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2009 Entertainer of the Year
Ms. Gaynor received this award during our 28th Annual National Finals Gala on July 10, 2009 at the Renaissance Orlando Hotel at Sea World.
Who, with 17 films to her credit, became one of the top singing & dancing motion picture stars of all time?
Who conquered television with 9 showstopping spectaculars garnering 17 Emmy nominations and blockbuster ratings?
Whose dazzling triple-threat talents made her arguably the top female nightclub and concert attraction of the era?
The answer to all these questions is simply MITZI GAYNOR!
The road that led Mitzi Gaynor to international superstardom began in her native
The family moved west on a dream, and she was soon discovered by legendary theatrical producer Edwin Lester who selected 12 year old Mitzi for the corps de ballet of the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera. Mitzi honed her craft in countless productions in
She made her motion picture debut costarring with her childhood idols Betty Grable and Dan Dailey in My Blue Heaven. The studio, quick to capitalize on the vivacious talent that would later propel Mitzi to the top ranks of showbusiness, cast her in a succession of audience pleasing comedies & musicals including Golden Girl, Bloodhounds of Broadway, We’re Not Married and The I Don’t Care Girl.
Following this period, Mitzi met the man who would not only become the guiding force of her professional life but also the great love of her personal life, influential agent and marketing genius Jack Bean. Thus began a more than fifty year marriage and career partnership that would result in the motion picture classics, dazzling television spectaculars and legendary nightclub and concert appearances that led the Los Angeles Times to deem her “the nation’s #1 female song and dance star.”
Encouraged by Bean, Mitzi delivered a star-making performance alongside Ethel Merman, Dan Dailey, Donald O’Connor and newcomer Marilyn Monroe in There’s No Business Like Showbusiness. Following that film’s success, she was signed to a lucrative Paramount contract, negotiated by Bean, which would yield three film hits, The Birds and the Bees with George Gobel and David Niven, Anything Goes with Bing Crosby & Donald O’Connor and a praiseworthy dramatic turn in The Joker Is Wild alongside Frank Sinatra.
Now an established box-office star, Mitzi was cast alongside Gene Kelly in the lavish, globe-trotting MGM musical Les Girls, but perhaps her greatest film success lie just on the horizon. 20th Century Fox was preparing the film adaptation of one of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s most lauded and successful musicals, South Pacific, and nearly every motion picture actress in
The film’s director, the legendary Joshua Logan, had remembered catching a glimpse of Mitzi during a theatrical audition earlier in the decade. Convinced he had found his “Nellie”,
The film opened in 1958 to critical acclaim and international box-office success. The soundtrack, featuring Mitzi’s performances of “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair” and “A Wonderful Guy” amongst others has never gone out of print and remains to this day a perennial seller. For her performance, Mitzi was nominated for a prestigious Golden Globe Award as Best Actress in a Musical.
Following that success, she returned to the big screen in Happy Anniversary, once again with David Niven, Surprise Package with Yul Brynner and Noel Coward and For Love or Money with Kirk Douglas and also ushered in a new era of acclaim as a live performer.
In 1961, once again with Jack Bean’s encouragement, Mitzi made her nightclub debut in
A highly-sought after guest on the nation’s top television programs, Mitzi made several memorable appearances in the medium. In a 1964 appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, in which she had top billing over The Beatles, Mitzi’s sizzling song and dance numbers made headlines. She also performed to great acclaim on Academy Awards broadcasts where her showstopping 1967 rendition of Best Song nominee Georgy Girl, before a TV audience of 65 million, was met by wildly enthusiastic applause. Around this time, she began her long association with noted costume designer Bob Mackie. Mitzi was his first important client and he would continue to design the lavish, razzle-dazzle costumes that would remain a staple throughout her performing career.
Mitzi’s successful Academy Awards appearance and an equally popular holiday installment of television’s Kraft Musical Hall titled The Mitzi Gaynor Christmas Show, led to an avalanche of inquiries from virtually every network offering the dynamic performer television specials of her own.
"Mitzi" - her first special"Mitzi... And 100 Guys""Mitzi... Roarin' In The 20's" "Mitzi... Zings Into Spring"In October of 1968 she fulfilled those requests with the premiere of the aptly titled Mitzi. The special debuted to blockbuster ratings and unanimous critical acclaim. The Los Angeles Times called it “glittering perfection…a kind of ultimate statement of that particular TV format.” Over the next ten years, she would continue to showcase her magical brand of dazzling showmanship in eight spectacular hours of non-stop entertainment including Mitzi…and a 100 Guys, Mitzi…Roarin’ in the 20’s and Mitzi…Zings Into Spring.
Each annual special was a lavish blend of song, dance and sparkling comedy with guests drawn from the top ranks of showbusiness including Bob Hope, Michael Landon, Carl Reiner, George Hamilton and Suzanne Pleshette. Renowned for their technical and creative achievements, the specials were honored with 17 Emmy nominations and 6 Emmy Awards.
Throughout the 80’s and 90’s, Mitzi continued to entertain sold-out audiences at top concert venues and performing arts centers across the
In 2007, she was honored by the Museum of Television & Radio in
- 2009 Professional Dancers Society Luncheon -
l to r: Joe Tremaine, director/choreographer Tony
Charmoli, Carol Burnett, Florence Henderson, Bob Mackie,
PDS President Mitzi Gaynor and PDS Chairman Joni BerryMitzi is actively involved in various charitable initiatives including The Professional Dancers Society, where she
serves as president. The organization helps both active inactive professional dancers and works with The Actors Fund of America to provide low income housing, retirement and nursing facilities for entertainment professionals. Despite a career marked by extraordinary achievement, Mitzi remains in search of new horizons to conquer. A public television documentary special, titled Mitzi Gaynor Razzle Dazzle: The Special Years, celebrating her television specials and live performing career is currently being broadcast on stations throughout the
She is currently touring the
For more information please visit: www.MissMitziGaynor.com
UPDATE: Catch Miss Mitzi Gaynor in "RAZZLE DAZZLE! My Life Behind the Sequins"