♪ (bright upbeat music) ♪ ♪ Yeah, the simple things in life ♪ - My guest is award-winning entertainer, Tony Orlando.
Thank you for joining us.
- Thank you for having me.
Are you kidding?
- Your father was Greek; your mother was Puerto Rican.
Your full name was Michael Anthony Orlando Cassavitis, and by 16 you would be-- - Oh, you said that perfect!
Most people go Casavitis, Casavititis, Cavitis.
They never get it right, but you got it right!
- Thank you!
But by 16, you would be called "Tony Orlando."
You were obviously born to sing and perform at an early age.
You had your first band, Five Gents.
What kind of music were you playing and singing at that time?
- Well, you have to remember that my first record came out in 1961.
It was recorded in 1960.
So, my doo-wop days with the group, The Five Gents, were in New York City singing doo-wop songs in the hallways because the hallways of the tenement buildings of New York always had magnificent echo.
So, you never sounded bad.
It always-- it's like singing in the shower!
It always works, you know?
But the singing began in 1958, and I really was-?
I don't know?
A child trying to sound like another child, Frankie Lymon, which was the first Michael Jackson.
So, that was the kind of voice I had then.
Then, by the time I got into the studio with Carole King in 1961, I had my first hit record.
- So, let's talk about that first hit record.
It was "Halfway to Paradise," which is also the name of the book that was written in 2002.
At 16, did you know what you were doing, or were there a lot of people there to guide you?
- Well, I was very fortunate.
I signed with a man named Don Kirshner.
And, Don Kirshner, of course, was kind of a young 26-year-old guru in those days, kind of pre-Clive Davis.
And, in his office, he had the following people signed as teenagers: myself, I was 15 and a half; Carole King, she was 17 years old; Paul Simon, Gerry Goffin, Carole's husband, who's the lyricist; Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil who are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and two-time Academy Award winners as songwriters.
All of us starting together: Bobby Darin, Connie Francis.
We all started together in that same office in New York City, so I was surrounded by geniuses, to be honest with you.
- Can you tell me about the first experience, or your first experience with Dick Clark?
Do you remember it?
- It's a long time ago, but I'll do my best.
I remember "American Bandstand," of course, was "the" show for the young people to watch.
It was the hottest show.
It was an afternoon show, much like what we see with "Ellen" right now around that time slot.
It was on ABC, the television network, and it was revered by young people all over the country as Dick Clark was.
So, I was a nervous wreck.
I know that.
And, the one thing I do remember was an embarrassing moment!
You already know what's coming, don'tcha?
Yeah, uh huh!
I did my first performance live on TV with my zipper open, and Dick Clark turned to me and said, "Your drugstore is open."
Why he referred to it as a drugstore, I still don't know!
But that was what they used to call-- when your zipper was open, your "drugstore's" open!
So, we went to commercial and he said, "Hey, your drugstore's open."
I said, "What do you mean?"
"Your zipper's open."
He said, "Yeah, the whole country saw."
And so, there I was quite embarrassed.
And, that was my-- uh?
what can I tell you?
(he laughs) - So I'm guessing, moving forward, when you went on TV, you probably checked your fly every time before you went on TV?
Did that become a habit?
- To this day.
To this day!
In fact, I just checked it before we came on!
(both laugh) - Okay.
You were working as a music executive and climbing the ranks, but "Candida" changed your journey.
Tell me about that.
- Well, I went to work for Clive Davis at CBS.
I was general manager in charge of the music publishing for Columbia Records and Clive was my boss.
I went in just right after the British invasion.
There wasn't much work for us.
So, American acts weren't getting any shows.
So, I was married very young.
And so, I had to go to work and I went to work with him.
And, it was one of the great, truly great [dog barking in other room] moments in my life 'cause I got a chance to learn behind the scenes.
I got a chance to learn the business aspect of our business.
So, who did I get a chance to work with?
I signed and discovered a kid named Barry Manilow, who went on to great stuff.
I represented Blood, Sweat & Tears, the Yardbirds.
So, these wonderful artists, I was in charge of their music.
I was in charge of their future.
I was in charge of getting their songs recorded by other artists.
It was a glorious, really enlightening four years that Clive gave me.
But, I went in as a favor to a friend of mine who needed $3,400 to pay off his bills.
And, he came to me with a song called "Candida."
But, the record was already made.
The strings were on there, the rhythm section was on there.
So, I took the record as a favor to him, to a record company called Bell Records, which is now Arista Records.
And, I brought it to them and they loved the record, but they didn't like the lead singer.
