Talking With James Gavin – June 22, 2012

This week, Ira spoke with author James Gavin. To listen to the interview click below.

Author and journalist James Gavin’s third book, Stormy Weather: The Life of Lena Horne (Atria Books/Simon & Schuster, 2009) is the impetus behind his current touring with Stormy Weather: The Lena Horne Project, a concert that stars former Supreme Mary Wilson, the Larry Dunlap Trio, and Gavin as narrator/host.

Gavin is Manhattan-born and a graduate of Fordham University. Aside from his dozens of features in the New York Times, he has written for Vanity Fair, Time Out New York, the Daily Beast, and the Huffington Post. His subjects have included Annie Lennox, Elizabeth Taylor, Nina Simone, John Legend, Peggy Lee, John F. Kennedy, Jr., Miriam Makeba, Marilyn Monroe, Gal Costa, Mae West, Ned Rorem, Edith Piaf, Karen Carpenter, and Jacques Brel. He has contributed liner notes to over 400 CDs, including many reissues he produced himself for Verve, Blue Note, and Koch Jazz. His essay for the GRP box set Ella Fitzgerald – The Legendary Decca Recordings earned a 1996 Grammy nomination.

Gavin also lectures, and has appeared in several documentaries, including the E! True Hollywood Story on Doris Day and Anita O’Day: The Life and Times of a Jazz Singer.

His forthcoming book, a biography of Peggy Lee, will also be published by Atria Books/Simon & Schuster.



Talking With Bobby Vinton – June 15, 2012

This week, Ira spoke with Bobby Vinton. To listen to the interview click below.

Bobby Vinton’s recording accomplishments include 12 Gold records, more than 75 million in record sales and the most #1 hits by a solo male artist during a 10-year period, according to Billboard magazine.

Bobby Vinton’s hits, including “Roses Are Red,” “Blue Velvet,” “Mr. Lonely,” and “Melody of Love” are recognized as standards throughout the world. Polish Americans embraced “Melody of Love” as Poland’s new national anthem, sung by Vinton, who is often referred to as The Polish Prince because of his family’s heritage. It’s been quite a journey for a child born in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania whose parents urged him to study music.

By the age of 16, Vinton had his own band.  The money he earned allowed him to attend Duquesne University where he received a degree in Musical Composition. He also became proficient on all of the instruments in the band, which included piano, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, drums and the oboe–a talent that he displays in his shows today.

In what would be described as the “American Idol” of its day, Vinton and his band appeared on Guy Lombardo’s “TV Talent Scouts.” It was that appearance that ultimately led to a contract with Epic Records and his first hit “Roses Are Red” which ended up selling four million copies.



Talking With Sarah Frances Johnston – June 7, 2012

This week, Ira spoke with jazz singer Sarah Frances Johnston. To listen to the interview click below.

Jazz singer Sarah Frances Johnston started her performance career as an 11 year old child-actor in the longest running New Zealand Soap Opera, “Shortland Street,” followed by the series, “Tomorrow’s Another Day- Revelations,” which premiered across Europe. She then moved into modeling for companies like Coca Cola, and Digicel where she was featured on several billboards and in a Global ad for Toyota. Sarah was also offered modeling opportunities, but at the age of 17, she turned her life to music.

She moved to the United States in December 2009. After nearly two years developing her talents, Sarah is now working five nights a week as a professional singer in Las Vegas.



Talking With Rhonda Fleming – May 31, 2012

This week, Ira spoke with film star Rhonda Fleming. To listen to the interview click below.

Rhonda Fleming has appeared in more than 40 motion pictures, starting with top featured roles in David O. Selznick’s Spellbound, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, RKO’s Out of the Past and The Spiral Staircase and leading into starring roles in classics such as Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, Gunfight at the OK Corral, Home Before Dark, Pony Express, Slightly Scarlett, While The City Sleeps and The Big Circus.

Among her co-stars … Gregory Peck, Robert Mitchum, Kirk Douglas, Charlton Heston, Glenn Ford, Burt Lancaster, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Rock Hudson and Ronald Reagan (with whom she made four films).

In addition to motion pictures, Ms. Fleming starred in her Broadway debut in Clare Booth Luce’s The Women, and in the role of Lalume in “Kismet” at the Los Angeles Music Center, and toured as Madame Dubonnet with “The Boyfriend.” She made her stage musical debut in Las Vegas at the opening of the new Tropicana Hotel’s showroom. Later, she appeared at the Hollywood Bowl in a one-woman concert of Cole Porter and Irving Berlin compositions. She also starred in a national ten-week concert tour with Skitch Henderson featuring the music of George Gershwin. She has guest-starred on numerous major television shows including Wagon Train, Police Woman, Love Boat, a two-hour production, “The Last Hours Before Morning,” and a two-hour special of McMillan and Wife. The 1990 television production, “Waiting For The Wind,” reunited her with her former co-star, Robert Mitchum.

A native-born Californian, Rhonda Fleming attended Beverly Hills public and private schools. Her mother, Effie Graham, was a famous model and actress in New York. She has a son, Kent Lane, and two granddaughters, Kimberly and Kelly.

Ms. Fleming resides in Century City with her husband, Darol W. Carlson. She was married for 23 years to Ted Mann, producer and chairman of Mann Theatres, until his death in January 2001.