Archive for May, 2008

May 24 2008

Rhonda Fleming Sings Just For You

Published by pointnorth under Music Reviews

Rhonda Fleming has a new CD release with 22 beautifully re-mastered songs sung in her films, TV shows and on records. The release entitled Rhonda Fleming Sings Just For You is now available exclusively through her website. The CD was produced by Sepia Records, and there will be photographs from her personal collection.

Four selections are from her Gospel album with Connie Haines, Jane Russell and Beryl Davis. There is also a classic number with Bing Crosby. All funds received go to Rhonda’s charities, including P.A.T.H. (People Assisting The Homeless), The City of Hope and many more. This also applies to autographed pictures from her personal collection.

http://www.rhondafleming.com/shop.html

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May 07 2008

Interview with Pat Boone

Published by pointnorth under Interviews

Earlier this year Rhonda Fleming arranged for us to have an interview with legendary Christian performer, Pat Boone. We not only were able to talk with him, but Pat sent us a copy of his outstanding book, Pat Boone’s America 50 Years: A Pop Culture Journey through the last five decades. This is also the story of Pat’s wife Shirley, the daughter of music greats Red Foley and Eva Carter. The Boones have four talented daughters Cherry, Lindy, Debby and Laury. Pat himself has a heritage in that he is a direct descendent of American pioneer Daniel Boone. Pat and Shirley have 15 grandchildren. (Editorial questions and comments are in bold face.)

Ed.: It is a real pleasure to talk with you. I have of course done some advance research, but I also have my own memories as we are about the same age. Except you look about twenty years younger.
 
Pat: (Chuckle) Well, I think we’re both about 45
 

Ed.: The obvious question is that as a former Southern boy, first Florida and then Tennessee what inspired you to get into the music and film worlds?

 

 
Pat: The first answer to that is Bing Crosby. My dad, Archie Boone, was a building contractor and my mom, Margaret, was a registered nurse. Nobody in our family was ever in the entertainment business. It was sort of expected I would become an architect and building contractor and follow in my dad’s footsteps. My family were Christians and very involved in church. I went to a Christian high school and college at David L. Lipscomb in Nashville with the idea that I might be a teacher/preacher which is what I did decide to do; but growing up my folks had Bing Crosby records. I loved them, I listened to them and I fantasized when I was milking the family cow, Rosemary, about becoming a singer. It became known there was this kid who lived out in Lone Oak Road who kept up with the current pop tunes and had a lady piano teacher friend who would accompany me and never asked for anything in return. Never asked for money. We would sing at ladies club luncheons, business men meetings, high school assembly programs and even contests. I did it for the fun of living this fantasy that I was a young Bing Crosby. I was even introduced that way sometimes. Bing was my original influence. Later Shirley’s dad Red Foley influenced me greatly in the way he sang country music. Red Foley’s wife and Shirley’s mother was Eva Carter, who sang with her sisters in “Three Little Maids”. Those were my big influences.
 

Pat Boone also had a good start on the Ted Mack’s Original Amateur Hour. This later led to great success on Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts. Godfrey was a major fan of Pat and he was welcomed back even when Pat had his own TV show.
 
Ed.: We remember you whistled in some of your songs the way Bing used to do. I think you and Bing are the only two that ever did that as far as I can remember.

 

 
Pat: Whistling is something I loved to do. I looked for excuses in the recording when we would be rehearsing. I would whistle along in the instrumental portion. Even when the band was running down and I wasn’t singing I would whistle. In Love Letters in the Sand, the original recording had a whistling intro, because Randy Wood, the head of the record company, liked the way it sounded and I also whistled in the middle part. It was the biggest selling record I ever had. Eventually when they put the record out they lopped the whistling introduction off. So it started (Pat sang) “On a day like today…” which grabbed people’s attention immediately, but it lost the whistle. I just whistled on the bridge and it seemed so different from other records. I think that made it a huge hit.
 

Love Letters in the Sand sold three million copies on the singles chart and made the top list of songs for six months.
 
Ed.: Your Rhythm and Blues music paved the way for Rock and Roll. We don’t hear you credited as much in this regard which is hard to understand. When we visited the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, we were shocked that you weren’t there.

