Posts tagged ‘Golddiggers’

A Date With Destiny

Sheryl Ullman & Michael Reagan 2014
(above) The photo of today’s birthday gal, Sheryl Ullman of the 1969 Golddiggers, that appeared in a 1967 issue of TV Guide chronicling a match made on TV’s Dating Game between Sheryl and Ronald Reagan’s son, Michael.

A couple of years before she was chosen to be one of Dean Martin’s Golddiggers, SHERYL ULLMAN was faced with a choice of her own — one that she was asked to make before millions of viewers on national television: As a contestant on the Saturday night prime-time edition of ABC’s The Dating Game, she had to decide which of three eligible bachelors, visible to the audience but not to her, would be her pick to accompany her on an all-expenses-paid chaperoned jaunt to Victoria, British Columbia. The two who DIDN’T make the cut were actor Sal Mineo and UCLA quarterback Norman Dow, hero of the 1966 Rose Bowl. The lucky winner? Michael Reagan, son of then-California Governor and future President Ronald Reagan.

On top of the usual large audience that The Dating Game‘s matchmaking always drew, the pairing of Sheryl Ullman and Michael Reagan gained extra coverage, due to its being selected by TV Guide to illustrate a typical Dating Game outing (the photo shown here is from that issue). “When Cinderella Meets Prince Charming” read the article’s title. While Sheryl, who was 20 at the time, tells us that she and Michael (then 22) saw a bit more of each other after that first encounter, ultimately, she found her true Prince Charming in her husband, Jim. To that, we’d add that for anyone fortunate enough to know the ever-lovely Sheryl, they’ve found one of the sweetest, most giving, most genuine friends they’ll ever have. And that’s no fairy tale.

So we hope everyone reading this message will join us in wishing Sheryl a very Happy, Healthy Birthday, and Many, Many More.

January 5, 2014 at 12:27 pm 1 comment

A Pretty Girl Is Like A Melody

Michelle (MB look)
(above) Michelle DellaFave, circa early 1980s

The title of our article references a refrain that over time has become almost cliché; but the man who put those words to music, the great Irving Berlin, once told Life Magazine that he considered his 1919 composition “the best individual song written for a musical” — not his best, mind you, but the best.

Having served as the theme for The Ziegfeld Follies throughout much of that production’s run, “A Pretty Girl Is Like A Melody” could also lend tuneful context to the story of Michelle DellaFave, for whom beauty and music have blended in seamless harmony virtually her entire life.

With both her Mother and Aunt having been dancers, and her Father, a drummer, it was perhaps inevitable that Michelle and her younger sister, Tanya, would follow their elders’ paths into show business. Singing and dancing lessons, as well as acting in school plays, helped prep the girls for their future careers.

And for Michelle, growing up in New Jersey, her proximity to the Big Apple would provide the opportunity to audition for the storied Copacabana nightclub, where she joined the ranks of that venue’s famed Copa Girls. An ad in a local trade paper led her to try out for a spot with The Golddiggers; and once she was a part of that ensemble, her powerful pipes and glamorous looks paved the way for her selection as one of four Dingaling Sisters, singing, dancing and clowning with Dean Martin each week on his popular TV series.

Dean & Michelle Soubrette 2
(above) Dean embraces Michelle in a sketch on the 10/28/71 episode of The Dean Martin Show
'71-'72 Dings Portrait (Photoshop C4 Adj.)
(above) The 1971-72 Dingaling Sisters (clockwise from top): Michelle, Lynne Latham, Tara Leigh, Taffy Jones
Helen, Lindsay, Jayne, Michelle
(above) The 1972-73 Dingaling Sisters, 2nd Edition (l. to r.): Helen Funai, Lindsay Bloom, Jayne Kennedy, Michelle

While with The Golddiggers and Dingalings, there were also two USO Tours accompanying Bob Hope to entertain America’s Armed Forces abroad and at home, as well as appearances on such programs as The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and a prime-time special hosted by Gene Kelly. Separately, Michelle was paired with Lonette McKee in singing-dancing duo The Soul Sisters on the first season of Jonathan Winters‘ syndicated TV show.

