Breaking: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Dies At 87

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  • Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has passed away at the age of 87.
  • During her long career, she fought for women’s rights.
  • She served on the U.S. Supreme Court for 27 years.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has passed away at the age of 87. The longtime Supreme Court justice has suffered from bouts of cancer, infections, and other health issues for the last several years.

The Supreme Court announced an official statement on the sad news, saying, “Our nation has lost a jurist of historic stature. We at the Supreme Court have lost a cherished colleague. Today we mourn, but with confidence that future generations will remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg as we knew her — a tireless and resolute champion of justice.”

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has passed away

young ruth bader ginsburg
Young Ruth / Facebook

She was born Joan Ruth Bader on March 15, 1933, in Brooklyn, New York. She began to go by Ruth when she was in school because there were several other girls named Joan. Her mother instilled in her at a young age that education was very important. Sadly, her mother died just a day before Ruth’s high school graduation.

RELATED: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Treated For Gallbladder Condition

After graduation, Ruth attended Cornell University. While in school, she met her husband, Martin D. Ginsburg. The two were married just a month after graduation and stayed married until his death in 2010. Ruth was the highest-ranking female student in her graduating class at Cornell. First, she worked at the Social Security Administration, later enrolling at Harvard Law School after having her first child.

young ruth bader ginsburg black and white photo
Ruth Bader Ginsburg / Facebook

At the time, Ruth was one of the only female students at Harvard. She later transferred to Columbia Law School and earned her degree there. She was tied for first in her class at Columbia. Despite facing many challenges as a woman trying to find a job in law at the time, she eventually began a clerkship for Judge Palmieri. She also worked as a professor at Rutgers Law School.

Over the years, she became very involved in women’s rights. Ruth co-founded the Women’s Rights Law Reporter, the first U.S. law journal focusing on women’s rights. She also co-founded the Women’s Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union.

justice ruth bader ginsburg
Justice Ginsburg / Wikipedia

Justice Ginsburg was appointed as an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court on August 10, 1993. Former President Bill Clinton appointed her. After Justice Sandra Day O’Connor retired in 2006, Ruth was the only woman on the court for a while.

She remains one of the most influential women in law history

ruth bader ginsburg quote
Ruth Bader Ginsburg quote / Facebook

Ruth received many awards and recognition for her work during her long career. She was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame, named one of 100 Most Powerful Women and one of Time’s 100 most influential people, among other awards.

She struggled with health issues over the years, including four bouts of cancer. Even during health problems, she remained dedicated to her work. She would often call in while in the hospital or read transcripts when she was not able to work.

justice ruth bader ginsburg supreme court
Ruth Bader Ginsburg / Wikimedia Commons

In more recent years, she became somewhat of a pop culture phenomenon. People started referring to her as “Notorious R.B.G.” after the rapper Notorious B.I.G. She has been portrayed in movies and even on Saturday Night Live.

She is survived by her two children, Jane and James.

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The post Breaking: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Dies At 87 appeared first on DoYouRemember? – The Home of Nostalgia. Author, Lauren Novak

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‘Barney Miller’ Cast, Then And Now 2020

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When it comes to workplaces, few could be as interesting as the squad room in Barney Miller. From January 1975 to May 1982, the sitcom presented a refreshing look at supposed crime drama. For its lighthearted but heartfelt presentation, it earned praise from actual law enforcement. Because most of the action took place in one area, Barney Miller needed a solid cast to carry it. Fortunately, it did.

Barney Miller sported a core cast that stayed pretty consistent and some recurring supporting roles. Each officer, sergeant, lieutenant, and so on offered a very colorful personality. Everyone became memorable thanks to the talented cast. But where are they all today? Investigate where they went after the show here.

 

Barney Miller

Hal Linden was the glue to the cast of Barney Miller
Hal Linden was the glue to the cast of Barney Miller / YouTube screenshot / Globe-Photos/ImageCollect

Since much of Barney Miller takes place in the detectives’ squad room, the squad needed a strong leader close by. That came in the form of the titular Barney Miller played by Hal Linden. While is character came close to promotions and never got one, Linden received Emmy nominations for almost every season without winning. Sometimes life really imitates art.

Barney Miller star Hal Linden explored the series impact and ending
Barney Miller star Hal Linden explored the series impact and ending / YouTube screenshot

RELATED: Taking A Look Back At The Cast Of ‘M*A*S*H’ Then And Now 2020

Linden turned 89 in March and despite his age, he stays active in showbusiness. In 2019, he was in Grand-Daddy Day, working right alongside Linda Gray of Dallas fame. And, months ago, he sold a sprawling golf course getaway just two days after it went onto the market. The price tag? $1.07 million.

