Sparkle Forever! – Irene Cara


Irene Cara

April 7, 1976, marked the film premiere of “Sparkle” and my introduction to the young, up and coming star, Irene Cara.   “Sparkle”  is the story of 3 sisters (Lonette McKee “Sister”, Dwan Smith “Delores”, and Irene Cara “Sparkle”) growing up in 1950’s Harlem. They become “Sister and the Sisters” girl group (formerly The Hearts) and we journey into their lives as their mother “Effie” (Mary Alice) struggles to raise the girls and reign in the “spirited” “Sister.”  Along with Styx (Phillip Michael Thomas) and Levi (Dorian Harewood) the girls face and deal with the trials and realities of  life.

I have 2 sisters and always wanted us to be a hot girl group.  (Unfortunately I was the only one who sang:(

Directed by: Sam O’Steen. Music: Curtis Mayfield.


Lonette McKee, Irene Cara, Dwan Smith


Cara also went on to star in “Fame” 1980, the “movie that changed my life” and brought her superstardom.  Irene’s voice would later influence my own performances.   Young, beautiful and talented, she had it all!   Her voice cut through me like a knife.  I believed every word she sang and the lyrics seemed to sync up with the dreams I held in my heart.

Fame” You ain’t seen the best of me yet. Give me time I’ll make you forget the rest.”

Flashdance – “What a Feeling” started the clarion call to believe that “I can have it all.”  And in 1984 the song “Flashdance” won Irene Cara an Oscar for Best Music, Original Song.


What’s she doing now?

 From Stardom to seeming obscurity.

I hope this piece has introduced or reintroduced this accomplished artist back into our cultural landscape.

Irene Cara has won an Academy Award, 2 Grammy awards, Golden Globe and numerous other awards.

For me – Irene Cara’s star will Sparkle forever!


“Dance and Sing Get Up and Do Your Thing” – AFI’s Top 5 Musicals

musicals logo


It seems every time someone asks the question “What’s your favorite? (fill in the blank) that’s what happens to me…BLANK.  So, I decided to prep for the next occasion.  Here’s the American Film Institute’s list of the Top 5 Musicals of All time!  West Side Story and Cabaret have already made the list on my Songbird Oscar Winners post.  I think I got this!

Can you name yours?  Let’s share.

2 WEST SIDE STORY 1961 United Artists
4 SOUND OF MUSIC, THE 1965 Twentieth Century-Fox
5 CABARET 1972 Allied Artists


Some of my favorite quotes from the films!

Singing in the rain poster

Lina:  [with a voice to peel paint]  And I cayn’t stand’im.    Holy crap! This line makes the movie for me!!




West Side Poster


Bernardo:  ” I’d like to go back to San Juan.”

Anita:  “I know a boat you can get on!”


Ha!  You do you, cause I’m gonna do me!



Wizard of Oz

Cowardly Lion:  ” Alright  I’ll go in there for Dorothy. Wicked Witch or no Wicked Witch, guards or no guards, I’ll tear them apart. I may not come out alive, but I’m going in there. There’s only one thing I want you fellows to do.”

Tin WoodsmanScarecrow:  “What’s that?”

Cowardly Lion:  “Talk me out of it!”


Oh Lion – you just gotta love him!




Sound of Music


Maria:  “When the Lord closes a door, somewhere He opens a window.”


Without a doubt!  Amen!



Cabaret poster


Sally:  ” I’m going to be a great film star! That is, if booze and sex don’t get me first.”


Quote is dead on.  What’s up Ms Liza?





80’s Classics Turn 30!

Goonies poster

Released June 7, 1985

Directed by Richard Donner. The screenplay was written by Chris Columbus from a story by executive producer Steven Spielberg.

Hard to believe but this year marks the 30th Anniversary of The Goonies and the “Truffle Shuffle”. I love this film! Buddies on a treasure hunt adventure to help their parents and save their neighborhood while along the way encountering pirates (one-eyed Willie), escaping from gangster family – the Fratelli’s and by the end forging a special friendship with the one-eyed, Baby Ruth eating, and ever lovable – Sloth. Sounds good to me! The Goonies got their nickname from the “Goon Docks” which is the neighborhood in which they live.

The movie was filmed in Astoria, Oregon which held a big four-day event that kicked off on Thursday, June 4th, running until Sunday, June 7th. Goonies fans were able to tour film locations, go to film screenings and even go on a treasure hunt. The actor who plays Chunk, Jeff Cohen, took part in the celebration signing autographs for fans on Friday at the Liberty Theater.



My favorite character is the klutzy Chunk. He has the best scenes and is absolutely hilarious. Getting into a little bit of everything he has lots of stories and confessions to share.