Michelle, Gene Kelly, Diane Davis
(above) Michelle (left) and Diane Davis (right, one of Dean’s Girls from The Dean Martin Show) flank Gene Kelly on his January 1970 NBC special, Gene Kelly’s Wonderful World of Girls with 50 Girls, Count ‘Em, 50
Michelle & Lonette McKee copy
(above) Michelle and Lonette McKee, who sang and danced together as The Soul Sisters on The Wacky World of Jonathan Winters (1972-73)

Pulling back a bit from the world of entertainment to raise a family, Michelle never fully lost touch with her roots, continuing to perform from time to time in regional and local theatrical presentations. Then in 2007, she stepped up her game, releasing a brace of albums (one pop, one gospel), and re-teamed with one of her colleagues from The Dean Martin Show, Lindsay Bloom, to tour the country, entertaining veterans, active-duty service men and women, and civilians, and visiting VA hospitals.

(above) Michelle w. longtime friend and sister Dingaling from The Dean Martin Show, Lindsay Bloom. The two reunited in 2007 and toured the country, performing for audiences of Veterans, active military, and civilians.

Now back in New York, the city of her birth, Michelle headlined her first solo show this past April at Manhattan’s Metropolitan Room, and continues to volunteer her time on behalf of Vets and other good causes, in addition to singing at various events — most recently, at a gala last week celebrating the 238th anniversary of the U.S. Army.

(above) Michelle w. Dean’s daughter, Deana Martin, following Deana’s August 2012 show at Feinstein’s in New York. Michelle and Deana worked together on both the 1969 edition of Dean Martin Presents The Golddiggers and on The Dean Martin Show.
Michelle & Ricci Martin
(above) Michelle w. Ricci Martin, following Ricci’s show in Atlantic City in October 2012. The two would often see one another when Ricci would come to the set of his father’s series to snap photos of the cast members and guest stars.
Michelle w. Tommy Tune(adj.) copy
(above) Michelle with Tommy Tune, backstage after his June 1, 2013 show at New York’s famous Town Hall. The two go way back, having worked together on both The Dean Martin Show and the 1969 and 1970 editions of Dean’s summer replacement series, Dean Martin Presents The Golddiggers.

For this eternally pretty girl, the melody lingers on. But what makes the song that much sweeter are the two qualities evoked by another Tin Pan Alley standard that all who’ve been touched by Michelle know she possesses in abundance: Heart and Soul.

Here’s wishing you a very Happy, Healthy Birthday, Dear Michelle, and Many, Many More.

Keep the party going! Join Michelle and other alumnae of The Golddiggers, The Dingaling Sisters and The Dean Martin Show by LIKING both her Facebook page and ours:

June 17, 2013 at 12:20 pm 3 comments

One Singular Sensation

Liz Bday 2013b(above) Today’s birthday girl, Liz Kelley, on The Dean Martin Show, Feb. 25, 1971

It was while directing a Las Vegas stage show for dancing legend Gene Kelly that Dean Martin Show Producer-Director Greg Garrison discovered another Kelley — different spelling, no relation, opposite sex and of a much younger generation, but a gorgeous newcomer who demonstrated all of the terpsichorean skill to live up to the talent of her similarly-monickered idol.

Liz Kelley was only 17 when she was hired to be a part of Gene Kelly’s live revue, which played Vegas from February to April of 1970. The show had been adapted from an NBC television special he had starred in a month earlier with the rather verbose, yet enticing title, Gene Kelly’s Wonderful World of Girls with 50 Girls, Count ‘Em, 50. Out of those 50, which included a number already working in The Golddiggers or as one of Dean’s Girls, Greg Garrison saw great promise in Liz Kelley; and when the first new opening in the lineup of The Golddiggers came up in the fall of 1970, it was Liz that Greg called upon to fill it.