Abe Vigoda

Abe Vigoda's deadpan delivery was in contrast to his natural comedy
Abe Vigoda’s deadpan delivery was in contrast to his natural comedy / Piklist / YouTube screenshot

As part of the Barney Miller cast, Vigoda played a deadpan sergeant. But before this, viewers might recognize him as someone embedded in mafia crime as Salvatore Tessio in The Godfather. He landed the role in a casting call exclusively for actors without agents. He eventually got one, though, and thankfully this agent helped him become Sergeant Phillip Fish. Vigoda was called in while sweaty and tired from a jog and that made him appear perfect to play the hemorrhoid-ridden Fish.

Abe Vigoda made joking references to inaccurate stories about his death
Abe Vigoda made joking references to inaccurate stories about his death / Henrymcgee/ImageCollect

While his own spinoff show, Fish, was canceled after two seasons, people took his disappearance too dramatically. Fake death announcements popped up relentlessly about Vigoda. Fortunately, he had a good sense of humor and replied with a huge joke of his own in the form of a stunt photo where he sat up in a coffin. Vigoda brightened everyone’s lives and sadly his own ended in 2016. Though, the next year, his name was excluded from the Oscar memorial reel and that drew a lot of criticism.

Max GailWojo could be a well-meaning but naive part of the Barney Miller cast

Wojo could be a well-meaning but naive part of the Barney Miller cast / YouTube screenshotsWhile time can turn people jaded or disillusioned, Max Gail’s character, Detective Stan Wojciehowicz, had his heart in the right place. Nicknamed “Wojo,” this wholesome, well-meaning detective helped skyrocket Gail’s fame so he could land even bigger roles. His most famous movie is arguably DC Cab, which had him working alongside Mr. T.

Gail donned a fabulous stache for his next big hit
Gail donned a fabulous stache for his next big hit / YouTube screenshot

Gail stuck to comedy and crime in equal measure. He landed a role on The Whiz Kids, sporting a rather far-out mustache. Gail also appeared in Walker, Texas Ranger and Matlock, emphasizing his affinity for crime-related content. But he really deviated from the comedy aspect when he appeared in General Hospital, taking over as Mike Corbin. TV’s seen over 100 episodes of Gail. He divorced amicably from his wife years ago, but social media updates say he’s once again engaged!

Ron Glass

As part of the cast of Barney Miller, Ron Harris helped the team incorporate humor but also explore important themes
As part of the cast of Barney Miller, Ron Harris helped the team incorporate humor but also explore important themes / YouTube screenshot / Wikimedia Commons

Portraying Detective Ron Harris required a lot of nuance – and sense of fun. Fortunately, the cast of Barney Miller had just the man for the job with Ron Glass, whose range cannot be overstated. Harris had high expectations from his setting and big dreams for his writing career. Glass achieved something of this on the show and off.

Sci-fi fans may recognize Glass from Firefly and Serenity
Sci-fi fans may recognize Glass from Firefly and Serenity / YouTube screenshot

For a while, when not part of the cast of Barney Miller, he worked on other sitcoms like Good Times and Sanford and Son. But later, his TV career took him on a very different path. Sci-fi fans will enjoy seeing him as Shepherd Derrial Book in Firefly and Serenity. There, he provided spiritual advice and a commanding presence. Glass left this world at the age of 71 leaving behind a beloved legacy across multiple genres.

Jack Soo

Jack Soo brought a lot of acting talent as Nick Yemana but not great coffee
Jack Soo brought a lot of acting talent as Nick Yemana but not great coffee / YouTube screenshots

Shows know they hit big when a certain gag becomes a successful running joke. Cast member Jack Soo”s character of Sergeant Yemana gave that to Barney Miller through his famously horrible coffee. Soo got his start through incredible, painstaking endurance; he was one of the many Japanese-Americans held in an internment camp during World War II. That’s where he got his comedy start by entertaining his peers and the personnel alike.

Jack Soo took his experiences with him when he portrayed his characters
Jack Soo took his experiences with him when he portrayed his characters / YouTube screenshot

Because of his own experiences, Soo made sure any characters he ever played – in Barney Miller and beyond – received respectful treatment. As a result, he made sure their identity was always first and foremost American. However, his body received harsh treatment from his smoking, and at just 61, he died. As he was rushed to the hospital, he famously told co-star Hal Linden, “It must have been the coffee.”

Gregory Sierra

When Gregory Sierra made an appearance, it was very memorable
When Gregory Sierra made an appearance, it was very memorable / YouTube screenshots

“Chano,” much like Wojo, took his job with the squad very seriously. However, he expressed his passion more vocally and usually threw in a Spanish tirade when things did not go completely smoothly. His character became noticeably affected after a bank robbery turned deadly.

