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HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN SHOW BUSINESS?

It all began in Philadelphia with piano lessons when I was five years
old. My life revolved around the piano when I was very young. I wanted to be a concert pianist. At eleven, I entered and won my school's talent contest. Oddly enough, the song I sang was YOU MADE ME LOVE YOU, in essence one of the first songs Garland sang when she was a kid. Part of the prize was winning a spot to audition for a Sunday morning kid show on a Philadelphia station. This, plus five years of operatic training at the Philadelphia Conservatory of Music, was the beginning. I did a little theater after the conservatory, then went on to New York, where I was in the chorus of several Broadway shows. From there I performed in Chicago, eventually ending up in Los Angeles.

WAS JUDY GARLAND THE FIRST PERSON YOU INCORPORATED INTO YOUR ACT?

No, it was Phyllis Diller. When I first moved to Los Angeles, I met Phyllis. I became a camp follower of hers - sort of followed her around. I mimicked her at parties - did one-liners. Someone advised incorporating her into my act, which I did, but not for several years.

HOW DID YOU TAKE ON JUDY GARLAND?

After Phyllis Diller, I decided I should takeon a character that sings. Garland seemed like a natural, and I was a huge fan of hers. In the beginning, I performed for Judy - we socialized at her house. I absorbed everything like a sponge, and filed it away. Sometimes she would say, "You should do it more this way," or get up and sing a song for me, almost as if she were giving me a tip. I found her presence so powerful, sometimes I still can't believe she is not here. I still have her phone number in my address book. I'll never forget one night in 1969, shortly before her death, I was performing in Los Angeles. Judy caught my act and loved it. Afterwards, she put her arms around my neck and said, "I never realized I was that pretty."

WHO DOES YOUR MAKEUP FOR EACH CHARACTER?

I do my own makeup. When I am preparing for a show, I block out my face, my face becomes a canvas. It is a matter of changing bone structure through shading to become a different person. I also strive for makeup as natural and normal as possible. I taught myself makeup with Phyllis. Then I met a guy from Warner Brothers who showed me the fine points. I never give myself credit for being a makeup artist, but maybe I should.

WHO MAKES YOUR GOWNS?

Some of my costumes are Bob Mackie, some by Nolan Miller, some by Jeran, and others by relatively unknown designers. I like to find new and talented people who need a break.

HAVE YOU THOUGHT OF EXPANDING YOUR LIST  OF CHARACTERS WITH WOMEN LIKE CHER OR BETTE MIDLER?

People have suggested them to me, who knows, maybe sometime in the future.

WHY WOULD YOU RATHER BE CALLED A CHARACTER ACTOR WHO SINGS, NOT AN IMPRESSIONIST OR FEMALE IMPERSONATOR?

From the first minute on stage when I am Barbra Streisand, I look like her, talk like her, I have her mannerisms and sing like her…I am Barbra, not an imitation, lip-syncing or a witty impression. When I made my Las Vegas debut in 1970, I opened doors for all the guys who came to town in dresses. The mental and physical process I go through begins the day I am doing the show, as soon as I get up in the morning. I make sure it is a light day. I don't do lunch and I don't run around. In the back of my mind, I'm subliminally thinking of Judy or Barbra. It's a three-hour process to get into the lady I'm doing that night…the body makeup…and then I am psyching myself into the character. Then it gets involved, as I paint my face. I need to have quiet and no distractions. As the evening progresses and it gets closer to show time, my voice changes and I become a part of the illusion I am trying to create.

HAS LIZA MINNELLI SEEN YOUR JUDY GARLAND PERFORMANCE?

Yes, in fact, if she is in the audience, she sometimes joins me onstage for a mother and daughter act. She gave me the greatest compliment once. She said that if I stop performing Judy Garland, how would she ever see her mother again?

YOU HAVE PERFORMED ALL OVER THE WORLD. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY WAS THE HIGH POINT IN YOUR CAREER?

My performing for Princess Diana.

YOU RECENTLY PERFORMED IN THREE NEW PLAYS BASED ON THREE POWERFUL WOMEN: MAE WEST - BETTE DAVIS - TALLULAH BANKHEAD. DID YOU FIND ANY SIMILARITIES IN THESE WOMEN WHILE PREPARING FOR THESE ROLES?

All three women, Mae-Bette-Tallulah, have incredible DETERMINATION and DRIVE!!!!

YOU APPEARED ON THE "HERE'S LUCY" PROGRAM. DID LUCILLE BALL MAKE AN IMPRESSION ON YOU?

Absolutely. I learned more from her in a week than I could have learned in a year at any acting school.


WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE INTERNET, DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING TO SAY TO YOUR CYBERFANS?

It's all a bit confusing, you see I've just gotten used to the electric typewriter, HA! Thank you everyone for your loyalty over the years. Make sure you bookmark this site to read about my newest projects!


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