 

Pat: Well, some kind of perverse rendering of history or mis-rendering had occurred because over the years, first of all I didn’t live a Rock and Roll lifestyle. I did the unforgivable. I recorded things besides Rock and Roll. I mean I did movie themes, my own movie songs, of course Elvis Presley did too. He was much more identified with Rhythm and Blues and Rock and Roll with numbers like Hound Dog. Even his ballads had a certain rock sensibility. Whereas if I was going to sing Friendly Persuasion, it was really a classy ballad. Even Love Letters in the Sand and April Love were ballads. So people didn’t think of me as a Rock and Roll singer though I had all these huge hits and I consider myself a midwife at the birth of Rock and Roll. I even preceded Elvis in singing Rhythm and Blues songs that we called Rock and Roll. This is unbelievable, but in my autobiography, Pat Boone’s America 50 Years I had to do some research. I had somebody researching for me and when he put the dates in front of me I couldn’t believe it myself. From March of ‘55 to February of ‘56, before Elvis’s record Heartbreak Hotel I had six million selling singles, two of them number one. Two of them back to back, Tutti Fruitti and I’ll Be Home. This was all in eleven months, which is unprecedented and may never be repeated I’m sure. Nobody would think about putting out that many records in less than a year. The record company, Dot, where I was and Randy Wood who ran the company when a record peaked, wherever it was on the chart, would immediately come out with another record. So one was going down while another was going up. I had such a rush, six million sellers in eleven months, it helped me weather the Elvis Tide. I was considered his chief rival. A lot of people said they preferred my version of some of the same songs we did. I think we underestimated, I know I did, his enduring talent. He sounded a little raw, a little shaky on some songs, his singing was certainly untutored. I didn’t have much but I had had more of it. I think we underestimated that visceral appeal that Elvis had and would continue to have even to this moment.
 

Pat Boone is in the Country Music, Gospel and Hit Parade Halls of Fame. There is a movement to also get him included in the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame, and we strongly support that effort.
 
Elvis had great respect for Pat and when they first met he was so much in awe he was shy about speaking to Pat. Later Elvis and Pat exchanged home visits. Pat wanted to do an album in the early ‘60s titled Pat Sings Elvis, however Col. Parker wouldn’t let the name be used without royalties so it was re-titled Pat Sings Guess Who. Elvis himself liked it and felt complimented.
 
Ed.: You sound like a friend of ours whom we had the good fortune of meeting and interviewing for this publication last year, Jody Miller. She preferred ballads and your type of music and like you had a classical way of singing pop. She was surprised when Queen of the House won a Grammy for country and it wasn’t intended to be in that category. They didn’t know where to put it.

 

Pat: (Chuckling) Well, Debby my daughter was like that. I was delighted to be thought of as a country artist for a while and at various times, because I had country hits. Even Love Letters in the Sand became a big hit in the country field. It was a huge pop hit, but sort of leaked over. Debby’s You Light Up My Life was also a big country hit. She had had two or three others that were decidedly country and meant to be. She had a number one country hit. On The Road To Loving You. But Debby, like Jody, didn’t want to be thought of as country. I was tickled to death to be because my wife Shirley’s dad, Red Foley, was a great country singer. He was in the Country Hall of Fame eventually. To me that was just as good as pop recognition.
 

Debby’s You Light Up My Life won an Academy Award. She felt she was singing to Jesus.
 
Ed.: You’ve also had some great films. Some that have been used in the classroom.

 

Pat: That’s what I wanted to be, a teacher.
 

Ed.: Among the films we’ve seen used in schools have been The Greatest Story Ever Told and Journey to the Center of the Earth. However one that is very special and still shown in churches was The Cross and The Switchblade. How significant was this film to you?

 

Pat: Oh my goodness. People ask me from time to time “What is your favorite film made out of the fifteen or so in your career?” I always say The Cross and the Switchblade.
 
It was also such a tremendous, eternal honor to be selected by George Stevens, the great director/producer, to be the man at “the tomb” in The Greatest Story Ever Told. saying the most important words that were ever spoken in all the history of mankind, “He is not here, He has risen just as He said.” I got to say those words and I have marveled at that for many years. Of all the actors he could have chosen he had chosen somebody unknown. I think I would have done that as I wouldn’t want someone at that moment to look at the screen and say, “Oh look, that’s Pat Boone.” He did it in such a way, my head was shadowed, I had a hooded robe and the shadow was across my face. At the premiere at the Cinerama Dome out here I had some friends with me and when the lights came up at the end of the film they turned to me and said “Did we fall asleep, where were you?” They hadn’t recognized me even though they were with me which was good, which was wonderful.
 
Anyway, in The Cross and the Switchblade, to play Dave Wilkerson in the true story of a man who just obeyed God and went into the worst section of the country to try to help kids was a signal honor in my life. It was a real challenge for him to risk his life over and over to save other kids’ lives. That film by the way, just like The Greatest Story…. has gone all over the world and has been translated into many languages. It has been credited with causing or bringing about the salvation of many many people. Even in Iran there was a Catholic priest who took it as his ministry, Father John, he’s gone now, but he saw to it that the film was translated into Farsi, the Iranian tongue. It played all over the nation for years. Even though it was a strong Christian message, it was also a very strong anti-drug message. In Iran that is ironic, as in Iran and Afghanistan, that part of the world, they grow the poppy, the basic ingredient for the large drug traffic around the world. It plays a big part in that economy. But they don’t want their own people being on drugs. It was an anti-drug film, but it caused many people to look at Jesus and to become Christian too. Other films I’ve made were bigger box office, but those two have had greater significance. I think the Lord will smile at me much more on me than let us say Goodbye Charlie and even Journey to the Center of the Earth which was a huge success.
 

