STARTING OUT - ON TV!
A group of us winged into Kansas
City from New York on Thursday afternoon, November 8, the day
before the start of the long-planned for Jane Froman Centennial
Celebration. On our plane were Bobbie Seuling, Win Glasgow,
Bobbie’s brother and sister-in-law (Dennis & Susan Seuling),
Joyce Liskin and me. We awaited the arrival of actor Robert
Easton who was coming in from Los Angeles and connected with him
quite easily. Without wanting to sound like a commercial,
we have to say that Midwest Airlines, our air carrier of choice,
was marvelous (perfect flight, good food, gracious flight stewards
and delicious warm chocolate chip cookies).
We had reserved two vehicles for
the drive to Columbia. Joyce and Babs, who had gotten the name
of a hair salon from one of our Columbia College angels, raced
to get their hair done since there would be no time in the morning.
Bobbie, Win, Joyce and Babs were meeting Jonna Wiseman, General
Manager of KWWC-FM radio at Stephens College at 7:15 a.m. Jonna,
who is a talented radio personality, actor and teacher, had arranged,
months earlier, for us to appear on “Pepper & Friends”,
on NBC affiliate KOMU Friday morning, November 9.
The New York Crew, Win, Bobbie, Joyce (standing), Dennis, Susan and
Babs, at breakfast with our angel Jonna (far left) before the TV
show, "Pepper & Friends"
Following a discussion of the show
and the coming weekend at breakfast, Jonna led us to the television
station where we met Paul Pepper, host of a talk-variety show. Paul
Pepper turned out to be a warm, congenial and charming man. Prior
to going on the air, we got into a wonderful conversation with
him where he gave us an overview of the show and reviewed what
we would talk about. He told us had met Jane following
her retirement at a local telethon and it was clear from the
conversation that Paul liked and admired Jane very much, which
made our appearance much more relaxed.
Four of us went to the television
station but only three could appear, due to the size of the
was decided that Bobbie, Win and Babs should go on because they
were original Fromanettes. However, it was a tough call
because Joyce Liskin (nee Lasky) has certainly become an honorary
Fromanette over the last two years and good naturedly rooted
us on while we awaited the start of the show.
Paul wanted to know the story of
the beginning of the Fromanettes – how we had met Jane,
what drew us to her, and how we had gotten so close to her.
He asked about Jane’s early history as a performer and spoke
with Bobbie about her new biography of Jane. For much of
the show, photos that are posted in the gallery section of our
web site at www.janefroman.com were shown on the screen – the
presentation was beautifully done. Finally, he reviewed
all of the events of the coming Centennial weekend and wished
us great success.
Bob Paulson, Joyce, Carol and moderator Ellen
Joyce talks about her days as Jane's personal secretary while
Bob Paulson gets ready to talk about driving Jane to the camps
I believe that the official kickoff of the
Centennial Celebration was a roundtable discussion held in Windsor
Auditorium at Stephens College on Friday, November 9th, at 2:00
P.M. Ellen Friedman moderated and asked questions
of Robert Paulson, Joyce Liskin, and Carol Peck. Robert
Paulson, a World War II vet, drove Jane around France when she
was overseas entertaining the troops in 1945. Joyce Liskin was
one of Jane's secretaries. I represented Jane's fans. Ellen
asked questions of the panel members and then panel members
answered questions from the audience. I had not read Bobbie's
book at the time of the roundtable, so one of the things I learned
for the first time that day was that the camps entertainers
visited then were all named after brands of cigarettes. Robert
Paulson also said that Jane sometimes sang from a wheel chair.
One of the things Joyce Liskin talked about was how happy Jane
was when Peter Birch taught her to dance with him. It
gave Jane back something she thought she had lost.
BIRTHDAY PARTY FOR JANE AT ELLIS LIBRARY
The birthday party kickoff for the
Jane Froman Centennial celebration was held on Friday, November
9th at the Western Historical Manuscript Collection at the University
of Missouri-Columbia campus.
A birthday cake with a photo image of Jane was provided for the
occasion, along with Jane's music.
The Birthday Cake
David Moore leads us in a round of "Happy Birthday To Jane.."
attending were members of the Jane Froman Fan Club, their guests
and friends, along with David Moore and the WHMC staff and friends.The
event provided a unique opportunity to learn more about Jane from those
who knew her, and to learn more about the times in which she lived.
The vets on campus in their WWII jeep
Bobbie happily autographs a book for Joyce.
The launch of "Say It With
Music: The Life and Legacy of Jane Froman" by Barbara Seuling,
was hosted by the staff of Western Historical Manuscript Collection
in their offices at the Ellis Library on the University of Missouri
campus. It was a great success as people milled around the trays
of food, chatted, and lined up to buy autographed copies of
the new book. Throughout the room, people were flipping through
the pages looking for tidbits. Each of the men escorting
Paulson had a copy of the book and they eagerly looked for the
pictures of Paulson. Robert Easton and Robert Paulson took the
opportunity to begin a strong friendship. A uniformed Bob Paulson
sat with Barbara for much of the time as they chatted with attendees.
