Saturday, May 28, 2016

Remembering Jim Bailey

June 10th would have been Judy Garland’s 94th birthday. Sadly, Jim Bailey, the legendary Garland impersonator, isn’t able to celebrate—he passed on one year ago, today, May 30 at the age of 77. A message posted to the entertainer’s official website on May 30 of last year read: “Heaven is getting a fabulous show tonight with standing room only! Rest in Peace Our Sweet Prince.”. He did convincing re-creations of Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand, Peggy Lee, Phyllis Diller
and more.
Bailey was born on January 10, 1938, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Sara and Claude Bailey. He had one brother, Claude. As a teenager he studied opera at the Philadelphia Conservatory of Music, and was on the television program The Children's Hour for almost a year, where he performed by acting, singing and dancing. His family moved to Palmyra, New Jersey when he was ten years old, and then Riverside Township, where he attended Riverside High School.
I still remember vividly the first time I ever saw Jim Bailey. It was shortly after Judy Garland had passed on and he was on the Ed Sullivan Show performing as Judy and I was totally convinced I was watching Judy. Over the years, I would catch him from time to time on television. No matter who he was performing as, it was ALWAYS convincing. He always raised the bar. He presented the icons that he performed as with the utmost respect.
Years later, when I performed as Judy Garland (for a short while) and Carol Channing (for twenty years), Jim Bailey was always the goal with which I aspired to.
Jim Bailey, a self-proclaimed “character actor”  did spot-on re-creations of iconic female
As Judy Garland at the London Palladium....
entertainers He was 77 when he passed.
He earned a degree at the Philadelphia Conservatory of Music in opera performance before moving to New York.
He was a regular in Las Vegas for years, did a Streisand tribute at halftime of the 1978 Super Bowl and put out three albums.
At age 11, Bailey entered and won his school’s talent contest, singing “You Made Me Love You,” one of the first songs Garland sang when she was a child star. He later attended the Philadelphia Conservatory of Music and studied opera, then headed to New York City.
I was lucky enough to see Bailey perform LIVE a few times and even got to meet him. One of my biggest regrets was that I never interviewed him and/or gotten to really know him.
“I did jazz clubs in Greenwich Village, went on the Playboy circuit, that sort of thing. I wasn’t doing badly, but I needed that gimmick, something to make me different, unique,” he told the Philadelphia Inquirer in a 1995 interview.
This blog is a celebration of the life and legacy of Jim Bailey.
Mr. Bailey was often called a female impersonator — a label that, with some justification, irked him. “Impressionist” is probably closer to the mark; in addition to singers, he also “did” other celebrities. He became Marilyn Monroe for a photo shoot, and in original stage plays he took on the roles of Bette Davis and Tallulah Bankhead. I saw him several times in Mae West at the Club El Fey at Penguin Rep here in Rockland County, NY. I felt as if I was actually spending an evening with Mae West.
The musical was written by Bonnie Lee Sanders and Ellen Schwartz. It took place on a fictitious evening before Mae West was departing for Hollywood. It focused on her early career before the movies.
Jim's onstage portrayals of famous entertainers were so uncanny — not just their voices, but also the mannerisms, costumes and hairdos — that sometimes people thought they were seeing the actual women.
Whether or not he considered his art form drag, Bailey certainly did bring drag beyond gay clubs and into the mainstream, beginning in the 1970s.
He appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, The Carol Burnett Show, The Tonight Show, and other TV programs, and played gigs in top Las Vegas venues and theaters around the nation. He also performed for Princess Diana and four U.S. presidents. A classically trained vocalist, he did not lip-synch but did his own singing, to great effect. “If he were to appear at Madison Square Garden instead of Barbra, who could possibly tell the difference,” The Boston Globe once wrote.
Jim Bailey and Robert Urich from 'Vegas' 1980
One couple in Las Vegas, seeing Mr. Bailey in his signature role as Judy Garland, took it a step further.
“The audience was from a plumber’s convention,” wrote Bruce Vilanch in a 1997 article for the Advocate magazine. “One plumber turned to his wife and said, ‘I thought she was dead.’
“ ‘She is,’ the wife replied, ‘This is the daughter.’ ”
 He dreamed of playing Broadway, and in 2001 landed a commitment from the Shubert Organization to open his biographical revue, Judy Garland Live! at one of its theatres on Oct. 16 of that year--50 years to the day after the real Garland opened a legendary stand at the Palace Theatre. The production was far along, with Joey McKneely signed to direct and choreograph and Ann Hould-Ward ( Beauty and the Beast) providing the costumes. But after repeated delays the production failed to
complete its capitalization and was finally "indefinitely" postponed.
He had been a Las Vegas staple, but also appeared on numerous television shows beginning in the 1970s, including "The Ed Sullivan Show" (as Garland, singing "The Man That Got Away"), "The Carol Burnett Show" (as Barbra Streisand, singing a duet with Burnett), "Here's Lucy" (as Phyllis Diller) and numerous appearances on "The Tonight Show."
He did live, full-length concerts as his characters at major venues such as Carnegie Hall, the London Palladium and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in L.A., where he appeared in 1972 as Garland and Streisand.
"Bailey is a devastating talent and a phenomenon," Mary Murphy wrote of that show in the Times. Although she admired his Streisand, it was his Garland that got to her. "As Garland, he is magnificent," Murphy wrote. "He is sentimental and strong, like a lion and a kitten."
He hated being called a drag act, much preferring to be described as a "character actor" or "illusionist."