At the climax of The Cross and the Switchblade film Pat delivers one of the most powerful sermons we have ever seen on film. He could easily have been a preacher. In a sense he is.
 
It must be added that the science fiction film Journey to the Center of the Earth had its own distinction as it was credited by some analysts, at the time, with saving 20th Century Fox which had money problems.

 

 

Ed.: You are also an author, in addition to your autobiography you have written books for young people. Are you going to continue your writing projects?

 

 
Pat: I seem to be unable not to write. I’m writing weekly columns for World Net Daily and News Max, two conservative web sites. Every week about mid week I get antsy to write. Not everybody knows about these columns if they don’t visit the conservative web sites.
 
I’m writing on all the current themes of the day. Some that are pretty deep like the question of evolution and abortion and homosexual rights. The latest running on News Max and on the weekend on World Net Daily is Global Warming: Fact or Fable. Of course race and gender in the political campaign. Both Barack and Hillary have said race and gender are not issues in this campaign and I said, “Who told you that?” They are decidedly issues and should be. They made them bigger issues saying they shouldn’t be considered. The news media has made them issues. That’s the way politics is played. I feel like I have a soap box provided to me. I have already written enough columns on various issues that I bet we could put together a couple more books. Sometimes those books are widely read and popular. I feel like I have things to say and I was planning to be a teacher, I wanted to point young people in the right direction. Like the teachers who had me. I’ve been asked to write the forward for a book by a professor at Pepperdine. I finished the book recently, a big book and it really swept me through it. I’m going to write the forward and the book title is The Joy of Anonymity. As he correctly points out there has not nearly been enough written about what Jesus instructed “to let your good works be done without notice, go into a closet and don’t look for a reward from man. Let your Father reward you openly for what you do in secret.” Our vanity compels us to let people know when we have done something good, that’s understandable. But the joy of random acts of kindness with no expectation of notice is reward enough. It is a deep joy and very close to God’s heart. He writes a lot of stories in his book about people who have quietly and unobtrusively gone about their work influencing the lives of many others. For instance he mentions a guy’s name, I didn’t know, who was a great influence on Martin Luther. This man contributed strongly to the thinking of Martin Luther, who led the Reformation. It wasn’t his (Luther’s) own solo contemplation, it was interaction and discussion with this other man. You think about the guy not known, like a teacher. This is the sort of thing that attracted me to being a teacher. I felt I may not be widely known as a teacher, maybe in the course of my career I will influence in a good direction someone who will become known and do good things, rather than letting your talents be wasted on non-productive and even counter-productive things. I’m going to quote in the introduction a man named John L. Rainy, a Bible teacher at David L. Lipscomb in Nashville who influenced me a great deal.. We used to joke about him, he was a heavy set man, pretty stern, he had a sense of humor. His wife had died and he lived across the street from the campus in a house that looked sort of run down and we heard he collected rain water for use in his house. He only had one light bulb burning in his house at one time. His collars were dirty and frayed. We felt what a penny pincher on himself. But, when he died he left, for that time and for a school teacher, a remarkable amount of money to David L. Lipscomb School to go on teaching students. He didn’t spend anything on himself, but he not only taught us “Students, it’s always right to do right. It’s always wrong to do wrong.” It may sound simple, but we have never forgotten it.
 
 

Ed.: That sounds kind of like the novel by Mitch Albom, The Five People You Meet In Heaven, that Deanna Lund passed on to us for review. Though a work of fiction it does point out the influence a person may have and not realize it. I suspect you have influenced people who may not have realized it at first and then it hits them, “This is not only me doing this, it is Pat Boone.”

 
Pat: Yes, in fact I have honored my early desire to be a teacher in some ways that I know about. Some I don’t. By the time I got out of college my career took off so wildly, but I was determined to get my degree and graduated from Columbia University. Up to the day I took my last test I thought I would be teaching. Therefore I needed that degree. Before I graduated I already had a number one best seller Twix Twelve and Twenty. It was a book of advice for teens which went into every high school in America as well as libraries and churches. It sold well over a million hard cover copies. All the money went to start a Christian college outside Philadelphia which is now fully accredited called Northeastern Christian College, (NCC). This was before I got out of college and I said, “Hey, this is what I want to do with my life.” It was beyond anything I imagined. “Now what am I going to do with the rest of my life?” That was one thing. And I serve as chairman of the advisory board at Pepperdine University and have for a dozen years. So I’m involved in education. But people in Japan, where I have had a curious popularity after all these years, I have had teachers tell me they use my music to teach English. What I thought I was going to be as an English teacher. In Japan both Elvis and I were very popular, but they couldn’t understand Elvis. My words were sung and spoken clearly so they would use my records to teach proper pronunciation to Japanese students who were studying English. So here I am by proxy, not teaching English in the United States, but in foreign countries through my music. It was an amazing development.
 

