Friday, July 30, 2010
memories october 1, 1963

This picture above, is not cropped---it is just how it was sent to me....This was the day we recorded "Spoon River" for Columbia Records, having opened at The Booth Theatre on Broadway, just two days before, on September 29th, 1963, The gentleman speaking to all of us, is Leonard Burkat, who Produced the 'Original Cast Recording', under the over all supervision of Goddard Lieberson, who was THE 'King' of Original Cast Recordings for Columbia Records at that time and had been in that position for many many years before---in fact, I believe "Spoon River" was the very last OCA that he oversaw before he retired. Leonard Burkat's daughter, Susan, who lives in Portugal, found my blog when searching out 'Spoon River', because I had written about the show and the Album. As I told her in an email, I did not remember her father, or what his involvement was in the recording. So, I did some digging and got out my Album, and there in the credits it said: Album Produced By LEONARD BURKAT. I've never seen this picture--in fact, I have no memory of ever seeing any pictures from that recording day....So, for me, this is a true treasure. And the whole cast is in the picture. All six of us. What a miracle that was....! Over on the far left is Joyce Van Patten, who's face is barely in the picture---but I know it is her, (I have no idea who the man right behind her head is, but he obviously had something to do with the recording).....And there is Mr. Burkat, of course, giving us notes on something...... Then, right after Mr. Burkat, facing the camera holding his guitar, is Hal Lynch, my fellow 'Folk Singer'....That is Betty Garrett's back, (unfortunately we don't see her face) and then I'm next, facing the camera though slightly hidden by Betty......My, how serious I look---well, we all look serious. Then that's Chuck Aidman, after me. Chuck adapted the poems and Conceived and Directed the show, as well as Acting in it and writing lyrics to my music for the show. Chuck loved "Spoon River" passionately....He had fallen in love with this Edgar Lee Masters classic, in College and what he did to make this into a truly theatrical evening was pretty phenomenal...I remember Mrs. Masters and her son actually said...."We never thought this could possibly be done, and you did it..."..... They were thrilled with this truly wonderful evening of Theatre. And below, last, but not least, that's Bob Elston next to Chuck, rounding out our cast of six.Whatever Mr. Burkat was saying must have been pretty important---you can see we are all listening intently. It was a very exciting day for all of us---our little show having started in a 40 seat Theatre Workshop in Los Angeles, (Theatre West) in January of 1963---then playing a six week run at The Theatre Group at UCLA, that May, and then coming to Broadway at the end of September. An Amazing Amazing thing to have happened, believe me.......Of course the recording day was a hard day for all of us. We had not had a day off in quite a while, and this was our very first day off from doing the show at The Booth after Previews and 'opening'.....So, it was the only day the show could possibly be recorded, and it had to be done in that one day and night---no matter how long it took. And it was a long long day and night. (Yeah, that's me above, playing the Violin in the show)....And then, with no real time off, we went back to work at the Booth Theatre the next night, resuming our eight shows a week schedule....Tuesday through Sunday.....Matinees on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. (We actually would have Sunday night off and then all of Monday, too)....In fact, we were the very first Broadway show to establish the Tuesday through Sunday schedule. I know that may not mean anything to anyone, but it was a BIG chancy thing back then, and in fact, it was so popular with audiences that it became the standard performance schedule for most Broadway shows, there after, and still is, by the way. It was a truly ground breaking schedule at the time, just like everything else about "Spoon River".So, we were all pretty tired, but very excited and thrilled, too. It was most unusual for any record company to record a 'spoken word' play, but, because we had so much music in the show, Goddard Lieberson made the decision to do this cast recording. It was a slightly edited version---back in those days they rarely did a two 'record' (33rpm) Broadway cast album---and we were lucky that they were even recording our show at all. That is the Published Songbook, above.....One lucky thing for me, all the 'original' songs were included on the Album, and there were two others that I sang in the play that were particular solo favorites of mine, that were included, too. So, the end result was really quite wonderful even though a number of poems and some music had to be left out.....So......Thank you Internet and thank you Susan Burkat Tobey for contacting me and sending me this wonderful picture of a very very special day in my life......We were all so young and dedicated and so filled with the wonder of what had happened to our little group of actors. It was unusual back then, and we knew it. We truly did know it. And we were so incredibly grateful---you will never know. And, truthfully, it would still be unbelievably unusual today----actually, it probably could never even happen today because of the costs of producing on Broadway....We came into New York for a Subway Token...lol. No kidding, we truly did. Even then, this was no money to bring a show to BROADWAY! $35,000.