Sierra became a constant presence in a lot of big titles
Sierra became a constant presence in a lot of big titles / YouTube screenshot

Joining the cast of Barney Miller was far from Sierra’s biggest moment. As a matter of fact, the man accumulated a lot of acting credits across multiple shows. They include the divisive hit Soap and Sanford and Son. As recently as 2018, Sierra was part of history as being in the long-awaited final project Orson Welles wrote and directed. At 83, he now lives in Laguna Woods, California.

Steve LandesbergSteve Landesberg became a common site in many sitcoms

Steve Landesberg became a common sight in many sitcoms / YouTube screenshot / Wikimedia CommonsSergeant Arthur Dietrich provided an early example of overly explaining things and missing the mark completely. It couldn’t be called “mansplaining” because, frankly, everyone got lost in his enigmatic vernacular contributions… Regardless, being part of the Barney Miller cast did great favors to the show and his career. Originally, he appeared as a priest in season 2, then joined as Dietrich.

From police to practicing medicine, Landesberg definitely stuck to a certain type
From police to practicing medicine, Landesberg definitely stuck to a certain type / Wikimedia Commons

After healing through faith and justice, he played someone who healed through medicine. A lot of his characters ended up being doctors in later titles. From Head Case to The Golden Girls, Landesberg has been a wise-cracking, side-hustling doctor, physician, and so on before and after entering the squad room.

James Gregory 

Miller always had to worry about what Lugers would say next
Miller always had to worry about what Lugers would say next / YouTube screenshots

Almost everyone has that one acquaintance who was like a verbal ticking time bomb of outrageous comments. Even for the show’s time, comments made by Inspector Frank Lugers often sounded outright outdated. James Gregory put his all into bringing this gravelly inspector to life using his own skills as a character actor that Barney Miller had to endure.

Lugers has been counted as one of the funniest men on the show
Lugers has been counted as one of the funniest men on the show / YouTube screenshot

In fact, James Gregory gained so much fame as a character actor, he became an absolute titan in Hollywood. His voice made him an excellent actor for gruff, tough men like in The Manchurian Candidate and Beneath the Planet of the Apes. Though, in the latter, a lot more hair accompanied his role there. His role in the Barney Miller cast came at the end of his career and he passed away in 2002, but not before enjoying almost 60 years of marriage to the talented Ann Miltner.

Ron Carey

Ron Carey's Carl Levitt always made sure to get some glory
Ron Carey’s Carl Levitt always made sure to get some glory / YouTube screenshots

As part of the cast of Barney Miller, Levitt represented the part of everyone who wanted credit where credit was due. He worked very hard but also made sure his superiors knew everything he’d done. Similar to Steve Landesberg, Carey actually appeared earlier in the season, in his case as a criminal.

He's remembered for his 1967 comedy album that showcases his brand of humor
He’s remembered for his 1967 comedy album that showcases his brand of humor / YouTube screenshot

In 1968, he married wife Sharon. Barney Miller came at about the midpoint of his career and Carey would go on to appear in High Anxiety and History of the World. Sadly, he passed away in 2007 from a stroke, and his work with the NYC detectives remained his most famous credit.

Barbara Barrie

Liz Miller sometimes appeared as the kind wife of Barney
Liz Miller sometimes appeared as the kind wife of Barney / Wikiwand / YouTube screenshot

Liz Miller was a devoted social worker on Barney Miller. She was also the wife of the titular character. She appeared more as a reference, especially in phone calls, than in person, but when she did appear, Barbara Barrie brought her to life lovingly.

Berrie uses her experiences to encourage future actors and inform readers
Berrie uses her experiences to encourage future actors and inform readers / Photo by Bruce Glikas/Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic/Getty Images

After Barney Miller, Barrie could be seen alongside Shaun Cassidy in Breaking Away. Her work there earned her an Academy Award nomination. But she didn’t stop there. Barrie breached beyond acting and penned multiple children’s books. They dealt with issues such as displacement, belonging, and even terminal diseases. At 89, she wants to help inform readers and put an admirable amount of effort into realizing that goal! Who did you love most in Barney Miller?

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The post ‘Barney Miller’ Cast, Then And Now 2020 appeared first on DoYouRemember? – The Home of Nostalgia. Author, Dana Daly

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Multibillionaire Happily Ends Up Broke In Small Apartment By Donating Everything

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Chuck Feeney was once a billionaire. Being the co-founder of a retail giant granted him that full wallet. However, once he reached the top, he set a new goal: whittle away all that towering foundation through charity.

As a result, he is relatively broke. In place of some sprawling manor, he calls a small apartment home. But his heart wants for nothing because all the funds that could have bought those excesses went instead to numerous noble causes.

