Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Joi Lansing, Alexis Hunter, Madeline Kahn...and MORE!

Joi Lansing
Remembering Joi Lansing
A gentle word, a kind look, a good-natured smile can work wonders and accomplish miracles. - William Hazlitt

Happy Wednesday, April 6th, 2016!
April 6 is the 97th day of this year. There are 269 days remaining until the end of the year.

What a great night I had last night! I went to the 92nd Street Y in celebration of William V. Madison's must-have biography of Madeline Kahn. Joanna Gleason and Barbara Barrie was part of an incredible panel discussing the life and career of Madeline Kahn. It gave me an insight to her career that I had never had before. I've already delved into the book. I
It is well researched and is also a great read. It was also nice to be referenced in the book regarding an
interview I did with Conrad Shuck a few years ago regarding Madeline in Hello, Dolly! He played Horace Vandergelder opposite her.

Madeline Kahn in Blazing Saddles

Joanna Gleason
Hosted by Valerie Smaldone, the panel also featured Tony-nominated actor and director Austin Pendleton; Barbara Barrie, co-star of Kahn’s final film; Mr. President’s Maddie Corman; and William V. Madison, author of Madeline Kahn: Being the Music, A Life.
Kahn had a prolific career that spanned film, television, Broadway and opera. She was the star of the hit films Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, Paper Moon and Clue, as well as Broadway shows On the Twentieth Century, The Sisters Rosensweig and Two by Two.

From William: This was the third panel discussion we’ve hosted — and we had a cabaret tribute, too. Again and again, Madeline’s friends and colleagues step up and volunteer to share their memories with us, and I find that incredibly moving. It’s an indication of how truly she was loved, and
how much she’s missed. I just wish she were here to see for herself the depth of people’s feelings for her. 
Order Madeline Kahn: Being the Music, A Life HERE

Speaking of  great books, I would also like to recommend Joi Lansing: A Body to Die For by Alexis
Richard Skipper, Richard Skipper Celebrates
Midge Ware, Joi Lansing and Donna Douglas
Hunter. Brava, Alexis Hunter for putting pen to paper and sharing this amazing story of Joi Lansing. Being a baby boomer, I first became familiar with her as Gladys Flatt on The Beverly Hillbillies. She exuded a glamour of that era. However, I knew very little about Lansing until I started reading this book. How sad to read of the personal demons that were eating away at her forcing to be almost sub human by the powers that be. This story was told in a way that did not sensationalize the story but made it read as if we were reading her diaries with the facts as they unfolded. This is a story that had to be told and God bless you for being the one to tell it. You give Joi a voice and as someone who celebrates our artists, I applaud you!
Joi was a model, film and television actress, and nightclub singer. She was noted for her pin-up photos, roles in B-movies, as well as a prominent cameo in the famous opening "tracking shot" in Orson Welles' crime drama Touch of Evil. Lansing was born Joy Rae Brown in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1928 to Jack Glenn Brown, a shoe salesman and orchestra musician, and Virginia Grace (née Shupe) Brown, a housewife.

She would later be known as Joyce Wassmansdorff (her stepfather's surname). The family moved to Los Angeles in 1940.

She began modeling in her teens, and at age 14 was signed to a contract at MGM. She completed
Author Alexis Hunter
high school on the studio lot. Always just on the verge of “making it big,” Joi packed them in with standing room only in Vegas, but when the curtain came down and the audience was gone, who was she?
In celebration of Joi's birthday, which is today, I had a recent interview with Alexis. Our interview is included here.
This book colorfully chronicles personal and intimate details of the last four years of the talented ‘50’s “blonde bombshell” star’s fascinating life. After three decades of successful TV and movie appearances and Vegas singing stardom, Ms. Lansing died far too young at just 43.
Though her funeral was attended by luminaries of the day (Frank Sinatra sent a huge floral display), her light went out relatively unceremoniously.
She starred in wonderful co-starring roles with great names: Gary Cooper, Clark Gable, Anthony Quinn, Frank Sinatra, Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis.
A model and actress, Lansing was often cast in roles similar to those played by her contemporaries Jayne Mansfield and Mamie Van Doren. She was frequently clad in skimpy costumes and bikinis that accentuated her attractive figure, but she never posed nude. Lansing practiced yoga for relaxation, and as a devout Mormon, she did not drink or smoke.
 Author Alexis Hunter (“friend/baby sister”) was the only person who really knew Joi and knew how she struggled with a suicide-obsessed self-image and deadly drug problem after being a child star at MGM where “uppers” were a common way to keep the kids working 20 hour days.

