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One of the things I really enjoyed in the 1960s, when I was living in New York, was going to the Actors Fund performances that plays presented on Sunday when most shows weren’t scheduled. The audience would be made up of stars and you would find yourself sitting next to Jason Robards or standing next to Lauren Bacall in the lobby. It would be hard to find a more responsive audience. I remember seeing “I Do! I Do!” with Mary Martin and Robert Preston at one of those special shows and I think every Broadway star and/or featured actor/actress were in that audience. I didn’t know whether to look at the stage or the orchestra seats!
Another place I went to quite a bit was Downey’s Steakhouse on 8th Avenue in the 40s. Ronnie and I would leave work at the Brass Rail and go there for a drink or two. Aside from Frank the bartender letting us drink whatever we wanted for $5, his ‘tip’, after 11 PM actors would come in to eat or have a drink after they had finished giving their performances. Though Joe Allen’s, a show biz restaurant, would get more performers those who came into Downey’s knew they stood a chance of making out, leaving with someone and knowing talking about it.
In 1962 I was working at Dan Stampler’s Steak house on Greenwich Avenue in Greenwich Village. The previous week I had gone to see Richard Kiley and Diahann Carroll in the only show that Richard Rodgers had written both the music and lyrics. To this day I can hear her sing “The Sweetest sounds I ever heard…” and remember how beautiful she looked. I didn’t realize how truly beautiful she was until she, and her boyfriend at that time, the English newsman, David Frost, were seated at my table. I exchanged quips with her and she tossed some zingers my way. She was, without a doubt, the best customer I ever had as a waiter.
In the 1980s I met E.B. Smith, who was Pearl Bailey’s road manager, and we had been together a few times and he invited me to see one of her shows and meet her afterwards. I did and I did. She was exactly as she seemed to be. Go to YouTube and listen to her sing “It Takes Two To Tango” or “Lazy” or a song or two from “Hello Dolly” which she did on Broadway.
Patricia Nell Warren, a lesbian, wrote two gay male classic books, one being “The Front Runner” and the other “The Fancy Dancer”. From the day the former was published it has been talked about being made into a movie, at times starring Paul Newman and at other times most of the leading men. It is the story about a gay track coach getting a gay runner to participate in the Olympics! I got a chance to meet and talk to her when she attended Gay Pride in Fort Lauderdale a few years ago and she was as warm as could be. She started Wildcat Press and has published books with them.
I could go on dropping names but there are a lot I don’t feel I should talk about and there are a few you may not know but were stars plus two you should know!

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