Debbi Whiting and KT Sullivan photos by Maryann Lopinto
by Linda Amiel Burns
Monday evening, June 23, 2014, a full house of fans of the legendary singer
Margaret Whiting gathered together at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall to
celebrate her life in song.
was Margaret’s daughter Debbi Whiting and KT Sullivan, director of The Mabel
Mercer Foundation, producer of the event. The renowned musical director Tex
Arnold was at the piano as he was for Margaret for over 27 years with Saadi
Zain on the bass. The cast consisted of some of the best performers in New
York cabaret and theater: Carole J. Bufford, Jim Caruso, Eric Comstock, Mary
Foster Conklin, Baby Jane Dexter, Natalie Douglas, Barbara Fasano, Lauren Fox,
John Fricke, Eric Yves Garcia, Terese Genecco, Wayne Hosford, Heather MacRae,
Marilyn Maye, Tanya Moberly, Marissa Mulder, Karen Oberlin, Shaynee Rainbolt,
Billy Stritch, Stacy Sullivan, Carol Woods and surprise guest, Rupert Holmes.
was born on July 22, 1924 and passed away at age 86 in 2011. Her father,
Richard Whiting, was a famous composer with a catalog that included such
standards as “Hooray For Hollywood,” “Breezing Along With The Breeze”, “Till We
Meet Again”, “On the Good Ship Lollipop,” “Too Marvelous” and many, many more.
At their home in Beverly Hills the “family friends” were Jerome Kern, Frank
Loesser and Johnny Mercer to name a few. When her father died suddenly at age
45 from a heart attack, Margaret was only 13 and Johnny Mercer became a
surrogate father of sorts, signing her to a recording contract when he formed
Capitol Records in 1942.
31 Marissa Mulder
Mulder, in a lovely back sequined gown, opened with “My Ideal” her first hit
and the song most associated with Margaret. It was written in 1930 by her dad
(music) and Leo Robin (words) for Maurice Chevalier in the 1930 movie Playboy
of Paris and recorded by Margaret for Capitol in 1943.
66 Stacy Sullivan
Sullivan performed a fine medley of “Old Black Magic” with “Lover.” Eric
Comstock sat at the keyboards to sing “You Couldn’t be Cuter” and performed a duet
of “Ain’t We Got Fun” with Barbara Fasano who scored with a great rendition of
one of Margaret’s biggest hits “Moonlight in Vermont.” Wayne Hosford and Mary
Foster Conklin recreated one of Margaret’s 31 country hits with singer Jimmy
Wakefield. Karen Oberlin looking smashing in a gold gown, sang a song from
Margaret’s Jerome Kern Songbook album “Remind Me.” Jim Caruso and Billy
Stritch sang “Far Away Places” combined with great upbeat rendition of “The
Gypsy in My Soul.”
Fricke and KT Sullivan sang a medley of Richard Whiting’s hits that Margaret
often put into her cabaret acts.
Douglas was given an award by the MM Foundation
won over the audience with “Can’t Help Loving That Man.”
J. Bufford performed “Any Place I Hang My Hat is Home” and Heather MacRae, a
tender “My Favorite Year.”
Rupert Holmes talked about Margaret’s influence in his career and Eric Yves
Garcia sang his wonderful “The People That You Never Get To Love” and sat down
at the piano to sing “You’d Better Love Me While You May” from High Spirits.
Terese Genecco and Shaynee Rainbolt did a cute duet of “Baby its Cold Outside”
that Margaret recorded with Johnny Mercer.
many years Margaret toured successfully in “4 Girls 4” with Rosemary Clooney,
Helen O’Connell, and Rose Marie (later on Kay Ballard, Kay Starr, Martha Raye
and Barbara McNair substituted in).
Carole J. Bufford
J Bufford, Lauren Fox, Heather MacRae channeled these singers but it was the
adorable Debbi Whiting that was the most surprising. She played the zany Rose
Marie (with a signature black bow in her hair) and it was simply terrific and
showed that the “apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”
championed new songwriters and when she heard Francesca Blumenthal’s “Lies of
Handsome Men” she said that it was “the story of my life” and it was well sung
by Tanya Moberly.
Baby Jane Dexter
Allen’s “I’d Rather Leave While I’m in Love” was performed by Baby Jane Dexter
and songwriter Johnny Meyer’s “I’d Like To Hate Myself in the Morning” was sung
by the amazing Carol Woods who also did a bang up job on “Come Rain or Come
there were many terrific performances, no one comes close to the amazing
Marilyn Maye. She performed “Drinking Again,” “One For My Baby” and “Blues In
The Night” to perfection and practically blew the roof off of the hall!
the end of the concert, the cast came on stage to sing “Time After Time”, Debbi
gave an emotional speech about how her mom persevered after a stroke and how
sad her last days were. For all of us who knew and loved this remarkable
woman, she will always be remembered not only as a great talent but a
supportive and wonderful friend. I spent many afternoons at Margaret’s apartment
talking about music, hearing her stories, and listening to songs. The hours
stretched into the night and we never knew or cared where the time went. I will
always treasure these times and am grateful to have known her. Congratulations
to all involved in creating this well deserved and special tribute to a very
special and legendary woman.
June 23, 2014
Recital Hall @ Carnegie Hall