Unfortunately, I never met him. I really wish I had. He was so brilliant. I only saw him perform live once. I saw him do a full length two act concert as Judy Garland in San Francisco in the early eighties. It really was remarkable. I was so struck by the detail of his body padding to perfectly recreate Judy's problematic mid-sixties figure. That meticulous eye to detail was unappreciated by some in the audience. During intermission I overheard a woman saying to her companion "I wonder why he made her look pregnant."
-Charles Busch
  
From one year ago: The other day the sad news came across the wires that Jim Bailey had passed away. For many of us who had witnessed his masterful work over the past 45 plus years, it was a moment filled with an indefinable sadness. 
Whether you’d seen Jim in person or on television, you never forgot what you witnessed because it was artistry of the highest level.  
-Paul Brogan (Read MORE
Bailey appeared in over 70 television and movie roles, including appearances on Ally McBeal, Here's Lucy, Night Court, The Rockford Files, Switch, Vega$, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, The Ed Sullivan Show, The Carol Burnett Show, The Merv Griffin Show, Late Night with David Letterman, The Mike Douglas Show, The Dean Martin Show and The Joan Rivers Show. 


Bailey's fame began in the late 1960s when hecreated the "illusions" of singers Judy Garland,
Barbra Streisand, and Peggy Lee by vocally mimicking them in his own operatically trained voice. Bailey appeared on concert stages throughout the world, including headlining in Las Vegas, at Hotels such as The Thunderbird, Caesars Palace, The Desert Inn, The Sands, Harrah's, The Dunes and performing at New York's Carnegie Hall a total of nine times and The Palladium Theater in London a total of seventeen times . Bailey also performed for the British Royal Family twice and for four United State Presidents. From the mid to the late 1960s, 1966 through to 1968, Bailey played summer stock in such shows as The Boy Friend, Calamity Jane with Ginger Rogers, Bells are Ringing and Wildcat with Gale Storm.

One of the most astonishing acts ever”. . .
San Francisco Chronicle

Defies disbelief, uncanny and classy”. . .
London Times
Overwhelming…hypnotic... A supreme consummate performer!New York Times

Jim Bailey is one-of-a-kind, an authentic original!”. . .
Los Angeles Times

Watching Bailey is like watching Hal Holbrook as Mark Twain, Robert Morse as Truman Capote or Julie Harris as Emily Dickinson.  His work is in that class.”. . .
Boston Globe 

Bailey exhibits exquisite comic timing as he delivers round after round of ribald Tallulah-isms”. . .
Daily News
 


Bailey is first among the world’s seven wonders!. . .
Massachusetts Daily


 To call Jim Bailey a female impersonator…is to call a finely polished diamond just another lump of carbon”.  .
Atlantic City Press


Jim Bailey is one of the great showmen of our time, and this grand illusion is not to be missed!”. . LA Weekly
  
 
The following was sent to me by Jim's close personal friend Dona Kay.

MEMORIES OF JIM BAILEY
THERE ARE SO MANY MEMORIES I HAVE OF JIM –
THAT IT’S REALLY DIFFICULT FOR ME TO EXPRESS WHAT I TRULY FELT  ABOUT THIS SOFT-SPOKEN GENTLEMAN - NOT ONLY AS AN EXTRAORDINARY PERFORMER, BUT AS A FRIEND.  I GUESS ONE COULD SAY I WAS SMITTEN WITH JIM FROM THE MOMENT WE MET BACK IN THE VICINITY OF 1971, WAS IT REALLY THAT LONG AGO?
IT SEEMS LIKE YESTERDAY.  WHEN ENTERTAINER, BLUE-EYED SOUL SINGER WAYNE COCHRAN SAID TO ME WHILE VISITING HIM BACKSTAGE AT THE FLAMINGO HOTEL, WHERE HE WAS PERFORMING IN THE LOUNGE WITH BILLY JOE ROYAL AND JIM.  