Ed.: I’d like to cover one more area. When our friend and Advisory Board member, Rhonda Fleming, made this interview possible, she mentioned that your wife Shirley has a fantastic ministry herself. We know you two work as a team. Could you tell us something about that?
 
Pat: We’ve been married fifty-four years and she has picked up my option for another year so we’ll make it to fifty five at least. We were going steady literally for three years from age sixteen to nineteen in high school and over into college. So we have really been together in love fifty seven years.
 

In his book Pat frankly admits that his success put a real drain on their marriage and how God saved it first through Shirley’s prayers and then his.

 
Pat: We have learned through some rocky times and adjustments, we’ve learned that sometimes those peculiar quirks that seemed so cute when you’re dating get to be real irritants when you are living together for years and we’ve had to maneuver to let each other rub the sharp edges off over the years. It’s wonderful because now we have been totally bonded. Shirley does have her own ministry but she’s also been an invaluable aid to me all along and partner in almost everything I’ve done. I’ve said her name should be on my diploma, for example, from Columbia. I would never have been able to graduate with honors with four daughters at age twenty-three and a career in full raging bloom. That’s two mixed metaphors, but anyway Shirley wanted me to achieve my goals and one of those goals was that I did graduate. She didn’t because of our four kids. She started her own ministry called We Win. It started out as Women Empowering Women. You go to the web site and there it is We Win. But now it’s We Empower Women because she wants men to realize it is a partnership. I help her with her’s as her’s is in spurts. She feels she has to take time off and think, and be sort of fallow and let what’s up on the web site and what’s been recorded on DVDs do the job. She had a big seminar last Fall. It was an all day seminar at church and was well attended. It was recorded and videotaped and we are offering that on the web site. Women who have endured and triumphed through some of the toughest situations imaginable, cancer, divorce, children molested and taken by witches (Wicca). That is children whose trusted baby sitters were witches and actually took these little infants to covens and they were, well I don’t have to go into all the gory details. (This has recently been on national news. Ed.) Abused by people they trusted to look after them.

Shirley’s intent is to help women with all kinds of problems, difficulties, questions and have resources and testimonies that can help and guide them through dark times. Shirley has written her own book, One Woman’s Liberation. I tried to help her with her book, she did help me with mine. But then we wrote a book together, The Honeymoon is Over, subtitled But The Marriage Has Just Begun. We wrote that together, each writing separate chapters. We discovered we remembered some of the very same events and periods that we lived through together differently. (chuckle). She’d say, “That’s not the way it was” and I’d say, “Yes, it was.” I’d say, “Here’s how it happened” and I’d write my version and she’d write hers. We realized we just didn’t flat remember some of the events and statements and moments exactly alike so that’s how we decided “You write a chapter, I’ll write a chapter. When we get to the end if we’re still together we’ll put the book out.” I use the example of a butterfly struggling to get out of the cocoon. In an effort to help the butterfly a fellow took a pocket knife and split the cocoon down so the butterfly could get out. To his dismay he saw the butterfly flutter helplessly and then die. The lesson is that the struggle is necessary to have the strength to survive and reach our goals. Without struggle, without obstacles, without opposition we’ll never develop muscles. So we applied that to our marriage, that these difficulties and disagreements and sometimes trying moments in periods in a marriage develop not only wisdom, but a bond.
 

Pat also has this bond with all his children and they have traveled around as a team breaking attendance records. They also made successful family gospel albums The Pat Boone Family and The Family Who Prays. In his book Pat states, “The sense of decency and family that used to have center stage in American life is fast becoming a footnote of history…Sometimes I look around and say, ‘Where is the America I used to know? It seems like it was here just a minute ago.What happened?Where did it go?’”
 
Ed.: We certainly appreciate the time you’ve given us, and Rhonda for uniting us.

Pat: She is one absolutely beautiful woman up close and in person as well. In her character and spirit she is one of the sweetest and most beautiful inside and out people we have had the pleasure of knowing.
 
The only thing that would make my interview more interesting would be the crazy diversity of activities in my life. My wife feels she has married triplets and wishes two of them would go away. I cannot cut out curiosity and the feeling that I want to participate in something that seems worthy whether I am booked up totally or not. Life gets more complex all the time.
 

For more information about Pat Boone and family visit his website www.patboone.com. You will also have an opportunity to listen to his music and order some outstanding books and CDs.

