Swinging With The Big Bands & All That Jazz

This month has been filled with music as we sing and prepared for our upcoming performances with the “L.A. Winds Jazz Band.”

 This fantastic group of musicians, also know as the “Pierce Jazz Band” under the direction of John Mitchel and Dave Weston, can swing the iconic music from the 1940’s to the 1960’s like no other! We will be performing at Nola’s in Los Angeles on October 3rd, 7:30 – 9:30  and also at the Calabasas Performing Arts Education Center on October 13. We will be on the bill with the distinguished L. A. Symphonic Winds, an orchestra of 100 musicians conducted by Steven Piazza.

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Rehearsing with the band

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Los Angeles Winds opens their season with — Eric Whitacre’s highly acclaimed and innovative Sin City spoof “Gawdzilla Eats Las Vegas”, plus the acclaimed L.A. Winds Jazz Band featuring the Alberici Sisters!

Sunday October 13, 2013 2:30 pm – Calabasas H. S. Performing Arts & Edu. Center. 

Hope to see some of you there!

ICONIC BAND MEMORIES PERFORMING WITH LOUIS PRIMA!

Excerpt from our book, BEYOND OUR WILDEST DREAMS…

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“Mark Glick, NanuetTheater-Go-Round, stagehand: …The Nanuet had your Las Vegas type of performers there, everybody from Louis Prima to Pat Cooper to Liberace to Sergio Franchi to The Jackson Five. They would perform from Tuesday to Sunday, maybe two shows on Saturday and Sunday.

There were people like Buddy Hackett, who was such a nice guy… Then there were stars like Jerry Lewis, he was really nasty backstage but I loved his stupid slapstick type of humor.

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Sammy Davis Jr.

Sammy Davis, Jr. would come in at six for an eight o’’clock show, sometimes he’d have the patch over his eye, and the aroma of marijuana from under the door of his dressing room would fill the entire backstage area.

And the Golddiggers—my friends and I were seventeen, eighteen years old and here were these beautiful young ladies just a few years older than us prancing around the stage, it was wonderful. It was a fun place to work; we would have worked there for free. I got to smoke a joint with Cheech and Chong!”

“Maria: Louis Prima and Sam Butera’s show had so much energy that it was contagious. The music coming from the stage and into our dressing room kept us buzzing after our show. I must say it was utterly delightful to hear Louis and the band chant out the hit, “Oh Marie!” Louis sang with abandonment and with complete disregard to any sentiment while the audience cheered him on…”

“Linda: Louis Prima’s show was like a big jam session with wild trumpet, organ and drum solos. All the musicians had amazing talent and showmanship, each had an important part in the show, talking, jiving as well as playing. Louis was a fantastic trumpet player, masterful at delivering jokes and as a comic singer. His Italian novelty songs endeared him to the Italian Americans in the crowd. During ‘‘Just A Gigolo’’ the guys in the band joined him with a shout out, echoing. “Gigolo, Gigolo.”  Prima’s “I Ain’t Got Nobody was priceless. When he sang the part. “I’m so sad and lonely, sad and lonely, sad and lonely…., it was more of a tease, a reaching out to all the sad and lonely people in the audience to lighten up and they did… The show gave the appearance of being loose when actually it was very tight.” – Beyond Our Wildest Dreams

“There’’s nothing like walking out and watching the people get turned on.”——Louis Prima

 

© Copyright, Beyond Our Wildest Dreams. All rights reserved.

“Pretty Little Liars” – Pretty Little Friends

Pretty-Little-Liars-UsFrom the Editors of Us magazine, Collectors Edition of “Pretty Little Liars” on ABC Family, being displayed until October 10, 2013.

PRETTY LITTLE LIARS stars: Troian Bellisario, Lucy Hale, Shay Mitchell and Ashley Benson.

“The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!” was the statement used in Us Magazine to describe actress, Troian Bellisario of “Pretty Little Liars.” and her mom, actress and award winning writer, Deborah Pratt.

Watching Troian Bellisario grow into an accomplished actress has been a life long journey for us. Her mom is one of our Golddigger ‘gal pals’ from the “Dean Martin Show” and our families continue our friendship today.

