Happy Birthday, Sheryl and Francie
As we noted at the beginning of the week, the first of our several January birthday celebrants, regular Dean, Golds and Dings participant Denny Coyle, earns his living in one of the noblest professions to which one can aspire — as a teacher — specifically, one having to deal with ofttimes unruly students in a public alternative school. Taking into account his line of work, and then reviewing some of our other New Year’s birthday babies, we think we might have discovered some common ground among them all, and here’s how we’ve connected the dots:
Sheryl Ullman, whose birthday is this week, had already appeared in three Elvis Presley movies and had a raft of TV commercials and prime-time programs to her credit when she was picked to join The Golddiggers in 1969. After leaving the group, she continued to perform, but also spread her wings, becoming a freelance writer of feature articles for newspapers and magazines.
(above) January birthday girl Sheryl Ullman (right) and friend and colleague from The Golddiggers Michelle DellaFave (left) outfit Birmingham Mayor George Seibels with an honorary sweatshirt, in advance of the group’s performance, circa 1969-70, at the Alabama State Fair.
With a Bachelor’s degree in English Lit and a Master’s in Psychology already hanging on her wall, Sheryl decided that she would add one more diploma to her academic arsenal — in a field that she truly loved and in which she could mentor to a class that can be as hard to discipline as any rowdy set of junior-high pupils: The result is that Sheryl is today a much-sough-after certified dog and cat trainer, operating her own institute for four-legged enrollees under the scholarly-cum-witty name, Bonefido.
If the subject is higher learning, then for anyone seeking knowledge of what a great vocalist sounds like, listening to Francie Mendenhall‘s distinctive, fluid, versatile, and always-perfectly-modulated voice is an education in and of itself — the kind one pursues not as a requirement, but as an elective, just for the enriching experience and pure pleasure of it. No doubt it’s such talent that led to her being asked to sing so many featured solos during her tenure with The Golddiggers, and fortunately for all of us, several of them can be heard on the troupe’s third album, The Golddiggers: Today.
(above) Another New Year’s birthday girl, Francie Mendenhall (far right) goes arm-in-arm with Dean Martin, accompanied by sister Golddiggers (l. to r.) Jimmie Cannon, Loyita Chapel, and Jackie Chidsey, on the 12/21/72 Christmas edition of The Dean Martin Show.
Francie, too, has a birthday this week, and to both her and Sheryl, we wish A Happy, Healthy Birthday, and Many, Many More.
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