Now Streaming: Jackie Mason, Guys, and Dolls, Liza, Shirley Booth
The beloved Jackie Mason recently died, and our Broadway Babe (Randie Levine Miller) unearthed his Tony and Emmy winning show, “The World According to Me.” And she shares a wonderful anecdote about chatting with him only a few weeks before he died. And there’s more: a fabulous Liza in concert, Guys and Dolls behind the scenes, a classic 1950s TV show starring Shirley Booth as Pearl Mesta.
Jackie Mason on Broadway
Jackie Mason starring in his one man show, “The World According To Me”, won a special Tony Award in 1987, as well as 3 Emmy Awards when it aired on HBO. Jackie recently died at 93. He was a real NY character, who I knew since I was a teenager. He had his own spin about the world at large and was often political and mostly politically incorrect, by today’s standards. He enjoyed being recognized and could be seen on 57th Street quite often… He frequently would be seated at the front of a restaurant, or sitting outside, in full view, so everyone could say, “I think that’s Jackie Mason!”. And, it was…
Sidebar: I’m sharing one of many anecdotes… the most recent encounter which was about a month before he died…I was meeting a good friend for Sunday brunch at Cafe Fiorello and arrived early. The host gave me a choice of 3 tables outside… I immediately said: “Do you know the Jackie Mason routine, about the Jew looking for a table? It goes something like, “I don’t want that table… I don’t want that table, until by the 4th table, he agrees to be seated. Well, I know someone who did that routine and after the 4th table, actually said, “I don’t want that table… I don’t want this restaurant… and actually left!” The host thought that was really funny. When my friend, Dan Manjovi arrived, I shared the story with him.
As we were finishing brunch, I saw a table of 6 being seated closeby… I said, “Oh my God, I can’t believe it..There’s Jackie Mason and his wife, Jyll, who I waved to and called her name. She smiled and we exchanged hugs. I could see that Jackie was very frail, and ashen, and asked Jyll, if it was okay to talk to him. As I was about to approach him, as luck would have it, he, Jyll and the rest of their party got up to change tables! They moved to the front of the outside area (Jackie was struggling to walk) and they did stay seated there. I approached Jackie, who immediately recognized me. His voice was very weak; He could barely speak which saddened me. I took his hand,looked into his eyes and I shared the postscript to his Jew looking for a table routine and said, “Jackie, I know someone who actually topped you. She actually left the restaurant! He smiled and struggled to laugh. He did not want to let go of my hand. I gave him a hug as we said goodbye.. I knew this was the last time I’d ever see him. RIP, Jackie Mason. May your memory be for a blessing.
Guys and Dolls Off The Record
This is a wonderful find.. “Guys and Dolls: Off The Record”, a delightful behind the scenes documentary of the making of the 1992 original cast album of this multiple Tony Award winning revival….. With Nathan Lane,Faith Prince, Peter Gallagher, Josie de Guzman and Walter Bobbie. It’s hard to believe that it’s almost 30 years since this hit brightened Broadway!
Liza in Concert
A fabulous concert from 1982, Liza Minnelli in Bad Gastein (Austria)…. this New Year’s Eve gala aired on European TV. Liza was at the top of her game, singing and dancing. She’s always been one of the hardest working audience pleasing entertainers… must viewing for Liza fans!
Shirley Booth as Pearl Mesta
“The Hostess With the Mostes” aired on the CBS-TV series, Playhouse 90, on March 21, 1957. This is the story of socialite Pearl Mesta who was known for her lavish society parties, and starred Shirley Booth, and co-starred Hedda Hopper and Pearl Mesta, herself. Mesta was the inspiration for the Irving Berlin musical, “Call Me Madam”. It’s very dated, but fascinating!