which she easily won, and she was on her way to being the premiere child star of the 1940s. Margaret was not, however, a typical child performer.
She displayed a pathos on the screen unlike any other child performer before her. Her presence is almost eerie at times, transcending precociousness to the point of seeming like a mature, wizened person trapped in a child's body.
 
 Margaret's mother was not a stage mother in the sense of a mama Rose or an Ethel Gumm. She recognized that Margaret had the talent and the stage presence but she never exploited, Margaret and she always looked after Margaret's best interest.
Mrs. O'Brien was very well respected by everyone in the studio.
She was always welcomed and was always on Margaret's sets. She never got in the way.
She let the professionals do what they knew how to do.


Margaret did share with me, however, that she almost didn't get St. Louis.
It came down to, as it always does, money. Because of the size of the role and the amount of time that would go into it, Mrs. O'Brien thought, rightfully so, that Margaret deserved more than Mr. Mayer was willing to pay. 
Mrs. O'Brien told Mr. Mayer that if he was not willing to pay Margaret what she deserved, they would go to New York.
Mr. Mayer said that was fine with him.
Promo from early NBC Radio appearance

He would cast someone else in the role. This was a usual ploy of Mr. Mayor to get what he wanted.  Also, in those days, all the stars had standbys.
So Mrs. O'Brien and Margaret took off for New York. And Margaret's standby was told that she would be playing Tootie in meet me in St. Louis.
The standbys family was ecstatic, costume fittings were begun, and they imagined their lives with a star in the family.
The standby happened to be the daughter of one of MGM's lighting guys.
MGM, or should I say Mr. Mayer, eventually came to their senses and Mrs. O'Brien and Margaret returned to MGM and Meet Me in St. Louis and history was made. Unfortunately, the father of the misplaced daughter was so distraught that he almost dropped a light on Margaret.

We are talking one of those huge movie lights! Fortunately for all concerned, it was a miss!
Margaret has very fond memories of working on this film and especially of working with Judy Garland. Judy was at a very happy point on this film
She was in love with Vincente Minnelli, and he was in love with her… and it showed, both on-screen and off.
Judy was always on time and it was a very positive working atmosphere. Margaret said Judy also loved children and treated her with so much kindness and love. They spent a lot of time playing and talking between takes. They remained close and Margaret has remained close to Judy's children, as a matter of fact, as I said earlier, Joey Luft be appearing with Margaret tomorrow night in Palm Springs.

As most of Margaret's fans know, she was considered one of two town criers at MGM. The other was June Allyson.

There was always some place in the script for Margaret or June to cry. I told Margaret that as many times as I have seen Meet Me in St. Louis, every time I see Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, with tears streaming down Tootie's face, it gets me every time. I asked Margaret, what makes her cry out of the blue when she sees or hears it. 
She says she cries whenever she hears Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas and remembers with fondness the contributions that Judy made that song not only as a singer and actress, but as a person. 
The original lyrics were very dark. When presented with the original draft lyric, Judy criticized the song as depressing, and asked Martin to change the lyrics.Though he initially resisted, Martin made several changes to make the song more upbeat.
For example, the lines "It may be your last / Next year we may all be living in the past" became "Let your heart be light / Next year all our troubles will be out of sight"


Thank God for Judy's insight!
In the film, Jane Eyre, Margaret speaks with a perfect French accent as Adele. I asked her if that came easily. She said that accents came very easily for her due to great teachers. She also had a French teacher on the set. Shortly after World War II, in 1953, Margaret went to Japan and filmed  Girls Hand-in-Hand in Japanese! A young woman (O'Brien) visits her father in Japan, meets a Japanese War Orphan (Hibari Misora) and raises money to build an orphanage.Margaret told me that Misora was the Margaret O'Brien of Japan.

I mentioned two of my favorite films, Our Vines Have Tender Grapes and The Secret Garden. The relationship between Margaret O'Brien and Edward G Robinson in Our Vines Have Tender Grapes is probably, in my opinion, one of the most moving depictions of a relationship between a father and daughter ever captured on film.
Margaret said she loved working with Edward G Robinson. Of course, this was a departure from the types of films that he was doing at the time.
The screenplay was by Dalton Trumbo, who was blacklisted, and therefore the film was not shown for a very long time.
Margaret is thrilled that this film is finding new audiences through Turner Classic Movies.


Barbara Kahn, another Facebook friend, saw her onstage in Philly in Barefoot in the Park when Barbara was a kid--"what a treat it was for a wannabee to see what it means to be a professional." 
Margaret said she had a great time with this production. 