And what would the movie be without the theme song from Cyndi Lauper – The Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough:

The Goonies

Sean Astin as Michael “Mikey” Walsh

Corey Feldman as Clark “Mouth” Devereaux

Ke Huy Quan as Richard “Data” Wang

Josh Brolin as Brandon “Brand” Walsh

Jeff Cohen as Lawrence “Chunk” Cohen

Kerri Green as Andrea “Andy” Carmichael

Martha Plimpton as Stephanie “Stef” Steinbrenner



happy anniversary 30


The Breakfast Club

John Hughes films really have a knack for capturing the teenage angst and The Breakfast Club stands out as one of the best. The movie is engaging, funny and poignant and by the end you understand and care about each one of the characters. It may have been 30 years ago. but the themes still stand the test of time. We can all relate to the jungle called high school. For many it was the best of times and for others the worst of times.



Anthony Michael Hall, Molly Ringwald, Ally Sheedy and Judd Nelson then and now.

Directed, written and produced by John Hughes, the coming of age storyline follows five teenagers, each a member of a different high school clique, who spend a Saturday in detention together and come to realize that they’ve bought into their respective stereotypes from peer pressure but are more complex than the labels they wear. They also deal with the pressures and expectations of their parents, teachers, and other authority figures. Critics consider it to be one of the great high school films as well as one of Hughes’ most memorable and recognizable works.

John Hughes

John Hughes

Starring Emilio Estevez, Paul Gleason, Anthony Michael Hall, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy, it’s a bonafide classic and made 80’s icons of Anthony Michael Hall, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy. The “Brat Pack.”


The Breakfast Club quote

Breakfast Club Bowie quote

“Changes” – Opening verse of the 1985 film The Breakfast Club

Happy 30th Anniversary!

happy anniversary gold

Be sure to click this link to check out my post on The Breakfast Club Brat Pack.







”Fame” – Movie that changed my life



Seems Facebook  has started an – “on this day 1 year ago memory” feature on my timeline. I look at this as either an opportunity to relive warm memories or regret an overshare posting that will follow me for eternity. Fortunately, my 1 year ago memory is one of my warmest; my observations of the movie that most influenced my life. So, in keeping with the spirit of retrospection, here’s “Fame” – Movie That Changed My Life, originally posted June 6, 2014.

♥♥♥ ♥♥♥ ♥♥♥ ♥♥♥ ♥♥♥ ♥♥♥ ♥♥♥

I was reading an article about music that influenced the author’s life.  Since my thing is film, I started thinking about movies that affected my life.  My very first thought was right on.  “Fame” – Released May 16, 1980. Directed by Alan Parker.  Screenplay by Christopher Gore. (Lyric:…baby remember my name.”)


The film chronicles the lives of aspiring students attending a New York High School for the Performing Arts. We follow their journey from auditioning to acceptance, through graduation. It won 2 Oscars – Best Music, Original Song -“Fame” and Best Music, Original Score.


Coming out of the theater that night my life had changed with the realization that I must pursue my lifetime love of music and performing.  Honor my spirit!

From birth, I was an artist.  Growing up in Motown there was music a plenty.  Listening to Smoky Robinson, The Temptations, The Supremes, you get the idea, I could visualize the movie behind the song lyrics.  I can’t prove it, but I believe I came up with the idea for the music video.  Thanks for the credit MTV:)

I also loved to sing and knew the words to any and every song.  Old or new, it didn’t matter.  Yes, I was the girl with the hairbrush microphone pouring my heart out to Lulu’s “To Sir With Love.”  My friends and I even got together forming our own girls group.  Look out Diana Ross, there’s a new diva in town.


Throughout my school years, I found my way into choirs and in college I took an acting class or two. However, as an adult I never actually took the leap to being an actress and vocalist.  Never declared, “I’m a performer.”  Until I heard “I Sing The Body Electric.” 

I sing the body electric.

I celebrate the me yet to come.

I toast to my own reunion.

When I become one with the sun.


Having left Motown in 1985 for Chi-town, my moment had arrived.  Chicago is an incredible city and the theater scene is amazing! The local park district had a theater group so I dared myself to audition for the musical Pal Joey. I did, got cast, and, as they say, the rest is history.  From that moment on I was either in a play, auditioning for a play or in rehearsals for a play.

I’ve performed in pretty much every musical you can think of:  Bye, Bye Birdie, West Side Story, Little Shop of Horrors, Cabaret. (You get the idea)  I found my theater family and my voice.  I realized that performing was the missing piece of my soul, my essence.  And it all started on that spring evening in May 1980 with Fame.  “I’m gonna live forever. Baby remember my name!”