Once in the smaller, but higher-visibility ensemble of The Golddiggers, with exposure before millions each week through the intimate medium of television, first on The Dean Martin Show and then on the group’s own syndicated series, Chevrolet Presents The Golddiggers, Liz quickly became a familiar face and a fan favorite, which she remains to this day.

With her expertise in dancing, it was only natural that she would eventually come to run her own school, Dance Studio 1, where future stars continue to benefit from Liz’s experience and hands-on dedication to her craft.

While her career may have begun as one of 50 Girls (Count ’Em 50), anyone familiar with Liz, her accomplishments, her talent, her beauty, her kindness, and her heart, knows that she’s one in a million.

Happy Birthday, Liz, and Many, Many More.

You can find out more about Liz Kelley’s school, Dance Studio 1, by clicking here.
And you can join many fans and alumnae of The Golddiggers, The Dingaling Sisters and The Dean Martin Show on Facebook by clicking here:

February 23, 2013 at 11:57 am 3 comments

Happy Birthday, Sheryl

Sheryl Ullman Bday 2013

Having to learn new song and dance routines, especially within short time frames and under deadline pressure, is certainly no easy task for any performer. But having to memorize not just your own part, but also be ready to substitute at a moment’s notice for one of the other members of your troupe, is a discipline requiring talent, focus and a sharp pro who’s a quick study.

Fortunately for the 1969 Golddiggers (and their audiences, too), those are exactly the skills that Sheryl Ullman brought to the group, working the “swing shift,” so to speak, as the gal versatile enough either to add an extra voice to the ensemble, or when needed, fill in for one of her colleagues who might be ill or have the night off.

However, while she might be expert at subbing for others, those of us who know and love Sheryl are well aware that there’s no one who can take her place in our hearts. And since today is your birthday, Sheryl, we wish for you a very Happy, Healthy Birthday, and Many, Many More.

Party on with us on Facebook:

January 4, 2013 at 4:36 pm 3 comments

Thanks, and Happy Birthday, to Tara

On this Thanksgiving Day, we have much for which to be thankful — including all of the joy brought to us by our latest birthday honoree: a beautiful and familiar face from The Golddiggers, The Dingaling Sisters, and the regular cast of The Dean Martin Show.

So, from all of us at Dean, Golds and Dings and The Golddiggers Super Site, and  with a big birthday hug and kiss from Dean up above, we want to wish our own Tara Leigh a very Happy, Healthy Birthday, and Many, Many More.

November 22, 2012 at 9:53 am 5 comments

Happy Birthday, Michelle!

(above) Michelle’s solo pose during The Golddiggers’ Railroad Car photo shoot, 1970

Over the years, The Dean Martin Show has given rise to several different groups of lovely female singers and dancers. But one of those wonderful, talented ladies has the distinction of having served in more of those groups than any other.

In addition to her stints as one of the most outstanding, recognizable, and best-remembered members of both The Golddiggers and The Dingaling Sisters, Michelle DellaFave was also frequently tapped to harmonize with the Jack Halloran-led choir that provided background vocals for Dean’s series; she was recruited by Dean’s longtime Producer/Director, Greg Garrison, to join Lonette McKee in the Soul Sisters duo that performed weekly during the first season of the syndicated Wacky World of Jonathan Winters; and she even teamed with another colleague and friend from The Dingaling Sisters, Lindsay Bloom, to entertain American veterans, active-duty service members, and civilians in the first new group to be spun off from The Golds or Dings in over three decades, Blue Eyed Soul.

(above) portrait shot for the initial Dingaling Sisters group, 1970

(above) Michelle (center) stands shoulder-to-shoulder with 1971-72 Dingaling Sisters colleagues, and still close friends, Taffy Jones (left) and Tara Leigh (right)

(above) Michelle in s still from The Dingaling’s performance of “On The Good Ship Lollipop” on the 3/16/72 episode of The Dean Martin Show.

(above) Michelle (second from left) in 1972 with her sister Dingalings, and still very good friends, Helen Funai (left), Lindsay Bloom (third from left), and Jayne Kennedy (right)

(above) longtime friend and colleague Lonette McKee (left), with whom Michelle (right) performed as duo The Soul Sisters on The Wacky World of Jonathan Winters, 1972.

