Category Archives: Entertainment

The Making of an Opera

Monty at table

Monty Joynes

The writing of the lyric poetry that is the libretto of an opera is a major work of artistic endeavor.  The libretto tells a dramatic story that will be sung by vocal artists in arias, duets, quartets, and choruses accompanied by a symphony orchestra in a setting that challenges the decorative staging arts. The librettist can only imagine the performance of his operatic creation, but unless a gifted composer is attracted to the work, it will never soar off the page. If an opera libretto takes a year to write before a composer is engaged, what is the scope of the collaboration as the music takes shape as a score?  Here’s my story of the making of an opera.

 

My entry into classical music as a librettist began with the lyric poetry of an oratorio titled The Awakening of Humanity based on the metaphysical journey of American Indians in my five Booker Series novels. Composer Edmund Barton “Bart” Bullock, after reading my novels, suggested our collaboration and began the oratorio score in 2008. Its first two movements were performed three times in 2015 in France where he lives and works as a composer and concert pianist. The world premiere of the completed work is being planned for 2019. The Awakening of Humanity has gone through four revisions that required me to rewrite lyrics to better serve the music.  These revisions required Bart to make annual trips from France to my home in North Carolina where we collaborated side by side.

07 With composer Edmund Barton Bullock (2016)

 

When I realized that I could write for classical music and work in this challenging medium, I set out to write an opera libretto adapted from Save the Good Seed, the third novel in my Booker Series.  The drama of the novel concerned the forced adoption of a Pueblo Indian child by an Anglo couple and his return as an adult to his New Mexico birth tribe to seek his true identity. It took a full year to learn the structural form of opera and to write the lyric poetry of the three-act libretto.  The composer of my oratorio liked the opera libretto, but he was years away from completing our project and other commissions to consider composing it.  And so the Save the Good Seed libretto remained on the shelf as I went on to write and publish books. Save the Good Seed cover 2

I had established a friendship with Dawn Bailiff during annual reunions staged by our mutual publisher Bob Friedman (Hampton Roads Publishing) at his home in Faber, Virginia. I knew that Dawn had been a concert pianist prodigy who had made a world performance tour at the age of eighteen. She had performed with the world’s most renowned conductors and symphony orchestras. Unknown to me at the time, her composer credits included the libretto and score for an opera in German that was staged in the major German opera houses. Dawn’s heritage is German-Japanese, and she is fluent in five languages. (She is a great conversationalist!)  Tragically, at the height of her amazing classical music career, Dawn was struck down by Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

 

When Dawn was seated next to me at our annual luncheon at the historic Michie Tavern near Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, I mentioned the recent completion of my opera libretto. She asked to read it, and I sent it to her the following week. I was amazed by her response when she asked me to assign it to her for composition. In my respect and affection for Dawn, I agreed; but as her struggle with MS was too often critical, I realized that I could not pressure her in our collaboration.

piano clip art

There was also the problem of Dawn not having access to the computers and software used by contemporary composers. The investment would cost thousands of dollars that neither of us could afford. Dawn supported herself in those days by teaching advanced piano students. Later she would become an Adjunct Professor of London’s Royal Conservatory of Music. The RCM holds summer workshops in cities across the United States for gifted young talent.

Somewhere around mid-2015, Dawn advised me that she had acquired the electronic tools for composing . She was too busy to elaborate. She has never been chatty in her infrequent emails, so I sent congratulations and hoped for progress on our opera. Two years later, in May 2017, Dawn sent me a shocking email after I had requested an “annual” update.Sunroom and Smoke

After months of silence she wrote, “I have completed the music for Seed and copyrighted it so please don’t bring in another composer on that opera. It is already written. Just waiting for an opportunity to record.”  There was a catch. She did not want me to hear the score until we could hear it together. She would travel to Boone, North Carolina, my home, as soon as her RCM workshop season was over.

Watch for updates on this blog as Save the Good Seed, the opera, progresses on the road to performance. To understand the great honor of having Dawn Bailiff compose my opera libretto, take a look at her resume.

Dawn BailiffDawn Bailiff was hailed by Leonard Bernstein for the “veracity . . . and sublimity of her artistry,” when she was just ten years old.  Formerly a world-class concert pianist, Bailiff has become a translator, professor, inspirational speaker, disability advocate, and author (Notes from a Minor Key—a Memoir of Music, Love, and Healing) since her diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis.

For more than a decade, Bailiff soloed with most of the major symphonies and philharmonics on five continents, including Berlin, Vienna, Prague, London, Tokyo, Chicago, and Los Angeles, with such notable maestros as Leonard Bernstein, Carlo Maria Giulini, Eugene Ormandy, and Sir Georg Solti.

As a composer, her works have received numerous performances by: Austin Symphony, Minnesota Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Internationale Junge Orchestra Akademie  (Bayreuth), Wroclaw Chamber Orchestra (SW Poland on the Oder River), Quintessence Chamber Ensemble  (Phoenix, AZ), and Cimarron Circuit Opera Company (Norman, OK).

Her opera, Anblicke des Himmels und der Hölle (for which she wrote the libretto in German) was performed as a collaborative effort between major opera companies in Berlin, Dresden, and Stuttgart.

At the age of eighteen, Bailiff toured thirty-two cities in six months, playing in such exotic locations as Bayreuth, Wurzburg, Wroclaw, Istanbul, Hong Kong, and Seoul.

Both she and her music have been featured on North German Radio (NDR) in Hamburg, Czech-Slovak Radio (CSR) in Bratislava, BBC World Service Radio, CBC Radio Canada, CTV (Canada), YTV (Canada), Good Morning Canada, A.M.Philadelphia, Good Morning America, and National Public Radio (WHYY).

Fluent in five languages and competent in several others, Dawn Bailiff has worked as both a translator and Internet marketing consultant for Fortune 500 companies, as well as an academic translator of Rudolph Steiner, G.W. F. Hegel, and Martin Heidegger. She has also been a successful journalist, technical writer, banking officer, college professor, and small business owner. Bailiff holds an undergraduate degree in music from the esteemed Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, as well as graduate degrees from the University of Vienna, Austria. She is also the author of Using Music to Teach Math, Foreign Language, and Technical Skills—Incorporating the Anthroposophic Principles of Rudoph Steiner (written in German).  Bailiff ’s most recent translation credit is Cosmic Ordering: The Next Adventure by Barbel Mohr.

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Entertainment, Music, Native American, Poetry, Writing

The Travel Adventures of Flat Monty

IMG_2366

Flat Monty inspects the cruise ship kitchen.