Stunning black and white photos of Lansing by Maurice
Seymour, the era’s Superstar Photographer, make this book a collectors dream.

—Kate Porter-Avery

And from Jed Ryan's article in The Huffington Post: Back in the late 1940s and 1950s, the blonde bombshell image so often seen on the movie screen and on television was considered by many to be the “ideal” version of the American woman. At least in the fantasy world of Hollywood, to be golden-haired and busty was to be
desirable: the woman that every man lusted for, and the woman that other women aspired to be like. The eternally iconic sex goddess Marilyn Monroe comes to mind, as does Jayne Mansfield, who reportedly possessed an 1Q of 163 in addition to her oft-repeated measurements of 40-22-35. And of course, there’s Mamie van Doren, still sexy at 85, who has named herself “The First Authentic Sex Kitten In Cyberspace” and who has embraced social media with as much gusto as the high school girls at the mall. But in addition to “The Three M’s”, there was also Joi Lansing. READ MORE 

My friend Andrew Poretz sent me this:  In 1964, my dad, Arthur Poretz, then a vice president with the firm of Mogul, Williams & Saylor (think "Mad Men" -- he lived this!), created a big PR "junket" with his client, the New York Giants, to bring the concept of American football to Puerto Rican kids.  Nearly all the players went, along with several of the WNEW
Radio disk jockeys like William B. Williams and Ted Brown, as well as a couple of non-jock celebrities, including Joi Lansing.  He has a couple of 16 mm copies of a never-shown film, "Sports Mission to San Juan," made at that time, and has terrific photographs of the trip.  My dad, now 88 years old, writes, "As you know, Joi was the "feminine highlight" of the New York Football Giants' visit to Puerto Rico in 1964, which I arranged.  She sang a bit at a dinner one night hosted by radio personality Ted Brown, did a little dance, and just looked very sexy. 

She posed for photos with me and player Joe Walton on the hotel's beachfront.  One photo shows her in water diving for football.  A very pleasant girl, I recall.  In 1965, on a business trip to Hollywood, she spotted me entering Al & Dick's Deli, grabbed my arm, and we both entered together, where we shared a corn beef sandwich and reminisced about the San Juan event.  If i wasn't married...humma, humma, humma...i would have tried to follow Sinatra in her date book.  By the way, she looked great in swimsuit.  I have pictures to prove it." 

Alexis Hunter
Here is my interview with Alexis Hunter

What does “Joi Lansing: A Body to Die For” mean to you?
After I lost Joi, I could not stop thinking of her. I had tapes running in my head over and over because I didn’t want to lose one moment I’d had with her. As years passed, I finally I felt I had to put it down on paper so I could continue my life. I knew Joi would want me to do that. She was so happy and so proud of our relationship. One night at "Ye Little Club" in Beverly Hills, we were watching Joan Rivers, who was a friend of hers and she had us seated at a table right in front of the stage. That night she announced Joi and the whole room exploded in applause. Then, Joi held my hand all night! I was uncomfortable for her... always being afraid it would hurt her in the business. But, in some way, she was proud of our love and wanted to tell the world, (not thinking of the possible cost to her career.) Now, the book has

allowed our love story to be told. I know she would be proud of  me. Thru this book I'm able to keep her memory alive and now, she’s becoming a bigger star than she ever was while she was alive...something she always wanted and deserved. Most of all though, I believe Joi would want me to tell the story of  why she died so young. She was only 43. She waited so long for real love and then we only had four years together. I know she would want people to know the horrors of injectable silicone.

How do you approach social media marketing?
Well, first, I haven’t thought of it as ‘marketing’. It’s fun and a real labor of  love. I have just been telling anyone who will listen about my book and they've become friends. And friends have told others and then THEY have become friends. I do look for Facebook pages that focus on Old Hollywood and movie stars, and then I just talk to them. So many already know about Joi and I just establish friendships with them and it really isn’t work to me. I also love telling others about her.

