Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Nicole Barth...a Tribute!

There aren't any dress rehearsals in life. 

It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of Nicole Barth. She was a true shining light in the lives of ALL who met her, in the theatre, and in my life. 
I first met Nicole when I was asked to appear as Carol Channing in Dancers Over 40s celebration of Gower Champion in 2009. From the moment I met Nicole, it was as if I had known her my life.
The first meeting was in Nicole's apartment and she welcomed me with open arms.
DO40 president John Sefakis, Marge Champion, Ed Kressley, Nicole
Her inner light was so bright that I hated leaving. Over the course of the following years, I was asked to be part of many events for Dancers Over 40. Nicole was a constant presence.
I even emceed the first Legacy Awards in 2009. Nicole was one of the first recipients.
I would go on to interview Nicole as past of my Hello, Dolly! project. Nicole was part of the original cast.
She became a great supporter of mine and a dear friend.
The last time I saw Nicole was on January 19th of last year. I threw a brunch at Sardi's commemorating the 50th Anniversary of Hello, Dolly! (Original date was January 16th, 1964). It was great to see Nicole and companion Artie Siccardi there as part of this.
On January 18th, she was part of a panel discussion on the legacy of Dolly that I threw at the New York Sheet Music Society.
It was an incredible weekend.
New York Sheet Music Society

Although we would not see each other again, we stayed in touch.
A few months ago, I tried to call her and there was silence on the phone when I tried to call her...nothing but silence. I was shocked when I heard from John Sefakis how sick she truly was. He informed me that she had gone out to California to be with her daughter, Leslie. 
Although I have known that Nicole had been ill for some time, I never entertained the thought that she would ever leave us.
My life is better for having known Nicole. It is ironic that almost a year to the day, I will be speaking at a celebration of Nicole's life. We are not calling it a memorial.


Here is the obit that I have written for The New York Times with great help from Ron Young, John Sefakis, Valerie Harper, and Leslie Skinner.   
Nicole with David Burns and Bonnie Mathis in Come and Be My Butterfly (Cut from original Hello, Dolly!)
Performing Enchanted at the 2013 Academy Awards w/Kristen Chenowith and Company
Broadway dancer Nicole Barth, who appeared in several Gower Champion musicals including the original company of Hello, Dolly!, passed away on December 22nd, 2014 after battling lung cancer for six years. Nicole was born on August 22, 1937 in Lille, France and escaped Nazi occupied Europe with her mother to Morocco and then to the United States.  When her father refused to leave France, her mother remarried, and Nicole took her stepfather’s last name (Barth).
Nicole’s career included television (The Horn and Hardart Children's Hour, The Ed Sullivan Show), seven
with Harvey Evans, John Sefakis, and Bert Michaels
Broadway shows, and movies (Mame, Enchanted).
with Nick Souleotis, John Anthony Gilvey, Marge Champion
She was, at her core, a true Broadway dancer, working with many of the greatest choreographers on Broadway.
She first started taking dance class for health reasons, although her mother said she always “jiggled around.” In New York she trained with dance teachers Jack Stanley and Jack Pottinger where she studied tap and classical ballet.
In her early career, Nicole and Ronnie Lee were weekly dance partners on The Horn and Hardart Children's Hour (later known as The Children's Hour) on NBC Sunday mornings.  It was said that only one out of every 150 children ages 9 – 11 who auditioned ever made the show.

Nicole attended the High School of Performing Arts and was part of their first graduating class.  She was selected to receive the award as outstanding ballet dancer in her class, but her mother accepted the award for her, as she had already left to perform in summer stock. Nicole earned her Actor’s Equity card performing in The Student Prince and The Wizard of Oz that year.
     She returned to New York, started auditioning and eventually landed her first Broadway show, Take Me Along, in 1959, produced by David Merrick and starring Walter Pidgeon and Jackie Gleason. Also making her Broadway debut in that production was Valerie Harper, with whom she retained a lifelong friendship, as she formed many lifelong friendships in her early years of performing. In addition to Take Me Along, Nicole also appeared in Carnival, once again produced by David Merrick.   Nicole then went into Nowhere to Go but Up, choreographed by Ron Field, with Michael Bennett as assistant choreographer.
At The Legacy Awards