IN NO UNCERTAIN TERMS, ALMOST LIKE AN ORDER, “YOU ARE DOING AN INTERVIEW WITH JIM BAILEY – THIS MAN IS GOING TO BECOME A STAR.  I’LL INTRODUCE YOU AFTER THE SHOW.” 
 I NODDED, NOT KNOWING WHAT WAS TO COME AS I NEVER HEARD OF JIM BAILEY AND LEFT TO GO INTO THE SHOWROOM WHERE MY MOM WAS SITTING PRACTICALLY ON THE STAGE. 
MOM AT THE TIME, ONLY HEARD THE INTRODUCTION OF BARBRA
STREISAND  AND SAID HURRY YOU’RE GOING TO MISS HER.  I SAID THAT’S NOT BARBRA THAT’S JIM BAILEY.  
WAYNE IS INTRODUCING US AFTER THE SHOW.
SHE DIDN’T BELIEVE ME.  NOR DID I BELIEVE THAT JIM WASN’T INDEED BARBRA.  WHAT CAPTIVATED ME EVEN MORE WAS JIM PERFORMING AS JIM.  THROUGHOUT THAT WEEK IN VEGAS, I SAW HIM NOT ONLY AS BARBRA, BUT GARLAND, PEGGY LEE AND DILLER.
THROUGH THE YEARS WE BECAME FRIENDS. 


I FOLLOWED HIS VEGAS CAREER FROM THE FLAMINGO TO THE THUNDERBIRD  AND FRONTIER HOTELS TO HIS APPEARANCES IN SOUTH FLORIDA. MY MOM AND I WERE ALWAYS THERE.  JIM’S MANAGEMENT NEVER WANTED ANYONE TO BE BACKSTAGE BETWEEN SHOWS, BUT HE ALWAYS SAID YES TO US. 
I FELT PRIVILEGED.   AND THEN THERE WAS A DRY SPELL FOR 7 YEARS.
HE WAS SET TO DO TWO CONCERTS IN MIAMI, THAT HAD VIRTUALLY NO PUBLICITY(SHAME ON THAT PROMOTER). WE MADE OUR WAY TO THE DRESSING ROOM – HE LOOKED RIGHT PASSED ME.  AND THEN HE SPOTTED MY MOM – AND RAN TO HER WITH OPEN ARMS.  HE THEN REALIZED WHO I WAS AND ASKED WHAT I WAS DOING AND IF I WAS STILL WRITING.  I ANSWERED YES, I’M WRITING. I’M ALSO INTO PUBLICITY (WAS WORKING WITH JACKIE MASON AT THE TIME) AND JIM RESPONDED WHERE’S MINE? 
I IN TURN ANSWERED, ‘DO YOU WANT ME TO WORK MIRACLES?”  NEEDLESS TO SAY I DID.  JIM WAS QUITE BUSY THE NEXT TWO DAYS WITH TV & RADIO INTERVIEWS.  THE PROMOTER, WASN’T A FAN OF MINE AND I COULDN’T HAVE CARED LESS WHAT HE THOUGHT.  I WAS DOING HIS JOB.  AFTER THAT, I WAS JIM’S SOUTH FLORIDA PUBLICIST.  EVEN GOT HIM INVOLVED DOING THE CONDO CIRCUIT – WHICH WAS REALLY BIG BACK THEN.  HE DID THE FONTAINBLEAU;
THE CLUB CIRCUIT, THEATRES, IT WAS ENDLESS.  
IT WAS DURING ONE OF THOSE ENGAGEMENTS, WHERE TROUBLE BREWED.  HIS TRUNK WAS STOLEN OUT OF A TAXI CAB AS THEY ARRIVED AT THEIR HOTEL.  JUDY’S APPAREL WENT MISSING, ALONG WITH OTHER THINGS.  NEEDLESS TO SAY JIM WAS FRANTIC.  HE WAS SCHEDULED FOR NUMEROUS INTERVIEWS THE NEXT DAY THAT COULDN’T BE CANCELLED.  SANDWICHED INBETWEEN WE HAD TO STOP AT THE AVENTURA MALL TO SHOP FOR BRAS.  I WAS GOING TO LET HIM DO HIS THING AND HE STARTED YELLING AT ME THAT HE WASN’T GOING INTO THE BRA SHOP ALONE.  AS
Jim Bailey with Prince Charles
SERIOUS AS THE SITUATION WAS, WE GOT A GOOD LAUGH OUT OF IT.  

