It was cold with some nice sunshine yesterday in New York, although it had “warmed up” (in the low 30s) after a below Zero RealFeel on Monday night. And they’re predicting temps in the 50s tomorrow.
Stuff. We had a nice response to the Diary on Mario’s tribute/memorial. The power of his personality was very much in the room on Monday evening at the Park Avenue Armory. I neglected to report on the finale which was a whole other story.
After the speakers were finished, Marilyn Maye came to the front with a handmike and talked about how she met Mario. He loved show business and he loved the popular music of his lifetime. And of course he grew up on the periphery of it with his father being a professional musician, and having been part of Rudy Vallee’s backup when Vallee was making films in Hollywood.
Mario’s favorite entertainer bar none was Dame Edith whom he saw dozens of times, maybe even more. He used to take friends to see the show. He also loved the popular music of his age and its artists. Peggy Lee was a big favorite and as it was with anyone he liked, he’d go to see her and his favorite performers over and over.
Marilyn Maye told the guests at the memorial that he’d first went to see her perform at the Metropolitan Room several years ago. She noticed him because she’d see him in the audience every night, and he made it his business to meet her.
They soon got to know each other and he clearly was a fan about their connection, and always with suggestions of a special “song” she should sing. It was not something she’d included in her repertoire, nor was she inclined to, and so she avoided it (although he kept up his suggestion whenever they met). You understood by the way she was telling the story, like other stories about Mario that were recounted Monday night, that this was probably some kind of joke.
When she finished the anecdote, she look up at the ceiling (sky) and said, “okay Mario, this one’s for you!” One stanza: “How Much Is that Doggie In the Window.”
The song was number one on the charts when it was released in 1953 when Mario was 18. It was a million seller sung by a very popular artist of the time, Patti Page. Which tells you more than a little something about the times then. Despite its great popularity, it was not the kind of material that Marilyn Maye sang. And Mario knew that. He was putting her on. So when she sang the first few lines:
How much is that doggie in the window?
The one with the waggly tail.
How much is that doggie in the window?
I do hope that doggie’s for sale …
Marilyn then did do a special rendition, a stanza of “Unforgettable” for which she changed the lyrics to apply to Mario, and then she ended with her signature “Secret to Life” and “Here’s To Life.” Marilyn, who hit 90 last April 10th, is still performing; and very comfortable and very contemporary in her presence. The voice is amazingly young and powerful though mature in her presentation. A jazz singer throughout her career, you can see what appealed to Mario: her artistry and her performance which touches on wisdom even in her blues.
In the meantime, hundreds of Mario’s friends, clients, and admirers came to pay homage to the Man, the Myth, the Legend …
Last Friday night at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Nantucket Historical Association hosted a private tour of the Charles and Valerie Diker Collection, followed by a dinner for their Winter Show supporters at the Met. The evening was hosted by NHA Board of Trustees President, Kelly Williams and her husband Andrew Forsyth. The NHA’s exhibition at The Winter Show was made possible with the help of these loyal and generous supporters who stepped forward with enthusiasm.
The Winter Show, now showing at the Park Avenue Armory (until Sunday, January 27th) is the leading art, antiques, and design fair in America, featuring 70 of the world’s top experts in the fine and decorative arts and a featured loan exhibitor. The Nantucket Historical Association was selected as the 2019 loan exhibitor. The exhibition, Collecting Nantucket, Connecting the World, presents the very best in paintings, craft, and folk arts in the NHA collection.
Photographs by Patrick McMullan (Buatta); Josh Wong Photography (NHA)