Utilizing a legacy in different ways

Airports everywhere sport Duty Free Shopping thanks to Feeney and Miller
Airports everywhere sport Duty Free Shopping thanks to Feeney and Miller / Wikimedia Commons

At the age of 89, Chuck Feeney already has a lot to look back on with pride, first from a business perspective. He is the co-founder of Duty Free shoppers, which now stands as a retail giant based in airports. He and Robert Miller launched this initiative back in 1960. That left Feeney with several billions of dollars. Throughout his life, however, he made sure to give huge chunks of that to important causes. Feeney outlined such a thorough, aggressive plan for donating, Forbes call shim the James Bond of Philanthropy.

RELATED: Kirk Douglas Leaves Majority Of $60M Fortune To Charity, None To Family

Previously, he ran his 38-year-old Atlantic Philanthropies. For over 40 years, he used this organization to donate $8 billion to charities, foundations, and univerisities the world over. However, in the middle of this turbulent September, he was able to close it. The reason? He’s used up all funds. Everything went towards efforts to establish peace in Northern Ireland, which experienced renewed tensions since Brexit talks, to advancing healthcare systems in Vietnam. $350 million alone went to turning Roosevelt Island in New York into a tech hub. All this is to literally put his money where his mouth is; in addition to launching a retail giant, Feeney also pioneered the idea of Giving While Living. And he really means it. He and his wife have $2 million in retirement funds and their cramped San Francisco apartment “has the austerity of a freshman dorm room.”

Chuck Feeney believes in Giving While Living

Chuck Feeney hopes others who have the means do give Giving While Living a try
Chuck Feeney hopes others who have the means do give Giving While Living a try / YouTube screenshot

“I believe strongly in giving while living,” Feeney explained. “I see little reason to delay giving when so much good can be achieved through supporting worthwhile causes today. Besides, it’s a lot more fun to give while you live than to give while you are dead.” As Forbes notes, this allows the very living Feeney to directly oversee what goes where and make sure his dreams are realized. This approach exists in opposition to saving everything until death and trusting a will to see the job done. It’s rather difficult when the donor is deceased and unable to make sure any involved parties follow through.

$3.7 billion went to education and $870 million went to fighting for human rights and social equality. “We learned a lot,” Feeney stated, looking back now on his empty bank vaults and scattered funds enriching important causes. “We would do some things differently, but I am very satisfied. I feel very good about completing this on my watch.” Ultimately, he offers gratitude to all who helped this endeavor and to any who might be interested in launching their own. He concluded, “My thanks to all who joined us on this journey. And to those wondering about Giving While Living: Try it, you’ll like it.” Hear more from him in the video below.

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The post Multibillionaire Happily Ends Up Broke In Small Apartment By Donating Everything appeared first on DoYouRemember? – The Home of Nostalgia. Author, Dana Daly

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Check Out This Stunning 3D World Someone Made Out Of A Bob Ross Painting

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Bob Ross was the creator and host of the TV show The Joy of Painting which ran from 1983 to 1994. On the show, he taught his viewers how to paint beautiful artwork. His work has continually been celebrated throughout the years in various ways, one of them being the show being streamed live each weekend on the streaming service Twitch. However, someone has taken it to the next level and has created a stunning 3D world out of one of his paintings.

YouTuber CG Geek went all out in order to create this 3D world with not only Bob Ross paintings but with real-life textures as well. He videos himself going out into the wilderness, recording different things like leaves and moss on rocks to help recreate different yet realistic scenes.

Check out this 3D world inspired by Bob Ross

Check Out This Stunning 3D World Someone Made Out Of A Bob Ross Painting
CG Geek / YouTube Screenshot

The YouTuber then took the photos he took and uploaded them to a computer application that adapts photos into 3D photo scans. Once he had all of the photos uploaded, he was able to maneuver the photo on-screen to make it look similar to that of a Bob Ross painting. It’s actually pretty neat and impressive what technology can do these days!

RELATED: Why It Is So Unusual To Find An Original Bob Ross Painting

Check Out This Stunning 3D World Someone Made Out Of A Bob Ross Painting
CG Geek / YouTube Screenshot

He also took photos of mountains, pine trees, and more, really accentuating and emphasizing the kind of nature-esque paintings that Bob featured on his show. All of these photos were then adapted into the 3D scanner and maneuvered as such to create a stunning nature vibe that mimicked one of Bob’s paintings. It’s important to remember that CG Geek used his own photos and in no way, shape, or form used an actual Bob Ross painting to create a 3D world. So impressive!

Check Out This Stunning 3D World Someone Made Out Of A Bob Ross Painting
CG Geek / YouTube Screenshot

One really cool addition to this 3D world was the option of rushing lake water, completely animated. Of course, you can’t mimic this in actual, physical artwork, so this 3D/technological spin was genius and so cool to see. The movement/animation didn’t stop there either; he used the same technique on the pine trees, making it look like wind was blowing them in the breeze.