They thought he was wrong for the song.
So, I came back; I said, "You know what?
If you get a lead singer on this record, Hank," his name was Hank Medress, "You will be able to get your $3,400.
They're willing to pay for it."
So, he said, "You do it."
I said, "Me?"
He said, "You."
He said, "This song is very reminiscent to the stuff "you used to do with Carole.
Why don't you do it with your voice?"
I said, "I can't do that.
I'll lose my job!"
He said, "I won't tell anybody.
(Lillian laughs) I'll change the name."
I said, "Change the name to Joe Schmo and the Nailbiters, but not Tony Orlando."
He goes, "Okay."
I said, "You got an hour, one hour.
If I accomplish this performance in an hour, it's yours."
Because, I love the guy.
He was one of my best friends.
So, I go in constantly thinking I'm jeopardizing my job with Clive by so-called "moonlighting" for another label.
So, I go out and I say to Hank, (yells) "What's the first line?"
In the booth; "What's the first line?"
And he goes, ♪ Stars won't come out ♪ ♪ If they know that you're about-- ♪ "Alright, alright!
I got it!
Start the tape!"
And, I sing that line.
He'd stop the tape.
(yells) "What's the next line?"
And, I sang that song one line at a time, made it in one hour, walked out of the studio, forgot about it.
Three months later, it was number one!
Then, he comes back to me and shows me a song called "Knock Three Times."
I said, "No!
I'm not doing it."
By the way?
I had no deal, no contract, nothing.
Just a favor.
He says, "Well, this is the song, 'Knock Three Times.'"
I said, "Well, they'll never make it.
"Nobody in the Midwest has pipes to knock on.
"It'll only be a hit in Brooklyn on the tenement buildings of New York!"
I record that-- Both of those records, just so you know, "Candida," two million records.
"Knock Three Times," five million records domestically.
So, that's seven million records before I even leave my job!
- How did it go when they found out it was your voice and how did Clive take that?
So I go to Clive Davis, 'cause it's my dream, right?
To be a singer.
I got seven million records sold, and no one knows I'm Dawn.
The name of the group is not "Tony Orlando and Dawn", yet.
It's just "Dawn."
And, 'why is it Dawn?'
was because the record promoter's daughter's name was Dawn.
So, Hank the producer thought, "If I say Dawn, maybe he'll work harder on the record."
So, I go to Clive.
I said, "Clive, "I have to leave the company.
I'm grateful to everything you've done for me."
He said, "Why?
Because you're Dawn?"
I said, "Wait a minute.
You know I'm Dawn?"
- Oh, he knew.
- He said, "Of course, I know.
It's the worst kept secret in the record business."
"You mean, everybody knows I'm Dawn?"
Everybody knows, Tony.
That's your sound.
We know your sound from the Carole King days."
I said, "Oh, my god."
He said, "I tell you what you do.
"You go and search out your dream.
And, if it doesn't come true, you can always come home."
I'll never forget that.
And, to this day, I'm close to Clive.
Still talk to him, and he's 90 years old.
- [Lillian] Yeah.
Working in the business for over six decades, you've made a lot of friends or colleagues along the way.
Elvis, Frank Sinatra, Betty Ford, and, of course, Freddie Prinze.
Any side stories you'd like to share about any of those?
- Well, they're pretty famous people and I really was able to make friends with them.
We'll start with Frank Sinatra.
So, Frank Sinatra I met-- he was honoring Gene Kelly at the Friars Club in New York.
And, I was asked if I would come to that event.
Now, I had never met Frank Sinatra, and so I was nervous.
And, they told me, "Wear your tuxedo, but make sure you wear a red hanky, because that's the club."
He said, "So, black and white tuxedo, "shirt, bow tie, red hanky."
That's the club.
Dean wore a red hanky, Frank wore a red hanky.
So, when I get there, I walk into the green room and there's Frank Sinatra himself on a microphone, and he's lining up the guests that are on the dais for this event for Gene Kelly.
So, the first thing he does, he said, (bold voice) "Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton?
"Behind you, "Sammy Davis?
Get behind them.
"Gregory Peck, get behind them!
"Mickey Rooney, get behind him.
Jimmy Cagney, get behind him."
Are you recognizing?
- No, I know those names!
- These names!
Super-duper stars, right?
- And, there was a list as long as you could go.
Finally gets to the end and he says, "Tony Orlando, follow me."
Well, that puts me in front of Elizabeth Taylor and behind Frank Sinatra.
I can't figure out why he's done this.
