Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Dorothy Warenskjold

Dorothy Warenskjold 1921-2010

I learned just recently of the death of Dorothy Warenskjold on December 27th.  What a special person she was!  She was my father's singing companion on radio, television and concert, and a friend to my mother and me for the rest of her life.

She ended her illustrious singing career teaching at UCLA (for fifteen years) and holding master classes. In 2005 she moved from her native California to Kansas to be near relatives.  In an article from a Kansas newspaper in 2008, she is quoted as saying "I like my life the way it is. I've done everything I wanted to do."  Lucky lady.

She died at the age of eighty-nine, but to me she seemed ageless---and always elegant, so elegant.

In researching my book, I discovered just what a mainstay Dorothy was for my father on his 1950s TV show  “Ford Festival.” In a kinescope I have of one of the shows, his co-star,  Dorothy seems relatively at ease in front of the camera, but you can plainly see Daddy’s unease. His eyes dart from side to side constantly, except with he’s focusing on singing a song. Is he looking frantically for cue cards, or checking to make sure that everything is all right for the next scene? Live television must have been extremely nerve wracking for all involved! 

The responsibility on my father’s shoulders was tremendous—to produce the show as well as star on it. But he wanted it that way. He barely had time to rehearse, so he employed tenor Joe Gaudio to be his rehearsal stand-in for setting lights and marks. No wonder Daddy looked wooden and ill at ease on the showOften he was hitting those marks for the first time, rather than having become accustomed to the feel of things during multiple rehearsals. Dorothy told me that more than once she’d link her arm through his, and lead him around on stage during broadcasts because she sensed the uncertainty about his own choreographed stage movement. Thank goodness for Dorothy!

I saw a rather amusing, amazing gaffe while viewing one of the old kinescopes in which Daddy and Dorothy were singing a duet from Madama Butterfly. There comes a soprano solo section, and he steps away from her into the background. However, in this instance the camera does not move in for a close-up on her. Rather, he remains in the frame as she sings, while he takes a handkerchief out of the pocket of his Lt. Pinkerton naval uniform, blows his nose, and then returns to her side to complete the duet. Surely that can’t have been the staging he intended!  Live TV was so unforgiving!

See my blog entry for August 10, 2010 for more information on Dorothy.


Monday, January 17, 2011

A word of explanation...

A word of explanation as to why I have been so silent and out of the blogosphere for over a month.  

For the past couple of years my husband of thirty-two years has been in and out of chemotherapy for lung cancer. In November he basically ran out of treatment options, and his health declined precipitously.  He died on December 19th.

Needless to say, my focus has been elsewhere for the last couple of months.  But now things are getting back to normal, the "new normal," and so I'm getting back to my blog.

More to come very soon, I promise.