MEET THE AUTHOR as VANTAGE PRESS CELEBRATES THE RELEASE OF THE PERSIAN ROOM PRESENTS by Patty Farmer with a Q&A and signing at Barnes & Noble The first-ever oral history of the Persian Room -New York’s premiere cabaret for four decades. Call it the biography of a place, a collaborative memoir, a history-but whatever you call it, The Persian Room Presents will transport you to the most elegant and magical night spot New York has ever known. In this dishy, personal, and compulsively readable book, dozens of celebrities reminisce about their experiences performing and partying at the Plaza and they all agree on one thing: there’s never been anyplace like it. For more than forty years, from 1934 to 1975, the Persian Room was the place to be in New York City. An unparalleled array of performers graced its stage. And, though more than three decades have passed since the final ovation, there are many from both sides of the footlights who remember its charms.
Among the many stars who spoke for the record are Andy Williams, Marge Champion, Polly Bergen, Diahann Carroll, Connie Stevens, Lesley Gore, Patti Page, Carol Lawrence, Jack Jones, Michele Lee, Lainie Kazan, Julie Wilson, Tony Butala, Tony Sandler, Celeste Holm, Kaye Ballard, and Roslyn Kind. Don Dellair regaled the author with humorous tales of both Hildegarde and Liberace. Hilary Knight-the legendary illustrator who brought Eloise to life-spoke wistfully of Kay Thompson and Lisa Kirk. Just a taste of the great stories Farmer collected once she got the celebrities talking, include: Carol Lawrence relives the chills she felt when Cary Grant marched up to the stage and gave her a kiss (during an act proclaimed by Ed Sullivan to be the best nightclub extravaganza he had ever seen). Andy Williams talks about his time as a member of Kay Thompson’s quartet-before he became the suave, solo crooner we all know and love. Leslie Uggams reminisces about the rollicking New Year’s Eve party she threw after her show.
Constance Towers reveals the time she accidentally insulted Joan Crawford (and the revenge Joan took-in front of a paying audience). Barbara Van Orden recalls how Frank Sinatra helped safeguard her virtue with the word. Tony Butala of the Lettermen recounts the group’s groundbreaking use of a camera song. Diahann Carroll remembers taking one sleeping pill and a bottle of Champagne up to her suite to mount a half-hearted suicide attempt. Marge Champion: A celebrated dancer, actress, and choreographer of stage, screen and TV, Marge Champion, together with her then-husband and partner Gower Champion, excelled at the “story dance”, a combination of dance and pantomime, which they performed to great renown on Broadway, in several films, and on such TV programs as “The Broadway Admiral Revue” (NBC, 1949).
Barbara Van Orden: The recent recipient of the Motion Picture Council’s highest honor for Lifetime Achievement, Van Orden’s career began in the Catskill Mountains at Grossingers Singers Hotel, opening for many of the greats, such as Milton Berle, Don Rickles and Red Buttons, to name a few. She went on to do all of the Playboy Clubs working with talents such as Buddy Hackett, Morey Amsterdam and Soupy Sales. A move to the West Coast was inevitable, and she assumed a recurring role in television’s Welcome Back Kotter, shortly adding many TV films and series episodes to her resume. In between films and series, Barbara opened for many Vegas headliners. While in Vegas opening for Shecky Green, Frank Sinatra came to the show. After the show, she was thrilled when he asked her if she would open for him in the Persian Room at the Plaza Hotel in New York. Tony Butala: Original and founding member of The Lettermen. The Lettermen name first appeared in February 1958 on the marquee of the Desert Inn Hotel Resort Showroom in Las Vegas Nevada, where Butala, Mike Barnett and Talmadge Russell performed in the record-shattering revue, “Newcomers of 1928,” which starred big band leader Paul Whiteman, silent film comic Buster Keaton, singers Rudy Vallee and Harry Richmond, film star Fifi DOrsay and the sneezing comedian Billy Gilbert. Butala played the part of Bing Crosby, who sang lead in the “Rhythm Boys”, the vocal group that had hits and toured in the 1920s with Paul Whitemans Orchestra. About The Author: Since she was a little girl, Patty Farmer dreamed of living at the Plaza-just like that scamp Eloise, whose storybook adventures she relished. Decades later, that dream came true and she found herself permanently ensconced in an apartment on the eighth floor of the famed hotel-and more passionate than ever about exploring every nook of it and immersing herself in its history. The Persian Room Presents is the first book in a series she is planning about many aspects of her beloved landmark home. Childhelp® :
Founded in 1959 by Sara O’Meara and Yvonne Fedderson, Childhelp® is a leading national non-profit organization dedicated to helping victims of child abuse and neglect. Childhelp® exists to meet the physical, emotional, educational, and spiritual needs of abused, neglected and at-risk children. We focus our efforts on advocacy, prevention, treatment, and community outreach.
WHAT/WHO: Special guests Marge Champion, Barbara Van Orden and Tony Butala join author, Patty Farmer for a Q&A and to sign copies of The Persian Room Presents. A portion of the proceeds from each sale will be donated to Childhelp for the treatment and prevention of child abuse.
WHEN: Wednesday, March 7 at 7:00 pm WHERE: Barnes & Noble (82nd & Broadway).
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Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
Photographs are Courtesy: The Persian Room Presents’ Author, Patty Farmer
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