Hollywood Legend Mitzi Gaynor On Bette Midler

“How much did you pay for these tickets?” Mitzi Gaynor asked her husband Jack Bean about their orchestra seats when they attended a Bette Midler concert at the Greek Theatre. “Whatever you paid, you didn’t pay enough.”

They were enthralled with Bette’s performance, as Mitzi was this month with Bette’s concert in Las Vegas, where whispers keep surfacing that Bette may be the honoree this spring at the Professional Dancers Society luncheon on May 16 at the Beverly Hilton. Mitzi presides over this great organization that looks after dancers in need and has honored Mary Tyler Moore, Angela Lansbury, Cyd Charisse, Donald O’Connor, Dick Van Dyke, Gene Kelly. Who isn’t aware that dancers careers are short-lived, their bodies pummeled by the fiery toll on their bones and muscles. When push comes to shove and the gigs become leaner, our blessed PDS is there to offer assistance.

The fabled Mitzi lost her Best Friend Forever this year. Tommy Carlino, a gentle and gifted soul, became Mitzi’s hairdresser for who knows-how-many-decades. Both Tommy and costuming designing genius Bob Mackie “birthed” Mitzi’s grand-slam look for her shows. Last week, Mitzi invited 28 friends of Tommy’s to join her for a home-cooked feast prepared by Mitzi (a fabulous cook!) to celebrate his wit, kindness, generosity, and love of showbusiness.

Not many know that Tommy was a leading player at the Beige Room in San Francisco, a drag club famed around the world that was SRO night after night by locals and tourists from all continents. He impersonated Rita Hayworth, along with pursuing his hairdressing talents, and turned down hairstyling Mae West who wouldn’t pay him. Today, the studios and networks shell out thousands of shekels for the stars’ favorite hairstylists and makeup artists for red carpet or television appearances. In truth, the stars don freebie designer gowns, jewelry, and shoes. Next thing you know, Joan Rivers will be asking, “What fragrance are you wearing?”

Mitzi’s on a roll. Her solo act sells out wherever she plays, as the show recently did at the McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert. She’s soon off to Chicago, Florida, and Atlantic City. Michael Feinstein’s begged her to headline his Feinstein’s at the Regency Cabaret in New York, with Mitzi flattered, but noting the venue was not quite the right size for her performance. Michael took the bull by the horns, and is building a stage for Mitzi in the Regency’s Ballroom. Bravo, Michael. Would that there were more impresarios like you!

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