Showtime, and the Showbiz Unlimited Express headlongs into Beverly Hills, loaded with Professional Dancers Society troopers.
Showtime for the 28th annual Gypsy Awards Luncheon at The Beverly Hilton. A sensation the show is – and has been through decades gone by. Let us cheer that it’s “the best ever this 2015 Anno Domino.” And, yes, where were you? When the beautiful and multi-talented Carol Lawrence thrilled the crowd as the PDS honoree.
You had to be there in the packed ballroom where lifelong friends – gypsies! – meet and hug and shed a tear joyfully as big bucks are raised to benefit gypsies.
Who, what, where, why “gypsies?” They are our hardy perennials, giving hearts, bodies and souls to dance, dance, dance. Example: Mitzi Gaynor acts, sings, dances, and her terpsichorean feats on stage, screen and television qualify her as a Tiger Gypsy.
Please do yourself a favor and rent the Netflex video Mitzi: Razzle Dazzle, Those Special Years, and fall on the floor watching a Master Class Gypsy having the time of her life tapdancing, shimmying better than Bessie Smith’s Sister Kate, rockin’ and rollin’, sashaying, tangoing, swaggering, marching, waltzing, floating with the likes of superstars from Bob Hope to Frank Sinatra and more.
Sing Hallelujah, for our non-profit Professional Dancers Society which creates this springtime magic. A world of showbiz fun all its own with the blessing of the indomitable PDS chair Joni Berry. Her Eichenbaum Foundation underwrites every nickel and dime of this annual Sunday luncheon to help dancers in need. Mitzi gives her all as Joni’s PDS president. Their diehard energy leads to strong support for ballet, Broadway, cinema, television hoofers whose punished bodies cry “Stop” with age and paychecks disappear. PDS comes through, partnering its fundraising with the Actors Fund for room and board and medical needs, etc.
Carol Lawrence’s career exploded with her breakthrough role of Maria in West Side Story, co-starring Larry Kert and Chita Rivera. Her diversity of roles is limitless, from comedy to drama to soap opera (General Hospital), and she’s the author of an autobiography and the bestselling I Remember Pasta, where she revealed her mom’s secret recipes. She joins other PDS’ honorees, ranging from Sammy Davis Jr. to Ginger Rogers, Carol Burnett, Chita Rivera, Florence Henderson, Julie Andrews, Leslie Caron.
Last year’s awardee Rick Rozzini handed over the infamous and traditional Gypsy Robe to Adele Yoshioka. Then, Ann-Margret presented choreographers Alan Johnson, Miriam Nelson and Walter Painter with PDS’ newly created Choreography Awards, with the honorees screening their favorite Oscarcast choices.
The beloved costume designer Ret Turner was championed, the Carousel Dancers surprised with lovely youthful ballerinas, and the hero of heroes every year is Lee Hale, whose videos of Carol Lawrence, and the Who and the Who are inspired. Scandalously exciting, Lee!
Here and there, alphabetically, were loyalists Neile Adams, Lorna Berle, Bruce Boxleitner, Kim Bronson, Lynn Beyer, Charmian Carr, Joanna Carson, Robert Clary, Pat Crowley, Janeen and Michael Damian, Barbara DeVorzon, Randy Doney, Corinna Fields, Alix and Budd Friedman, Gloria and Mike Franks, Teri Garr, Josh Grad, Carole’s handsome Goulet family that included Michael, Amanda, Chris, Leann, Cailyin filled a table (Robert Goulet was wed to Carol Lawrence), Kip Grimm, Sonia Haney, Tom Hatten, Dolores Hyams, Carl Jablonski, Anne Jeffreys, Kate Edelman Johnson.
Also: those philanthropic low-key Kardashians Joan and Tom, Victoria Looseleaf, Barbara Luna, Martha Lyles, Stephen Maitland-Lewis, Bob Mackie, Millicent Martin, Stan Mazin, Mitzi McCall, Sandra Moss, the Actors Fund’s Keith McNutt, Dolores Nemiro, David Niven, Jr., Margaret O’Brien, Al Onorato, Charlotte Rae, Peter Mark Richman, Michael Rooney, Alton Ruff, Edye Rugolo, Linda Schwartz, Jane Wooster Scott, John Seitz, Gus Triconas, Jim Wood.
At Mitzi’s table were Beverly Hills Courier publisher and president Marcia Hobbs, Mitzi’s managers Rene Reyes and Shane Rosamonda, choreographer Tony Charmoli. Hats off to Bill Hayes for his sterling introduction of Carol Lawrence (having co-starred with her time and again), and to Dick Van Dyke for those winks and laughs at the finale.