Showing posts from 2016

GINGER ROGERS auto-bio brings back Memories of working with Ginger Rogers at Radio City Music Hall

Biographies and auto-biographies of famous people are always good reading...inspiring sometimes and sometimes just "junk-food" for the mind. I picked up an old copy of movie star Ginger Rogers autobiography GINGER-- MY STORY and it was fun to read, especially since I had worked with Miss Rogers years ago at age 21. Ginger Rogers was starring in a show at Radio City Music Hall called THE ROCKETTE SPECTACULAR starring GINGER ROGERS and I was a fresh-faced kid working backstage.
Apparently Miss Rogers never forgot that she was a kid from Texas who was a good Charleston dancer, and OK singer and turned a Broadway career into a movie contract-- she minded her manners, did what she was told and consequently, was rewarded with stardom. Legendary status came later.
In those days of the movie studio "star system" stars like Bette Davis and Joan Crawford protested by refusing to perform if a role didn't suit them. Ginger, on the other hand, asserted that she kept her mou…

RIO DISTRICT- theatre, hotel, apartments and shops located where Fort Washington Ave meets Broadway at W. 159th Street

The elegantly curved Rio Vista Hotel on lower Fort Washington Avenue has been reclaimed from its status as an abandoned, boarded up building and will now provide apartments for 100 homeless and low-income people. Once a boarded up eyesore in the neighborhood, the Rio’s handsome fa├žade of yellow brick, stone and terra cotta ornamentation have been scrubbed clean, causing it to stand out in a neighborhood of graffitied apartment buildings.  Inside,  the gutted building has been transformed into a bright and cheerful environment of apartments, community rooms, support services and even a penthouse.  The 82 units in the building cost approximately $37,000 each to build, according to Harriette Epstein, a spokesperson for the CSS (Community Service Society).  The Rio, a 4-floor building located where Fort Washington Avenue curves to join Broadway at W. 159th Street,  was built in 1920 by Loew’s movie company which built and owned many movie palaces before the 1950s. Behind the hotel on Broadw…

Myrna Loy's First Visit to Manhattan

From Myrna Loy's autobiography on her FIRST visit to Manhattan:"We landed in New Jersey, as you had to then, and Leland gave me the tour. He was something of a raconteur, so he enhanced my first awed entry into Manhattan. I was this girl from Montana who moved to LA as a teen and had played these elegant New York women in movies but it was the fake Hollywood backlot New York! I suddenly felt authentic...We drove through the Holland Tunnel, headed east, and came out on Park Avenue. And Park Avenue was really something in those days. It still is, but in the spring of 1935, to a wide-eyed newcomer, it just looked fantastic. In fact, the whole city struck me that way-- vast and vivid, alive! I fell in love with Manhattan then and there, and the romance has lasted more than 50 years.- Myrna Loy, movie star

NOTE: I met Myrna Loy years ago at a screening of one of her old movies. I was just a kid in my 20s and was invited by my friend Lisa DiGiovine. I told her she was my favorite …

Jim Dykes interviews Dr. Ruth Westheimer, famous sex therapist

Dr. Ruth Westheimer interview by Jim Dykes (published 1996 in the New York Citizen News) Edited down from the original interview.
The Little, Big-Hearted Woman Who Became a Celebrity Because she Wasn’t Afraid to Talk About Sex. One of Washington Heights’ Foremost Citizens Discusses her Eventful & Inspiring Life in a Personal Interview with Jim Dykes. “Write your name down…I’ll give you a plug,” whispered Dr. Ruth from the kitchen, waiting for WOR Radio’s Joan Hamburg to put her on the air from home in an impromptu interview within MY interview! Barefoot and dressed in a powder blue housecoat, Dr. Ruth Westheimer answered the front door of her 12th floor Cabrini Blvd. apartment looking more like the little Jewish grandmother (which she is) that the world’s most famous sex therapist. It is instantly apparent (even though she professes not to be a “morning person”) that from the minute this 4’ 7’ dynamo gets up in the morning, it is go-go-go all day with meetings, phone calls and interv…

The Queen of Carrot Cake was One Tough Cookie

This article is a tribute to my friend, Rene Mancino, owner of CARROT TOP Bakery on Broadway in Upper Manhattan. Rene died this past year as a victim of a self-inflicted gunshot wound....inside the business in her office. As her husband, friends and customers mourn her, I remembered that I had written this article years ago for a local New York publication and thought (as a tribute to her memory) it might be a good idea to post pieces of the interview.
As a child, the only times Renee Allen Mancino was sure to be at her Cleveland, Ohio home was when her mother was baking.
A self-described little hellion for most of her childhood, constantly at odds with her mother and six siblings and eluding her grandmother's strap, a sweet tooth for her mother's chocolate fudge, breakfast rings, cakes, pies and cookies was her only taming influence.
The memory of these occasions may have ultimately saved Mancino's life, and was the genesis of her thriving CARROT TOP restaurants, and what…
LAUREN BACALL'S Apartment sells for $21million

Bacall's fabulous 9-room apartment in the legendary 1884 landmark DAKOTA Building sold recently for $21million. Bacall passed away peacefully in her bedroom at the age of 89 in August 2014, one month shy of her 90th birthday. Three months later her apartment hit the market, listed by her 3 children from Humphrey Bogart and Jason Robards, who were her co-executors: her sons Stephen Bogart and Sam Robards and daughter Leslie Bogart. Bacall had moved into the apartment with seond husband Robards in 1961 and reportedly paid approx. $28,000 for it. This was around the time the Dakota turned from rental apartments into co-ops which saved it from any further discussion of tearing it down. It was built in 1880-84 by millionaire investor Edward Clark, according to Stephen Birmingham's wonderful book LIFE AT THE DAKOTA. It was designed by famed architect Henry Janeway Hardnburgh (the Plaza Hotel) in the German Renaissance style...sort of …