So, I start whispering to him, (low voice) "Mr. Sinatra, why are you doing this?"
And he'd say, "Shut up, kid.
I'll tell ya later."
So, we get to the dais, and it's a double-decked dais.
So, the lower dais, there's a podium, and Frank is the host.
Behind him is the second layer of podium, and of guests behind him.
He tells Telly Savalas to go over to the end of the table, get my card, put it behind him, and he says to Telly, "And, you take Tony's spot at the end."
Savalas says, "You got it, boss."
Now, I'm sitting directly behind Frank Sinatra.
I still don't understand why he's doing this.
I'm in the middle of the sea of superstars!
Tony Bennett's singing.
Sinatra gets down behind on the floor, behind the podium, and I lean over and I said, (low voice) "Mr. Sinatra, why are you doing this?
This is incredible!"
He said, "Shut up.
I'll tell you later."
So "later" comes, which is the end of the show.
I'm very afraid now to walk up to him.
Finally, he walks up to me.
He goes, "Alright, now ask me."
"Why did you do this, Mr.
He said, "Let me ask you a couple of questions.
Who's the host this evening?"
I said, "You are, sir."
"Who is sitting directly behind me within eyesight of the audience?"
I said, "I am, sir."
He said, "Who is the new kid on the block?"
I said, "I am, sir."
He said, "Well, welcome to show business.
"That's how we treat the new kids - Ohh!
- on the block."
- That was my first meeting with Sinatra.
And then, you would go on to continue a relationship with him throughout the years?
- Oh, yes.
Oh yes, absolutely.
All through the years.
- Well, thank you for sharing.
Now, you've performed also for some presidents, five presidents in your time.
What was that experience like for you?
- It's eight presidents.
- Oh, eight!
Okay, I didn't do my homework well enough!
- So, I have a red, white, and blue state of mind.
So, I've done at the Pentagon for Barack Obama; I've done for our military the inaugural ball for our military and first responders for Donald Trump; I have done for Jimmy Carter and his wife.
We worked very closely for the National Association of Retarded Citizens.
In fact, I remember at the White House sharing a blanket that I gave to his wife for the White House on behalf of that organization.
I've been very close to the Fords.
They were very close friends of mine.
So, you know?
I recently did a movie in Massachusetts with Adam Sandler called "That's My Boy", about 10 years ago.
While I was there, (clears throat) I was invited to go sailing with the Kennedys.
And, on a bad rainy day, we couldn't leave.
So Mrs. Kennedy, Ethel Kennedy, who insisted I call her "sweetheart" 'cause I've known her for so many years.
She said, "Sweetheart!
We can't go sailing, but we're gonna have a lunch for you."
And, they did have a lunch for me at the very Kennedy compound.
One week later, the Bushes came in for their vacation that they have every single year in Massachusetts, in the house that we filmed the movie in!
The owner of the house says to me, "George Bush and his wife Laura are coming "to stay here for vacation.
"They found out you were here.
Will you have lunch with them?"
So, I had a lunch with the Kennedys on one Sunday, and the following Sunday, lunch with the Bushes.
And, this is what I remember him saying to me.
I said, "You know, Mr. President?
I had an absolutely incredible Saturday.
Last night, I had lunch with Ethel Kennedy and the Kennedy family.
And, he says, "Oh, that's wonderful."
He says, "You know, Tony?
My father and Bill Clinton are best friends."
He said, "And, I've known "the Kennedys all my life.
"We may have some disagreements politically, but we have no disagreements as friends."
- Ah, nice!
Thank you for sharing that.
I love that.
Now, I wanna ask you about the backstory of your most famous song, in my mind, "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree" and the momentum that came from it.
And then, the call from Bob Hope.
- Well, I got a call from Bob Hope to come and sing that song at the Cotton Bowl, 1973.
The song was only out a couple of weeks to welcome home our POWs.
And, the great thing about that is I've reunioned with those POWs for the last 49 years.
And, next year on their 50th anniversary and the 50th anniversary of "Yellow Ribbon," I will be hosting their 50th anniversary together at the Nixon Library and being at their dinner and performing for them.
They changed my life.
These are the 500 most bravest men I've ever met.
And, because of them, I've dedicated my life to raising money for veterans.
So, millions of dollars have been raised because of "Yellow Ribbon" and because of Bob Hope's introduction to this incredible military family of mine called the NAM-POWs.
- Now, "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree" hit number one that year.
I think you got Grammy Awards that year, and then the variety show came following that.