(above) Michelle (right) backstage with fellow performer and close pal Lindsay Bloom (left), before one of their Blue Eyed Soul concerts for Vets in 2008.

Beyond singing and dancing, Michelle has appeared in numerous theatrical productions, and thanks to her 5’9″ frame and sleek, high-fashion beauty, she’s also enjoyed an active second career in modeling.

With the latter aspect of her work not as familiar to her friends and fans as her musical endeavors, we thought we’d use the occasion of Michelle’s birthday today to honor her by presenting a tableau of rarely- or never-before-seen images that showcase some of the multiple facets of her craft.

(above) That fresh-faced, clean, Cover Girl look (circa mid-1970s)

(above) The Parisian look (circa late 1970s)

(above) The Meredith MacRae look (circa early ’70s)

(above) The Vogue look (circa mid-’70s)

(above) The Olivia Newton-John “Let’s Get Physical” look! (circa late ’70s-early ’80s)

(above) The classic beauty look (timeless)

As is evident from the shots on display, Michelle has a quality that photographers covet in a model — the ability to affect a variety of looks. Yet no matter her style or expression, what consistently comes through is a warmth and an accessibility that her friends and fans alike know are matched by an inner core of goodness, decency, kindheartedness and love. And, you can be sure, that’s no pose.

(above) The contemporary look (2009)

Michelle, on behalf of everyone at Dean, Golds and Dings and The Golddiggers Super Site, we wish you a Happy, Healthy Birthday, and Many, Many More.

To see more of Michelle, check out her Facebook fan page:

And to keep up on a regular basis with Michelle and other alumnae of The Golddiggers and Dingaling Sisters, join them and their fans on our Dean, Golds and Dings Facebook page:

June 17, 2012 at 6:22 pm 9 comments

Golds, Dings…and Vets — Then and Now

As a sidebar to The Golddiggers Super Site‘s feature story this Veterans Day Weekend, covering the most recent efforts on behalf of Vets by Dean Martin Show grads Michelle DellaFave and Lindsay Bloom, we at Dean, Golds and Dings herewith present a gallery of additional, related images — including:

• Historic photos from the 1971 USMA Yearbook documenting performances at West Point just before Christmas 1970 by The Golddiggers and The Dingaling Sisters, as part of Bob Hope’s USO Tour

• Shots of Golddiggers and Dingaling Sisters alumnae appearing at a number of much more recent Veterans-related events…

The Golddiggers at West Point, Christmas 1970

(above, l. to r.) Janice Whitby, Paula Cinko, Francie Mendenhall; Rosetta Cox, Jackie Chidsey, Liz Kelley
(below, l. to r.) Janice Whitby, Paula Cinko, Francie Mendenhall

(above, l. to r.) Janice Whitby (background); Rosetta Cox, Jackie Chidsey, Liz Kelley (foreground)
(below) The Golds gather around host Bob Hope


The Dingaling Sisters at West Point, Christmas 1970

(above, l. to r.) Tara Leigh, Susan Lund, Wanda Bailey, Michelle DellaFave

Bob Hope Leads His Troupe in The Traditional “Silent Night” Close of His Christmas Show, at West Point, Christmas 1970

(above, l. to r.) Rosetta Cox, Janice Whitby, Patricia Mickey, Johnny Bench, Jackie Chidsey, Francie Mendenhall, Major General William A. Knowlton (Superintendent of West Point), Bobbi Martin, Bob Hope, Gloria Loring, Lola Falana, Susie Lund, Tara Leigh, Michelle DellaFave, Wanda Bailey

Springfield, Illinois — July 2007

(above, l. to r.) Susan Lund, Michelle DellaFave, and Wanda Bailey display the medals they received from the Vietnam Veterans of America after their concert for the organization’s 2007 national convention — the first performance by any set of Dingaling Sisters in over three decades.

