Thursday, June 22, 2017

Easing Into Summer...with Judy Garland and PRIDE

THIS is what my childhood looked like. Conway, SC circa 1960s
Aaah, summer - that long anticipated stretch of lazy, lingering days, free of responsibility and rife with possibility. It's a time to hunt for insects, master handstands, practice swimming strokes, conquer trees, explore nooks and crannies, and make new friends.
Darell Hammond

Happy Second Day of Summer (June 22nd, 2017!
June 22 is the 173rd day of the year . There are 192 days remaining until the end of the year.
On Monday night, this rainbow stretched across the tri-state area!
My horoscope tells me that I have a magical way with words today and can use them to paint a picture, tell a story or persuade someone to support your position.. I hope to give that impression! The 'WORD' for the day is INCREDIBLE . Think of this word as your mantra for the day. First apply the word to yourself, THEN apply this word to EVERYONE YOU meet. Think of this word as you respond to EVERY POST you see throughout the day. The 'word 'for TODAY is INCREDIBLE ! Please pay it forward...
Judy Garland by Al Hirschfeld (whose birthday was yesterday)
Today's blog is a stream of consciousness blog about things that are on my mind today. 

As I write my blog today, I am listening to Judy Garland
48 years ago today, she passed on. I remember the day like it was yesterday. 
I was eight years ago and cried like a baby. 
I was sad that "Dorothy' had passed. She was 48 and what a legacy she left behind. This blog is dedicated to her and her amazing body of 'worth'! It is also dedicated to my Aunt Grace. She was my Daddy's oldest sibling. As I was working on today's blog, my sister called to tell me that she passed away today. 
I got word earlier this week that it was inevitably probably going to happen this week. I loved her so much and my heart is broken. Interestingly enough, she gave me one of my first Judy Garland biography's, Rainbow by Christopher Finch in 1975. Aunt Grace, you are loved and will be missed. 
What was it within the heart and mind of an
eight year old boy that resonated so deeply? Believe it or not, I've heard similar stories from so many others. 
During the past 8 years and with the inception of this blog, I've had the privilege of interviewing and getting to know thousands of honored and dominant people, and I'm always fascinated by what makes one person end up more successfully than another.
Obviously, Judy had the talent to succeed. Events also led to her eventual success...and
MGM and beyond. 
Why did Judy Garland go on to achieve the success that she had that eluded her sisters and parents? 

Some observers of the Gay Rights' Movement in the sixties go so far as to argue that Garland's passing sparked the modern gay-rights movement; the Stonewall riots occurred in Manhattan's West Village just hours after her funeral, in New York in June of 1969.
My husband and I (together 27 years, married almost six years)
William Goldman described the final night of Judy Garland's Palace run in Esquire. 
The Rainbow flag represents our community.  It is commonly known as the gay pride flag or LGBT pride flag and is a symbol of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) pride and LGBT social movements.There has been a lot of controversy lately about  adding new color stripes and symbols to add more diversity. The colors represent various aspects of our lives and do not have anything to do with gender and/or race, and therefore, I, in my humble opinion, don't believe they have any place in this flag.
The truth of the matter, however, according to Wikipedia, is that it as undergone several revisions since its debut in 1978, first to remove colors then restore them based on availability of fabrics. The most common variant consists of six stripes: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet. The flag is typically flown horizontally, with the red stripe on top, as it would be in a natural rainbow.  

I get nostalgic every year at this time. It took me a lifetime to appreciate what I had as a kid and I long desperately to hold those memories in my heart.
Bette Midler feels that you can't move ahead if you are looking back. I feel the opposite. I think looking back can propel us to where we need to be.
photo taken from Google to show you a tobacco field
I think back to the days of my youth in South Carolina. 
I grew up in tobacco territory in Conway, South Carolina. 

