Saturday, May 22, 2010
April 2010 - Toni talks Rat Pack with Buddy Greco
How did it happen?! My peaceful, idyllic life is infused with an exclamation point from my past by the arrival of Buddy Greco, his lovely wife, Lezlie, and their feline guardian, Guido -- 36 pounds of tuxedo-clad cat, who in a former life was a godfather of the first order. This lovely entourage kept us company for five days, and when they departed for London, where they will tour with "Fever," an original tribute to Peggy Lee, Guido stayed behind and has remained indignant and aloof, as only a cat with character can do. He lives outdoors, under our swimming pool, and emerges late in the evening, to sup on munchies and water -- and to demonstrate his dismay with a casual, over-the-shoulder growl. We're not sure what he does with the rest of his time, so stay tuned for more of Waiting for Guido . . .
I have waited since we first met, in 1957, at Harrah's in Lake Tahoe, to invite Buddy to share some Italian hospitality. At the time, I was living with my mother, Vivian, in San Francisco and we were both busy building our careers. I was on the road 365 days a year, working with Bob Scobey, and Buddy was doing well on his own. Over the years we crossed paths, and on two occasions I opened for him. Now, after five decades, my husband, Angelo, and I were able to share our home and our hospitality with these good friends and talk about old times. Like any respectable conversation about good music, we start with Sinatra . . . go ahead -- select play and listen . . .
Our conversation didn't end there -- Buddy wanted to learn more about me and I obliged ...
In 1954, I lost a lawsuit about the accident that cost me my leg. Amelia Earhart’s stepson, George Putnam, a TV newscaster, became aware of the fact that in the court case before me, a cat in a car that was rear-ended was awarded $13,500 for a whiplash. I, however, “walked away” on one leg and with less than I walked in with, but with my dignity intact. Incensed with this judicial injustice, George went on air the evening he made this discovery and his “rant” raised enough money to fund my next, and necessary, surgery that would enable me to be properly fitted for my first prosthetic device. Saint Johns’ Hospital in Santa Monica picked up the remaining cost of the surgery. What a difference an off day in court makes! To celebrate, my mom and I had dinner at Scandia, and I invite you to once more press play and hear how this turns out . . .
Now Buddy, being the inquisitive guy that he is, pressed on as he asked about my singing style and how I wound up with Scobey -- press play, listen in and learn . . .
When they left for London, where they will reside in a tony West End abode, teary eyes were evident on all. I packed them a picnic basket, filled to the brim, and off they flew . . . whew, it was wonderful!
If you think it's time to rest, guess again! I barely find time to keep up with my to-do list, and work on my next book and a labor of love, Girl in the Picture, about me and my good friend, James Dean. Stay tuned for excerpts and for the scoop on my surprise guests for May and June!