My gifted and talented younger sister, Rita, greatly surprised me when she telephoned to say that she was taking me on a luxury Mediterranean cruise with land excursions to some of the most historic and beautiful sites in Europe.

Pat, my wife, was unfortunately not included obviously due to the huge added expense. It would be awkward to leave Pat behind, but how could I not accept this trip of a lifetime from my now beloved incredibly generous sister?

 

My mind immediately raced to the implications of the short-notice trip. The cruise wear from a dated Alaskan cruise was not suitable for May in Barcelona if it could even be found. Then, too, I’d need immediate airline reservations for the flight from Charlotte to Miami in order to meet Rita for the transatlantic flight. The grand tour was to begin in less than ten days!

IMG_1935

Flat Monty pauses outside the Basilica in Venice.

7F81099C-FEE8-4E9B-88D6-8F988382B27A

The Sorrento hills provide a scenic retreat for Flat Monty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

218B60DD-BCD3-4290-9C40-7DBDEB3A1A71

Always ready to video, Flat Monty arrives in Nice.

58F623DE-D449-4571-A54D-A4C108BC46E0

Flat Monty is always accompanied by his dedicated bodyguard Dennis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1353

Flat Monty at his favorite shipboard bar.

IMG_2322

The bulging-eyes guy from the movie Young Frankenstein attempts to pose with Flat Monty.

 

Rita waited a few smiling seconds as my excitement peaked before she explained the crucial caveat. I would not be making the trip in person. I would be traveling as Flat Monty. Totally confused, I had to ask, “Who the hell is Flat Monty?”

988AABD0-36F0-4B6D-BB74-B9026B9BA75E

Flat Monty visits the hidden monument to mathematical Pi somewhere in Italy.

6D814563-C8E9-42F2-A66A-B342D14D76F7

Flat Monty comes to life amid the ruins of ancient Pompeii.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being technology challenged, I was unaware that photo cutouts of me could be creatively positioned in front of a camera phone so as to give the illusion that I was present at some remarkable place or circumstance.

169439CC-48E3-43DD-89ED-F4E8D46CEB48

My sister Rita carries Flat Monty on the next grand adventure.

 

The photos of Flat Monty that Rita later produced on her grand tour have been captioned for the sake of context, if not for cruelty. Perhaps she thinks that I will use them to impress strangers as I once did with an office wall full of celebrity photos falsely dedicated to me.

 

IMG_1924

Flat Monty enjoys a cigar off the Piazza de San Marco in Venice.

The framed photo of Albert Einstein, for example, was inscribed with thanks for my helping him with quantum physics. John Wayne wrote that he looked forward to working with me on his next movie. Several sexy female movie stars intimated that they loved our nights together. President FDR thanked me for my wartime service although I was only four years old in 1945.

 

The wall of phony photos behind my magazine editor’s desk was my social satire on similar displays that I had seen in the offices of politicians. Too bad the Flat Monty technology was not available to me then. I might have appeared in a New York Yankees baseball uniform standing beside my heroes Yogi Berra and Mickey Mantle.

IMG_1032

Flat Monty wins a gold medal for the discovery of a giant petrified frog.

IMG_1015

Flat Monty leads the way for an encounter with the world’s largest cat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here then in the spirit of truth telling, if not a gesture toward sibling forgiveness, I hereby publish the fabulous travel adventures of Flat Monty. Trust me when I say, “I wish that I was there.”

407E6F91-07AE-47F9-A95E-B4E68F4CED54

Flat Monty enjoys relaxing in his cruise ship stateroom.

IMG_1046

Travel adventures often imply danger for Flat Monty.

2 Comments

Filed under Entertainment, Family, Travel, Writing

Billy Joel: A Tribute

billy-joel-cover-1One of the greatest troubadours of my generation is Billy Joel, a poet and musician of genius, who shared his deepest emotions, and ours, over a lifetime of joys and tears. He is much more than a pop icon. He is the chronicler of an age in American life.

In one of my unpublished novels, Strange & Modern Phobias, two psychiatrists speculate on the psychiatric merits of Billy Joel’s greatest hits. It was my way of paying tribute to him. Here is the excerpt.

Albert Drexle had different tastes in music; and throughout their medical school and residency years together (the mid-1970s into the 1980s); Albert was fixated on the genius of rock and roller Billy Joel, whom he celebrated as the most psychologically aware troubadour of their generation. Rooming with Albert necessitated cohabitation with the albums of Billy Joel and enthusiastic lectures on how the composer’s lyrics were more meaningful to the listening public than any of the therapies that they were being taught as clinicians.

Bernie remembered Albert saying, “If we can learn to be as keen an observer of the human condition as Billy Joel, we have the possibility of being good doctors.”

Bernie heard the Billy Joel songs so often in Albert’ s presence that he learned the melodies and the lyrics by repetitive osmosis, but he never more than politely acknowledged that such music had lasting social value, or that it could affect the behaviors of anyone with more than sentimental emotion. Poet-musicians were entertainers, not philosophers, in Bernie’s reckoning.

billyjoel-500x280

To counter Albert’s insistence on the loud sublimity of rock and roll, Bernie substituted albums by Jean-Pierre Rampal, the French flute king, and the piano records of Ferrante and Teicher and Peter Nero. These Albert would tolerate, plus any flute album by Herbie Mann in the jazz idiom. Thus a musical modus vivendi was achieved in their shared environment.

In recalling Albert’s insistence on the psychological insights of Billy Joel, Bernie decided to re-visit the entertainer’s greatest hits; and, on impulse, he saw one of the ubiquitous block-size, everything-you-want-twenty-four-hours-a-day marts and went in to purchase a CD. He had not gone into such a store during his married life since they were considered so déclassé in Joyce’s social league. The hour was late; but there were customers, maybe second-shift workers from the few remaining cotton mills that produced sheets and socks and jeans for someone other than the block-sized chain marts that got their cotton goods from factories in places like Mexico and Hong Kong. The shoppers looked tired, and they were price conscious about everything because they had to in the blue-collar rank to which they were assigned. They looked at Bernie passing in his $2,000 suit and his $300 shoes, and he could see the question in their eyes, “What the hell is he doing here?”