LATER THAT AFTERNOON WE RECEIVED A CALL THAT THE TRUNK HAD BEEN FOUND AND THAT CLOTHING AND BRAS WERE SCATTERED IN THE BUSHES TWO BLOCKS FROM THE SCENE OF THE ROBBERY.  
THE POLICE NOW HAD THE TRUNK IN THEIR POSSESSION ALL WAS RETRIEVED.  LITTLE DID I KNOW WHAT UPSET JIM THE MOST - HIDDEN IN A SECRET COMPARTMENT WAS APPROXIMATELY $10,000 OF JUDY’S JEWELRY.  IT WAS STILL THERE. SOMEONE WAS LOOKING DOWN AT US…THANKFULLY.
I WISH I COULD FIND MY “LOST INTERVIEWS” I HAD WITH JIM AND BE ABLE TO SHARE THEM.  SOMEWHERE IN MY COLLECTION ARE ALSO PERFORMANCE TAPES – I CAN STILL HEAR HIM SINGING THE BEATLES’ “GOTTA GET YOU INTO MY LIFE”   
 JIM AS JIM OPENED UP HIS HEART WHEN HE SANG.  HE BROUGHT TEARS.  HE BROUGHT JOY.  HE BROUGHT MEMORIES THAT WILL LIVE ON FOREVER.  NO ONE SANG, ‘THIS IS MY LIFE’ THE WAY JIM USED TO SING IT.  HE WAS A CAPITAL; MASTEFUL PERFORMER.  HIS EYES; HIS VIBE; HIS TOTAL STUNNING AMBIANCE STILL LIVES.
MISS YOU JIM – LOVE YOU FOREVER…DONA KAY


Goodnight, Jim! You will ALWAYS Live in my heart! 
Thank you, Steve Campbell for your help with this blog!

Liza and Jim Bailey






In Other Entertainment News
The inimitable Charles Busch, two-time MAC Award winner, Tony nominee, and drag legend, brings to Feinstein’s/54 Below an eclectic new program of songs both contemporary and from the past. New York Times critic Stephen Holden wrote, “He has the gift of comic gab like few other entertainers. Innately funny, endearing and acutely intelligent, he also has claws. For an audience, the possibility of being scratched, although remote, lends his humor a bracing edge.” Accompanied by his dashing longtime musical director, Tom Judson, Charles combines hilarious personal reminiscence, character sketches and superb storytelling through song into one glittering and glamorous evening in cabaret. 
$35 – $45
Premiums: $80 
Additional $5 If Purchased At Venue 
$25 Food & Beverage Minimum Order Tix HERE


Reel to Real: Portrayals and Perceptions of Gays in Hollywood
The Hollywood Museum celebrates “Gay Heritage Month” by offering, in partnership with Los Angeles City Councilmember Mitch O'Farrell, an exciting and engaging exhibition - the museum's 3rd annual “Reel to Real: Portrayals and Perceptions of Gays in Hollywood” - an entertaining and informative retrospective of LGBT images in film and television. This exhibit features costumes, props, photos and iconic imagery that will tell the story of the milestones and influence that LGBT characters, storylines and industry professionals have had in Hollywood from early stereotypes to modern day real - life representations. Additionally featured are Gay Icons who are embraced and admired by the LGBT community.
A costume worn by Nathan Lane in "The Birdcage"
Costumes and props from the now famous Same Sex Marriage on "The Days of Our Lives"
Musical Quotes from Jerry Herman and Costumes from "Hello Dolly!" and "La Cage A Faux"
The Hollywood Museum sign
Costumes from "To Wong Foo, Julie Newmar"
Transparent
WHAT: “Reel to Real: Portrayals and Perceptions of Gays in Hollywood” - an extensive exhibition at The Hollywood Museum in the Historic Max Factor Building with an entertaining and informative retrospective of LGBT images in film, network and cable television, including new digital platforms.