- Oh, the variety show was born because of the "Yellow Ribbon" hit.
- Tell me about the experience and the working in that variety show, 'cause that was a-?
Had to be a challenge, overwhelming, or was it a great ride?
- Well, it was a four-year great ride.
It started out with two years as the "Yellow Ribbon," "Tony Orlando and Dawn Show."
Then, it changed to the "Rainbow Hour."
The reason it changed there is because the new president at CBS wanted to move our night up against a show called "Happy Days."
He thought we would be a good fight against "Happy Days" 'cause our demographic was so huge.
Well, they kicked our butt!
I mean, they had, like, a 70 rating.
Nobody could compete with them.
They were a phenomenon.
So, that four years ended because of "Happy Days."
But, in those four years, remember something: every Wednesday night, we had a 36, 37 share.
That meant 38 to 40 million people watched our show every single Wednesday.
That's a big number.
You don't see numbers like that in television anymore.
And, the reason was because we only had three networks.
We didn't have cable.
- Ah, got it.
Now, I wanna switch gears a little bit.
I read that you're one of the entertainers that is okay with signing autographs.
In fact, it led to your second marriage!
(Tony chuckles) - Yes, that's right!
My wife, my present wife-- I'm married 33 years, Frannie, came to see me at Disneyland with her mom and her brother and her aunt.
And, I was taking down the stage on the Tomorrowland part of Disney.
And, I see this family standing in the back.
No seats; everybody had left.
And, a little girl, about 14 years old.
And, I'm 13 years older than my wife.
So, you can figure out I was, like, 26.
And, I looked out and I said-- this policeman was pushing them away.
And, I went, "Wait, wait a minute!
"You're gonna push away the only person (Lillian laughs) that wants my autograph?
Are you kidding?"
"No, young lady!
You stay right there."
And, I walked to the back of the house and I said-- she had a little pencil in her hand.
(child's voice) "This is my mother and "this is my Aunt Josie and this is my brother Sammy."
"What's your name?"
"My name is Frannie."
"You want an autograph, Frannie?"
"I really like your record, 'Knock Three Times.'"
I said, "Give me your paper."
I said, "Dear Frannie, do you have a boyfriend?"
Do you have a boyfriend?"
(child's voice) "Yes."
"What's his name?"
"You tell Bob that if he ever "does you wrong, he has to deal with Uncle Tony.
You got that?"
"Yes, Uncle Tony."
I wrote, "Dear Frannie, God bless you.
And, I gave her the note.
Thereafter, I would see Rose, Josie, brother Sam, and Frannie at almost every engagement I did after that.
I watched her grow up.
So, come-- let's say around the years of her 26th or 27th birthday years, I hadn't seen Frannie anymore.
I couldn't figure out what was wrong.
One day I get a phone call from my road manager, and he says, "Tony, you remember Francine Amormino?"
"Yeah, is she okay?"
"Oh no, no, no.
She's fine, "But she called.
She wants to know if you'd "be able to come to her dad's birthday party "because her dad loves you, "but was never able to come see you.
And, he's had a heart attack and it would be a great gift."
And, I said, "Well, I-?
What's the date?"
He gives me the date.
It's, like, three months away.
What do I do?
Stupid Tony, I don't show up.
I forgot the date.
Meanwhile, little Frannie had the block tied in yellow ribbons for her dad's birthday.
I don't show up.
No one says anything to me.
About six months later, my road manager says, "Tony, you better call Frannie.
"Her dad passed away and you never showed up for his birthday party."
You can imagine how I felt, right?
So, I called Francine.
I apologized profusely.
"Frannie, let me take you and Rose, your mother, for dinner.
She says, "Tell you what.
My mother's not feeling well, but if you want, I'll have dinner with you."
Now, that was odd for her because she was never aggressive that way.
Oh, she was very shy.
So, I was like, "wow."
But, I didn't realize she's a grown woman now.
She's approaching 30!
So, I go and I have what was ended up being a coffee shop/dinner, alright?
And, I was sitting there and what was to be an hour, maybe, I sat there for six hours.
And, in the six hours I kept looking going, "this woman is beautiful, "but Tony, this is Frannie!
This is little Frannie.
What are ya doin'?"
Stop thinking like this!"
I'm talkin' to myself!
Finally, I asked a question.
"What are you doing on Mother's Day?"
She says, "I'm going out to see my sister-in-law who thinks I don't know you."
Tell you what we'll do!
I'll pick you and your mother up and we'll go to your sister-in-law's house and I'll knock on the door and she'll know you know me!"
