25. June 2014 · Comments Off on As If · Categories: NM. Princes and Kings

I see in an ad that Marguerite Haymes is giving voice lessons.  She is the singer Dick Haymes’ mother.  I remember him starring in Betty Grable musicals that I loved when I was a kid.


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Marguerite is very pleasant and chirpy.   She has just moved into her apartment and is happy with its new décor.  She shows me photos someone has taken of her apartment.

Marguerite decides that I am a lyrical soprano.   She sends me to buy sheet music for songs like What a Difference a Day Makes, I’ll See You Again, and I Could Have Danced All Night.

I learn to practice scales.

I buy a double reel tape recorder the size of an icebox to sing homework that Marguerite can critique.


tape recorder


Dr. Lowen says, did you want to be a singer?

I didn’t know what I wanted.  It was a kind of self-improvement thing, I guess.  I was always signing up to learn something.  I had already taken courses like business machines, speed writing and touch typing which I need at work.

The day comes when Marguerite says, it is time to meet with an arranger and get you ready for auditions.  Auditions?

For Broadway shows, she explains.   Look, you are too much of a lady to go out there and make your way singing at little clubs.  But you are a true lyrical soprano, and you look the part of an ingénue.  There are only a handful of those.

I immediately come up with objections.   Broadway requires singing the same songs every night, over and over again.  How can I do that without getting wrung out emotionally?

You don’t.  You learn to sing as if  you are feeling those emotions.

I say it is hard to believe that Barbra Streisand is doing that when she belts out People Who Need People.

It is a colossal mistake to bring up Barbra Streisand.

It is the first time I see a crack in Marguerite’s calm manner.

Barbra Streisand is a freak of nature!  She has an iron throat and everything else that goes with it.

With that, the unmentionable 800 pound gorilla appears and sits there in the room.  Everybody knows that Barbra claims she never took a voice lesson.

I try to undo the damage, but it is too late.   I thank Marguerite for her advice and say that I will think about it and get back to her about auditions.  I call later to say that I am sorry but Broadway is not for me.

I regret that I was so clumsy because Marguerite was always encouraging and gracious to me.   But although I enjoy singing, I never thought that I would make a career of it.

If truth be told, I prefer my voice before it was trained, and soon went back to singing in a lower key, in my old, natural way.

At the office, I get a call from a man who says he is Eddie Fisher’s agent.  I know who he is.  Milton Blackstone is among the most famous publicists in the world.   Not only was Blackstone the promoter of Fisher’s career, he single handedly re-invented Jennie Grossinger.  He transformed her family resort in the sleepy Catskills and put it on the A-list of places in the world where celebrities go to see and be seen.

However, since he did not call my boss, Mr. G., on his personal line, I ask him what he is calling about.   He is looking for an investor for Eddie’s comeback tour.   Marrying and then being ditched by Elizabeth Taylor all but ended Eddie’s career.

Because Jennie is one of Mr. G.’s hundreds of close friends, who took the time to show up and speak at a recent industry fund-raiser in his honor, I put Milton through.

My boss does not think that show business is a good investment for outsiders.  Unless you are like Joe Kennedy or Howard Hughes and don’t care about the money but like chasing the women.   However, because of Jennie, he doesn’t want to say no outright.   So he sends me to the Delmonico Hotel where Fisher is staying.  I am there to observe and hear them pitch the tour.





I walk into Fisher’s suite, which has a very large living room with a grand piano.   He is being coached by a man who is telling him how to deliver the remarks between songs.

Milton greets me at the door, introduces me to Eddie, and leads me to a sofa directly facing the piano.

It is not unusual for a busy CEO to send his secretary/personal assistant on this kind of errand.   However, the woman is usually an older, business type.

Milton and I hit it off right away.   I realize that he is very smart about a lot of things I know nothing about.   I am as comfortable with him as with my old professors.

When he starts talking about how it would be a good idea for me to join Eddie on his tour and make my singing debut at Lyndon Johnson’s Inauguration party, I had to suppress a laugh.

Of course, they are assuming that I am Mr. G.’s girlfriend.   He must have told them, just to stir things up, that I sing.   I say nothing about that.   Milton leaves, and Eddie takes a break from his coach.  He sits on the other end of the sofa and nurses a drink.

I guess that Milton told him to be friendly to me, but not too friendly.   Eddie makes a sour joke about Elizabeth what’s-her-name.  The whole world knows that Elizabeth Taylor has recently ditched him for Richard Burton.

The joke is not funny.   I smile politely.   It is very awkward.

As soon as another bunch of moochers walk in to say hello to Eddie Fisher, and order themselves drinks and snacks from room service, I escape.

I know they think I’m the girlfriend because nobody even asked to hear me sing.  They’ll find out the true situation soon enough.

On Monday morning, Mr. G. walks in smiling and says he was wined and dined in Hollywood.  Some people even thought that he was Otto Preminger.

That was quick.   Milton doesn’t waste any time.   I like him.  I hope he gets an investor for his tour.

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