The city block under a single roof store was divided into departments, but the aisles were not laid out in a grid. They were mazelike so that people would get lost among the high shelves of merchandise and feel the impulse to buy their way out. Bernie wandered through the necessary, but mostly unnecessary, junk of American civilization and felt claustrophobic as the stuff surrounded him, confined him, and threatened to claim him as a helpless shopper and gnaw at his wallet.

billy-joel-greatest-hits-vol-1-2Finally, he found the music department and was informed by the signage that the mart chain was the largest seller of tapes and CDs in the known universe. Of course, they had a CD copy of Billy Joel, Greatest Hits, Volume I and Volume II. Bernie renegotiated the maze back to the front of the store and paid cash for the CD to a sad-eyed cashier, a woman with white hair, who would have preferred to spend her retirement at home but couldn’t because of the cost of her husband’s medications, so she had to work (nights was all she could get) just enough hours to be legally part-time so the mart wouldn’t have to provide health benefits, but that’s the way it goes these days. The cashier told Bernie this while she rang up the register, made change, and put his CD into a plastic bag—all this in response to his simple rhetorical question, “How are you tonight?”

It was after midnight when Bernie reached his assigned space in the downtown parking garage. He wanted to play the Billy Joel CD before nervously trotting the half-block to the gothic apartment tower where he temporarily resided, but first he had to pee. The garage level where he parked exhibited no traffic, so Bernie dared to do what had previously been unthinkable. He exited his car, walked to a convenient cement pillar, and relieved himself hard and pooling where cultured men should not go. The zipping up was not without a sense of reckless enjoyment, but Bernie wondered if his urine would stink with the sunrise and be blamed on some homeless man seeking refuge from the rain.

Since Bernie had identified no CD player in the penthouse shrine to the 1920s, and his Mercedes had a state-of-the-art sound system, Bernie fed the new CD into the slot, locked the car doors, reclined the power driver’s seat, and settled his nerves for the shock of Billy Joel’s rock and roll therapy. Bernie tried not to anticipate the music. His intent was to have it roll over him like a memory-bearing wave that somehow contained the psychological insight that Albert had touted.

billy-joe-piano-man

The first cut was Piano Man, a song that described a bar scene peopled with disillusioned characters who were revealed in terse verses by the piano man who recognizes the loneliness of crowded places where people gather to escape the perceived failures of their lives. The tempo of the song was upbeat, but the lyrics captured a sadness inherent in many modern lives. Yes, Bernie had to agree—Piano Man was an accurate psychological assessment of bar flies.

“Congratulations, kid,” Bernie said, like one of the inebriants dropping a dollar bill into the piano man’s tip jar, “you summed it up better than a psych grad’s master thesis.”

Say Goodbye to Hollywood contained a line that said goodbye to his “baby,” and that reminder annoyed Bernie. New York State of Mind was a song about returning to a person’s roots, to one’s own reality after being out of touch. Bernie, however, was unable to conjure up the same sentimentality for Baltimore and a neighborhood that he knew he would not recognize should he ever return there.

The next cut, The Stranger, was what Albert consideredbilly-joel-the-stranger a psychological epic. The lyrics were about the secrets of inner life, the self a person conceals even from a lover. Bernie could hear Albert’s commentary. “The secret self is about unfulfilled desires, things that we are afraid to reveal to each other. Our lover leaves us, and we can’t understand why. It’s not why! It’s who! On some levels we can’t communicate, so we will always be strangers to each other. And that’s how psychiatrists make a living—we bridge the gap. Billy Joel was right on. Hell, we hardly know the stranger in our self.”

“Oh, thanks,” Bernie said sarcastically to both Albert and Billy Joel. “Great analysis, but what’s the solution?”

The following cut seemed to provide a partial answer. Just The Way You Are was about relationship, acceptance, and commitment through good times and bad. The lyrical saxophone break provided moments for reflection, and Bernie recalled that he had often had to work at conversations with Joyce so as not to push her Southern panic buttons about race and class and the Democratic Party. In many ways, Bernie decided, Joyce had not been easy to talk to.

Before Bernie’s thoughts became too specific, the rush of Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song) overtook him. The song was about expectations vs. reality. In summing up what the songwriter observes from a working-class perspective, he asks, is that all we get from a lifetime of effort? His response is to roar away on a motorcycle rather than conform to so dismal a future. Bernie recognized the syndrome. Working-class kids witnessed the struggle of their parents living from payday to payday, and they rebelled. They wanted the lifestyle that they saw advertised on television, and they saw that obtaining it had nothing to do with social or moral virtues.

The teenage rebellion theme was repeated in Only The Good Die Young, that Bernie recalled as having been banned by the Catholic Church, and My Life, which became an anthem of the youth culture. Bernie drifted in attention through four other cuts that had imbedded messages relevant to his circumstances, but he missed them. Then the staccato beat of Pressure pounded him back on point.

billyjoelpressure

“Right,” Bernie said into the sound waves, “I’ve got all the advantages, but I still can’t deal with pressure. So what’s the benefit of a protected life of privilege and some ritualistic faith if you cannot deal with pressure?”

Pressure was one of Albert’s favorite diagnostic songs. Bernie supposed that Albert even played the song for certain dysfunctional patients as a kind of wake-up call to treatment. Bernie had given Albert a wooden sign long ago for his birthday. The lettering was deeply routed into the wood like an old-fashioned doctor’s shingle. The lettering read: Drexel and Joel, Rock & Roll Psychotherapy. It was given as a joke; but Albert beamed instead of laughed, and, to Bernie’s chagrin, the damn sign hung prominently in his office ever since.

billy-joel-allentownAllentown was another Billy Joel composition that Albert considered worthy of a graduate degree in either sociology or psychology. The song correctly encapsulated the failed promise of The American Dream for the children of WWII-era working-class parents. The post-war was industrial collapse, the loss of blue-collar jobs, and the resulting clinical depression was artistically rendered. Bernie did not treat these people because generally, they could not afford psychiatrists, and that reality forced Bernie to realize how disconnected he was from most of the working population of the country, how far removed he was from the desperate old woman cashier at the everything mart.

The following cut further isolated Bernie. It was another bit of Billy Joel genius that took the complex Vietnam experience and made it real and moving in less than five minutes. Bernie had avoided the draft and Vietnam combat by becoming a doctor. He had remained deferred until the war was over; but he had treated some of the inmates from that asylum and seen the consequences of their unnatural push into adulthood and horror, but Bernie had not experienced their bitterness, their loss. He had separated himself from his own generation, a generation going down into chaos together; and if he wept, he wept as an outsider to their torments.

