All posts by Elayne Boosler

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Poems, Jokes & Rock n’ Roll with Dr. Maya Angelou

Since the passing of the great Dr. Maya Angelou, there have been so many incredible stories shared about her, her contributions, her history. I would like to add one more.

It was the night before Bill Clinton’s first inauguration. I was emceeing the Constitution Hall Gala, a four hour show with incredible acts on the bill, including Melissa Etheridge, Graham Nash and David Crosby, etc. etc. I caught a glimpse of Crosby/Nash’s manager, who was very handsome. Unfortunately, I had one of my constant migraines (I think half the shows I’ve done in my lifetime were done with a searing migraine), and I was throwing up into a paper bag, so decided not to introduce myself just then.

The next day, Inauguration Day, was a sunny, freezing, breezy, gorgeous, headache free day. I had gotten my ticket to the inauguration and was headed from the hotel to the bus stop. A limo pulled up, the window rolled down, and Graham Nash and his wife Susan said, “You’re taking a bus to the inauguration? Don’t be silly, get in the car.” I got in and sat down right next to the manager, Bill Siddons. Graham, Susan and I talked and laughed. We all sat down on one of the long benches at the inauguration, and I ended up sitting next to Bill.  It was stellar; the speeches, the excitement of the crowd, the feel of a new beginning with a new young president. We didn’t talk at all, we were rapt, and sometimes I’d be holding back tears, and I’d sneak a look over at Bill, and he’d be holding back tears too. And then they introduced Dr. Angelou:

“Please welcome the new Poet Laureate of the United States of America, Maya Angelou.”

The crowd went wild. She had such a presence, she was magnetic. She stepped forward. Again, we held back tears. She had written a poem for the inauguration, called “The Inaugural Poem – On the Pulse of Morning”. It was never published and sold, the only copies were the ones given out to the V- V- V -VIPs sitting with the Presidents up on the balcony.

She stepped forward, and waited, majestically, in silence. We were transfixed. She began, slowly, deliberately:

“A Rock.” (she waited.)

And then: “A River.” (she waited even longer this time.)

And then finally: “A Tree.”

And then, nothing. She stood there looking out over the crowd, waiting. A rock, a river, and a tree.

I couldn’t take it. I leaned over and whispered into Bill’s ear, “Walk into a bar”. And he swears he said to himself: “I’m going to marry her”.

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A Beautiful Brush With James Garner

In 1966, my husband Bill Siddons was hitchhiking in Hollywood, with a gas can, since he’d run out. A car comes zooooming past, screeches to a halt, backs up and picks him up. It’s James Garner (be still my heart). Bill, always a speedy driver, says, “Nice driving!” James says, “Thanks. I just finished making this movie, ‘Grand Prix’, and they really taught us how to drive. I’m lovin’ it”. Years later James was eating at Musso & Frank’s in Hollywood. Bill walked by the table, deciding not to disturb him.  James looked up and said, “You have gas in the car?” What a great guy.

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The “Jim” Bill is referring to in the photo is Jim Morrison, not Garner. (Lynn Krieger, Bill, and Robby Krieger, on the road with The Doors, 1970.)

The Comedian Who Changed My Life…

Home / IB Comedy / Comedy Feature Stories / The Comedian Who Changed My Life is Totie Fields

By  on April 8, 2014@twitter.com/elayneboosler

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The Comedian Who Changed My Life is a series where comics talk about, you guessed it, the comedian who changed their life.

This is Elayne Boosler and the comedian who changed my life was a great comic named Totie Fields even though I never met her. It was in the seventies and I was selling out all across the country and yet I could not get on the Tonight Show because Johnny hated women comics. And as good as I was they wouldn’t put me on and without it you couldn’t really get a raise in pay or get into Las Vegas or work the good jobs because it really was the only door open in show business in those days and it was closed to me and women. So, they did have guest hosts in those days and Helen Reddy was about to guest host. The LA times did a piece on new comedians and I was in it saying that ‘gee I can’t get on the tonight show.’ Totie Fields read it. She happened to be good friends with Helen Reddy. Helen read it and called Totie Fields and said ‘do you think I should put her on?’ Totie had never even seen me and said ‘I hear she’s great, put her on.” And she did put me on and it opened the door to every single thing in show business for me. So even though I had never even met Totie Fields, it was the most wonderful thing anyone could have done for a young comic.

ElayneBoosler

Comedian, writer and activist Elayne Boosler is a comedy veteran who hasappeared on virtually every talk show ever on TV, has produced and written five one-hour Showtime comedy specials, and appeared on Politically Incorrect over thirty times. Her performances in the 80′s were groundbreaking for female comics and paved the way for many who have followed her and she continues to perform on stage and television. Boosler has upcoming appearances in Palm Beach, New York City, Pennsylvania and Maryland. You can get more dates and other information at ElayneBoosler.com and follow her on twitter @ElayneBoosler.

Read more Comedians talking about “The Comedian who Changed My Life” and find out who changed the lives of Artie LangeDavid SteinbergRobert KellyJackie MartlingMichael Ian Black and Jim Florentine