I'm trying to make up to her, right?
So, I drive out all the way; a long drive.
I knock on the door, the sister-in-law opens the door and says, "Oh.
She does know you."
We go in the house.
We're in the house, Mother's Day, for about seven hours.
I don't know.
I couldn't give you an answer, but I-?
Here's what I did.
I walked over to Rose Amormino, her mom, and said, "Rose, would it be okay with you if I proposed to your daughter for marriage today?"
So, is there a love at first sight after 14 years of her-- watching her grow up?
I guess you could say that day was love at first sight at dinner.
we had a fairytale marriage and we still do.
- No, that's lovely.
Thank you so much for sharing that.
So, you mentioned it briefly.
You have a weekly radio show that airs on Saturday nights on WABC Music Radio.
What's the show about, and do you like being able to ask the questions?
- No, I'm not a good question person.
That's a skill.
That's an art form.
I'm good at answering the questions 'cause I've done it a little bit, but I'm a terrible interviewer.
But, here's what I did do.
When I did the radio show, believe it or not, it was during the pandemic.
And, John Catsimatidis who owns WABC Radio, an old Greek friend of mine, called me and said, "Would you consider doing a radio show for me "during the pandemic?
"I need to fill two hours.
Have you ever thought about it?"
I said, "John, I don't have to think about it.
You're my friend.
What do you want?"
"Okay, from 10 to midnight?"
I said, "That's fine.
But, I can't come to New York.
Can I do it from my home?"
He said, "Yeah."
So, I get the microphone.
My brother David, who's technology and is incredible, is my engineer/co-producer.
And, we sit down with his computer and this microphone, and I decided to create what I call "audio documentaries."
So, it's not spinning records.
It's really a concept, an idea, formed into a listening documentary type show with music.
So, the first guest I called was Adam Sandler.
And, Adam came on and it was a gigantic thing that we got Adam.
No one gets Adam too easily.
Then, I got Lionel Richie to come on.
Then, I got Garth Brooks to come on!
Well, the rest was history.
After that, there wasn't too many people I couldn't get.
So, here's what we do.
We pre-record the show, but here's the secret about my interviewing, not like yours.
You're a great interviewer!
- Oh, thank you.
- I'm able to edit!
So, when I stutter or I get the line wrong, out it goes, and in comes the good line!
So, therefore, the interviews are always perfect.
And, that's because I wanna respect the people I'm interviewing 'cause that's what they deserve like you have done to me today.
- Thank you.
Now, tell me about your newest project, the "Timeless: The Big Hits."
There is a bonus track on this that includes "America Is My Hometown," which I've been listening to.
Tell me about that song.
- Well, I recorded an album with a guy who's won multiple Grammys.
His name is Michael Omartian.
So, he's one of these incredibly gifted songwriter/arrangers.
So, he did that "Sailing" album with Christopher Cross.
You might know that one.
And, all of Donna Summer's albums.
So, he won seven Grammys for the Christopher Cross album.
So, I had a chance to work with him and I came up with this title, "America Is My Hometown."
And, the reason I did was I live in a small town in Branson, Missouri.
I know the neighbors.
I know the guy that owns the coffee shop.
I know the people in government here.
They're friends of mine.
So, a small town mentality, if we could apply it to the nation, it'd be easier to come together.
So, therefore, the reason I came up with the title, "America Is My Hometown."
So, I went to Michael.
We sat down at the piano, and we wrote the song.
Time-Life heard this album, "Timeless," which all the artwork was done by my daughter, Jenny, whom you know, and she did this fantastic idea of "Timeless."
And so, we called the album "Timeless" because all the hits go back all the way to 1961.
That's six decades of hits.
85 million record sales.
And so, Jenny came up with the idea of "these records are timeless" and there you have it.
- Well, it's a beautiful song.
I really like it and love the words.
Now, at 78, you're still performing on stage.
Today, of course, I'm guessing you have to sing-- You can't leave the stage without singing "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree," "Knock Three Times," "Candida," "Sweet Gypsy Rose," which I love, "He Don't Love You Like I Love You."
But what I wanna know, what other songs do you like to add into the mix, and why?
- You don't have enough time!
Can you give me one or two?
(she laughs) - Here's what I mean by that.
I have a set list.
I don't have a set list.
I don't go out on stage and say, "Okay, this is my show."
And, I don't know whether I'm gonna open with "Yellow Ribbon" or close with "Yellow Ribbon."
The audience's vibe tells me where to go.
