Remembering Rita Gam, Celebrating Meg Flather and Cristina Fontanelli...AND MORE!

Remembering Tita Gam
I have not had a vacation in ages. My vacation is breathing between my work.
-Yoko Ono

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!

I wonder how many of my readers knew/know this. Nothing showed up either in my Facebook or Twitter feeds. Beyond that, I wonder how many people from a younger generation even know who she is.  I remember her from the Biblical movies that came out in the fifties. I used to see them on Sunday afternoons on the afternoon movies.  

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
After leaving the film industry for good, Rita continued to perform on the off-Broadway stage. Before long, she became a producer for the PBS travel series World of Beauty.
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 grew up in the days of variety specials and TV shows and television spectaculars. In the mid 70s, when I was a young teenager, the nostalgia craze began thanks to the film, That's Entertainment. That opened up that entire world to me. I began getting every book my parents would buy for me on old Hollywood and there were MANY!
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.
means physically and through the many platforms I have available to me now thanks to social media and especially with this blog. It means the world to me that you have taken the time to spend with me.
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
He did musicals with Judy Garland and Shirley Temple early on in their respective careers. Originally, he was supposed to play the scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz. Ray Bolger was originally signed on to be the Tin Man. He campaigned to play the Scarecrow. After all, he was known as Ray "Rubber Legs" Bolger. The powers that be saw his logic and the role of the Tin Man went to Buddy Ebsen. You can actually hear Ebsen's voice in We're Off to See The Wizard when Garland, Bolger, and Haley embark to Oz. THAT is Ebsen's voice, not Haley's! The original make-up was an aluminum paste and it got into Ebsen's lungs, almost killing him. Ebsen was
replaced with Jack Haley and the rest is history. Can you imagine if everything had gone according to plan? Obviously, it would have been a different film? We can only speculate.
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.
Linda Hunt
Kenneth Tynan

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)
Milo O'Shea, Irish-American actor (b. 1926).
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 

winning performer who has garnered glowing reviews from top New York entertainment publications and websites. Meg is often compared vocally, lyrically and stylistically to legendary singer/songwriters: Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon, Annie Lennox and Suzanne Vega. Meg has released six CDs of her original music (all of which are available on iTunes), and she has written and recorded songs for independent films, the Off-Broadway show Acts of Love, and on behalf of Alzheimer’s, Autism and suicide awareness. Meg is a member of ASCAP and all songs are published by Margaret Hall Music.

many hats it is always a race for balance. Each morning I sip my coffee with my cat on my legs, iPad in my lap and enjoy planning the day, reading e-mails, answering messages. Creating balance is my morning motivation.

Still have not figured out how to do that one consistently. So, I guess I am not yet a fan.

would add to look at your week in an old fashioned date book. Make sure you have created lots of space for quiet. If I don't have blocks of nothing time, I burn out easily. Much is asked of me right now. All my hats require me to really communicate, connect with others authentically. So, restoring the battery is essential.  Keep lots of white space in your date book!

“Vocal genius….. - The New York Sun

Here is our mini interview.
What Does This Time In Your Life Mean To You? 

Add caption
This time in my life is special because I have a body of work to represent my sacrifices and original aspirations as an artist.  It is satisfying that, although perhaps I haven’t yet reached some of my highest goals that I never gave up and through my perseverance have been able to express my inner artistic inspirations and share them in many parts of the world.  It’s like breathing for an artist – to share the artistic vision one has for a song, for a production, in creating a role or the perfect “storm” of a performance.  No matter what the future brings, hopefully more artistic opportunities, I am at peace knowing I have achieved a good measure of what I was meant to do in this world.

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?
What was your favorite toy when you were a kid and why? 
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 

Call for more info: 212-217-6181
Cristina in Light Opera of Manhattan's Pirates of Penzance

May 15, 2016
Third Annual Great International Songbook, NYC

Click HERE to Order Tickets

 I'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
Reserve TODAY!

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!


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!
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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.  


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