Latest Press Reviews
- New York - April 26, 2018
New York Post
Cabaret star Marilyn Maye still a hot ticket at 90
By Johnny Oleksinski
Marilyn Maye For her 90th birthday, cabaret singer Marilyn Maye is flying high - and often.
Over the past two months alone, the in-demand performer has carried her four huge suitcases to theaters in West Palm Beach, Fla., St. Louis, San Francisco, Key West, Fla., Palm Springs, Calif., and finally to New York.
“I always say, ‘My birthday’s the whole month of April!,’” Maye tells The Post over lunch at the Iguana, the neighbor of her current venue, Feinstein’s/54 Below. She finishes a string of shows there on Sunday.
Her grueling but fabulous schedule is nothing new.
“This is not a comeback,” says Maye, who lives in Kansas City, Mo.“I never stopped.”
She’s sung jazzy torch songs such as “The Man That Got Away” in New York for decades - from venues that still stand today, such as the Rainbow Room (then called the Rainbow Grill), to those that are long-gone, including the old Copacabana, the Living Room (where she first met Ed McMahon) and El Morocco. Maye hates to watch the old spots go.
“It’s heartbreaking,” she says. “My notes are in those walls.”
Growing up in Topeka, Kan., Maye was emceeing variety shows by 11 years old, and hosting her own radio program called “Marilyn Entertains” in Des Moines, Iowa, by 15. “I skipped Spanish lessons at East High School to do my show,” she says. “I was never a child.”
Then she went out on the road, where she’s stayed for seven decades.
It was in the 1960s when she caught the eye of Johnny Carson. The host fell hard for Maye’s voice, and she appeared on “The Tonight Show” 76 times - more than any other entertainer.
“He was so good to me,” she says of Carson. “When I sang he would say, ‘And there, young singers, that’s the way it’s done.’”
Late-night TV never stopped loving Maye. Jon Batiste, the bandleader for “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert,” stops by her New York gigs all the time with his bandmates. “I did eight shows at Dizzy’s,” she says. “And I think they were there for three of them!#8221;
Christine Ebersole, Tyne Daly and David Hyde Pierce were at her glamorous opening night at 54 Below. She even teaches celebs - actress Dana Delany’s recently been to one of her master classes.
Although Maye’s always been a hard worker, it’s never interfered with her personal life.
“I had three husbands, and a meaningful love affair,” Maye says. She had a daughter, Kristi, with husband Jimmie DeFore, a dancer. And Kristi was later adopted by Maye’s third spouse, Sam Tucker, a pianist who has since died. Today, she says, it’s her music directors that are “the most important men in my life.” Later this summer, Maye heads to Okoboji, Iowa, where she has been singing for 61 years. Her longtime venue, the Inn, is due to be torn down soon - and she plans to be there.
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“I want to be standing in the ruins of it - with all the smoldering,” she says. “Because I’m still here.”