I asked Margaret what was the lowest points for in her career and how she overcame them. Getting to know
Margaret O'Brien with Elizabeth Taylor in "Little Women."
Margaret and how upbeat she is, her response is not so surprising. 
She said there truly weren't any low points in her career. 
She is been lucky enough to sustain a career almost continuously from the moment she began it. She was under contract at MGM for eight years. 
She was there when the power shift occurred from Louis B Mayer to Dore Schary. 
What she remembers most about that period is how panicked everyone in Hollywood was. Television was growing in popularity and attendance at the movies was decreasing. 
The powers that be at the studios wanted all the stars to take a salary cut and the refusal to work in television. Margaret, as well as others in that era, who chose not to follow that route continued to work and sustain their careers. Margaret says that by working in television, she was able to work with many different directors. 
She also do a lot of stage work which was not foreign to her. As a matter of fact, Margaret made her Broadway debut many years earlier in Clare Booth Luce's Child of the Morning in 1951.Margaret recently finished a TV mini series called Project Lodestar Sagas by Bruce Morgan, the son of Yvonne deCarlo. Margaret appears with Jerry Maren of Wizard of Oz fame.
I asked Margaret what one change would like to see in today's industry. She said she would like to see more closeness in the industry, more great movies and less reality shows. She truly feels that she has achieved everything that she could possibly imagine. That is a great place to be at, especially for someone who continues to work. 
If you are in Palm Springs tomorrow night, PLEASE go to Lyon's Grill and tell Margaret I sent you!
Legendary Oscar-winning actress Margaret O'Brien will present a personal retrospective of her illustrious film career.

As one of the few remaining stars who can recall the glamour days of the Golden Age of Hollywood, from the unique prospective of a child's eye, Miss O'Brien will share anecdotes, film clips and memories of working with film legends such as Edward G. Robinson, Robert Young, Orson Wells, Agnes Moorehead, Elizabeth Taylor, and of her work with Judy Garland in 1944's “Meet Me In St. Louis”, for which Miss O'Brien received an Academy Award.
 
Following the presentation, Miss O'Brien will answer questions from the audience, giving them the opportunity to speak directly with her.


WHEN: TOMORROW NIGHT!
Sunday, January 29, 2012
            Dinner Seating 5:00pm, Showtime: 7:00pm
     
WHERE:      Lyons English Grille, 233 E. Palm Canyon Drive,
            Palm Springs California, 760 - 327- 1551

INFO:       $64.95 included 3 course dinner and show
            Reservations Required. Call 760 - 327- 1551


One of cinema's most beloved child actresses, Margaret O'Brien was born Angela Maxine O'Brien on January 15, 1937 in Los Angeles, California. The daughter of a circus rider and a Flemenco dancer, died shortly before she was born.
After spotting and casting her for a small role in Babes on Broadway (1941), MGM then gave then 5-year old Margaret the title role in Journey For Margaret (1942), which shot her to instant stardom. Not the typical child performer, Margaret displayed a pathos on the screen unlike any other child performer before. She went on to star in such notable films as Thousands Cheer (MGM, 1943), Lost Angel (MGM, 1943), Madame Curie (MGM, 1943), Jane Eyre (Fox, 1944), The Canterville Ghost (MGM, 1944), Meet Me in St. Louis (MGM, 1944), Music for Millions (MGM, 1944), Our Vines Have Tender Grapes (MGM, 1945), Bad Bascomb (MGM, 1946), Three Wise Fools (MGM, 1946), The Unfinished Dance (MGM, 1947), Tenth Avenue Angel (MGM, 1947), Big City (MGM, 1948), Little Women (MGM, 1949), and The Secret Garden (MGM, 1949), Her First Romance (Columbia, 1951), Glory (RKO, 1956), Heller in Pink Tights (Paramount, 1960), Split Second to an Epitaph (TV, 1968), Diabolical Wedding (Ellman, 1971), Annabelle Lee (Ellman, 1972), Testimony of Two Men (TV, 1977), Amy (1981)


NO COPY WRITE INFRINGEMENT INTENDED.  FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY!


Please do what YOU can to be more aware that words and actions DO HURT...but they can also heal and help!
Follow me on Twitter If you've seen one of my appearances/shows, add your thoughts to my guestbook at www.RichardSkipper.com


Tomorrow's's blog will be... My Exclusive Interview with Louise Pitrie!

Thank you, to all the mentioned in this blog!

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


Now, GO OUT AND see Carol Channing: Larger Than Life in theatres January 20th!

 Become A Facebook friend of mine!

Please contribute to the DR. CAROL CHANNING  and HARRY KULLIJIAN FOUNDATION FOR THE ARTS

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


                                This Blog is dedicated to Harlan Boll! Thanks for ALL you do!