The-Golddiggers-Alberici-Sisters-copyright-Beyond-Our-Wildest-DreamsFrom bottom left to right, clockwise: Linda Alberici Eichberg, Colleen Kincaid-Jackson, Robin Hoctor-Horneff, Deborah Pratt, Maria Lauren, Lee Nolting, Susan Buckner & Patti Gribow.

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Like her mom, Troian is a stunningly beautiful and talented woman. She is highly acclaimed for her role as Spencer Hastings in the TV series, “Pretty Little Liars.”
TROIAN BELLISARIO
We have shared many celebrations with Deborah and our ‘Golddigger sisters’.
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Maria & Linda sharing good times with Deborah Pratt and Patti Gribow.

After our Golddigger years there were weddings, New Years and many birthday celebrations throughout the years. Likewise our children have shared many memories and momentous events together.

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Troian Bellisario with Maria’s daughter, Marianna Riccio and Patti’s daughter, Gina Gribow at Marianna’s First Holy Communion.

Lindsay-Eichberg-Troian-Bellisario-copyright-Linda-EichbergLinda’s daughter, Lindsay Eichberg, with Troian at a birthday luncheon.
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Troian gives Lindsay a ride at her first birthday party. 

When Troian was only three years old, she already had begun her career acting in the movie “Last Rites”.

A part of show business royalty, Troian’s father, Donald Bellisario created and produced many hit television series including “JAG”.

 
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Teenagers, Marianna and Troian

Troian and Marianna took their first swimming lessons together before they could even walk.

While in college, Troian and Marianna continued to share their love for the performing arts and starred in their individual alma-mater’s theater productions.

We have wonderful memories of childhood fun with Troian and our daughters Marianna and Lindsay. Isn’t that what life is all about… enduring friendships and lasting memories. 

Troian-Bellisario

Beauty inside and out…

Our daughters are now the same age we were when we performed and toured together as the Dean Martin Golddiggers with the stars of television and Vegas during the groovy 70’s.

BEYOND OUR WILDEST DREAMS, book excerpts:

Maria: “Our times in The Golddiggers gave us a lifetime of experiences. All of us girls were very different but very alike in many ways. We had a deep sense of caring for each other and professionalism.” (p. 317)

Deborah: “We were backstage in Dean’s suite one night when the Rat Pack walked in. I’m sitting between Danny Thomas and Sammy Davis Jr. and Danny Thomas looked at me and said, ‘Well, you’re the highest yellow black woman I’ve ever seen in my life,’ and Sammy hit him! It was really funny, and I turned around and said, ‘It’s nice to meet you too.'” (p. 124 – 125)

Linda: “Several of the girls in the group were Christians, all of us were brought up with strong family values. We continually had to wrestle with the values we grew up with verses the standards of Hollywood and the rest of the world.” (p. 136)

– Registered Copyright, Beyond Our Wildest Dreams Beyond-Our-Wildest-Dreams

Dean Martin Up Close

Up close and personal with Dean Martin… he made it seem all so easy…

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Dean Martin – The King of Cool

“While the truth about Martin’s habits is hard to come by, certain facts about his career are crystal clear. Once considered en route to oblivion as the lesser half of the sundered comedy team of Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin, he is now America’s highest-paid entertainer. And he is the only star who is a consistent draw at the theater while also appearing on weekly television. His defiance of traditional taboos and his obviousvirility (liquor+golf+an eye for girls) have made Martin a hero with the male audience. His Italian good looks, his suave manner and his way of cuddling up to a romantic ballad are enormously appealing to women. Thus, he is one of the few stars who seem to be liked equally by both sexes.” – Good Housekeeping, 1967; Excerpt  from Beyond Our Wildest Dreams

In our book, Beyond Our Wildest Dreams, we dig deep into the “King of Cool” image to find a man with a warm heart. It was an honor to perform with him as part of The Golddiggers but we were touched with a smile of pride when Dean fondly called us, “My Girls.”

maria-lauren- (aka)-maria elena-alberici - riccioMaria: My first impression upon meeting Dean Martin was that he was very, very charming. He looked the same in person as he did on TV. I can’t say that about all the stars I’ve met. It was a pleasure to watch him interact with all us girls. He never made a vulgar or cheap comment or anything like that. He was fun loving, good natured and made you feel comfortable.”Excerpt from Beyond Our Wildest Dreams