Tell Her About It was a painful cut for Bernie to listen to billy-joel-tell-her-about-it
because it underscored his communication problems with Joyce. In the beginning of their courtship and marriage, he had told her his career dreams and his hopes for a cultured lifestyle; but as their life settled into the seamless routine of their class, what was left to share about feelings and emotions except their critiques of the performance arts?

Uptown Girl and The Longest Time played while Bernie tried to identify the moment of disconnect with Joyce. When had their respective appointment books rescheduled their intimacy into a ritual that mimicked obligatory church going? Why had the two of them settled for a closed provincial culture? Wasn’t their refusal to live in the greater society a kind of self-proclaimed aristocracy? In their rejection of modernity and all its underclass problems, hadn’t they just pretended that underclass desperation and criminality was not happening? And in building walls against contact with the great masses of the unwanted, had they not also walled themselves way from their own emotional sensitivity? The analytical questions continued until Bernie heard the familiar opening bars of You’re Only Human (Second Wind), a song that Albert swore by.

billy-joel-youre-only-humanAlbert considered that the Second Wind song provided excellent advice to patients suffering from depression due to feelings of inadequacy. The lyrics acknowledged the presence of heartbreak depression, but it then affirmed the arrival of a second wind and urged the listener to hang on. The song was both empathetic and encouraging to sufferers of a circumstantial depression, as differentiated from clinical depression such as a bi-polar disorder that requires drug therapy. Since many patients consulted psychiatrists for circumstantial, temporary disorders, Albert felt that the Billy Joel song had positive therapeutic value. Bernie, as a psychiatric resident student, thought that rock and roll had no place in the delivery of mental health services. Listening to the message of the song, locked in his car in a parking garage well after midnight, however, Bernie underwent a change of opinion.

billy-joel-the-night-is-still-young

The last cut on the Greatest Hits album was The Night Is Still Young; and although young people probably thought that the song was about sexual endurance, Bernie took it to mean that his life was not over at age fifty-five. But what next? This life as lived in Charlotte was over. He might continue the practice of psychiatry, but the comfort zone of country club connections and charity board networking among the deranged of high society was lost to him. Joyce and her cache of elitists would see to that. Consulting Dr. Selkin would no longer be fashionable. He would be so “last year,” so unpardonable, as if he had driven Joyce into the arms of Marcel Swann with a bullwhip. Her story, told to intimates in powder room whispers, would be a Faulknerian doozy that implied a hidden darkness of character that made life with Bernie sound like a slow ride through a carnival horror show.”

billy-joel-now

1 Comment

Filed under Entertainment, Famous People, Music, Writing

Bob Dylan, Rejected

bob_dylan_-_bob_dylanIt was a Sunday afternoon at a University of Virginia fraternity house located in a cluster of frat houses that overlooked an intramural field depression known as “Mad Bowl” when I met Bob Dylan and witnessed him rejected as a folk singer and song writer.

The year was 1961, and Dylan had been brought to the fraternity house by folk singer, folklorist, and mentor Paul Clayton who had friends there. Clayton was a UVA grad with a master’s degree in folklore. Since the mid-1950s, Clayton had traveled the Southern Appalachian Highlands in search of traditional folksongs that were in danger of extinction. As a scholar and archivist, he recorded these treasures on site and then sang many of them himself on 21 albums released between 1954 and 1965. In folk music circles from New York City to Los Angeles, Paul Clayton was a prominent figure in the folk music revival of the 1950s and 1960s.

paul-claytonClayton’s purpose on that Sunday afternoon was to have newcomer Bob Dylan and recorded folk singer Carolyn Hester sing a few songs as a measure of their live performance abilities. It was easy to pull the frat boys away from the ball game on television once they got an introduction to Carolyn Hester. She was 24 years old at the time and Hollywood gorgeous. Hester had already released two albums and was being compared to folk music star Joan Baez. Clayton was helping her with her live performance guitar playing, which was weak at the time. Hester stood against the living room wall and performed two unremembered songs. Her singing was strong and beautiful, but she missed some chords in the accompaniment.

Clayton then encouraged the shy, downcast, tousle headed, disheveled 20-year-old Bob Dylan to uncase his guitar and sing a couple of his original songs. Perhaps in over 50 years of retrospect it is wishful thinking, but I swear that one of the songs that he performed was “Blowin’ in the Wind.”  Although Dylan would become “the voice of his generation,” his singing voice has been described as, “raw, seemingly untrained, and frankly a nasal voice” by Joyce Carol Oates among others. Dylan was also accused of imitating Woody Guthrie’s earthy vocal mannerisms which were also termed “iconoclastic baying.”

156-madisonbowl

Mad Bowl, UVA

The frat boys that Sunday found Dylan’s singing to be both incomprehensible and downright irritating.  Someone turned the television set back on to the ball game, and there were insincere smiles and gestures that communicated to the performers that their leave taking was in order. Clayton’s fraternity friend made an awkward apology as the three folk singers exited the scene of their embarrassment.

Soon after the fraternity house debacle, Carolyn Hestercarolyn-hester invited Bob Dylan to play harmonica on sessions for her third album at Columbia Records.  At a rehearsal session, Dylan met celebrated record producer John Hammond who signed him to a recording contract. Dylan’s first album on Columbia Records was released on March 19, 1962. The album made a great impression in the folk music community, but it was not commercially successful.

the-freewheelin-bob-dylan

Dylan’s second album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, released in May 1963, however, featured “Blowin’ in the Wind” as its first cut. If Dylan could not make his songs famous, then cover groups like Peter, Paul and Mary, The Byrds, Sonny and Cher, The Hollies, and many others could. The Beatles themselves reported listening to the Freewheelin’ album until they wore it out.

Since being rejected by the UVA frat boys in 1961, Bob Dylan has sold more than 100 million records. No songwriter, past or present, has received so many awards and honors.  A partial list includes The Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (1991), The Kennedy Center Honor (1997), an Academy Award Oscar for Best Song (2001), the Pulitzer Prize (2008), the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2012), and the Nobel Prize for Literature (2016).

There are perhaps a dozen men now into their 70s who may remember Bob Dylan from their fraternity house encounter in 1961. Fortunately, their rejection of the young artist did not kill his creative spirit. What if they had encouraged him? No telling to what heights he might have risen then.

Leave a comment

Filed under Entertainment, Famous People, Memoirs, Poetry, Writing

Prince Henrik of Denmark: A Royal Collaboration

The Prince Consort Henrik of Denmark

The Prince Consort Henrik of Denmark

Classical music performance artists dream of recognition in the places where concerts are sponsored by royalty. Here is the story of how an American composer rose to acclaim in the châteaux of European royals in the dreamtime of a single year.