Ahhhhh yes, those were the days.



More To Come.......


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Tuesday, July 27, 2010
a sweet movie

"I'm a sentimental sap, that's all.....", as the song line goes....The point is, I just saw "Valentine's Day", and I enjoyed it so very much. I like Garry Marshall films. I like that he uses many of the same actors all the time, along with people he hasn't used before---they are all terrific talents and always serve him well....I like some of the inside humor---in this case the film takes place in Los Angeles and once again, as he did in "Pretty Woman", the Beverly Wilshire Hotel is featured somewhat, though it has been completely renovated since 'Pretty Woman'. Part of his Repertory Company are actors Hector Elizondro and Larry Miller.....Both were in 'Pretty Woman' and both were in "The Princess Diaries" as was Anne Hathaway Here above with Queen Latifah......And of course, the always wonderful Julia Roberts is in this film too, as she was in 'Pretty Woman'.Even Garry Marshall, himself, appears in this film, as a Violinist---he has no lines and appears very briefly, but he is there as he usually is in just about every one of his films....And his wife is in the film too, playing a small role...plus a lot of other Marshall's----I like that, too......The film itself has lots of other actors in it----all doing their bit to make this an entertaining and very sweet film. Julia Roberts actually made me cry....And I never saw it coming...call me stupid, call me sentimental....I had a good time! And sometimes, that is all I want from a film. Oh yes, and both 'McDreamy' and 'McSteamy' (at least I think those are their names) are in the film.....Jennifer Garner and the two 'Jessica's'...Beal and Alba; Julia R.'s niece Emma is in the film, too....And the always wonderful Shirley MacLaine.....And there is Ashton Kutcher and George Lopez and Topher Grace and Jamie Foxx....and Queen Latifah, who really doesn't have very much to do but is always a presence. Oh yes...and the two 'Taylors', as well---Swift and Lautner, playing girlfriend and boyfriend....Kathy Bates---someone else who has little to do, but brings a certain solidness to whatever she does......Joe Montagne makes an uncredited appearance in one little quick moment---and he too is always good....Oh dear, who am I leaving out......Oh, and there is this adorable little boy, Bryce Robinson, who you just want to hug and hug and then, hug some more......And Bradley Cooper, (up above with Julia Roberts..) who is always good in whatever he does! It's all about Love--all kinds of love---and Friendship and it is funny and sweet and has something to say, too. Frankly, I think it got a bad rap from the "critics"...If no one gets chased or shot or bleeds, these days, the critics are so damn cynical---they don't seem to care about a simple film like this...Well, I think they are Sooooo wrong! If you haven't seen it--it's worth renting. No, it won't win any Awards and it may seem sappy to a lot of people...but I had a wonderful time and I was so glad I rented it. Do be sure to watch all the way through to the credits---there is one little "bit" with the ever wonderful 'Julia' that truly had me laughing out loud! Now how bad could that be? It's called "entertainment".....and it truly was entertaining to me....And here below, three lovely women at the 'Opening'---two of whom are Oscar winners, as are Jamie Foxx and Kathy Bates.....And you know What? I watched this film twice! And I could watch it again......Like I said.....'I'm a sentimental sap, that's all.........'


More To Come.........

Note: I got my computer back late today.....And it has been overhauled and updated and I am so happy to have it back.....Hooray for 'The Computer Wizard'.........


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Wednesday, July 21, 2010
ladies who lunch-part 5