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Patti (Pivarnik) Gribow, Golddigger 1973-1977: My mom and all her friends were in love with Dean and, of course, his good looks. The persona, Dean Martin, appeared to be a cad and a real ‘player’ but in reality Dean was one of the nicest and genteel men I have ever met. He was exceedingly humble and once told me, “It’s so hard to be mean and so easy to be nice.” I will always carry that memory with me.”Excerpt from Beyond Our Wildest Dreams

Dean loved country music and on the Dean Martin Comedy Hour, Dean sang with the best country stars of the 70’s including Loretta Lynn, Conway Twitty, Buck Owens, Doug Dillard, Lynn Anderson, Crystal Gayle, The Statler Brothers and many others.

Linda-Alberici-Eichberg “Linda: The country set was like a breath of fresh air equipped with a barn, a plow and a miniature horse. We would sing a sweet ballad on stacks of hay, our colorful prairie gowns draped around us and then skip to the other side of the set to sing the next song to some guitar picking and fiddle playing. I grew to have a greater appreciation of country music singing songs like ‘I Was Raised on Country Sunshine’, ‘You Got a Friend’, ‘Tie a Yellow Ribbon’, ‘Houston’, ‘Jambalaya (On the Bayou)’ and ‘Country Roads’. Maria and I were ecstatic when we saw in the script that we would be doing ‘I Believe in Music’ with Dean. We sang the verse while Dean joined us for the chorus and then the whole cast extended their harmonies for a reprise as the scene peaked for a big finish—then cut to commercial.” – Excerpt from Beyond Our Wildest Dreams

DEAN MARTIN FANS…

The Dean Martin Fan Center Magazine is styled in a newsletter format filled with stories, photos, information, past and up-to-date current happenings by Neil Daniels.

Also, check out the Dean Martin Fan Center Website containing interesting topics pertaining to Dean Martin including “Showstoppers,” our musical tribute to Dean Martin and the showstopping entertainers with whom we performed.

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Dean Martin “Rat Pack”

June 7th is Dean Martin’s birthday. We celebrate the man and the entertainer!!

The Wacky World of Jonathan Winters

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Dean Martin and Jonathan Winters as Maude Frickert
Photo credit – YouTube.com

Last month our friend from television, Jonathan Winters, passed away. We had the good fortune to work along side him for several years on the Dean Martin Comedy Hour, The Wacky World of Jonathan Winters and several Dean Martin TV specials. He was the master of improvisation and had a great influence on other comedians. Robin Williams was one those comedians who looked up to Jonathan. In a New York Times article, Robin called him, “a madman but angelic.” We think that is a perfect description. Jonathan’s death was a great loss to the world of entertainment. To remember him, we would like to share some memories of Jonathan from our book.

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Dean Martin’s Christmas in California – Photo courtesy of Robyn Whatley, one of Dean’s Golddiggers. Robyn is center next to Jonathan with her arms wrapped around Linda Lavin. With Patti Gribow, Mireille Mathieu & Crystal Gayle (far right)

Excerpts from BEYOND OUR WILDEST DREAMS

 “Linda: Our first TV show taping was The Wacky World of Jonathan Winters, a variety show which featured a spot where the comedian would rummage through his ‘attic,’ pick up some random object and do a whole monologue on it. We were on for something like eight shows, we shot two a day.”

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Deborah Pratt

Deborah Pratt, Golddigger 1973-1974:
Jonathan Winters’ mind was just so explosive, he was in his own world. My favorite
part was to come and watch the ending where he would take nothing and make it into fifty things just with the sound effects he did with his mouth while his hands were doing mime.”

 

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Linda (Alberici) Eichberg

Linda: There was not much interaction with Jonathan Winters on the set but our trailers were side by side so I would talk to him outside the soundstage. I had pleasant conversations with him, he was very approachable, very mellow and warm when he wasn’t on stage.

One day when I was talking with Jonathan he invited me into his trailer. If it had been someone else I would have had second thoughts but not with Jonathan. In spite of his zany TV characters he was pretty normal, super nice and very intelligent. We talked about our mutual November birthdays and The Twilight Zone episode he did. I was a big fan of Twilight Zone.
Jonathan was an incredibly talented, funny guy. He invented lots of crazy characters, I adored his old lady character Maude Frickert. Every time he became her, everyone was hysterical with laughter. As Maude he stole every scene he was in. The other guest stars didn’t have a chance except to go with the flow and let whatever happened happen. That’s what was so great about his show, the improvisation and spontaneity.”