I’m not a smoker. Never have been. However, I grew up in a world of tobacco. My grandfather had one of the largest tobacco farms in South Carolina and it was the main source of income for some of my Aunts and Uncles and cousins. 
Not so, with my own parents.When I was very young, my father was an insurance salesman, but eventually became a welder for Carolina Pipeline Company. I don't even think they are in business anymore. My mom worked for a factory called AVX
AVX is a leading manufacturer of advanced electronic passive components and interconnect solutions with multiple manufacturing facilities around the world. Long after I moved to NY in 79, my mom continued to work with them until she retired.
When I was thirteen, my Uncle Joe gave me my first job, for $36.00 a week!
It afforded me the opportunity to go see a movie once in a while or to buy a book (my passion) without having to ask mom and dad. 
It was a small pittance but I truly didn't need any more.
But I knew there was a life beyond this and I was going to go after it. I knew that I wanted to be in show business. I lived and breathed that thought constantly. I would perform at the drtop of a hat. My goal was to make people laugh. When I was thirteen, I auditioned for my first show,
Gower Champion, far left (Today is his Birthday). Who knew these people would play such an integral part of my life
Mame, with The Theater of the Republic in my hometown.

I had a two line walk in and appeared in a couple of ensemble numbers.
It was a start and my foot was through the door.I also announced to anyone that would listen that I was moving to New York as soon as I graduated from high school and I did. I got very little support but I was determined!
If my life was a movie, the title would be From Conway to Broadway.
I am part of a generation whose sensibilities were shaped by the Great Depression and World War II.
In my home town, you are born there, you go to school there, you get married, have children (not always in that order), most likely go into the family business there, and eventually pass on there. What I did was very unusual and almost 37 years later, my family still has no idea how to process me. I have always been my own person. 

I have very few friends from my home town. They don't relate.
That being said, and I do love to look back, Bette, I feel that my life truly began in the waning days of summer, on August 5th, 1979, as I arrived in New York and forged a life for myself. 
I'm reminded of Judy Garland's song from The Harvey Girls, It's A Great Big World
I am a work in progress and I desire to be the best I can be.
This is my thirty seventh summer since I left South Carolina. For the first few years that I was here, I tried to get home ever Christmas and summer. Then life began to happen and I was unable to get home as often as I'd like. Either tomorrow or first thing Saturday morning, I am flying home again.
This time,  under sadder circumstances. But as Judy Garland encourages me, I just have to Smile.  

Life is so much better when you stop caring about what everyone thinks, and start to actually live for yourself!!

Charles Busch posted this on Facebook (I hope he doesn't mind my using it!)
What a wonderful afternoon at Richard Skipper Celebrates... (June 18th) I'd had a very trying morning on Sunday, and I wasn't in the best of moods when I arrived, but within seconds of the show starting, all tension slipped away and I could feel the smile creeping across my face, a smile I kept for days after. 
-Doug Devita, NYC
I was most impressed with the balance and variety of Richard Skipper Celebrates... on June 18th.  I love hearing Sarah Rice, and her Bourne-Jones beauty is a joy on top of that.  That segment was really top notch.  David Sabella was so moving when he was talking about his children, and the Sondheim montage was unexpectedly thrilling.  I liked the little table where I was sitting because I could watch Richard Skipper's reactions to everything, and that just added to the joy.  I don't think a smile left my face for the entire show.  Good for Richard!!!!
Jacqueline Parker, NYC

What a wonderful afternoon at Richard Skipper Celebrates... at the Laurie Beechman Theatre on June 18th.
Do you remember Johnny Carson and the Tonight Show or WNEW AM from years ago.This show brought me back to those days. Besides being a wonderful entertainer, Richard is an fascinating interviewer. His guests in this show included Sarah Rice and Mark Watson, David Sabella, Warren Schein and special guest Sharon McNight.
It's been such a long time since I have seen such a wonderful show.
Richard has this event as a Sunday Brunch once a month. He is taking the summer off but will return with a blockbuster show on Sunday September 10th.
If you are in the New York area please join me to witness talent that is rare seen any more. (September 10th, brunch at the Laurie Beechman Theater on West 42nd Street)
Elaine Marlowe Mitchell, NYC

Sit Back! A New News Cycle Is About to Begin!

Thank you, to ALL who are mentioned in this blog for showing me that it is up to ME to lead by example!

With grateful XOXOXs ,


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

Keeping America great through Art!     

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,

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