Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Broadway Babe Who Died Young: LUBA LISA

Most agree that the lone musical highlight in Buddy Hackett's Broadway musical "I Had a Ball" was a vamping number by rising starlet Luba Lisa. In the tradition of Gwen "Whatever Lola Wants" Verdon, Luba wiggled, strutted and sang "Addie's At It Again" with a cheerful brand of heat. She got a Tony award nomination for her role. Seven years later, she was dead, age 31.

Born in Brooklyn (March 10, 1941), Luba Lisa Gootnick's Dad was a mathematician. Her brother became a doctor. Her pert good looks had people figuring she could make it on stage. 20 years later, she was in "Carnival," and followed it with "I Can Get It For You Wholesale." She could take the subway to work, as she was living at 33-44 91st Street, in Jackson Heights, Queens. She appeared in the film "Pepe," dancing with Maurice Chevalier. The movie was supposed to springboard Mexican comedy star Cantinflas to greatness, but it was a box-office bomb. Lisa went back to Broadway. When she played Addie, the "girl of easy virtue," her dynamic personality inspired the producers to craft that special production number which wasn't in the original script.

From there, Luba Lisa had so many opportunities, and so many people thinking of ways her beauty and comedy could be used on stage, screen or TV. What next?

"I'm a fatalist," she told a reporter, "and just wouldn't know what is going to happen. This doesn't mean I think you should just sit back and wait. I have a very important objective, but I can't share what it is with anyone right now. It's not that I'm superstitious, I just won't talk about it."

The secret died with her. It was a cold, snowy night, December 15th, 1972. Just a few weeks before Christmas, she was flying into Vermont via a small plane. There were two other passengers with her, and the pilot. They were all killed. Her body was returned to New York, and buried out at Mount Ararat Jewish Cemetery.

The most easily accessible item on Luba Lisa is the one you'll find below; the tantalizing audio of what had to be a memorably bombastic performance of joyful sexuality. You can play it over a few times, and each time..."Addie's At It Again."

  ADDIE’S AT IT AGAIN   Instant download or listen on line. No malware or spyware anywhere.

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