The cast also included Martin Balsam, Dorothy Loudon and Tom Bosley.
Nicole was already established as a Broadway dancer when Hello, Dolly! auditions began.  Gower Champion called her in and she was cast immediately as part of the ensemble. Their first performance in Detroit was November 18th, a Monday night. On Friday afternoon, November 22nd, President Kennedy was assassinated. She very clearly remembered that day. After opening on Broadway and being in the show for over a year she left the company for a short while leading up to and following the birth of her only child, Leslie. She then returned and remained with the show until Ginger Rogers’ departure.  Other Broadway shows include Sugar, Dear World, and The Happy Time. Nicole was also dance captain for Dear World and The Happy Time.
She was a long-time member of Dancers Over 40, and served on their board of directors from 2001-2003.
with Paul Berne and Ron Young
She was one of five women honored at the first 2009 DO40 Legacy Awards given to members who have excelled in their field and given back to the community.  Nicole performed in all their dance concerts and spoke and moderated at their yearly panels honoring the History, Legacy and Lives of her fellow dancers.
Nicole is survived by her cousin, Heinz Hanau, daughter, Leslie Skinner, Leslie’s husband, John, and their children, Sam and Jessica of Los Altos, California: and longtime companion, Artie Siccardi.
Donations can be made in her honor to Dancers Over 40 or directly to their address, PO Box 2103, NYC 10101

Nicole Barth -A Celebration
Please join us to celebrate the life of
Nicole Barth
Sunday, January 18, 2015
The Glass House Tavern
252 West 47th Street,
Second Floor
1 - 4pm
There is so much each of us can say about our dear friend. She touched so many of our lives. For me, it was like extra lights came on when she greeted you with that beaming smile of hers. Time spent with her was always quality time and you felt like she was really there for you. Of course one of the highlights would be, what accessories she would be wearing. As “Queen of the Accessories” she was never less than stellar. She had such taste. Then there was her dancing. Those who saw her do the “Trio Step” in “Look I’m Dancing” from “Hello, Dolly” could never forget her sweeping on stage and leaning into that waltz turn with her exquisite line of head and shoulders. Oh, and that was one of her favorite words, “Exquisite.” Each of you has your own “exquisite” memory of dear, sweet Nicole that can never be taken from you. Ron Young

Thank to ALL mentioned in this blog for the gifts you have given to the world and continue to give!
With grateful XOXOXs ,


 
Check out my site celebrating the first Fifty Years of Hello, Dolly!

NO COPYRIGHT 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!                
with Ron Young and Artie Siccardi

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


with Valarie Harper
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A light has gone out, except in our hearts, that smile and spirit that lit up square blocks of Manhattan, dance studios and Broadway stages. As a non-dancer Nicole was the one person who made me feel and appreciate the joy of dancing and what it means to be a "dancer," as we heard Nicole say often, "I am a dancer." Thank you, Nicole, for touching my heart and making it smile. David Hartman
Keeping Entertainment LIVE!  
TILL TOMORROW...HERE'S TO AN ARTS FILLED DAY

Richard Skipper, Richard@RichardSkipper.com
      


4 comments:

  1. What an exquisite tribute for Nicole, the most classy, gracious woman. I knew her through her volunteering for Career Transition For Dancers and Dancers Over 40. Always smiling and loving, just to think of her is to feel her warmth and endlessly positive caring. I was always so impressed that Nicole would go take ballet barre on her lunch hour when she worked at Group Sales! Your love light continues to shine in my heart Nicole. From Suzie Jary

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  2. Richard, thank you for this wonderful obituary of Nicole. It does her justice.
    Nicole was one of the most beautiful and brave beings I have ever had the luck to know. I was blessed by having her assist me in staging two numbers for the 2013 Dancers Over 40 benefit, THE STORY OF OUR LIVES, in which she also danced. She would sometimes come to rehearsals directly from a chemo therapy session without blinking an eye. AMAZING, that's what she was. I miss her a lot.
    With love,
    Larry Fuller

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  3. I did not know Nicole, but after reading your wonderful tribute to her, I sure wish I had. My deepest condolences to her family and friends.

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  4. Dear Richard:

    This morning I read your beautiful tribute to Nicole which captures her so perfectly. Like you and many of those who had the privilege of knowing her, I have my own special memories of Nicole.

    I first met her in person at The Drama Book Shop during the launching of Gower's "Before the Parade Passes By". "You got it SO right, John!" she exclaimed as we met. When a "pro" like Nicole pays you a compliment like that, it means the world, as it did to me that evening and in the years that followed.

    For me, the book-signings for "Jerry Orbach: Prince of the City" at the Jerry Orbach
    Theatre and The Players standout because of Nicole's contributions to those events.
    When I called to ask if she would give a reading from the book for those occasions, she replied, "I'd be honored". In truth, I was the one honored and blessed to have her beautiful voice and presence give life to my words.

    I last saw Nicole at the "Hello, Dolly 50th Anniversary" events you hosted around this time last year. What a thrill to listen to her recall the glory days of that original production and to have her sign my Gower bio. But what I'll really miss most about Nicole is the warm welcome I received each time I arrived for a Dancers Over 40 event. There was a gracious way about her that always made you feel welcomed and at home.

    To be in her light was a blessing always.

    Peace,

    John

    John Anthony Gilvey

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