 

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May 06 2008

Meet The Perfect Stranger

Published by pointnorth under Movie Reviews

We have recently viewed one of the best Christian films on DVD we have seen in regard to a discourse about what is Christianity and who is Jesus Chris The film is titled The Perfect Stranger based on the book titled Dinner With a Perfect Stranger by David Gregory. We were surprised this wasn’t nominated last year for the best of 2006, though its sequel Another Perfect Stranger, based on a second book by the same author, was nominated for 2007.
 
We were startled by how well it was done and the setting which takes place in a restaurant. Nikki Cominsky is a lawyer who is having stress with her marriage and child raising. She receives an invitation from Jesus Christ to have dinner with him at one of her favorite restaurants and thinks it a joke pulled by her husband who had to stand her up that evening. She finds a well-dressed man who identifies himself as Jesus Christ; and as a talented lawyer, she decides to call his bluff.
 
Practically every question you would want to cover with Jesus is handled in an understandable and concise way. Subjects including creation, the crucifixion and resurrection, how Christianity differs from other religions especially Islam, the Trinity to Heaven, eternity and Hell as well as how to know you are saved. It is NOT a dry stuffy discourse, but a conversation between two who become friends. Yes, it is Jesus Christ; and you will love Him even more as you will love the film.

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May 06 2008

Interview with Jody Miller

Published by pointnorth under Interviews

Last Summer we had the pleasure of seeing Jody Miller perform and, while familiar with her CDs, were “blown away” to use an expression not heard much in recent years. We knew immediately that this great gospel singer was someone we needed to interview for Point North † Tidings. We called her at her home in Blanchard, Oklahoma.

Ed.: You mentioned in your bio that at age six you were in California, but where were you originally from?

Jody: Well, my family was from here around Blanchard, Oklahoma. I was born in Phoenix. Then Daddy and Mother came back to their home which was Blanchard, Oklahoma. They were raised around here. We went out to California twice. They went the first time when I was born in Phoenix. We went the second time when I was about three.

Ed.: You’ve said your whole family was musical, I gather this was a major influence on you.

Jody: Yes, I think so. My dad was a fiddle player and my mother was a real good blues singer. My siblings, my sisters were singers and were real good. They liked to sing like anyone would when they’re washing dishes or something.

Ed.: You were a Mario Lanza fan and you liked classical music. That is very evident in your singing. Did you have classical training?

Jody: I wanted to, but my dad couldn’t afford it. We just didn’t go there.

Ed.: In your bio you relate classical music to gospel. Would you like to explain that?

Jody: I was asked this morning how long I could hold a note and I told her “pretty long”. One thing I learned about gospel singers is the last note on their songs was very important. They hold it as long as they can. This is true of classical music. I meant that it was pretty formal and needed to be sung correctly. Like The National Anthem. It should be sung correctly. It shouldn’t be jazzed up or done with notes going here and there and the other. It’s why they call it an anthem. It’s supposed to be sung like an anthem. It’s to be sung straight, not jazzy or bluesy or anything like that. Both gospel and classical music need to be sung straight.

Ed.: What were your first stage appearances?

Jody: When I was six years old my mommy and daddy got me into some bars around Oakland, California. They had singing contests. One time we had to sneak out the back because the cops were coming in the front door. The thing is they knew I could sing at a very early age. Powerfully sing. They wanted me to have a chance. They were poor, and the only thing they could think of was how far we could get with a contest, much like American Idol. One time I got to sing at the Oakland Auditorium and I was six years old and I came in second. I sang a Nat King Cole song, Mona Lisa, which was weird. Here I was a little six-year-old girl singing a love song. It would be like a six year old singing Stand By Your Man. It didn’t get me anywhere other than my mother and daddy were proud of me.

Ed.: When did you get into recording?

Jody : I was singing folk music around Oklahoma, after I got out of high school. I had a good job as a secretary and would sing as much as I could, folk songs. I was staying at the YWCA and the library was right down the street in Oklahoma City. I would go on my free time to the library to research the folk songs. You have to have the story, you just can’t sing it and not be able to tell people why the songs came about. They do have good stories and some were written in the 1700’s. I learned about 200 songs complete with stories so I would sing at coffee houses. They were real popular in the early ‘60s all over America. I was pretty hot in that I was singing folk music. After I had been married about six months, my husband and I went to LA to try to get in the record business. I did get in with Capitol Records because I was a folk artist and that music was so hot. My first recordings were at Capitol Records.

.Ed.: You know, I have to comment that there is such a melodious sound in your speaking voice that one can hear the music. A lot like a friend of ours, Connie Haines.

Jody: I am very familiar with her and I have been also compared with Doris Day. It may be just a pop singer personality or something.

Ed.: You also mention that you enjoy working with people with great attitudes. Could you give some examples of that?

Jody: That’s funny, but the first thing I think of is those who didn’t have good attitudes. It would be stronger for me to comment about people who don’t have a good attitude. I think people who don’t have a good attitude have the Devil as a ruler. The Devil of the world is a bad attitude. It upsets everything, puts everything out of kilter. I’ve had to work with two or three people who couldn’t see the glass half full. I just don’t understand, especially in show business, how somebody cannot have hope and have happiness. These are the qualities needed to be in show business. That alone should make anybody deliriously happy. if they can act or sing or whatever.