Check Out This Stunning 3D World Someone Made Out Of A Bob Ross Painting
CG Geek / YouTube Screenshot

In addition to all of these cool features, he also added in the ability for camera movement. All he did was take a video outdoors and upload it to the same 3D scanner, which then added in some movement to the scene. He also featured himself in the 3D world by taking a video of himself in front of a green screen and uploading it to the application. One lost, awesome, and honorary feature for Bob Ross was that CG Geek uploaded a photo of Bob and was able to set him in the scene, fishing on a boat in the lake.

Check Out This Stunning 3D World Someone Made Out Of A Bob Ross Painting
CG Geek / YouTube Screenshot

Be sure to check out the entire video below to see the process and finished product. What a great salute to Bob Ross and his indescribable talent! (CG Geek also wears a Bob Ross wig throughout the whole video, which is a cute and funny way to honor the late artist.)

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The post Check Out This Stunning 3D World Someone Made Out Of A Bob Ross Painting appeared first on DoYouRemember? – The Home of Nostalgia. Author, Jane Kenney

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Celebrating The 55th Anniversary Of ‘I Dream Of Jeannie’: Barbara Eden On Her Iconic Role

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It has been 55 years since I Dream of Jeannie graced television screens and Barbara Eden became a household name. This role was huge for her, earning Eden two Golden Globe nominations. No one else could’ve portrayed the sexy, blonde genie as Eden did, but she reveals that all the other women up for the role were her physical opposites. She really counted herself out of the role at first.

“They were all brunettes, and they were all beauty contest winners, which meant they were almost six feet tall,” she says at the time. “So, I thought, ‘Oh, well. That’s not for me,’ and I forgot about it.”

Barbara Eden talks about her iconic role on the 55th anniversary of ‘I Dream of Jeannie’

Celebrating The 55th Anniversary Of 'I Dream Of Jeannie': Barbara Eden On Her Iconic Role
‘I Dream of Jeannie’ / NBC

Of course, Eden loved the script for the show. But, she had her doubts, as she felt that she maybe wasn’t the kind of person they were looking for, physically speaking.

RELATED: Barbara Eden Celebrates Her 89th Birthday Looking Stunning And Half Her Age

“I said, ‘Are you sure they know what I look like? Because I’m a short blonde and certainly not (the) Middle Eastern-type,’” Eden says. Back then, the topic of cultural appropriation was not an issue, not as much as it is today.

Getting pregnant when the show started filming

Some additional issues came up once Eden snagged the role. She and her then-husband, Michael Ansara, had been trying to have a baby for so long and had been unsuccessful. Of course, just as the show’s pilot was in the beginning stages, she learned the news that she was finally pregnant. This is why in the earlier episodes, you may notice that there are no shots below Eden’s waist.

“Suddenly the pilot sold, and the doctor called me the same day and said I was pregnant.” Eden wanted to go and tell the producer, Sidney Sheldon, in person. In jest, he actually was the one who brought up Eden’s pregnancy news. “‘I said, ‘Yes! And I can’t do your show! I’m so sorry!’ But, I was grinning from ear to ear.”

It all ended up working out despite the obstacles

Celebrating The 55th Anniversary Of 'I Dream Of Jeannie': Barbara Eden On Her Iconic Role
Giphy
As a result, Sheldon ordered filming for the first 13 episodes right away. “Toward the end there, I was showing quite a bit,” Eden says. “I was like a walking tent. They would put all of those pink veils down on me.”
Can you believe it has been 55 years since I Dream of Jeannie hit TV screens? Take a look back at some scenes from the show below on its 55th anniversary.

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The post Celebrating The 55th Anniversary Of ‘I Dream Of Jeannie’: Barbara Eden On Her Iconic Role appeared first on DoYouRemember? – The Home of Nostalgia. Author, Jane Kenney

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Here’s What Happened To Tony DeFranco Of The DeFranco Family — In His Own Words (Exclusive)

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Imagine pursuing a dream. Maybe you’re a singer in the early 1970s and picturing yourself part of the next Beatles or Rolling Stones — maybe even bigger (it is a fantasy, after all). But what if it actually happens to you and You find yourself thrust in the middle of the media spotlight as a teen heartthrob, appearing on magazine covers, topping record charts, performing sold-out concerts and then … it’s over. As abruptly as it began. Can you imagine what it would be like to have to cope with all of that over the span of a just a few years? Well, Tony DeFranco of The DeFranco Family doesn’t have to imagine. He lived it.

