Remembering Rita Gam, Celebrating Meg Flather and Cristina Fontanelli...AND MORE!
|Remembering Tita Gam|
Happy April 2nd!
April 2 is the 93rd day of this year. There are 273 days remaining until the end of the year. Here in New York, April showers are in full force. It is a very rainy day. I will spend the day writing and then looking forward to having dinner with a friend who is here in New York doing a lab for hopefully a new Broadway show. More about that at another time.
I begin every day by checking out the birthdays of the day in our local paper. Today, the first name listed is actress Rita Gam. As I googled her to get the latest, I was shocked to find out that she passed on March 22nd. I had no idea!
She was a glamorous actress who starred in such exotic films as Saadia with Cornel Wilde, Sign of the Pagan with Jack Palance as Attila the Hun and Nicholas Ray’s biblical King of Kings She was 88 at the time of her passing.
Rita had her breakout role in Broadway with A Flag is Born in 1946. After seven years doing Broadway, she had her first film role in 1953’s The Thief.
During her career, she also starred in numerous stage productions, which include Wit & Wisdom, Hamlet, and There’s a Girl in My Soup. Her last film role came in 1989 with Midnight.
|Rita Gam with Gregory Peck during the filming of the political thriller Night People in Berlin in 1953. Photograph: Kreusch/AP|
HERE is her obituary from The Guardian.
I have written on numerous time about why these artists are important to me. To reiterate, when I was a kid, I was enthralled (still am) with old Hollywood.
What happened to the glamour? The grunge look does nothing for me and as far as music is concerned, most music today is about angst and screaming! When will the pendulum swing back?
|Happy Birthday, Buddy Ebsen|
I began acting when I was thirteen. My mentor, Miss Florence Epps, instilled in me a reverence for those that had gone before me. She told me on more than one occasion that every time I walked on stage, I was carrying the mantle of all previous artists with me and that it was my OBLIGATION to honor them.
I never forgot that and I think of that every time I have an opportunity to be before an audience. That
|Judy Garland, Buddy Ebsen and Deanna Durbin.|
I did the same for years through my performances of my tribute to Carol Channing.
Rita, I thank you for the gifts you gave to the world. Today, I celebrate the other "gems" today holds thanks to those that passed through this day and those that still are.
On this day in 1972, actor Charlie Chaplin returned to the United States for the first time since being labeled a communist during the Red Scare in the early 1950s.
Notable Birthdays TODAY
1908 – Buddy Ebsen, Dancer and actor Buddy Ebsen performed on Broadway and films, but he’s best known for his role as Jed Clampett on The Beverly Hillbillies, which ran for nine seasons. Later on, he became known as Barnaby Jones. It wasn't until much later that I even knew that he had a musical comedy career. He and his sister Velma were a vaudeville dance act.
|AP Photo/Harold Filan|
Another one of my favorite films is Breakfast at Tiffany's and Ebsen breaks my heart in that film. Happy Birthday, Mr. Ebsen!
Take Buddy Ebsen as The Tin Man home with you by clicking HERE.
Today is also the birthday of Alec Guinness.
Who is more foolish? The fool or the fool that follows it?
– Alec Guinness
Happy Birthday, EmmyLou Harris and Marvin Gaye.
Producer/writer/actor/director JACK WEBB born this date (1920–1982). Pete Kelly's Blues, -30-, The D.I., TVs Dragnet.
1927 – Kenneth Tynan, English author and critic (d. 1980).
A critic is a man who knows the way but can't drive the car.
Happy birthday Linda Hunt!
Happy birthday to academic writer and social critic,Camille Paglia.
1949 – Ron Palillo, American actor (d. 2012).
Actor/singer/dancer Jack Buchanan born (1891)
Notable Transitions on this day
1987 – Buddy Rich, American drummer, songwriter, and bandleader (b. 1917).
Betty Furness (1994).
|Milo O'Shea, Irish-American actor (June 2, 1926 – April 2, 2013)|
Robert H. Schuller, American pastor and author (b. 1926).
It is difficult to say what is impossible, for the dream of yesterday is the hope of today and the reality of tomorrow. Robert H. Schuller
On April 2nd, 1961, The Marcels started a three week run at No.1 on the US singles chart with the Rodgers and Heart song 'Blue Moon', also a No.1 in the UK.
Revival of The Mikado opened on Broadway (1987)
In Other Entertainment News
Get your tickets today for Tues April 5 7pm panel on Madeline Kahn! Valerie Smaldone, Barbara Barrie, Corman, and Joanna Gleason at the 92nd Street Y CLICK HERE
Singer/songwriter, cabaret performer and author Meg Flather is a Backstage Bistro and MAC Award-
Meg has also been a featured performer for The Gay Men’s Health Crisis at New York’s historic Webster Hall, for the Vermont Film Festival and the Tribeca Film and Family Festival. In December 2013, Meg performed her music to benefit the victims of Typhoon Yolanda at the Philippine Consulate. Today, I also celebrate Meg Flather. I first met Meg around 2010 when I was co-hosting Wednesday
Last year, she won the Hanson Award presented by the Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs.
This year, she won for her song, Hold on Tight, which deals with her mother's Alzheimer's.
Here is my mini interview with Meg.
What is your Morning Motivation?
I wish I could say that I rise with the sun, meditate, drink herbal tea, run a few miles and complete a Pilates class before opening my mouth, but the truth is I do not. But I aim to exercise and vocalize each day. Since I juggle
How do you approach social media marketing?
