George Christy Talks About George and Jolene Schlatter, Goldie Hawn, Lily Tomlin, Bumblebee and more!
Jolene Schlatter telephones.
To share the good news about the grand soiree she hosted for husband George “The Maestro” Schlatter. Who’s given us hundreds of weeks of laughter and joy with his television series that will be revisited time and again through the years ahead.
Her story begins with their daughter, equestrian Andrea Justine, pulling up to Jolene’s favorite restaurant Il Piccolino where George said, “this is too busy, let’s go elsewhere”.
Andrea Justine replied,” we have reservations, we can’t be rude.”
They entered and the crowd cheered, singing “Happy Birthday, dear George.”
What a grand crowd it was!
Jolene, pulled off the surprise party without a hitch.
The Maestro is a legend. Not many know he sung opera as a young tenor with the St. Louis Municipal Civic Light Opera, where his mother was a violinist.
George’s television successes are endless and extraordinary. To name: Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, Real People, Goldie and Liza Together, Founder of the American Comedy Awards, etc.
Eighty guests, mostly longtime friends, were celebrating his forthcoming birthday on December 31st.
“This is both my birthday and Christmas present to you, dear George, to celebrate so many years of our close friendships,” announced Jolene.
Praises were unanimous for the dinner prepared by Il Piccolino hosts, Eddie Kerkhosf and Silvio De Mori.
∙ Russian caviar with Italian burrata accompanied with a jigger of Patron tequila;
∙ Named for the Finzi-Contini’s estate, the organic farfalle pasta was dressed with lemon, sage and pomegranate (“always a killer,” claims hostess Jolene);
∙ Jumbo green asparagus with Hollandaise sauce;
∙ Entrees of three choices.
In leu of the traditional birthday cake, Jolene opted for a family-style dessert table with Il Piccolino’s famous Belgian chocolate mousse is topped with raspberry and blueberry whipped cream.
After dinner, Big Boy Bruce Vilanch, (renowned for writing Bette Midler’s showstopper bon mots) had guests howling.
As did Lily Tomlin in a Santa Claus chapeau, Goldie Hawn, Larry King, and Tommy Smothers, who flew in from Northern California for the evening.
In the mix: Byron Allan with wife Jennifer Lucas, composer/playwright Leslie Bricusse with wife Evie, Barbara Davis, Suzanne de Passe, Berry Gordy with daughter Sherry, Alan “Buz” Kohan with wife Rhea, Anjelica Huston, Ghada and Ray Irani.
Also: Norman Jewison with wife Lynne St. David, Quincy Jones with daughter Kidada, Sherry Lansing and “Billy” Friedkin, Lyn and Norman Lear, Bob Mackie, Bill Maher.
Additionally: Ginny Mancini, Nancy Mehta Luengo, Don Mischer, Lionel Ritchie with Lisa Parigi, Nancy Davis Rickel with husband Kenny Rickel, Ed Ruscha with wife Danna, Tina Sinatra, Wendy Stark, Jane Wagner, Jo Anne Worley.
The Schlatters’ Emmy-winning daughter Maria joked that she and other contemporaries were seated at the “young table”.
“Here we are … going into menopause years, and yet we’re assigned to the kids corner.”
Laughter all around, with the Maestro cracking jokes, as is his wont, until midnight.
Apparently in the long ago Jolene Brand applied for a job as a dancer in Ciro’s nightclub on Sunset strip, a celebrity hangout.
George was the Big Kahuna at Ciro’s, and she was hired. When Howard Hughes observed that she was in the back row of the chorus, he complained, “she’s too pretty to be in the back … she should be out front.”
Which happened. Did she and George fall in love? Within a year, they became Mr. and Mrs.
Theirs remains one of those rare and blessed marriages in our flighty Tinsel Town.