Here above, is Dianne's picture of the table, right after we did the 'poppers'.....Another case of the fabulousness of having a different eye--in this particular picture below, Dianne was on the other side of the table from me...... So....this was kind of fun---Dianne taking a picture of me, taking pictures of the confetti strewn table..... And here above, is one of the the pictures I took of the table.....We then retired to the living room to open Birthday presents.....I had expressly told all the ladies that I did not want any presents, but if they absolutely felt compelled to get me something, that I would appreciate it if they would donate money to a charity in my name. The charity of my choice was 'The Smile Train'.......Back in the early 1960's, my mother worked with Cleft Palate children.....it meant a lot to her and that there was now an organization that actually helped children with this birth defect....well, it means something even more to me than it might...... Click here for the link......But, I also told them that it could be a donation to any charity that was close to their heart---in other words, whatever they wanted to do, was fine with me.....There was no such caveat where Jacquie was concerned, though not everyone had a present for her...no fault on any one's part----It was just another one of the many 'glitches' of the day........ Here is where Dianne's pictures really make a big big difference. She was able to take shots of Jacquie and me, as we enjoyed this next part of the afternoon....... Above, Jacquie opened Betty's card....It was so very cute! Betty always has these three dimensional cards that are adorable! Betty's gift for Jacquie was a book she ordered and it hadn't come yet so the card had to suffice for the time being.....Then, Jacquie picked up Seemah's gift to her and the card that came with it.I spoke to Jacquie some days ago and she has already started reading the book and just loves it.....! She said it is the kind of book you just cannot put down. Here is Seemah's card, below. Do click on it to see it bigger and so you will be able to read what it says....... It's very funny and Oh, So True! (At least it is for me.... lol).....! Here below, Jacquie is about to open my present to her...... And open it, she did! And below, a better picture---more 'head on', by Dianne...... Yes, another of those beautiful sacks by Jen Stark.....I just love the colorfulness of the painting on this carry all....Jen is such a talented Artist.....! I had handed out this Donation page to anyone who was interested in giving to Smile Train, and then I opened Dianne's present..... The Barn where Dianne keeps her dear beloved Horse, Chisholm, is having a Fund Raiser in October to raise money for Cancer....So, she generously gave me twenty "Chances" on the drawing they will be having.....And here below is the Postcard announcing the Fund Raiser..... And below, a picture I took of the ladies sitting on the other side of the room.... Betty kept apologizing for not giving me a present, and I reminded her that the very special Birthday Dinner at her house was the BEST possible present she could have given me......Seemah's card to me told me of the donation she had made to The Crohn's and Colitis Foundation---a charity very very close to her heart, her dear sweet daughter Ellen, having died of Crohn's six years ago..... Jacquie made a generous donation to The Actors Fund Of America....another very worthy Charity which we ALL support and have for many many years.....They really help Actors and other artists related to show business who need their help desperately.....It is a fabulous organization, and they have The Actors Home in New Jersey---I have known quite a few people who spent their last days there...... And dear Carol, made a very generous donation to The Smile Train which I dearly appreciated. These are all such generous-of-heart women---such caring women, in every way---and that's something that is more valuable than anything. 'Generosity Of Spirit'. Then, Jacquie opened Lee's gift to her....... Everyone loved this bracelet---particularly, the Birthday Girl herself---Jacquie. It turned out that Lee brought me some very pretty and very practical items as a Birthday Present for me.......Aren't these adorable and so damn pretty?And the thing is---I do use these very useful things, all the time! So....there is the 'practical' part and the pretty part, too.... A happy camper! Both Jacquie and I had such a good time with the gift part of our celebration...... And just about this time, guess who arrived? Yes, the wonderful Bridget! She had called Lee's cell phone just about the time we began opening our presents and we all said....'Come On Over'....! Bridget was mortified that she had written down the Lunch in the wrong month....! "Mortified", was the word she used.....lol...But we were all thrilled that she was alright and had not been in an accident or something.... I can only tell you, We were all so happy to see her.....! And in her hand was this very unique present for me. It is Herb Seeds with the dirt and everything, so you can grow them yourself and then use them in cooking or as a garnish, etc.....Practical and fun! And so....here we all are. Enjoying another Ladies Who Lunch......Above, Jacquie and Carol....And below, Seemah.... And then below, again, Bridget and Betty...... And then, the lovely Lee....... And then, the lovely laughing me........ And of course dear Dianne too, who took all these last five pictures.....And one last picture! A "group" picture. I had asked Will to take a picture of all of us---we were still at the table when he did so, and of course, Bridget had not gotten here yet.....This one below was not the final final, but it was kind of fun..... And before I show you the very last picture of the afternoon---The GOOD Group picture---Here is a very short kind of funny video....I had forgotten to put the camera back in 'Picture Mode' and it was still on 'Video', so when we got ready for Will to take the picture---This little short Video below was the result.......
I had to laugh at myself....And here below, the final final and the end of these "Ladies Who Lunch" posts....Needless to say, a good time was had by all.....Till next time, my dears..... And as always.....there will be......



More To Come..........

Note: Sometime in the next few days or so, the Computer Wizard will be taking my computer away from me---Oh, My Lord.....Some things need fixing. So, if I am not around, that is why....I have no back up Computer so there will be quite a major withdrawel happening here.......You might hear screams as far afield as Singapore......


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