Tower Records finally finished going belly up the week before Christmas and as part of my last run through to grab what was still left at some dirt cheap prices, I finally picked up DVD set of Tony Orlando and Dawn's TV show.
I'm 42 years old, so while I'm from the 80's, I have a lot of pop culture references from the mid to late 70's including watching a lot of sitcoms and variety shows including Sonny & Cher, Donny & Marie and of course, Tony Orlando and Dawn.
Watching one of the episodes, there was Freddie Prinze. It all started coming back. For those of you who don't know, aside from being Freddie Prinze's Jr's (Mr. Sarah Michelle Gellar) father. Freddie Prinze was a very funny stand-up comic who had a sit-com called "Chico and the Man" which was part of the "ethnic" sit-com trend in the 70's. It was (in my memory) not a bad show and a very cool theme song by Jose Feliciano, which I'll be happy to sing for you.
Freddie happened to look A LOT like Tony Orlando. Part of it may just have been the long blow-dried 70's hair and the mustaches and the fact that hey were both 1/2 Puerto Rican, but it was a running gag at the time. Tony did a guest spot on Chico and the Man and Freddie did several guest shots on Tony Orlando's show. They were known to be great friends.
Today I was watching the DVD and there was Freddie and it all came back to me. Unfortunately it's very sad. Freddie got involved in drugs and ended up shooting himself and dying at 22. It was treated as cautionary tale of early fame and drugs. It may also have been the first celebrity death that I actually remember, where it was somebody who I knew who they were and actually watched.
Here's the Wiki link that I checked to verify this. Twenty-two years old!http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freddie_Prinze
So I'm watching DVD, having flashbacks, doing an email chat and trying to do some writing. All this was happening this afternoon while hubby was sleeping. (He works nights.) During the email chat with one of my LJ buds, I conveyed what I was watching and how I was having this whole "Oh my god, I remember this." And she had no idea. Had never seen the sitcome. Or the variety show. Didn't know about the suicide. Nada.
I started feeling very old...although not as old as I felt last night when another chat/LJ bud told me she didn't recognize the guest stars when she was watching Muppet Show clips on You Tube. That just made me feel ancient.
So I go to the Mint and run right into the arms of my Karaoke Krony, Donatello, one of my best friends to snark with and let me tell you, there was plenty of material. Quite a few singers seemed to be performing routines that would be suitable for the Mitchell Brothers fine establishment on O'Farrell Street. I must have missed the memo that tonight was Stripper night. I had my song-slip in and my club soda in hand and I thought I would share my tale of woe with my buddy in between making fun of other people's voices, song choices and choreography.
I started with the assumption "You're about my age, early 40's right?" He went to great pains to assume me he had NOT crossed the big 4-O yet, but that I wasn't too far off. I started telling him my story, starting with Tony Orlando and before I could even get to Freddie Prinze, he starts freaking out. "Oh my god,I can't believe you're bringing up Tony Orlando. Don't even go there!"
Now I was totally confused. It took a lot of "Oh my gods!" and shouting, but I finally got the following story. When Donatella was a kid, like 8 or 9, he was a child performer, doing a sort of "mini-Tony Orlando and Dawn" routine with two little African-American girls and apparently he actually worked on-stage with Tony and Tony was supposed to make him a big star. BUT after Freddie died, Tony went into a tailspin and started doing lots of cocaine and Donatello never heard from him again. So when I started with "I got the Tony Orlando DVD..." he thought I was bringing it up because I knew about THAT, rather than wanting consolation for feeling OLD!
He says he has pictures of him and Tony on his website, which (duh!) I don't happen to have right now. If I get hold of it, I'll add it to the post. Weird, weird, weird.
ETA: Here's the website: http://www.bestofmabuhaygardens.com/donpg1.htm