Henri de Laborde de Monpezat, as the husband of Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, is titled His Royal Highness, the Prince Consort of Denmark. A native French Comte (Count) before his wife came to the Danish crown in January 1972, Henri, or in Danish, ‘Henrik’ is a published poet of some regard, having authored five books since 1982, and a prize-winner in several European literary academies. Prince Henrik writes in French and maintains a part-time residency at his château and winery in France. As it evolved, Prince Henrik and I have a great deal in common. We are both poets and collaborators to the same Franco-American composer Edmund Barton “Bart” Bullock.

Long before Bart and I began our partnership on the oratorio, The Awakening of Humanity, Bart has had a long-term interest in the composition and performance of art songs like those based on the poetry of Prince Henrik. In 1999, Bart began a collaboration with the Académie des Jeux Floraux de Toulouse (Academy of the Floral Games), the oldest literary society in the western world, founded in 1323. Bart composed an art song in 1999 based on a poem by Prince Henrik, “Descent on the river of the catafalque of Raymond VII, Count of Toulouse”, which opens his Cycle of Seven Arts Songs in honor of the Seven Troubadours and of Clémence Isaure, founders of the Jeux Floraux de Toulouse.

Edmund "Bart" Bullock in performance

Edmund “Bart” Bullock in performance

The art song was composed with permission, but Bart had no personal contact with the Prince. This work was premiered in the Clémence Isaure Hall in Toulouse in 2001, with a repeat performance that same year in a Carnegie Recital Hall concert in New York City. Then in August 2013, Bart’s friend and landlord Marquis Robert de Palaminy invited him to attend the annual charity concert sponsored by Prince Henrik and Queen Margrethe II. Bart decided to package the song cycle, published in the U. S., for Prince Henrik on the chance that he might be presented to him.

When the Honorary Consul of Denmark in Toulouse, an acquaintance who was also attending the concert, learned about Bart’s gift package, he offered to convey it to the Prince. The Prince, an excellent classical pianist himself, was able to read the score and was impressed enough to call Bart to him during the concert intermission. Thus began a conversation about music that led to Bart being invited to the Prince’s after-concert dinner party.

Queen Margrethe and Prince Consort Henrik of Denmark

Queen Margrethe and Prince Consort Henrik of Denmark

Amid a roomful of close friends and family of the Prince and Queen Margrethe II, the Prince asked Bart if he would compose another art song from a poem that he had written about Toulouse. The composition of that song led the Prince to send Bart a book of his poems for the creation of an art song cycle that he would commission. The commission of the six new art songs included a performance contract to perform the music at the Prince and Queen’s 2014 benefit concert. The arc of that year between concerts must now seem as magical as a fairy tale for Bart.

The concert in the Château de Cayx in Luzech, France will be held on

Chateau de Cayz Luzech, France

Chateau de Cayz
Luzech, France

Thursday, August 21st at 6:30 p.m. As sponsored by Prince Henrik and Queen Margrethe II, Bart will perform his Three Tango Fantasies, a Cycle of Seven Troubadour Art Songs, a Cycle of Six French Art Songs based on Prince Henrik’s poems from the poetry book “Cantabile,” and his Prélude Elégiaque, from the oratorio Le Cortège de Lucie, based on the libretto by the Franco-Belgian poet and philosopher Bernard Van Brugghe.

The second half of the concert will hear Bart play famous Opera Arias with mezzo-soprano Christine Labadens. A DVD recording will be made of the concert with a royal dinner party to follow.

Bart was no stranger to French nobility when he began his collaboration with Prince Henrik. His home base in France is on the estate of the Marquis and Marquise Robert and Jeanne-Marie de Palaminy. Bart had leased the historic estate manager’s cottage, on the grounds of the Château de Palaminy . In cooperation with the Palaminys, he has restored it to be the ideal composer’s environment.

Chateau de Palaminy

Chateau de Palaminy

 Interior alterations allowed for the entry of Bart’s huge Steinway D concert grand piano and a staging area to accommodate forty guests for intimate concerts in the composer’s home. Bart also gave private concerts for the Palaminys and their guests in the old wine storehouse of the château, a late 18th century addition whose walls were built out of the distinctive Toulouse brick and stones from the adjacent Garonne River, a vast space with a wood beam ceiling seating up to 400 people. Other noble acquaintances then wanted Bart to perform at their château, so Bart was kept busy, making new friends and supporters at these intimate cultural gatherings.

Edmund Barton Bullock Photo by Maurice Petit

                                                         Edmund Barton Bullock
                                                          Photo by Maurice Petit

In addition to concert appearances in Europe and the United States and recording sessions of his major works, also on Bart’s agenda are my oratorio, The Awakening of Humanity, and his French oratorio, Le Cortége de Lucie.

After the anticipated triumph of the Prince Henrik art song cycle concert in August, there is hope that it will be repeated in Denmark and the United States.

My own collaboration with Bart will have the premiere performance of its first two movements on January 11th in Toulouse by the Ensemble Vocal Unité under the artistic direction of Christian Nadalet. Our hope is that the recording of this concert will stimulate interest leading to a commission for Bart to complete the entire six-movement work. We would like to see The Awakening of Humanity premiered in France with a symphony orchestra, followed by a United States premiere in Washington, DC or in our native North Carolina.

"Bart" Bullock and Monty Joynes in their oratorio collaboration

“Bart” Bullock and Monty Joynes in their
oratorio collaboration

I can also imagine a day when a concert program might include the Prince’s art song cycle as well as my oratorio. Perhaps as the attending collaborators, we would be introduced—Henrik as a Royal Prince and me with a kind of title awarded at birth. I am a Saint. St. Leger Moncure Joynes. I hope that my joke makes the Prince smile. We do, after all, share a composer.

Leave a comment

Filed under Art, Entertainment, Famous People, Music, Writing

Edmund Barton Bullock: The Return to New York Recital

Bart and Monty working on The Awakening of Humanity oratorio

Bart and Monty working on The Awakening of Humanity oratorio

A North Carolina-born composing and performing artist returns from his home in France to once again triumph on a New York City stage.  “Bart” Bullock is my dear friend and the composer of The Awakening of Humanity, my oratorio libretto.  Bart is in the U.S. during January and February (2014) to give university recitals and master classes and to return to New York City where he enjoyed his early career successes.