Dedicated to Anne Meara

(September 20, 1929 – May 23, 2015)

Anne Meara 1975

(Played English teacher Elizabeth Sherwood – Fame 1980)











Pioneering Women Filmmakers

The Early Visionaries of American Film: A Series – Part 1

star wars galaxy

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…Women were the driving force behind Hollywood and the movies. This is the first part in a series paying homage to the women who broke the glass ceiling and wrote and directed the films that gave birth to the “Golden Age” of cinema and the motion picture industry.  Unfortunately, when the men realized the gold mine films were becoming, the women faded away thanks to the Hollywood studio system. Well, as the saying goes, “that’s the way they do you.”


Frances Marion 1918

Frances Marion 1918


Frances Marion was a trailblazer. becoming one of the most powerful screenwriters of the 20th century. With a career that spanned decades, she became the first female to win an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay in 1930 for the prison life film The Big House, starring Robert Montgomery, Wallace Beery and Chester Morris. Her research included visiting San Quentin for the atmosphere and lingo of the inmates. The movie gave audiences their first experience of hearing prison doors slam shut, tin cups clanking on mess-hall tables and prisoners’ feet shuffling down corridors.



Frances also received the Academy Award for Best Story for The Champ in 1932. The tearjerker chronicled the relationship between a washed out boxer (Wallace Beery) and his young son (Jackie Cooper). Marion was credited with writing 300 scripts and producing over 130 films.



Born Marion Benson Owens (November 18, 1888) in San Francisco, California, she worked as a journalist and served overseas as a combat correspondent during World War I. On her return home in 1910, she moved to Los Angeles and was hired as a writing assistant, an actress by “Lois Weber Productions”, a film company owned and operated by pioneer female film director Lois Weber. (more on Lois Weber in Part 2 of the series)


Lois Weber

Lois Weber – Film Director

Frances was quite beautiful and could have been an actress but preferred to work behind the camera. She learned screenwriting from Lois Weber and went on to become the highest paid screenwriter, woman or man. Hollywood moguls competed for her stories and stars of the day Mary Pickford, Lilian Gish, Greta Garbo and Rudolph Valentino brought her characters to life on the screen. From 1919 – 1939 her star was ascendant, born at the right place and the right time, honing her craft during one of the most liberating eras for women in film.



When Marion met Mary Pickford (actress, producer, screenwriter) they became best friends with Marion writing screen adaptations of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm and The Poor Little Rich Girl for Pickford. As a result of the commercial success of “The Poor Little Rich Girl” in 1917 Marion was signed as Pickford’s “exclusive writer” at the salary of $50,000 a year, an unprecedented arrangement for that time.

Pickford was the celebrated “America’s Sweetheart” and in 1919 together with her swashbuckler actor husband Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., director D.W. Griffith (Birth of a Nation) and “The Tramp” Charlie Chaplin established “United Artists” pictures. These four were the leading figures in early Hollywood and this was their stand for independence against the powerful studio system. Mary was also  one of the original 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.


In 1921, Frances Marion directed a film for the first time with Just Around the Corner. That same year, she directed her friend Mary Pickford in one of her own scripts entitled The Love Light. Their relationship was more than just writer and star, they were collaborators and the friendship between Pickford and Marion lasted more than 50 years.

Married four times, Frances Marion had two children with third husband, actor Fred Thomson. This was her longest marriage, lasting from 1919 until Thomson’s sudden and tragic death from a Tetanus infection in 1928. Frances’ great friend Mary Pickford had introduced them. Frances said it was love at first sight.


Fred Thomson and Frances Marion

Fred Thomson and Frances Marion

For many years she was under contract to MGM Studios, but, independently wealthy, she left Hollywood in 1946 to devote more time to writing stage plays and novels. Frances Marion published a memoir Off With Their Heads: A Serio-Comic Tale of Hollywood in 1972.

Frances died on May 12, 1973 leaving a legacy of innovation, independence and inspiration for future aspiring female writers. The documentary, Frances Marion: Without Lying Down,” is an insightful profile of her life and achievements in Hollywood.


Without Lying Down

Mary Pickford and Frances Marion


Narrated by “Pulp Fiction” actress Uma Thurman and Oscar-winner Kathy Bates, who gives voice to the screenwriter’s own words taken from her letters, diaries. and memoirs. The documentary also features footage from more than twenty of Marion’s movies, with commentary by silent film historian Kevin Brownlow, and film critic Leonard Maltin.

I was fortunate enough to catch it on Turner Classic Movies recently and great news, it will be replayed on June 10th at 6:00 am (est). It’s also available for purchase at I highly recommend checking it out!

  frances marion lying

“I’ve spent my life searching for a man to look up to without lying down.” Frances Marion


It’ll take more than 60 years before women are once again present in meaningful numbers at every level of film production.