Ed.: You mention in your bio you had a preference for the great songs of the fifties, but you were classed as “country”.

Jody: Yes. I love pop music. Early pop music, J. P. Morgan, Nat King Cole, Doris Day, Connie Haines and people like that. Standard songs that were beautiful. There was a wonderful producer at Columbia Records who would say every once in a while, “It doesn’t take a hammer to kill a fly”. Exactly what pop music did for me. Those people laid on those notes just beautifully and sang the
lyric like it was supposed to be.

Ed.: How did your Grammy winning Queen of the House come about?

Jody: When I recorded Queen of the House I had been in Europe about two or three months. I came back and they wanted me to record it. I thought it was a jazz number. I wondered why they didn’t given it to Peggy Lee. She was a jazz singer for Capitol Records, but she wrote her own music. I thought she won’t cut that as she didn’t write it. Usually that’s the way it works with writers. I cut it, and I had been doing pop music and it went first on the jazz station in LA. Then it went pop and then it crossed over to country. It was country that gave me the Grammy. I won the Grammy for being a country performer. That thrust me into the country music business. I didn’t care too much for country at that time. It didn’t lay on my ear all that well, though I was brought up hearing country music with my daddy playing the fiddle. My sister listened to Bob Wells records all the time. Bob Wells was a pop guy, he really was, He might have played the fiddle, but he had horns in his orchestra. I didn’t like Jimmy Rogers or Hank Williams because I didn’t like the whining sound. When I was put in country music, I decided to do it my way. Half pop and half country. On both sides of the fence, but we sold some records.

Ed.: In the performance we saw, we loved your rendition of The American Trilogy. People often think of Elvis Presley in regard to this, however we felt you outdid everyone who had ever performed it. I recently played the DVD we made of you singing that number for an independent living center. It was in a Bible class. These were people who know and love gospel. They agreed that your version is the best.

Jody: What happened is the Mickey Newbury, the writer, put it together. He recorded it in the early sixties. I was a big fan of Mickey’s. My husband was a race horse trainer, and we were at a track in Northern New Mexico. I played the Trilogy over and over in a motel room and I learned to sing it very good. With the hit Queen of the House, I would do that number in my act when I made appearances. It wasn’t until I got to Montgomery, Alabama that the house came down. I was doing it before Elvis.

Ed.: What role or credit do you give your religious faith for your career?

Jody: I give my Lord everything, all the credit for me. He knew what I was going to do before I was even born. That settled that. I have a lot of faith, I know He runs my life. He is the one who guides me in my life. I give Him all the credit for everything. In my Christian music I pray about it constantly. It is not where I want it to be. I want my Christian music to be prevalent, but the Lord sees other roles for me. I would like to be more known as a Christian singer.

Ed.: You are in Branson, Missouri two weeks out of each month at a show titled God and Country. Would you describe that?

Jody: The show itself is called The Grand Ladies of Country Music. The theater is called The God and Country Theater, because the people who own the theater are Christians. They love our country and they want to combine their love of country with Christian music. The show I’m with involves Wanda Jackson, Norma Jean, Jean Shepherd, Leona Williams and Ava Barber from the Lawrence Welk Show. There are six of us and we rotate, three of us on stage at one time and we each do our hits. In the second part of the show we do a tribute to the great ladies of country music who had wonderful careers like Kitty Wells and Tammy Wynette. Then we do gospel music and one patriotic song. Our market is people our age. They have 65 theaters in Branson so there is enough music for everybody.

Ed.: Are you working on anything in particular now? Like your dream of a pop album?

Jody: Not anything for an album now, but I have it all ready. I do not have any recording sessions planned. I would sure like to do that. I recently did a Centennial show for one of the towns in Oklahoma. Also, recently, I did an international show for a group of international folks who came in. I do shows like the Western Film Fair when I have the time and I am available for shows that want gospel music.

You may be sure Ye Olde Editor talked about media events we have had in the past and about her as a possible guest, should she be available.. Also, for our readers, there are many CDs available by Jody Miller for purchase. Two in particular may be directly secured from Amazon. Com that we want to mention here. ANTHOLOGY is a combination of pop, country and gospel with many of Jody’s best known numbers. The second one is HIGHER which is gospel. Amazon lists the latter as HIGHER LOVE.

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May 06 2008

Deanna Lund

Published by pointnorth under Biographies

This Summer, September 9, 2007, Deanna Lund received a special honor from the Commonwealth of Virginia. In recognition for her work with young people in the Roanoke Valley, her charities, her involvement in local Christian programs and last year’s efforts to help victims of Katrina, she received a special “Commendation” from the Virginia General Assembly. This was offered by the House of Delegates majority leader, H. Morgan Griffith.