If you are in the New York City area, I urge you to reserve your seat for an evening of great piano music when Bart plays Debussy, Rachmaninoff, and three of his own unique compositions.

Here are the date and venue details along with the program and program notes:

Bart on piano in website

 The E. Barton Bullock Piano Recital

Monday, February 10, 2014  8:00 PM

Klavierhaus Recital Hall

211 W. 58th Street  NYC

For reservations, please contact Nicholas Russotto, Recital Hall Manager, at nicholas@klavierhaus.com.  Although tickets may be available at the door, reservations are recommended due to limited seating.

Klavierhaus recital hall

_____________________________________________________

Children’s Corner, for piano solo                        Achille-Claude DEBUSSY

I.    Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum

II.   Jimbo’s Lullaby

III.  Serenade for the Doll

IV.  The Snow is Dancing

V.   The Little Shepherd

VI.  Golliwog’s Cake-walk

Three Tango Fantasies, for piano solo          Edmund Barton BULLOCK

I.    Allegro, molto ritmico e appasionata

II.  Canción d’amor

III. Allegro appassionato

– I N T E R M I S S I O N –

Prélude Elégiaque, for piano solo                     Edmund Barton BULLOCK

Excerpt from the Oratorio Le Cortége de Saint Lucie                                 

 Three Nocturnes, for piano solo                         Edmund Barton BULLOCK

I.     Andante, tempo rubato

II.    Ben moderato e espressivo  “September 11, 2001”

III.  Tranquillo, con molto tenerezza

Prelude in B Minor, Opus 32, No. 10                        Sergei RACHMANINOFF

Prelude en G Major, Opus 32, No. 5

Moment musical in E Minor, Opus 16, No. 4

piano clip art

PROGRAM NOTES

Under the auspices of the La Gesse Foundation, over a period of 6 years, pianist and composer Edmund Barton Bullock performed regularly in the Carnegie Weill Recital Hall, including an evening of his works for chamber music in 2002, as well as 2 world premiers. During this period, he met Sujatri Reisinger, Vice-President of Klavierhaus, and a musical friendship ensued. Reisinger ultimately loaned a Hamburg Steinway D for a memorable concert of Bullock’s works in the Weill Recital Hall.

Bullock is honored to be invited to perform on Monday, February 10, 2014 in Klavierhaus’s intimately beautiful recital hall on renowned Greek pianist Gina Bachauer’s restored circa 1910 Steinway D, an instrument of exceptional technical and tonal qualities.

Bart full face portraitThrough the influence of renowned French pianist Daniel Ericourt, who performed Debussy’s piano works in legendary performances in Carnegie Hall, Bullock, a native of North Carolina, went to Paris to study with Paris Conservatory professor Pierre Sancan in 1978, after finishing his undergraduate studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He began a love affair with France which continues to this day, after prizes from the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Musique de Paris towards the Licence d’Enseignement and the prestigious Licence de Concert, and private studies with French pianist Thérèse Dussaut and Russian pianist Yevgeni Malinin, once director of  Moscow’s ‘Tchaikovsky’ Conservatory.

In the 1990s Bullock began a parallel career as a composer, working with Dr. Robert Sirota, Director of the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, and Guillaume Connesson, French composer. Many chamber music and piano works were created and performed during this period in the U.S., Canada, and in Europe. After a major commission for his Appalachian Concerto for Piano and Orchestra from private sources, Bullock embarked on a new journey of the creation of works for large ensembles, including the commissioned work A Spanish Concertina for Bandoneon and Wind Ensemble, premiered with renowned Argentinean bandoneonist Daniel Binelli and the Appalachian Wind Ensemble in 2005, based on the piano work Three Tango Fantasies, which will be interpreted on the Klavierhaus program.

In honor of Daniel Ericourt’s connection with Claude Debussy, Bullock will begin the February 10th program with Debussy’s Children’s Corner suite. Ericourt was the first pianist to record all of Debussy’s piano works, and even performed on a recital in his youth in which Debussy also performed and was close friends with Debussy’s daughter “Chouchou” to whom this work was dedicated.

Bullock’s Three Nocturnes were composed during 2001, and the second nocturne: Ben Moderato e espressivo “September 11, 2001” is a musical “witness” of the tragic “911” event, whose spiritual energy attempts to begin the collective humanity healing process.

Bullock is currently working on 2 oratorio projects—on the American side, The Awakening of Humanity, based on librettist Monty Joynes’s libretto, and in France, Le Cortège de Lucie, based on the libretto of Franco-Belgian poet and philosopher Bernard Van Brugghe. On the request of the author, Bullock created a transcription for piano solo of the Prélude Elégiague, originally composed for violin, cello, harp and piano, which also be performed on the program.

In honor of Yevgeni Malinin, also a very important mentor on Bullock’s path to becoming a concert pianist, three Rachmaninoff pieces will close this unique February 10th recital at Klavierhaus.

Visit Bart’s website.

To hear Bart performing his Three Tango Fantasies, click here.   Bart casually at piano

Leave a comment

Filed under Entertainment, Music, Writing

Super Night at the Super Bowl

Joe Namath

Joe Namath

The National Football League’s Super Bowl is the most famous annual event in the United States.  Forget the game itself. If you were not a player, coach, or owner, it is the party that you will remember most if you were there.  Mostly, it’s the rich and the famous who enjoy the prime events outside the stadium, but during Super Bowl XII, I know somebody from the working class who can relate the inside story of its glamour and excitement.

In January 1978 my beautiful future wife Pat was the Administrative

New Orleans Hilton in the late 70s

New Orleans Hilton in the late 70s

Assistant to the General Manager of the New Orleans Hilton, and she personally handled arrangements for VIPs who visited the hotel.  Barron Hilton, the head of the Hilton Hotels chain, was famous for hosting Super Bowl parties in the game host cities.  For Pat and her New Orleans Hilton colleagues, it was a particularly exciting time to host their boss and his friends, and she stayed extremely busy seeing to the details of their transportation and accommodation needs.  Her rewards for a job well done were an invitation to attend Barron Hilton’s private dinner party in the Hilton Ballroom and to be given tickets to that night’s CBS live televised entertainment gala “Super Night at the Super Bowl” at the New Orleans Theatre of Performing Arts.

John Denver

John Denver

Pat’s seats for the “Super Night at the Super Bowl” television special were first-row mezzanine with just about five seats in her row.  Much to her surprise, when the lights dimmed, she saw John Denver and his entourage of four men enter the mezzanine as they walked past her and sat two rows behind.  For some reason the small row of seats behind her was empty, so she knew that Denver was sitting directly behind her.  She has always been, and still is, an avid John Denver fan, and so it took a great deal of restraint to concentrate on the show instead of her music idol.