So, it would be unfair for me to say, "Here are the songs I'm doing," when I don't know what I'm gonna do.
Until I meet-- you know what it's like?
You know, this is a business where you can walk into a room full of strangers, and leave that same room with a whole bunch of new friends.
So, you walk into this room and it's like walking into a party.
Have you ever walked into a party and you can feel the vibe of where that party's gonna go?
Is it a wild party?
Is it a sophisticated party?
Is it a quiet party?
That's what happens to entertainers.
When we walk on stage, the vibe in that room is set by the people there.
And, you know what's interesting?
Every show-- let's say there's 2,000 people sitting here or 10,000 in an arena.
Every show has a different personality.
This culmination of people of all ages, races, colors, each- different countries come together- and they create this one huge human being!
And, that human being has a personality, which tells me how to approach them.
- And, your band or your group is always ready to go at an instant when Tony switches to this or switches to that?
- Good question.
Because if I hadn't worked with this band for 24 years, I can blink and they know where I'm goin'.
But, there are little keywords in my conversation that they know what song's coming up.
So, there's always a hint.
- The audience doesn't realize it, but the band knows, "Oh, he just said this word.
We're going to 'He Don't Love You.'"
- And then, as a performer-- I've not seen you in person, but as a performer, do you-?
Are you a storyteller, or are you just singin'?
- I couldn't just sing.
- I talk too much!
(Lillian laughs) But, you know?
After five Entertainer of the Year Awards in Las Vegas, the first one I received was in 1979.
The last one I received was in 2019.
That's a pretty good spread all of those years.
So, having been able to work on Broadway in "Barnum!
", played Barnum on Broadway, and "Smokey Joe's Cafe" and headlining in Vegas for the last 50 years, there's an audience that's like family to me.
That audience knows Tony.
And, they know that I'm going to give down to [audio distorts] the last drop of blood before I leave that stage.
And, really, that's the attitude is I'm not leaving here till you leave happy.
I'm not leaving here until you feel you've forgotten every single problem you've had in the last two hours.
You don't have a problem.
That's my goal is "them."
It's not me, or what I sing or how I sing.
If I speak long, it's because they made me go there.
If I speak less, it's because they made me go there.
Yeah, I get it.
- If I do ballads in a row, it's 'cause they made me go there.
If they want to party, we're gonna party!
- Okay, thanks!
Let me switch gears here.
Prior to the pandemic, you were working on a Broadway project, "Rooftop Dreams."
Share what the project was, or is, and is it still moving forward?
- Still moving forward.
The pandemic slowed it down.
It's a musical of my life.
And, thanks to Frankie Valli, there is room for people's lives in the record business.
And now, Neil Diamond has his show just coming, "A Beautiful Noise."
It's just opening up this-- I think next month, yeah.
So, those shows are, quote, referred to often as "jukebox shows."
Now, why do they say that?
'Cause it's the life story of the act and inserted is all of their hits.
Well, because I did "Barnum!"
on Broadway, I love the tradition of Broadway.
I love new songs.
So, this play has our hits, but has 15 brand new songs written for the story, written for the play.
Whether it's a hit or not on Broadway, no one never knows.
I wanted to do a show that had nothing to do with fame, or "rags to riches."
It had to do with a human's journey, a man's journey.
Starting from when I was 10 to when I had that breakdown that you talked about with Freddie Prinze, and I left the business.
And, the comeback for that year was to go back on Broadway and succeed.
And, a very tough show to do called "Barnum!"
-- - Yeah!
- where I had to learn to walk a tightrope.
(she chuckles) You know?
And sing, and do a split on the tightrope, by the way.
I know I couldn't do that today, but, of course-- (she laughs) I was in my 30s, you know?
I was pretty athletic, so I could do it.
So, Glenn Close was the co-star of "Barnum!"
She's a magnificent, magnificent actress.
I followed a great circus performer actor named Jim Dale.
No actor wanted to do that show.
That's the reason I got it.
Because they said, "I'm not going to walk the wire!
"I'm not going there.
I don't know how to juggle."
I learned all of that in two weeks because I wanted to be on Broadway.
So, now with my own story, it's a toss of the dice.
I'm proud of it.
I love what we've done.
I think it's a hit show, but it's up to public to say that.
So, when it comes out, who knows where it's gonna go?
- Tony, thank you so much for your time answering all my questions.
I look forward to seeing you perform sometime in person.
- [Lillian] This program was originally produced for 91.9 KVCR Radio.
(bright upbeat music) ♪ ♪ Yeah, the simple things in life ♪