Deanna Lund is one actress who didn’t start out as a star struck little girl with a yen for Hollywood. That was the farthest thing from her mind as a child.

Deanna was born in Riverside, Illinois outside of Chicago. The youngest of three girls, her father Arnold Lund was a successful attorney and columnist. Too successful as far as the corrupt Daley Machine was concerned and so the family was transplanted to Daytona, Florida.

As a child in Florida, her only screen idol was Roy Rogers. That was primarily because she was riding in rodeos at the age of ten. She was interested in Country-Western music and wrote her own songs which would make her more a candidate for Nashville than the film capital. Her popularity in rodeos and horse shows was such, that her first modeling was done on her horse “Dynamite,” for covers on programs. Dynamite was named for her dad whose editorial column in Chicago was titled Dynamite Lund.

Her love of horses almost caused a crippling accident. “When a kid, I was kicked in the spine by a horse. Not his fault, it was an accident. I think it is why I am shorter than my sisters and my parents, all of whom are tall.” She still went on to be an outstanding equestrian.

Deanna was active for a bit in the political arena helping her father run for office. Arnold was narrowly defeated in his run for Congress in a contested and controversial election. Deanna’s mother Phyllis once told us, “Even popular president Dwight D. Eisenhower wasn’t able to help this rising Republican star to overturn the results.”

Sadly the popular Eisenhower and his party didn’t get involved until after the election when they saw how close the results were. The national Republican Party tried to talk Arnold into running for governor. He said “unequivocally no.” Deanna was told by her father after a trip to Washington, D.C., “there are no honest politicians in Washington.”

Arnold Lund really didn’t need political office as he was in real estate and ran a successful motel on the beach, The Surf and Sand where the family lived.

Later Deanna would ask “How did a clean cut kid like me wind up on the wicked stage”? Some journalists have assumed that because of Deanna’s athletic ability, looks and sunny disposition, the road to stardom was strewn with roses. It wasn’t and she admits, “I had to pay my dues.”

In high school, Deanna first went on stage because her father thought it would help her get over her shyness. She became hooked, though acting as a career didn’t seem to be in the cards. He father was opposed to the idea, especially the idea of motion pictures. However, after school she entered into a marriage that didn’t work and found herself forced into a wide range of occupations. With two babies to support, Kim and Randy, she moved to Miami where she had a variety of jobs including a car rental agency, running a modeling school, TV weather, news and sports casting, and appearing in commercials.

Before this marriage and while in college, Deanna did win a role in a Robert Taylor-Chad Everett film, Johnny Tiger along with appearances in a couple other films. A talent scout, Max Arno, tried to recruit her and met with her here in the Roanoke Valley, not far from where this magazine is published. He was unsuccessful due to her parents’ disapproval. A few years later and after her dad had died, she reconsidered. With her mother’s and sisters’, Barbi and Sandy, approvalshe packed up her children and headed for Hollywood. As providence would have it, she crossed paths with Max Arno, who helped her chart her new career.

Her first films were learning experiences. Deanna took any bit role she could find. “I went bicycling from studio-to-studio to work as an extra. or to take a small part. This generally wasn’t approved by the studios, however many of us did this to make a living.” Some of her small roles were well reviewed such as Our of Sight and she had the opportunity of working twice with Elvis Presley. The Presley films, Hawaiian Paradise and Spinout, gave her an opportunity to meet “the king”. “Elvis didn’t seem interested in me as I had my babies on the set and he probably felt, ‘Mama, you need to be home washing diapers.’ If only I could have afforded to do just that.” Her children were always first with her and to this day, along with her grandchildren, this is still the case. The roles she won were unfortunately not the kind of roles that would feed a family. She also had to work in time for drama classes. This was far from the image Hollywood had with instant stardom awaiting the newcomer. Deanna was beset with every problem faced by a single mother from inept baby-sitters to life threatening illness. Something within her told her she needed to return to Florida. “It was like God talking to me.”

She was so anxious to get back home to Florida, she had her agent get her a role in Frank Sinatra’s Tony Rome being shot in Miami. This looked like an easy ticket to end her film career. Back in the Sunshine State, she made up her mind that there would be no going back to Hollywood without a guarantee of a major role. Her one scene in Tony Rome impressed Sinatra and afterward they dated for a short while.