And he relives all of it — from hit 1973 single “Heartbeat, It’s a Lovebeat” to the arrival of disco, the crusher of pop dreams — every time he’s contacted for an autographed or an interview. He does seem to have made peace with it. Sometimes. “For the longest time, I have to tell you, I pretty much ignored my past,” he tells Do You Remember? in an exclusive interview. “I just didn’t lean into it and kind of left it alone. But as the years go by, and because of social media, I’m getting more requests now from …. I don’t know if you want to call them fans, but people reaching out to me, and I’m starting to grant it. Within reason. I mean, some requests just seem a little ridiculous, so I don’t even respond. But now I’m leaning into it; in fact, a couple of years ago I sang the National Anthem at a Dodgers game, so I am happily enjoying my past.

defranco-family-on-stage
Yet another television appearance by Tony DeFranco and The DeFranco Family (courtesy Tony DeFranco)

“You know,” he adds with a smile, “it’s something that makes me feel like I’m a member of a club. Not a lot of people have accomplished having a hit record or been a so-called teen idol, so I’m proud of that.”

RELATED: Can You Name All These 1970s Heartthrobs?

What’s been pretty mind-blowing to him as of late is the discovery of a new generation of people interested in him, turned on to the music he and his siblings made by aunts, uncles or grandparents. “Yesterday,” he says, his voice laced with the sound of disbelief, “I received an email from two cousins pleading for an autographed photo. They’re, like, 17 and 15, and I thought it was a little weird, but that’s what’s happening. I think it was on Facebook, but a video was posted by a fifth grade teacher from Newport Beach and in it she’s playing ‘Heartbeat’ in the class and all the kids are singing and dancing to it. I was just blown away.”

Early Days

tony-defranco-and-the-defranco-family-as-the-defranco-quintet
Tony DeFranco and his siblings when they were known as DeFrancos Quintet (courtesy Tony DeFranco)

Tony was born on August 31, 1959, in Ontario, Canada. His siblings, and future bandmates, are guitarist Benny (July 11, 1953), keyboardist Marissa (July 23, 1954), guitarist Nino (October 19, 1955), and drummer Merlina (July 20, 1957). All of them had their interest in music ignited by their father, an immigrant from Italy whose passion was music.

RELATED: Top 10 Forgotten ’70s Teen Heartthrobs, Then and Now 2020

“He loved it,” Tony reflects, noting that the first incarnation of the band was DeFrancos Quintet. “He would sing Italian songs and, as he’s having kids, he’s slowly putting us on stage, from my brother Benny with the guitar and my sister Marissa with the accordion. He bought me a set of drums, but I was too little to use them — I think I was four or five — so he gave it to my sister Merlina and she figured it out. We were playing the Niagara Peninsula in Canada, mostly weddings and whatnot. There was no singing at that time until I was maybe 10, which is when my mom bribed me with $5 Canadian to go up and sing “Hey Jude.” So then I started singing a song or two during our weddings, park functions, and wherever we were playing. A gentleman named Ron Myers saw us at a local park and approached my dad. He said, ‘I think your son has something there. Can we record some demos with you guys?’ You know, just cheap little demos in a basement.”

tony-defranco-and-the-defranco-quintet
Another early shot of the family when they were known as DeFrancos Quintet (courtesy Tony DeFranco)

Additionally, Ron took photos of the siblings and sent them to people in Hollywood and New York, and they found themselves being flown to the former for an audition by Tiger Beat publisher Charles Laufer. For Tony, Charles’ involvement was actually brilliant from a PR point of view. “Obviously you didn’t have social media back then,” he notes, “but what you did have were magazines and little girls would go to the corner store and buy Tiger Beat magazine. It was built in PR, and then the resulting fan mail would show up in canvas bags forwarded to us from Tiger Beat. Just incredible and what a smart move on his part.”

“Heartbeat”

tony-defranco-in-the-recording-studio
Tony DeFranco in the recording studio (courtesy Tony DeFranco)

In the next instant, he financed a three-song demo and used his clout to secure a contract for the group with 20th Century Records. “Before you knew it,” he states, “we were on American Bandstand, we were KHJ, which was the biggest station on the West Coast. If you’re on KHJ, you had a hit.”

Pure bubblegum pop, “Heartbeat” was released in 1973 and reached No. 1 on the US Cash Box Top 100, and No. 3 on both the US Billboard Hot 100 and Canada’s RPM Top Singles, No. 6 in Australia and No. 49 on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. That same year saw the release of “Abra-c-dabra” (No. 32 on the Billboard Hot 100, No. 23 on the Cash Box top 100 Singles Chart and No. 15 on Canada’s RPM 100). They moved up and down the chart with “Save the Last Dance for Me” and “Write Me a Letter” (both 1974), “We Belong Together” (1975), “Venus” (1976, Japan only), and “Drummer Man” (1976). Their albums were Heartbeat, It’s a Lovebeat (1973) and Save the Last Dance for Me (1974). They also made a number of television appearances, including multiples of talk shows Dinah! and Mike Douglas, as well as such efforts as Jack Benny’s Second Farewell Special, The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, American Bandstand (a total of nine times), Action ’73 — Fifth Special and The Brady Bunch Variety Hour.