I had to be quiet about our relationship for so long, it’s so liberating to be able to now talk so freely. Like Doris Day sang so perfectly... “My secret love’s... no secret anymore..."

What is one thing you would tell the world to make it a better place?
I would tell people to be kind. Be kind to one another and especially toward animals. Joi was always so kind to her fans and took time to listen to them. She also adored animals, especially her little parakeet, “ Mr.Pooper”. We actually once stopped traffic when we saw, believe it or not, a little Penguin waddling down Sunset Blvd. one Sunday afternoon! Joi slammed on the brakes and I jumped out while she parked. The little guy had wandered out of a pet store several blocks away from where we found him. He was their mascot and they hadn’t realized he had probably followed a customer out the door! Joi was thrilled!

How do you measure success?
Knowing that my book is touching someone’s heart, makes me feel like a 10 year old kid holding a puppy, it makes me so happy! Another thing that makes me feel successful, is when someone understands my underlying “message” of love and life, and how it doesn't matter WHO you love, just that you Love! It’s what  makes life worthwhile.

 It’s Wednesday...What does that mean to you?
Actually since I am always doing what I love all the time, what day it is makes no difference to me. I am deeply grateful though to be here on this beautiful planet with the people I love... my friends and my every day is special. I live with three little rescue dogs, 2 rescue tortoises and 5 rescue birdies. I love my
friends, and I especially love my animal family.

What talent do you wish you had?
Joi Lansing: A Body To Die For (A MUST READ!)

Well...I wish I could sing! ...especially like Celine Dion, or Renee’ Fleming. To be able to express so much emotion with my voice, would be a great gift. I always loved hearing Joi sing. She loved singing... and had a warm melodic voice that her audiences really enjoyed.

What makes you look so young at your age?
Well, I haven’t smoked since 1986, and I don’t go out in the sun...something that’s tricky living here in the California desert. I guess the rest is being blessed
with lucky genes. LOL!

What important truth do few people agree with you on?
 I honestly don’t know. I treat people the way I’d like to be treated and most people respond kindly.
I do wish more people would realize what their vanity is going to cost them if they aren’t more careful... with

the “pumping parties” where silicone is still being injected into lips, facial wrinkles, butts... and with guys...ETC. I read somewhere that the trendy name for it is “Cleopatra’s Needle.” That should tell you something. In fact, my Joi might still be with me today, if her Doctors hadn’t so freely and mindlessly used so much of that poison in her beautiful body.

A good thing never ends. - Mick Jagger

from l. to r.: Carol Channing, Alice Pearce, Leo Robin, show producer Herman Levin, Manny Sachs, Eric Brotherson (with hat), Jack McCauley, and George S. Irving listening to Jule Styne on microphone Gentlemen Prefer Blondes OBC Recording Session 1949
Leo Robin was born in 1900. He won an Oscar in 1938 for Thanks For The Memories. He also wrote the lyrics to the score for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

Sergio Franchi
Butch Cassidy, Walter Houston, Lowell Thomas, Gerry Mulligan, Bert Blyleven.

Actor/singer Walter Huston born (1884)

Leo Robin was born in 1900. He won an Oscar in 1938 for Thanks For The Memories. He also wrote the lyrics to the score for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

1926 – Sergio Franchi, Italian-American singer and actor (d. 1990).

Happy Birthday to Andre Previn and Billy Dee Williams.

Barry Levinson is a screenwriter, Academy Award-winning film director, actor, and producer of film and television. His most notable works include acclaimed films such as the comedy-drama Diner (1982), the sports drama The Natural (1984), the war-comedy Good Morning, Vietnam (1987), the crime drama Bugsy (1991), and the political black comedy Wag the Dog (1997). He won the Academy Award for Best Director for his work on the drama Rain Man (1988), which also won the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Happy Birthday, Paul Rudd
Marilu Henner has a birthday today.

John Pizzarelli, American singer-songwriter and guitarist.
Happy Birthday to the awesome and hilarious Paul Rudd!
Zach Braff, American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter.
Candace Cameron Bure, American actress and talk show panelist.