Andy Williams album coverThe gala show hosts were Joe Namath, Andy Williams, and Paul Williams.  More than a dozen guest stars appearing on the program included Peter Falk, Pete Fountain, Vicki Lawrence, Henry Mancini, and comedians Foster Brooks, Norm Crosby, Minnie Pearl, Mel Tillis and Stiller & Meara.  It was a great show with appeal to the widest possible television audience.

The program from Super Night at the Super Bowl  1978

The program from Super Night at the Super Bowl 1978

Barron Hilton’s guest list for his after-show Super Bowl party included celebrities from movies, television, and sports, and so there was a gaggle of press photographers and onlookers at the entrance to the Hilton Ballroom to capture their entrances.  That night Pat had her blonde hair done up in great style, and she was wearing a silver fox evening jacket over a long formal dress.  I will mention here that after becoming an advocate for animal rights, she now refuses to wear it.  But that night when the photographers saw her approach, and people in the corridor began applauding, they immediately assumed that such a beautiful woman had to be a movie star, and they rushed her as if she had been Elizabeth Taylor.  It was a memorable moment for a working class gal.

Monty and Pat a few years later in 1983

Monty and Pat a few years later in 1983

Inside the ballroom, Pat and her escort sat at a reserved table that had a real NFL football ornamented as a centerpiece along with Denver Bronco favors.  Before the evening was over, a man representing John Denver, who sat at a nearby table, told her that the star would like to have her table’s centerpiece.  A bit flustered, Pat assented only to regret later that she had not insisted on personally delivering the football to Denver.  He and his entourage soon departed the party. That same night Billy Carter, brother to President Jimmy Carter, autographed a can of Billy Beer for Pat.  She still has it for the little that it is now worth.Billy Beer

The next day the actual Super Bowl game was played in the Louisiana Superdome.  The Dallas Cowboys defeated the Denver Broncos by the score of 27 to 10.  Pat didn’t see the game; she was too busy at the hotel serving the needs of the VIPs.

3 Comments

Filed under Entertainment, Famous People, Memoirs, Writing

Mel Tormé: Best Male Jazz Vocalist

Mel Torme first photoI was already a Mel Tormé fan when I began to go to New York City in the falls of the mid-1970s to solicit national print ads for Metro Hampton Roads Magazine from major advertising agencies. My boss, George Crump, installed me a week at a time at his favorite NYC hotel, the elegant St. Regis, with a prestigious signature account. Imagine my delight when I discovered that Mel Tormé unofficially opened New York’s fall cabaret season with a show in the Maisonette, the hotel’s nightclub.

With a magazine journalist’s panache I was never reluctant to stick my nose into things like celebrity rehearsals, and thus I bumped into Mel Tormé and engaged him in conversation. At age 49, without makeup, hairpiece, and perhaps a girdle, Mel resembled a middle-aged traveling salesman more than he did a musical prodigy and dynamic entertainer.

Normally, Mel explained, the club area was off limits to visitors during rehearsals, but for whatever reason, he made an exception for me although I was making sales calls out of the hotel for most of the day.

St. Regis Hotel

If you don’t know the genius of Mel Tormé, you should be advised that the Velvet Fog voice was one of the greatest musicians, singers, songwriters, and arrangers of his generation.  His hit records and recognitions included the Down Beat Award for Best Male Jazz Singer (1976), and two Grammy Awards for Best Male Vocalist (1983) and Best Male Jazz Vocalist (1984). You will certainly recognize Mel for writing the music to The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On an Open Fire) that was first made a hit by Nat King Cole.

Mel Torme with Benny Goodman and Teddy Wilson

Mel Torme with Benny Goodman and Teddy Wilson

Mel knew and learned from legendary drummers Buddy Rich and Gene Krupa, so when he steps away from the piano to do a drum set, you will be awed.  During the 1979 Chicago Jazz Festival, Mel played drums with Benny Goodman on the classic Sing, Sing, Sing. Who would have dared if he didn’t have the chops?

For Mel’s 1974 opening night at the Maisonette, I used the status of my St. Regis signature account to reserve a front-row table in the hotel showroom. My then-wife flew into New York from Norfolk, Virginia for the weekend, and I also invited another couple to join us.  I was recruiting the husband to be our magazine’s sales manager, and if my acquaintanceship with Mel Tormé didn’t impress him, nothing would. Also, I had a better table than many of the show business celebrities in the room.

The album Mel Tormé: Live At The Maisonette resulted from that September show, and it includes a medley of 17 George Gershwin songs that runs for more than 15 minutes. Mel’s arrangements and performance that night earned him a standing ovation.  He also did a fabulous drum set, and I also believe that he even played a trumpet solo! He was called back to the stage for two or three encores, and in one pass by our table, Mel leaned in and gave a long stem rose to my wife from those that had just been presented to him. Wow, Mel!  What had I done to deserve that!

Mel had invited me to visit the Maisonette off-stage Green Room after the show, so I left my wife and guests briefly to pay respects to one of the greatest examples of talent and showmanship that I had ever witnessed. The Green Room was crowded with Mel’s friends that included songwriter Burt Bacharach, comedian Henny Youngman, and television star Morey Amsterdam among others.

Then I witnessed a very shocking thing. The great Mel Tormé, drenched in sweat and fresh from repeated standing ovations, was yet pleading for our approbations. Did we really love the show? Did the Gershwin medley work?  When he shook my hand, I wanted to shout to him, “Mel. Relax! Tonight you are the king of the world.” But instead, I said something like “wonderful” and “incredible” and withdrew from the unexpected scene. Is it perfection that drives entertainers to self-doubt even in the hour of their greatest triumph?

Mel Torme Mel Torme open photoThe next time that I saw Mel Tormé was in Las Vegas at the Sands Hotel showroom. It was a year or so later, and Mel was opening for Rich Little, a comedic impressionist at the height of his fame. I happened to be staying at the Sands, and so I ran into Mel and his family at the huge central courtyard pool. I didn’t want to intrude on his privacy, so the greeting was brief with my mention of his kindnesses to me at the St. Regis.

Sammy Davis, Jr., one of Frank Sinatra’s Rat Pack, once allowed Mel Tormé to open for his Las Vegas act, but he soon discovered that Mel’s show was too hard to follow. The audience was totally spent by the time Sammy got on stage.  Anyway, that was the story told to me by a Vegas gambler.

