Famous opera singer and devout Mac/Eddy fan, Beverly Sills passed away on July 2nd.
In her autobiography, she credited Jeanette and Nelson for inspiring her to become an opera singer, and she mentioned it on at least TV interview that I saw some years back.
She was one of those rare American singers who – like Jeanette and Nelson – “crossed over” to popular fame as well…at home on the opera stage, on TV with Carol Burnett or even the Muppets!
I met her twice, once in the elevator at the Metropolitan Opera in the mid 1980s, and we talked briefly about Jeanette and Nelson. Then she ran off to handle some problem with the event that was going on. Previously, I met her while she was singing with the New York City Opera when they were touring in Los Angeles. This was the late 1970s, I believe, and LA was not considered an “opera” town. LA did not have a major opera company of its own at that time and her appearing in LA brought glamour and good PR for opera in LA.
Check out this film clip of Beverly Sills singing as a young child – her mother attempted to present her as an operatic Shirley Temple!
In the years after she retired, Beverly Sills worked tirelessly both to raise charitable funds and to promote opera. I never met anyone in the New York opera world that ever had an unkind word to say about her. She will be missed.