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Maria (Alberici) Lauren

 

Maria: Jonathan Winters as Maude Frickert was also a guest on The Dean Martin Comedy Hour. Dean would try to hold his own as Maude flirted shamelessly, his reactions were priceless. One smirk would say it all. Dean was the perfect straight man—although his TV persona could not walk a straight line.”

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Dean Martin, Jonathan Winters and the Golddiggers from Dean Martin’s Christmas in California special.

A favorite Jonathan Winters TV clip is on the YouTube link below, narrated by producer, Greg Garrison. It’s too funny!

 

Our television debut as two of “The Golddiggers” was on The Wacky World of Jonathan Winters show. This YouTube contains a clip of our performance on his show along with a Larry King interview and recent highlights of our entertaining in “Showstoppers.”

Copyright – Beyond Our Wildest Dreams

Times with Lee Hale, Dean Martin Show – Musical Director

Is there a man who could be a director and teacher for countless young women of ambition and changing hormones and never lose his cool? Yes! His name is Lee Hale. Being two of “The Golddiggers” from 1973 and until 2003 (with a few years off in between), we had the opportunity to see the enormous respect Lee Hale earned from the show business community and from celebrities. We never once saw Lee lose his patience. He was always open to listening and would be generous with advice that would be both truthful and supportive. As the musical director and a producer of Dean’s TV Shows and Specials, he remained humble and kind, Lee was the person who made us, and all of Dean’s guest stars, feel comfortable.

ImageLee was a performer himself, so we knew he understood us as performers. He was also a gifted writer who wrote clever musical material for Dean Martin’s TV Shows and for “The Golddiggers” shows. He knew how to bring the best out of each girl by finding a special song that would make her shine. Lee had great musical instincts! Like an Uncle or a Dad, he had a genuine caring and supportive attitude. Lee Hale is the person responsible for bringing the Golddiggers act through several decades. He always believed in our singing abilities and he gave us challenging, showstopping material that grew us into leading ladies. In addition to our television appearances, we were a popular Las Vegas opening act that worked regularly for Dean Martin and many other stars until Dean’s retirement.

Lee Hale, still is a talented singer and songwriter. He was fantastic in our ‘Showstoppers’ “Golddiggers Reunion Show” with his original song, “Prostate Blues”. It brought the house down. He is our mentor and friend. Today, we are proud to be standing along side this versatile man as writers sharing our individual stories about Dean Martin and friends in our books. We are very grateful to him for the contributions he made to our book, “Beyond Our Wildest Dreams.”

Lee, we are so blessed to have had you in our lives! Happy Birthday Lee!!
With love, Maria Lauren and Linda Eichberg (Alberici Sisters)

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Alberici Sisters with Lee Hale at a recent book signing together

Excerpt from “Beyond Our Wildest Dreams”

“Lee Hale, Musical Director, The Dean Martin Show: Greg (Garrison) was always good to me because he kept upping my salary every year. I didn’t have any problem with him, he made it easy as far as The Dean Martin Show went because he never came around to rehearsals. Basically I put that show and the Golddiggers’ show together myself, just myself and the choreographer…

By the ninth season we were shooting on Saturdays. I would start on Monday putting together all the music for the show and deciding who was going to do what. Then on Tuesday we usually got our first guests in for rehearsal and they would rehearse Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. On Friday we had a run through with all the staff, the cameramen and everybody involved in the show who hadn’t seen our rehearsals. And then on Saturday we were in the studio and we did all the camera work ahead of time and then the orchestra rehearsal was three hours in the afternoon. Greg’s motto was “We’re not making records” so we couldn’t go past that three-hour period. And I don’t think we ever did, we had to rush things along. The best part of it was, the writers and any agents or managers were not allowed at rehearsals so we just had the guests and us. The guests were always on their best behavior because they wanted to be part of a hit show so they didn’t give me any trouble…”  copyright, Beyond Our Wildest Dreams 2012 – 2013

                                         

                  Books by Lee HaleImage

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Purchase The Lee Hale Story: http://www.amazon.com/The-Lee-Hale-Story-Entertainers/dp/0984787801