WHERE: The Hollywood Museum in the Historic Max Factor Building
              1660 N. Highland Ave. (at Hollywood Blvd), Hollywood, CA 90028

WHEN: Wednesday - Sunday / 10:00 am to 5:00pm

Exhibition: June
Ru Pauls Drag Race Winners Outfit (2015)
10th - Sept 4th

PRICES: General Admission $15.00; Senior/Student $12.00; Child $5.00

TICKETS: Available at www.thehollywoodmuseum.com or (323) 464-7776

The Hollywood Museum's “Reel to Real” exhibition, in conjunction with Los Angeles Councilmember Mitch O'Farrell, offers a historic perspective spanning 100 years from silent films to today's films, TV shows, and digital platforms. “The museum welcomes the opportunity to create and showcase this important exhibition, sharing with the public the artistic expression of the LGBT culture and its transformative impact on the world through the entertainment industry,” says Donelle Dadigan, Founder and President of The Hollywood Museum located in the Historic Max Factor Building.

Exhibit highlights include costumes from “Transparent” - Jeffrey Tambor as Maura Pfefferman, The Danish Girl - Eddie Redmayne's portrayal of Einer Wegener / Lili Elbe, “Orange is the New Black” - Laverne Cox as Sophia, “Ru Paul's Drag Race, “Ray Donovan” - Katherine Moenning as Lena, “Arrested Development” - guest star, Liza Minnelli, “Cabaret” - Joel Grey as the Emcee, Cyndi Lauper's Grand Marshall Costume that she wore in Toronto's Gay Pride (2015), to name a few. Additional exhibits include Al Hirschfield's iconic caricatures, famous costumes from Hollywood's leading  designers - Mr. Blackwell, Bob Mackie, Rhett Turner, Nolan Miller, Edith Head - to today's “Project Runway” with Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum. “Days of Our Lives”, “Bold and Beautiful”, “Tyler Perry's The Haves and Have Nots”, “Two in a Half Men”, “True Blood”, “Dancing with the Stars”, “The Good Wife”, and more.
The exhibit revisits historic LGBT moments in Los Angeles' history, including the Black Cat riots (1967), and on display - the infamous sign that once hung at the entrance of West Hollywood's Barney's Beanery.

The Hollywood Museum gratefully acknowledges the following contributors ABC, Amazon Studios, BBC America, CBS, Discovery Life, Focus Features HBO, Logo, NBC, Netflix, OWN, Showtime, TLC and 20th Century Fox, Universal Pictures, as well as organizations serving the LGBT community including ONE Archives, Christopher Street West, The Lavender Effect, and The Glaad Awards.

www.TheHollywoodMuseum.com
Facebook: Facebook.com/TheHollywoodMuseum
Website:
Twitter: @HollywoodMuseum 

BHBPR
Contact:
Harlan Boll h.boll@dcpublicity.com 626-296-3757
or Lisa England lisa.england@dcpublicity.com 714-514-9000
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!
Hello, Dolly!, The Reagle Players 2009, starring Rachel York Photo by Herb Philpott

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!   
        

PLEASE CELEBRATE WITH us June 20th! That includes The Summer Solstice (First Day of Summer!), Jaws, Lillian Hellman, Errol Flynn, Chet Atkins, Audie Murphy, Martin Landau, Olympia Dukakis, Danny Aiello...and MORE! Announcing my special guests: Maria Ottavia, Barbara Ann Davison, P.J. Nelson, Sally Darling (joined by Matthew Martin Ward), Peggy Eason AND a Mystery Guest! Tickets should be on sell at 5PM today! IF you were at Wednesday Night's show, PLEASE put your thoughts about the evening in my guestbook at RichardSkipper.com. That helps to give the show higher visibility! I'm looking to kicking off the summer with CLASS with all of YOU! http://www.richardskipper.com/celebrates.html
What would YOU like to celebrate on June 20th?
Call 888 596-1027 to purchase tickets or YOU can also do it on THEIR website. http://www.triadnyc.com/

Here's to an INCREDIBLE tomorrow for ALL...with NO challenges!
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Keeping Entertainment LIVE!
 
TILL TOMORROW...HERE'S TO AN ARTS FILLED DAY

Richard Skipper, Richard@RichardSkipper.com









4 comments:

  1. Richard Skipper - There is nothing you cannot do and do well. Your remembrance/tribute to Jim Bailey truly captures the scope of this talent who will be forever missed. You also capture the man himself and make us understand how fortunate we were to have him in this world. You and Jim shared a special and unique bond of being able to become someone else on stage and making the audience believe. Maybe that's why your tribute has such depth and heart. Bravo!

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  2. I had the pleasure of seeing Jim Bailey twice! The first time was at the old Beverly Hills Supper Club outside Cincinnati in the mid-70s and in Sarasota, Florida at the Golden Apple Dinner Theater. I treasure the memories! Grins!

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    1. Richard, this is great, thank-you so much...xx

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