At that time one of the new breed of producers, Irwin Allen, was making his mark with special effect science fiction TV series and movies. Deanna Lund was already known on TV due to appearances on Batman, Bob Hope Chrysler Theatre and numerous other TV shows. In the works for 20th Century Fox was Allen’s Land of the Giants. Tony Rome was a Fox film and Allen saw the dailies which made her a cinch for a part without even an audition. Deanna had a hard time believing it was true when her agent called her and nearly hung up on him. She was still skeptical when she arrived in Hollywood to meet Allen for the first time. Though normally ash blonde, she was a red head in Tony Rome, and had been in a few other films made shortly before the Sinatra movie. She was starting to let her hair go back to its natural color, but when she met Allen he said, “I bought a red head, I expect a red head.” As Deanna explained it “The contract was signed and one did not contradict Irwin Allen. He was brilliant, but also autocratic.” Thus Deanna Lund became red headed Valerie Ames Scott in Giants.

Land of the Giants had the task of making viewers suspend their disbelief long enough to watch seven castaways survive on a world of hostile giants. Deanna’s task was to flesh out and give substance to the role of a shallow rich girl. During the two years the show was on air, her

character was viewed by many as the most evolved
and interesting. “I was kind of a bad girl turned good girl and this was not deliberately done on my part or the writers. It was just something inside me that came out.” Despite week after week of enduring such perils as hanging by a rope over flames, several times having an ape carry her off, being taped to a table and dropped into a specimen jar, she managed to pull it off. By the end of the series, Deanna Lund was one of the most popular actresses on television and she was more than just a screaming victim. She was now an accomplished and recognized performer. She additionally became a popular guest on Charades due to her talent to pantomime. After the Giants series was cancelled, she married co-star Don Matheson. Their daughter Michele Matheson is an accomplished actress and author herself today.

With Giants behind her, Deanna made a number of appearances in shows such as The Waltons and The Incredible Hulk as well as movies made for television. Her greatest impact for the next few years was starring in the soap operas, General Hospital and One Life to Live. For many actresses, that would be more than enough. For Deanna, it was to be evidence that nothing could be taken for granted.

There were problems ahead, not the least of which was a terrible mugging that nearly took her life. The attack nearly destroyed her emotionally and it was only her strong faith in God that helped her survive. “God put people in my life that got me through it” she explains. She could have been mentally scarred for life and the fight to restore herself was an event that truly would be considered an inspiration. “I was even told by one well known actor/director that I was through in Hollywood as I couldn’t do a scene with a man who was a mirror image of the one who mugged me.”

Deanna’s film career took off again in the eighties with a most notable female lead in the Jerry Lewis classic Hardly Working. It was a film Lewis needed badly for a comeback and it was Deanna’s long time friend, Beverly McDermott, a casting director who secured her the job. She also made films with independent producers. In the nineties, this led to more films on TV with the most noted being her role as a police woman in Red Wind.

Another change for her came in the mid eighties when she was a guest at her first science fiction and fantasy convention, RoVaCon (Roanoke Valley fan Convention). Deanna was amazed at what a fan following she had and soon there was a support group formed. Titled Friends of Deanna Lund, it had the largest membership of any non studio or agent-run fan club in America. She resisted calling it a “fan club” and its chief charity was Victims of Violence No More. The membership ran from Germany to Australia and from Canada to Brazil. Within RoVaCon she helped establish a new Drama Scholarship and introduced the idea of conventions holding Drama Workshops. Later she became a co-founder of a strictly designed media convention she herself named, Rising Star. Both the latter and RoVaCon were head quartered in the Roanoke Valley of Virginia..

In addition to her workshops she was also active in chapel programs conducting music presentations. The latter led her back to song writing and she has since performed in several churches in Florida.

Deanna Lund has also found another outlet for herself, writing. The writing instinct was inspired by there still being so many fans of Land of the Giants years after the show left ABC-TV. It has been continually on cable stations both in the United States and over seas. The Irwin Allen News Network became the most prominent champion of Irwin Allen TV shows and films in the Western world. Run by Jet in England, Deanna and other cast members have been invited to conventions across the nation and overseas largely due to the network.

There was hope that a new series would be developed or at least a movie as was done with Irwin Allen’s Lost in Space. It was this interest in the old series that inspired Deanna to write a novel published by Galactic Press titled Valerie in Giantland. The book takes up ten years after the end of the series and was co-written with Dr. Fred Eichelman. It is still available on the net and through various science fiction outlets. The book was “designed to have a spiritual element without hitting the reader over the head.” Deanna later co -wrote a similar script for a film, Dimension 3000, which has not been picked up, but has been floated around various studios.

Though nothing has been done to date about reviving the series, 20th Century Fox recently released a special boxed set of all the LOTG shows with a number of extras, including an interview with Deanna.

Deanna backed the idea of a Christian media program such as we have with Point North † Outreach and helped convert the media show programming into a series of Christian Media Conventions. She is one of four directors for Point North † Outreach.

Deanna continues her own “outreach” work and last year, despite severe pain and an operation due to that old accident with a horse as a child, joined her friend Connie Stevens to work with the victims of Hurricane Katrina. “Just when I think I can’t do something, that I don’t have the strength for, God says ‘You go gal!’. It’s an offer I can’t refuse.”

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