FRANK SINATRA – “I Love My Wife”

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Excerpt from BEYOND OUR WILDEST DREAMS

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“Linda: At the start of our run newspapers all over the country ran photos of Dean and Frank performing together on stage again, The Rat Pack was back and we were right in the thick of it. Frank was the Chairman of the Board and he traveled with his kingdom wherever he performed…”

“Frank’s wife Barbara was around a lot to watch rehearsals, she was very elegant and regal. Barbara even instructed one of the girls on how to apply her makeup in a more glamorous fashion. Barbara gave her some marvelous tips. We learned a lot about presence, Frank had a regal bearing and so did Barbara. They knew who they were, who was in their kingdom and who wasn’t. They projected a feeling of being very secure in themselves.”

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“Maria: Frank added the song ‘I Love My Wife’ from a show of the same name that opened in New York that summer. I never heard anyone sing it but Sinatra, the song had beautiful lyrics that meshed perfectly with Frank’s musical arrangement, artfully penned by Nelson Riddle. The sweeping violins from that lush, full orchestra Sinatra had at his fingertips filled my heart with emotion. The song took on a life all its own since Barbara was present for some of the tour. They were practically still newlyweds after all. I’m sure she appreciated Frank’s sentimental nod to her, a tribute to their love for each other.”

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“Pat Cooper, comedian: Sinatra had an entourage of people who
thought he was Jesus Christ. I’m talkin’ about tough guys who bent
down for this guy. I mean, this guy had an army of people that
adored him, “Hey, Frank, I love you Frank. Mention me to Frank.
Tell Frank I’m outside. Tell him I loves him.” Not one of them were
men, not one of them were men if you know what I’m talkin’ about.”

“Maria: Frank was the master chess player, the manipulator of the chess board. One night he invited us all to dinner in a lovely private room backstage. The beautifully appointed tables were situated outside the receiving area where we spoke with his wife Barbara before we were seated. She looked stunning with her hair pulled back, accentuating her perfect features. When it was time for dinner the bodyguards were close by and escorted us to our tables…” – Beyond Our Wildest Dreams

 

© Copyright 2012 – 2013

Brothers of the Super Bowl – Sisters of the Super Stars!

What are the odds? Two brothers are coaching the dueling teams in the Super Bowl game. The San Francisco 49ers coach, Jim Harbaugh competes against the Baltimore Ravens coach, John Harbaugh.Brothers of the Super Bowl

Musically, the Super Bowl started with a touching rendition of “America the Beautiful” by the Sandy Hook Elementary School Choir with Jennifer Hudson taking the lead to give it a gospel feel. Then, Alicia Keys gave a respectful rendition of the ”National Anthem” with a touch of jazz influence using just her voice and piano. The half-time was spectacular starring Beyonce. The production had an abundance of flashing lights, special effects and ‘girl power’; shortly after there was a power outage.

When the lights were all turned on, Baltimore took the win, a sweet victory for Raven’s star linebacker, Ray Lewis, who after 17 years is retiring. At the game conclusion, the brothers spoke the words, “I love you… congratulations.”

Love goes deep in families and sibling rivalry is natural but the competition can help us to be the best we can be.

~~~

Excerpts from “Beyond Our Wildest Dreams”

Maria and Linda: “What are the chances? The odds certainly were against us but out of thousands of young women, two humble girls from a family of nine children were chosen to be featured singers and dancers on The Dean Martin Comedy Hour.”

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Dean Martin with The Alberici Sisters: Linda Eichberg & Maria Lauren

Maria and Linda: “Working with Dean was a safe haven for us and we continued performing with him until he retired in 1991.

Those were the happiest of times. We also felt Dean’s profound loss as he dealt with the tragic death of his son and we were there when Dean shared the details of his falling out with Frank Sinatra.

Looking back, it was a blessing to have each other to share this journey. There were many more adventures to challenge us and surprises beyond our wildest dreams but those are stories for another day.”

~~~

My sister, Linda Eichberg and I had the good fortune to entertain with super star legends as The Golddiggers and open for Dean Martin in Las Vegas until his last years before retirement. Dear to our hearts are the times in between our performances. We were like family sharing laughs, sorrows and tender moments.

Wishing you joyful moments. ~ Maria Lauren (aka) Maria Elena Alberici – Riccio