Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Edna Manilow


In comments on the wonderful black and white photo posted earlier which showed the scar on Barry’s face, I said I thought Edna, Barry’s mom, had told the story of how he got the scar. I found it in the transcript of a Q&A she did back in 1986 which was published in our local newsletter. Most of us never got to meet Edna, but from everything I’ve read, and from those who did meet her, she was a wonderful lady. I lost my mom in 1994 six months before Barry lost Edna. This is a loss most of us have to face, and things are never the same. So this is posted to remind us of Edna Manilow, who was much more than just Barry’s mom. She had humor, wit, and talent. And we miss her.


(Written in 1987)

Edna Manilow has enjoyed her time in the spotlight on many occasions, but her most recent "claim to fame" was charming all the attendees at a benefit show at the Settlement Music School in Philadelphia. The Quarter Notes BMFC sponsored the performance and all proceeds were earmarked for a handicapped students’ music scholarship at the school.

In a captivating hour-long performance, Edna treated the crowd to many of Barry’s tunes. "I’m taking my show on the road, and Philadelphia is my first stop," she joked.

Like somebody else we know, Edna felt so at home that she pulled up a stool and "schmoozed" with the audience in a question and answer session. Here’s how some of it went.


Question: I love your performance, but is there any chance you will be making a record in the near future or distant future?

Edna: Oh, would I love that. Oh! I don’t know. Possibly. That’s all I can say. But before I die, I will do it.

Q: I would like to know who your favorite male vocalist is (besides Barry) and also who’s your favorite female vocalist?

Edna: Besides Barry? Billy Joel. And my female vocalists are Barbra Streisand, Liza Minnelli...and Judy Garland. I love her. She was great, wasn’t she? Those are my favorite females.

Q: When Barry appeared in Atlantic City last October, he picked you to come up on stage and sing Can’t Smile. Had he ever let you come up before, and were you as surprised as you appeared to be to be chosen in the show?

Edna: I nearly died! Because for four years I’d been raising my hand. And he said, "You with the beaded thing." I looked in the back ‘cause I thought he meant somebody else. But he meant me! And I said, "Oh, go off, I’ll finish the show for you." Four years I had waited. I was dying for him to pick me, and he finally picked me, but he won’t pick me anymore.

Q: When will you do a duet with Barry on one of his albums?

Edna: Oh my God! I don’t know. Listen, all of you write to Barry and tell him to do a duet with me, ‘cause he won’t do it unless he gets a lot of input, you know. All of you write to him. And add, "Before I die, I want to live happily."

Q: If it worked out, what songs would you like to sing with him? Would you like him to write something new?

Edna: No. When he was little, I used to sing to him "I Don’t Want To Walk Without You." I used to sing that to him. When he was a little boy, I used to sing that - and he made a record of that - and that’s the song. Or "We Can Make It."

Q: Did you have to keep after Barry to practice the piano and if so, how did you do it without driving yourself crazy?

Edna: Did I have to stay after him - oh God! He used to drive me crazy with the piano! I never had to push him. I had to tell him, "Barry, please stop! I have a headache!" I never had to push him. He loved the piano, always, always. No, he used to play the accordion when he was little ‘cause I couldn’t afford a piano. So I bought him an accordion and he was wonderful and I loved the accordion, but he said that everything he played sounded the same. So I bought him a piano and he put his hands on the piano and never picked up the accordion again.

Q: I love to shop and I wonder if you enjoy shopping also, and if so, what is your favorite store and in what city?

Edna: I hate to shop. I hate to shop. I really do. I’m glad ‘cause Joey buys all my clothes. The only store I liked was B. Dalton’s in New York. That’s the only store I will walk into for about an hour - an hour and a half - because after an hour I make a face and I’m bad, I’m bad, I can’t walk, I can’t walk out - an hour!

Q: How did Barry get the scar on his right cheek by his nose?

Edna: How did you notice that? The scar on his cheek here? Well, when he was little, he had a little girlfriend, Elizabeth, and she pushed him and he fell and I didn’t pay too much attention to it and then it started infecting - you know, it got an infection, and I had to take him to the hospital and it healed. But it stayed, obviously, you all noticed it. He puts on make-up.

Q: Every little girl has a dream profession. What was yours?

Edna: Well, I was a secretary for many, many years, but my real love was singing. And when Barry made me quit my job after 30 something... Oh what am I doing?! I’m giving away my age again. But I always wanted to sing. Always, that was my dream. And I’m doing it because of Barry.

Q: What type of hobbies or interests do you have in your spare time, things that do not pertain to music?

Edna: You know, I like to cook. I really do. I like to putter around in the kitchen, but I hate to do the dishes. I hate that. But I like to cook and I read a lot. I read and cook and rehearse my shows. Because when I do a show, I rehearse it for two months or I forget lyrics all the time.

Q: Is it always surprising to you that Barry can electrify an audience like he does, and was he always a stunner as a child?

Edna: He was ugly as a child. He’s beautiful now. When I was carrying Barry, we lived in tenement houses and in tenement houses, everybody knows everybody. A mother takes care of every child, we didn’t have to worry about that. And when I was carrying Barry, I said I would have the most beautiful boy in the world and the most talented one. I really did - when I was carrying him. And everybody would say, "Ah, you’re full of it." They didn’t believe me. He never expected to be what he is today. I never expected him to be a household word like Comet, Mr. Clean.

Q: Many people in the room admire your son as an entertainer and would love to meet him. Who do you admire, and have you met him or her?

Edna: The only one I really admire, as a singer and entertainer, is Judy Garland - my favorite. She is...and it’s too bad she died, and how she died because she was wonderful.

Q: Did you ever get to meet her?

Edna: No. Barry did. Marty did, you know. Well, I’m the mother, so who am I to complain?

Originally posted 7/06/2006 09:37:00 AM

1 comment:

newliz said...

I actually conducted that interview. Edna was an amazing woman and a dear friend. It touched my heart to see her remembered so fondly by so many.