tony-defranco-and-jack-benny
Tony DeFranco alongside legendary comedian Jack Benny (courtesy Tony DeFranco)

Tony remembers the moment when he and his family realized that “it” was happening. “We heard ourselves on the radio,” he says, “and then we changed the station towards the end of the song and we were on another station. We changed it again and we were on another station. Then we started doing the PR appearances, the meet-and-greets and then we flew back to Buffalo for our first concert. I was probably 4’ 10” at best, and Buffalo was chosen, I think because it was across the border from where we’re from, Niagara in Port Coleman. I have a photo of that concert — if you want to call it a concert. It was actually a huge flatbed truck outside of a department store. You’d fly through the door and run on the stage, and the whole front of the stage as lined with cops and there were girls screaming, crying, pushing, pulling, and I’m, like, ‘Holy s–t!’”

Coping With Life In The Spotlight

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This should provide a good taste of what it was like for Tony to be on stage (courtesy Tony DeFranco)

This naturally raises the question of what that sort of response had on him, given it’s not something he had ever experienced before. “It just depends on who you talk to,” Tony points out. “My wife to this day will say, ‘It really affected you, didn’t it?’ And I’m, like, ‘Oh, not really,’ but the truth is it is big. Because of my age at that time, it just sort of took away my childhood and the innocence of what being a child in those days was.

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The cover of Tony DeFranco and The DeFranco Family’s first album, ‘Heartbeat, It’s a Lovebeat’ (Island Mercury)

“It was a situation,” he adds, “where everybody wanted a piece of you, everybody was your friend, everybody was related to you and then it got to the point where I just wanted to be left alone. I wanted privacy, which I think is not uncommon. And as I started getting older where you just go to school and you see how the girls are reacting, you see how the guys are reacting — not necessarily favorably — so you just always felt like eyes were on you. I can imagine what it would be like today with everybody having a cell phone and recording your every move.”

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It continued each night when they’d return to their home in Tarzana, California, which had a long driveway, at the top of the hill they’d see girls standing there, waiting. “So,” Tony explains, “it was just this constant reminder, which is fine, because I was constantly being told by management, ‘Hey, you gotta get used to this. This is your life now.’ I don’t think I was ever pushing it away, because we were always told that you’ve got to accommodate the fans. You always talk to them, you always take a picture, but at some point you want to escape to a room where you could be left alone.”

Tony DeFranco and his siblings (courtesy Tony DeFranco)
Tony DeFranco and The DeFranco Family (courtesy Tony DeFranco)

With all the talk of screaming girls, one does wonder — without getting too salacious about it — if there were … encounters. “All the time,” he says without missing a beat, “but I think most of it was an innocent thing where they just come running up to you and then every once in a while you get the girl that comes up and says, ‘Hey can I take a picture with you?’ And all of a sudden she’s just all over me with tongue and everything. I’m, like, ‘Whoa, Baby, slow down here. I agreed to a picture, not that.’ What helped, I think, is that because my parents were, again, immigrants from Italy, we were tight and pretty much always together, which also insulated and protected me from a lot of things that could have gone South; could have gone bad. But there was always an opportunity for somebody to try and take advantage. I remember there were a few times I went on the road on a PR tour alone with somebody assigned to watch over me. But when you’re 13-years-old on the road, s–t could happen. Thankfully it didn’t.”

Dream Girls and Threats

As he admits, Olivia Newton-John was one of Tony’s dream girls and he and his siblings were lucky enough to open for her at a concert.

What did happen is that he sort of met his “dream girl” at the time, Olivia-Newton John. “She was hot and she was awesome,” he laughs. “And we ended up being the opening act for her somewhere in the Midwest; I can’t remember the town. She may not have been an American — she was Australian — but she was just like apple pie and super nice.”

Over the years he’s been contacted, these days by email, with some bizarre messages threatening to kill him (“Those are fun,” he says dryly, “thanks for writing”) and others saying that their childhood was a mess, but the music of The DeFranco Family helped get them through it. “When you hear songs on the radio,” Tony muses, “the memory brings you back to whatever was gong on in life at that time. I also think that music is the glue of it all, whether you’re talking about movie soundtracks — how good would a movie be without music? — or life.”

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Tony DeFranco, Annette Funicello and other Mouseketeers (courtesy Tony DeFranco)

When things did change and the trappings of fame started to fade away, it happened fairly quickly. The first sign was that the second album was not as successful as the first. Despite the fact they had four Top 40 hits, disco exploded, creating problems for many artists. They did attempt to record some disco-esque material with another producer that never got released. There was also infighting between management, the record company, and the producer.

