Friday, July 20, 2012

Brush With Greatness

By Heather Polyi, Owner/Key Artist, Glam Spot NJ

Early in my career, I realized having "Brushes with Greatness" was just part of the job...
Maybe at first!

Until... I walked Liza Minelli to the hosiery department at Bloomingdale's 59th St. NYC, and waited on a Rockefeller holding, what at that time, was one of 50 Black AMEX Cards in the country!
Waiting on celebrities and society was just what we did...  The list is long of recommendations and lipstick applications that were done for the famous faces of the Silver Screen!

However... I had a Brush With Greatness, that has effected me to this day!
One of the proudest moments in my career as an artist, and a cherished memory for life!
Kitty Carlisle Hart!
Ever heard of her?
She was OLD Hollywood!
A TRUE performer
She was still performing well into her golden years, touring at age 95!...

While most well known for her place on the TV Show "To Tell The Truth"...

She wore a cloak of many professional and elegant colors. Actress, opera singer, Broadway performer, TV celebrity, game show panelist, patron of the arts, and, at age 95, this vital woman continued her six-decade musical odyssey with songs and reminisces in her one-woman show: "Kitty Carlisle Hart: An American Icon," which toured from her beloved New York to Los Angeles.
She developed pneumonia soon after her tour folded toward the end of 2006 and passed away of congestive heart failure in April of 2007.

(I met her in her 90's year: 2002) 

I want you to know about her, who she was, who she was to me, and why I hold this memory in such high regard! 
She was truly amazing in life, and Legendary after death!

Early in her career, she was billed as Kitty Carlisle, her birth name was Catherine Conn...  She worked in the media of that time... RADIO!

She made her first appearance on the musical stage in the title role of "Rio Rita."
The trained singer went on to appear in a number of operettas, including 1933's "Champagne Sec", as well as the musical comedies "White Horse Inn" (1936) and "Three Waltzes" (1937).

Her early movie career included: Murder at the Vanities (1934), and alongside Allan Jones and the infamous Marx Brothers in the classic A Night at the Opera (1935).

She also played a love interest to Bing Crosby in two of his lesser known musicals Here Is My Heart (1934) and She Loves Me Not (1934).
Appearing in her first dramatic productions "French Without Tears" and "The Night of January 16th" (1938), she went on to grace a number of chic and stylish plays and musicals throughout the 40s, including; "Walk with Music" (1940), "The Merry Widow" (1943), "Design for Living (1943) and "There's Always Juliet" (1944), and in Benjamin Britten's (1948) American premiere of "The Rape of Lucretia."

In 1946, she married Moss Hart, he was co-writer of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play “You Can’t Take It With You” and Best Director Tony winner for “My Fair Lady,” and wrote an autobiography for stage.  She appeared in a number of his works including his classic "The Man Who Came to Dinner" (1949) and the Broadway comedy "Anniversary Waltz" (1954). The couple had two children. He died in 1961 and she never remarried, spending much of her existing time keeping his name alive to future generations.

It was the small screen that would make Kitty a household name.
A panelist on several quiz shows in the 1950s, it was the game show "To Tell the Truth" (1956) that anointed her icon.
A regular panelist for some 20 years, she appeared on each and every revamped format from its 1956 inception to its 2002 syndicated version.

She was known and loved for her stately presence, infectious laugh, Sweeping hairstyle, and couture gowns on the show, audiences reveled at her effortless class to these simple parlor games. She also was a substitute panelist for other popular game shows such as "What's My Line?" and "I've Got a Secret."

In later years, she became an important society maven of New York City, an avid patron and zealous supporter of the performing arts.
Appointed to various state-wide councils, she was chairman of the New York State Council of the Arts in 1976 and served in that capacity for 20 years, also serving on the boards of various New York City cultural institutions.

A noted lecturer, the civic-minded Carlisle Hart was active in administrative capacities as well, notably as Chairman of Governor Rockefeller's Conference on Woman (1966) and as special consultant to the Governor on women's opportunities.
At one time she wrote the column "Kitty's Calendar" for Women's Unit News.

Kitty never stopped entertaining. Making her Metropolitan debut on New Year's Eve 1966 in "Die Fledermaus," she joined the touring production the following year.
She appeared in concert with the Philadelphia Orchestra and appeared with the Boston Opera Company at one point.
She added stature to a number of summer stock plays including "Kiss Me Kate," "The Marriage-Go-Round" and her husband's "Light Up the Sky."

Returning to Broadway as a replacement for Dina Merrill in the 1983 revival of "On Your Toes," she was later spotted in Woody Allen's Radio Days (1987) and Six Degrees of Separation (1993).

Here is where I come in... LOL

I not only MET this amazing woman, I had the opportunity to call her "client"
I mixed her "Custom Blended Powder" While working for Prescriptives/ I still remember her recipie....
I often recomended new Red lipsticks (her signature color), and offered advice on whatever she wanted to know about.

She was amazing...

Never escorted, ALWAYS DRESSED!!!!!!!!!!
Always CHATTY!  Offering insight into a world I could only wonder about!
She called me "charming" which to date may be the biggest compliment I have ever received!
This amazing woman, considers me charming!
This to her was a huge compliment as she described the decline of "shopping" in her great city, that once offered "Hat boxes" and woman always DRESSED to Shop!

 (How she looked when I knew her)

This was my "Brush with Greatness"
I dipped my toe into another era, caught a glimpse of true femininity, style, and grace...

While I am on this journey of CREATING GLAM SPOT NJ, into the "service" oriented business I envision it to be...  I maintain a piece of this "Old Hollywood" charm, and glamour!
I wish I could tell her how her "CHATS" influenced me, I wish she knew the impact knowing her had on my career...

At least all of you know...


With Love and Glamour...

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