Washington, DC — Veterans Day Weekend, 2007

In conjunction with ceremonies commemorating the 25th Anniversary of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, Michelle DellaFave scores a hat trick, first performing with her alma mater ensemble, The Golddiggers, including Jackie Chidsey (above left) and Nancy Reichert (above right), in the largest on-stage gathering of the group since the early ’70s…
…then joining Dingaling Sisters Susie Lund (above left) and Wanda Bailey (above right) for an encore of “Do The Funky Chicken”…
…and finally, teaming with another onetime Dingaling Sister and good friend, Lindsay Bloom (above right), to unveil the premiere of the first new group to be spun off from either The Golddiggers or Dingaling Sisters in 37 years, Blue Eyed Soul.

Michelle DellaFave at The 40th Reunion of The West Point Class of ’71

At the invitation of the class’ Frank Durrum (above right), Michelle performed for an enthusiastic audience of over 400 USMA graduates and their families. And both before and after the concert, she was graciously escorted by another member of the ’71 class, Chris Clarke (below left).


Washington, DC — Veterans Day 2011

(above) Lindsay joins Marine Vets for a round of Veterans Day events.

Somewhere There’s A Someone…

In some ways it was improbable, but perhaps in others, it was inevitable, that at some point during the course of their cross-country travels entertaining and doing other good works for both Veterans and active-duty U.S. military personnel, Michelle and Lindsay would run into a soldier named…You guessed it — DEAN MARTIN!! And indeed, there he is above, happily sandwiched between the two Dings. Add another pair and we’re ready for a medley.

For those who’d like to, but haven’t yet had a chance, to see the original Golddiggers Super Site article on Michelle and Lindsay’s latest efforts on behalf of America’s Veterans, here’s a link to the piece:

Michelle and Lindsay’s Labor of Love for The Vets

And to stay up-to-date on all that’s happening with Michelle, Lindsay, The Golds, The Dings, and of course, Dean Martin, why not click the LIKE button atop our Facebook page and then either take part in the conversation or just sit back and enjoy it:

November 13, 2011 at 7:15 pm 3 comments

Happy Birthday to Janice Whitby…

…and a little trivia challenge for the icing on the cake…

THE GOLDDIGGERS TODAY! (OR MORE ACCURATELY, THE YEAR BEFORE): Although placed in TV Guide and other publications to promote the telecast of syndicated series Chevrolet Presents The Golddiggers, ads, such as the one above, sometimes made use of photos featuring ladies from an earlier incarnation of the group. In the instance cited herein, the gals arrayed around chairs actually comprised The Golddiggers lineup from the second half of The Dean Martin Show‘s 6th season, taped several months prior to the debut of the Chevy skein.
Appearing in the shot above, clockwise from lower left: Janice Whitby, Marilyn O’Leary, Rosetta Cox, Francie Mendenhall, Paula Cinko, Jackie Chidsey, Pauline Antony, Liz Kelley, and Pat Mickey. Of those depicted, only Janice, Francie, Jackie, and Liz returned the following fall for Chevrolet Presents The Golddiggers.
Now, for our not-so-trivial trivia question: What musical number did The Golddiggers perform in the slinky apparel in which they’re clad above? To see one list of possible choices, click HERE.

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October 31, 2010 at 9:07 pm

It’s Beginning To Look Like…

…the first Tuesday in November…and the 25th of December, too.

So, to help ease you into the perfect late fall/early winter mood, why not participate in our pair of palpably pleasurable new polls:



By the way, if you’d like to kick back in front of the tree, sip an eggnog and chat about your choices, you’re welcome to do so in our Pallies Lounge. Just click here.

October 13, 2010 at 7:35 am

Who’s Who

To help kick off our new site, we wanted to put names to the faces of as many of the ladies as we could identify in the images displayed on our Home page. While that objective posed no problem with respect to the members of The Golddiggers and The Dingaling Sisters depicted, the challenge loomed larger when it came to the women known as Dean’s Girls. But if any of our readers can assist in filling in some of the blanks, we would more than welcome their contributions.