Feeling It All Slip Away

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Tony DeFranco and The DeFranco Family on stage (courtesy Tony DeFranco)

He also sensed it was over when all of a sudden the music for tracks were pre-recorded and he and his siblings were supposed to come in and just sing the vocals, a pretty big disconnect from the overall process. Things continued to go downhill from there, culminating with Chuck Laufer abruptly pulling the plug and canceling their contract. Tony was briefly approached about becoming a solo act, but that didn’t really go anywhere — besides creating some tension between he and the others for a time. “I was already thinking about branching off and just going out on my own anyway,” he admits. “I think the writing was on the wall that maybe this was going to happen, so I did push towards it for sure. It’s not the first time that sort of thing has happened.”

And that was pretty much it — besides the fact that The DeFranco family was basically screwed financially. “Charles Laufer was strictly a businessman,” Tony emphasizes. “A lot of people back in the day signed terrible contracts, including us. They were taken advantage of … including us. It was so prevalent back then that it was considered normal. What’s funny is that we supposedly had the top attorney in the industry looking out for our best interests, but he also represented the people we signed with! When I was younger, I was a little bitter, because it was, like, ‘What the hell?’ And we got screwed. But when I think back on it now, I’m not bitter anymore, because it was an opportunity that brought me memories that to this day are fantastic. I’m not going to sit there and spiral in this weird mental state about what could have been, what should have been. Being one of those so-called artists that is hanging onto the past and singing in every little club, desperate for the attention again. That’s the last thing I want.

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Tony DeFranco and The DeFranco Family with Sonny and Cher (courtesy Tony DeFranco)

“Now, do I ever say, ‘Oh, man, I gave up too soon; I should have kept at it. Who knows what could have come to my singing career?’ I did that occasionally, but I let it go, because it was the decision I made at the time,” he says. “And frankly, I did try to continue it, but the industry was changing so quickly, from disco kicking in to whatever followed. The truth is, most people are one-and-done and that’s it. How many artists can you count that have hits decade to decade to decade? In any case, that’s my sob story.”

Looking For What The Future Could Hold

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Tony DeFranco at the point where so much was happening in his life (courtesy Tony DeFranco)

The story continued as he tried to move on and found that there simply weren’t many doors open to him. “Think about it,” suggests Tony. “Everybody’s your friend, you can do no wrong and suddenly you can’t even get arrested. Everybody is just saying, ‘You’re damaged goods. You were a teen idol. You’re bubblegum.’ And I was lost, frankly, trying to figure out where to go next, what direction to pursue. And that feeling lasted more than few years.”

Which is a common occurrence to young people, whether in music, on television or in the movies, who are in the center of a wave of popularity and suddenly find themselves alone, often descending into drugs and/or alcohol.

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The DeFranco siblings along with their parents (courtesy Tony DeFranco)

“Everybody wants me o tell them my bad drug story,” he replies wryly. “I went to a private school, which was basically celebrity brats and wealthy brats. Michael Jackson was there, so was Christian Brando — we all know what happened to him — Danny Bonaduce. I watched some of those people just spiral out of control on drugs at the time. I tried pot. I had coke, but never enjoyed it. Maybe it’s part of my personality that I don’t like losing control. I’ve watched people out of control and roll their cars. I’ve heard of friends I knew dying because of drugs. I simply wasn’t interested. No thank you.”

Finding A New Purpose

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A nice shot of Tony DeFranco and The DeFranco Family later in life (courtesy Tony DeFranco)

As he searched for a new direction, he worked as a coordinator for recording sessions, he’d hire band members for whatever record company that was employing him at the time. He found working behind the scenes enjoyable for a while, but then he started getting turned off by attitudes and behaviors in the music industry. When he had been younger, he had gotten his real estate license but had never done anything with it. He decided it was time to throw himself into that world.

Tony explains, “I decided, ‘If I do this, I can only believe and trust in myself. How hard I work in this business with come back to benefit me and I’m not depending on somebody else to show up to an appointment, to speak for me, to behave inappropriately or be an idiot. It’s just me.’ And over the years, it’s been good to me. I’ve done very well in real estate.”

And he’s been doing it for nearly 20 years as a Sotheby’s International Realty Agent, his website proclaiming, “I’ve sold properties” — high end, to put it mildly — “from the beaches of Malibu and throughout the Conejo Valley and up the coast.”

Tony DeFranco has come a long way and is doing great, but what does the view of 1973/1974 look like through the prism of 2020?

“Now I’m just proud of it,” he says matter of factly. “I’m a member of a pretty small club in some respects. How many people can say they have had a hit record? Then the second club is how many people can say they were a teen idol, which I think is even smaller? I don’t have any negative feelings about it anymore. I don’t dwell on what could have been. I think it was like a magic carpet ride and it was a lot of fun.”

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