I am the worst! I still carry a flip phone and I know that has to change. But because of my home shopping/cosmetic career, I post on Facebook thoughtfully. I remember that I am a brand. So, every time I share I imagine each and every colleague, customer, employer and cabaret audience member reading it. Take a beat and remember everything you write is permanent.
Be kind, entertain, inspire, educate, support. Never the nasty stuff and no complaining!
It’s Twitter’s 10th birthday. So how do you feel about it now – love it or hate it?
What do you still want that you don't have now?
I would like to create a one-woman spoken piece about my years caring for Mom. There is time for that. I know it will be titled, "Chasing Becky."
What is your favorite song?
What a hard question! Right now, My Best Girl from MAME comes to mind. It is what I sing to Mom. Moves me deeply. She used to sing it with me each night. It was how I measured her memory loss. Now, she does not sing or know the words, but I know she knows the meaning and feels the connection through it. Deep times over here. I need to tell Jerry Herman this story and thank him for that song.
Batman or Superman?
Oh, Batman because of childhood. I just loved that show. Remember All those awesome guest actors?
What lesson are you learning in life right now??
Oh, thank you for asking this! I am most proud of staying in the moment. Don't look back too far or for too long. Don't make hard core plans. Because of my experience with Mom's dementia, I stay in her world. That means moment to moment. When I do that gifts just fall in my lap. Everything works out beautifully because I am not forcing, pushing, leaving no room for the miracles to happen. This is what my song, "Hold On Tight" is all about. (MAC Award winner this year!)
How do you stay focused on what matters most?
Well, staying in the moment answers this question too, but I
Don't miss Meg Flather in Portraits Monday night at Don't Tell Mama.
I also wish to celebrate Cristina Fontanelli today.
Cristina Fontanelli — has become a well-known personality through her recordings, her appearances on TV, radio, in concert, nightclubs, and opera, and through her acting debut on network television. She has appeared as PBS-TV/NY affiliates host for Andrea Bocelli’s “Live From Central Park” also starring Celine Dion and Tony Bennett; for the “Il Volo Takes Flight” special; Vienna Boys Choir and Qi Gong PBS-TV Specials.
|Tony Bennett and Cristina Fontanelli|
“Lifetime Achievement Award in the Arts” from the Order Sons of Italy in America (previous honorees include Luciano Pavarotti). I met Cristina thanks to our mutual friend, Ellen Easton when I interviewed Rick Lertzman and William J. Birnes at Barnes & Noble on the Upper East Side in celebration of their book, The Life and Times of Mickey Rooney.
Ellen had produced Mickey Rooney's 90th Birthday Party at Feinstein's in 2010. Crristina sang Happy Birthday to Rooney at that party.
She joined us in celebration of Rooney this October and then joined us afterward for a wonderful dinner.
“Vocal genius….. - The New York Sun
Here is our mini interview.
What Does This Time In Your Life Mean To You?
Name six things you could not live without
The stage (even watching others on it), wine, pasta, my family/friends, love, GOD
What is your unique value proposition?
I believe this questions means what do I bring to the show business table that is unique? my strength lies in my strong vocal technique and crossover abilities and the talent to connect with an audience.
Who gave you your break in the business?
There were a few people. A wonderful elderly woman in Palm Beach who sponsored my voice lessons with NYC’s best voice teacher; the man who originally hired me for my first world-tour as soprano soloist with the Mantovani Orchestra, the PBS-TV producer who heard me sing and entertain at their donor cocktail party and said “We need your energy” and put me in Central Park hosting, the Andrea Bocelli concert along with Paula Zahn. The show also starred Tony Bennett, Celine Dion and David Foster. I was in incredible company, don’t you think?
I LOVED my Barbie doll. I’m sure she represented my future glamourous life…. Changing outfits, gowns, little plastic high heels in colors to match the outfits. I even had a “mink stole” for her… which, of course, was not yet politically incorrect!
Why do you keep doing what you do?
I definitely am one of the “cliché” - if you don’t HAVE to do this, do something else. I identify as an artist and realize that more and more. There was a time when I was terribly shy in real life, and like so many artists, felt incredibly free on a stage, even in front of thousands. I improved in dealing with people in real life, but still “live” fully on-stage.
What do you still want that you don't have now?
A larger bank account! LOL!
What Saturday wisdom would you like to offer my readers today?
Find your Joy and live in it.
What is your election fear?
I try not to live with fear of any kind but trust God that He will help us find the way to deal with the extraordinary issues we face.
By Popular Demand: Voice/Speech Lessons
and Career Consultations
|Cristina in Light Opera of Manhattan's Pirates of Penzance|
May 15, 2016
Third Annual Great International Songbook, NYC
Click HERE to Order TicketsI'd also like to congratulate Jim Speake on winning the Nancy LaMott-David Friedman Award presented
by the Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs. Check out THIS VIDEO. Visit his Website HERE.
For more about the MAC Awards, Click HERE.
Jim Speake is coming back to the cabaret stage in Sweet Life: The Show
The Laurie Beechman Theatre
Tuesday April 12th at 7PM
Directed by Lennie Watts
Musical Direction with Steven Ray Watkins
with the SRW Band
at WestBank Cafe 407 West 42nd Street
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!
|Bette Midler to return to stage for lead role in 2017 production of Hello, Dolly!|
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TILL TOMORROW...HERE'S TO AN ARTS FILLED DAY
Richard Skipper, Richard@RichardSkipper.com
PLEASE CELEBRATE WITH US April 7th in NYC
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)
$5.00 OFF COVER OF ALL MAC MEMBERS
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 Richard@RichardSkipper.com or 845-365-0720