Dean’s Girls

Even before The Golddiggers and The Dingaling Sisters became household names, The Dean Martin Show, from its very beginnings, had a sizable and salient on-screen distaff contingent — known among the show’s personnel as Dean’s Girls — to keep their debonair host company each week.

The only gal we can place in this scene from the episode of The Dean Martin Show that originally aired on April 21, 1966 is Larri Thomas, a staple of the series’ first three seasons, who’s just barely visible in the upper right-hand corner of the screen capture above. Because we hate to see such a pretty face obscured, we’ve posted another still from the same sequence below, portraying Larri from a more advantageous angle.


There are at least a few more readily recognizable faces in this group shot circa 1968, with Kate Kahn seen third from the left of the gals seated on the bench, and two longtime members of Jack Halloran’s choir, Melissa Stafford and Diana Lee, standing in the back row, second and third from the left, respectively.

As Dean savors a two-sided buss on the cheeks during this closing segment of his show from the 1969-70 season, we’re not certain who’s doing the smooching on the left, but on the right, that’s definitely Diane Davis.

Though mistakenly identified elsewhere on the Internet as members of The Golddiggers, the phalanx of mini-skirted females behind Dean in the picture above actually comprised a set of freelance performers hired to play faux orchestra members in two numbers with Dean — “Sittin’ On Top Of The World” and “There’s A Rainbow ‘Round My Shoulder” — shown on different episodes of the ninth and final season of the series (1973-74), when it was retitled The Dean Martin Comedy Hour.

The Golddiggers

Moving now into much more familiar territory, we can provide definitive I.D.s for the remainder of our Home page homegirls, starting with the gals whose collective moniker became synonymous with youthful beauty and glamour from 1968 onward.

From the 1969-1970 Golddiggers, left to right: (front row) Nancy Bonetti, Patricia Mickey, Susan Lund, Debi McFarland; (second row) Suzy Cadham, Rosetta Cox, Peggy Hansen, Sheila Mann; (top row) Barbara Sanders, Sheryl Ullman, Paula Cinko, Michelle DellaFave, Jackie Chidsey.

The 1970 Golddiggers, who headlined the summer smash hit Dean Martin Presents The Golddiggers In London, and later returned to the States to become the regular singer-dancers on the 6th season (1970-71) of Dean’s series: left to right: (bottom row) Pat Mickey, Susie Lund, Wanda Bailey; (second row) Tara Leigh, Rosie Cox, Micki McGlone, Pauline Antony; (top row) Jackie Chidsey, Paula Cinko, Michelle DellaFave.

The 1971-72 Golddiggers, who had their own weekly half-hour showcase on the syndicated series Chevrolet Presents The Golddiggers: left to right: (front row) Liz Kelley, Susie Lund, Janice Whitby, Nancy Reichert; (back row) Jimmi Cannon, Jackie Chidsey, Lee Crawford, Francie Mendenhall, Tanya DellaFave.

The Dingaling Sisters

The first iteration of this quartet was spun off from the larger group of Golddiggers and debuted during the 1970-71 season of Dean’s series, appearing only on an occasional basis and performing more rock- and soul-driven songs than the bigger ensemble from which they were drawn. When The Golddiggers embarked on their own syndicated series in the fall of 1971, a revamped lineup of Dingalings succeeded them as Dean’s weekly song-and-dance partners for the next two years of his program.

The first set of Dinagling Sisters, from 1970-71: left to right: (bottom row) Susan Lund, Wanda Bailey; (top row) Michelle DellaFave, Tara Leigh.

The Dings who fronted the famous “Don’t Touch Your Dial” opening of The Dean Martin Show’s 7th year on the air, and appeared with the star week in and week out during that 1971-72 season: (clockwise from bottom) Tara Leigh, Taffy Jones, Michelle DellaFave, Lynne Latham.

The final four Dingaling Sisters, who made up the second set featured during the 1972-73 season of Dean’s series: (left to right) Lindsay Bloom, Jayne Kennedy, Michelle DellaFave, Helen Funai.

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April 23, 2010 at 9:08 pm

Deans, Golds and Dings on Facebook