Sad News Today
Country music legend Merle Haggard has died after battling double pneumonia ... according to his manager. Today is also his birthday. READ MORE.

Greer Garson
Notable Transitions on this Day
1996 – Greer Garson, English-American actress (b. 1904)
18 years ago singer Tammy Wynette died. 12 hits including "Stand By Your Man" & sold over 30M records.
2005 – Rainier III, Prince of Monaco (b. 1923)
2012 – Thomas Kinkade, American painter and illustrator (b. 1958)
2014 – Mickey Rooney, American actor, singer, director, and producer (b. 1920)
2015 – Ray Charles, American singer-songwriter and conductor (b. 1918)

Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass... it's about learning to dance in the rain
-Ted Rubin

Ahrens  and Flaherty's Once On This Island opened Off-Broadway on this date (1990)

 In Entertainment News
In celebration of singer and actress Doris Day's 92nd birthday, Abby Books has published a commemorative movie posters book featuring posters from 20 of her best films. 20 Doris Day Movie Posters is available from Abby Books at The book is 26 pages and sells for $12.95. Read MORE

After thirty years of climbing the ladder on Broadway, Klea Blackhurst had no illusions. Although she was an award-winning cabaret singer, recording artist, and concert performer with a devoted following, she had never realized her biggest dream, which was to star in a musical on the Great White Way. Read MORE

Congrats to Marta Sanders on her RAVE review in Cabaret Scenes Magazine. Read it HERE.

Don't try to be different. Just be good. To be good is different enough. ~Arthur Freed, successful MGM movie producer and song lyricist.

Coming your way on May 6 and 7 Karen Mason  at Feinstein's  at The Nikko!! Click HERE for more info.

Thank you, to all of the artists 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 legacy of Dolly Gallagher Levi!


Please do what YOU can to be more aware that words and actions DO HURT...but they can also heal and help!   

Here's to an INCREDIBLE tomorrow for ALL...with NO challenges!
Please leave a comment and share on Twitter and Facebook

Keeping Entertainment LIVE!

Richard Skipper,


Don't Tell Mama Presents...

Wendy Scherl returns in What Do You Do All Day?  Directed by the incredible Helen Baldasarre with great musical direction by Matthew Martin Ward. Wendy is an amazing vocalist with a rangy and rich sound. “This is someone to watch!” Go see her, you can thank me later.
- Sue Matsuki   In “What Do You Do All Day”, Wendy Scherl shares anecdotes and song about the numerous hats she wears every single day as a wife, a mother of two boys and two dogs, a short order cook, a daughter, a house manager, a chauffeur and Cabaret Singer! Her show is both touching and real, theatrical and funny!
This show WILL sell out! So reserve today and be a part of his star studded audience!
You will truly be amazed by what this full-time executive director of a family of four accomplishes every day!  Wendy will wow you with both her choice of material and her talent!
After graduating from Northwestern University with a BA in Theatre, Wendy performed in numerous
regional theatre productions around the country, including some of her favorite productions: Hair (The official 20th Anniversary Production in Chicago), Grease (numerous roles), Annie (Grace), The Pajama Game (Babe), and Godspell.  

$20.00 Cover/Two Drink Minimum Cash Only Reserve at 212-757-0788 (after 4PM or through me)

Richard Skipper Celebrates is the publicist for Wendy Scherl and What Do You Do All Day? at NYC's Don't Tell Mama. For press reservations, interview requests, or more information, contact Richard Skipper at or 845-365-0720

Check out Wendy's Interview with Sue Brender HERE


  1. A million thanks to Richard Skipper for this wonderful article and interview! His words are accurate and Joi would be so happy for his help in keeping her memory alive!
    Richard Skipper is an excellent writer...I'm honored that he chose to write about my book and to interview me.

  2. A million thanks to Richard Skipper for this wonderful article and interview! His words are accurate and Joi would be so happy for his help in keeping her memory alive!
    Richard Skipper is an excellent writer...I'm honored that he chose to write about my book and to interview me.

  3. A million thanks to Richard Skipper for this wonderful article and interview! His words are accurate and Joi would be so happy for his help in keeping her memory alive!
    Richard Skipper is an excellent writer...I'm honored that he chose to write about my book and to interview me.