From his first published song at the age of 16—“Lament to Love”—that became a hit recording for bandleader Harry James, Mel Tormé proved to be one of the top musical talents of his generation. And like the character Judge Harry Stone on the 1980s television situation comedy Night Court, I am also an unabashed fan of Mel Tormé.   That's All

3 Comments

Filed under Entertainment, Famous People, Memoirs, Music, Writing

Bob Hope: The POW Shows

Bob Hope feature image Comedian, movie, and television star Bob Hope will always be remembered as a great patriot for his USO wartime tours to entertain American servicemen. In combat zones covering WWII, Korea, and Vietnam, no one was better known or more appreciated by military service men and women.  Imagine my excitement as a former Army enlisted man when I was asked to meet Bob Hope’s limo at the curb and escort him to the Green Room of the Norfolk Scope Arena where he would host a show honoring just-returned POWs from Vietnam and their families.

Following the Paris Peace Accords of January 1973, in Operation Homecoming, American prisoners of war were released and began to return to the USA during February and April.  On May 24th President Richard Nixon hosted a White House dinner for the POWs, and Bob Hope headlined a gala show that included John Wayne, Sammy Davis Jr., and Les Brown and his band. Suddenly, every major city in the country wanted to honor the POWs and their families, and Bob Hope was expected to host all of these celebratory events.

Bob Hope at the White House

By the time the POW honoring events got to Norfolk, Virginia, one of the major military centers in the nation, the POWs were worn out by the travel, and their attendance was limited. Nevertheless, the Scope Arena was filled with Sailors, Soldiers, Airmen, and Marines from all the nearby bases, and Bob Hope was there to fulfill his role.

Bob Hope at USO show

I must have gotten my assignment to escort Bob Hope from the street curb to the arena stage because I was well known to the Scope management. I had had a minor role at the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce in bringing the ABA Basketball Virginia Squires to the venue, and then as the editor of Metro Hampton Roads Magazine, I had continued to support Scope at every editorial opportunity.

Norfolk Scope Arena

Norfolk Scope Arena

Bob Hope was yet dapper at age 70 when I greeted him at the curb and announced my role as his temporary aide. Our route into the building to the Green Room was through a wide concourse where more than a dozen photographers followed our progress and took pictures. My head was turned toward Mr. Hope as I informed him of the pre-show arrangements, and although he acknowledged what I was saying, he did not turn to look at me.  Finally, as the photographers persisted, Mr. Hope whispered a word of professional advice to me, “Always keep your eyes on the camera, kid.”

Monty was a 32-year-old working magazine journalist at the time that he met Bob Hope who was then age 70.

Monty was a 32-year-old working magazine journalist at the time that he met Bob Hope who was then age 70.

Throughout my social and professional life ever since, I have never been shy to have my photograph taken because I can still hear Bob Hope whispering to me in my 32nd year, “Always keep your eyes on the camera, kid.”

Bob Hope final image

Leave a comment

Filed under Entertainment, Famous People, Memoirs, Military, Music, Writing

Cybill Shepherd: A Photo Op

Cybill Shepherd feature imageAs a writer who transitions to the editorship of a consumer magazine, there are lots of opportunities to meet and be photographed with celebrities if you know the tricks of the trade.

The actress Cybill Shepherd was an immediate star at age 21 when she debuted in The Last Picture Show (1971), a film that was nominated for eight Academy Awards. Then she made impressive appearances in The Heartbreak Kid (1972) and Taxi Driver (1976), but her star dimmed with films that failed at the box office.

Cybill Shepherd from the early 70s

When I met Cybill Shepherd in 1976, she was touring dinner theatres in a production of A Shot In The Dark. As the former girlfriend of Elvis Presley and other Hollywood notables, she still had audience drawing power.

Following her performance in A Shot In The Dark at the Tidewater Dinner Theatre, there was a wine and light fare reception for theatre patrons.  I was attending as the editor of Metro Hampton Roads Magazine, a monthly, 100-page plus urban features publication. One of the magazine’s most popular sections was titled “Metro Eye” and consisted of a two to four-page layout of photos taken at area social, cultural, and business events.

As editor, I assigned free-lance photographers to a number of these “Metro Eye” events each issue, and our photo coverage was very welcomed and desired at these venues.  My payment for these photographs was insultingly low, but the photographers were allowed to sell their pictures to event sponsors and individuals.  Usually it was very profitable for them to be identified as a Metro photographer, and many good free-lancers wanted those assignments.

Monty and wife Theresa with their best friends Peter and Bess Decker pose with actress Anne Francis at a Tidewater Dinner Theater reception

Monty and wife Theresa with their best friends Peter and Bess Decker pose with actress Anne Francis at a Tidewater Dinner Theater reception

Coincidentally, one of the Metro photos appeared in the program for A Shot In The Dark. Theatre executive Alan Sader had included a gallery of pictures from past shows showing patrons with such stars as Forrest Tucker, Dana Andrews, Yvonne De Carlo, and Pat O’Brien.  My best pal Peter Decker and his beautiful wife Bess were pictured with me and my then-wife Theresa beside actress Anne Francis who had starred in a production of Cactus Flower.  Anne Francis is best remembered for her roles in the 1950s classic science fiction film Forbidden Planet, and for the 1960s television series Honey West.

Monty hams it up with the then-27-year-old actress Cybill Shepherd

Monty hams it up with the then-27-year-old actress Cybill Shepherd

A Metro photographer was working the theatre reception event, and of course, he wanted to ingratiate himself to me by taking my picture with Cybill Shepherd. It became obvious to Ms. Shepherd that the photographer, in bringing us together and directing the photograph, was paying more attention to me than he was to her. He was also taking a lot more shots than were necessary.

When the photographer finally released us, Ms. Shepherd turned to me with an expression of wonderment and demanded, “Just who the hell are you, anyway?”

How could I possibly respond to her without confessing my exploitation, so I answered with something both short and reasonable that I hoped she could accept.

“I’m the mayor,” I said.

Cybill Shepherd recovered from local pretenders like me to star in an Emmy Award winning television series, Moonlighting, with Bruce Willis (1985 to 1989).  Cybill Shepherd is a gal with spunk, and I like spunk.

Cybill Shepherd and Moonlighting co-star Bruce Willis

Cybill Shepherd and Moonlighting co-star Bruce Willis

1 Comment

Filed under Entertainment, Famous People, Memoirs, Movies, Writing