The publishers, Paula and Bob Morrow of Boxing Day Books were
Mayor Hindman declares "Jane Froman Day" as David Froman Stands ready to accept the proclamation
Friday night's opening ceremonies
took place in Launer Auditorium at Columbia College, Jane's
alma mater. (It was Christian College when she attended.) First,
Babs made a short speech that was just right in style, length,
and sincerity, getting us off to a warm start. That was followed
by the presentation of two proclamations. The first, from the
Missouri State Senate, in recognition of Jane’s impressive
career, outstanding service in entertaining our troops, and
in her support of numerous charitable organizations, was presented
by Ilene Stone to a representative of Columbia College. The
second was presented by Mayor Hindman of Columbia, declaring
November 10, 2007 “Jane Froman Day” in the town
of Columbia, to David Froman, representing the Froman family. David
thanked the Mayor in a short and informative talk about
the history of the Froman family and their settling in Missouri.
Mark Fuller sings a valentine to Jane
Next on the program was tenor Mark
Fuller, former recipient of a Jane Froman Music Scholarship
at Columbia College, who sang a musical valentine to Jane with
three of her favorite songs: "I Only Have Eyes for You," "Bewitched,
Bothered and Bewildered," and "With a Song in My Heart" -
as still photos of Jane in her most glamorous poses were projected;
Win and I had put the photos onto a CD and some wizard of technology
at the College made them run in a slide show with fade-ins,
fade-outs, and pans that were quite effective.
Under that beard one can see the 21 year old Robert Easton as the Kansas GI who had to get Jane's jeep out of the mud
Bob Easton was introduced next. He had been a
young actor when he played the part of a GI from Kansas in "With
a Song In My Heart." Now, at 77, he sported a long white
beard. He introduced the brand new DVD version of "With
a Song In My Heart," and invited people to hang around
after a the movie and a rest break, to come back and take part
in a discussion of the film.
I had the good fortune to sit next to him at
the showing, and it was something, to hear his remarks and sense
his excitement as he saw himself as a young lad with freckles
and red hair, and as he remembered the other actors with whom
he has worked over the years. Not too many people did stay after
the movie, but there was a good sprinkling of interested folks
who enjoyed his reminiscences of speaking to Jane and her mother
on the set of the film, and a bit of backstage observations.
He also spoke of his interest in history and being fascinated
by Jane's mother, a Missouri native whose pioneer parents had
settled in the area.
The United States Postal Service issued a Jane
Froman Centennial Pictorial Postmark to honor Jane and to commemorate
her centennial at the “Jane Froman Centennial Station” which
was set up and serviced by U.S. postal employees on November
10th at the Boone County Historical Society from 10 a.m. to
4 p.m. Mail (such as Centennial Postcards or even Christmas
card envelopes with first-class postage) was submitted and hand
canceled with this commemorative pictorial postmark for future
mailings or just for remembrance of Jane’s special birthday.
The pictorial postmark and stamp
The postmark, which also appeared in the United
States Postal Bulletin issued on November 8, 2007, actually
became the property of the U.S. Post Office, but was available
for 30 days to collectors from all over the world via the Columbia
Post Office. Although it is no longer available, it may
still be viewed at the USPS web site. Anyone interested in seeing
the Jane Froman pictorial postmark may go to:
Site map (lower left)
Help - Postal Bulletins
Under View Previous Issues – Click on 2007 Issues
Click on HTML of the 11-8-07 Postal Bulletin Issue
Go to the Information Desk (on left), Philately,
Pictorial Postmarks Announcement (then Click)
Scan down to view the Jane Froman Centennial
Carol Stess & Joann Grandi
THE JANE FROMAN CENTENNIAL FILM & VIDEO
On Saturday, fans were able to spend a full day
at the Boone County Historical Museum Film and Video Festival
viewing Jane’s appearances in movies and on television.
These began with her very first screen appearance in Kissing
Time (1933) and clips from her two Hollywood movies, Stars Over
Broadway (1935) and Radio City Revels (1938). Videos of her
appearances on television included six episodes of her own CBS
television show USA Canteen/The Jane Froman Show, as well as
numerous guest appearances on the Voice of Firestone, the Paul
Whiteman Show, Toast of the Town/the Ed Sullivan Show, the Buick
Berle Show, the Jimmy Durante 25th Anniversary Show, the Arthur
Murray Dance Party and What’s My Line.
All of these videos are in the archives at the
Boone County Historical Museum and/or Western Historical Manuscripts
Collection at the University of Missouri and can be seen by
fans anytime by prior arrangement. The festival also included
two new videos which were limited to showings at the Centennial:
The Orchid Award Show and the only currently available color
footage of Jane from the Bell Telephone Hour of 1960. Historian
Elizabeth Kennedy provided a surprise, complimentary lunch for
On Saturday, November 10, several members of
the Jane Froman Fan Club were interviewed by members of WHMC.
Many wonderful stories were told of their experiences with Jane
and the Fan Club, and WHMC staff had the opportunity to learn
still more about Jane. Dennis did video interviews with Robert
Easton and Bob Paulson. The latter was particularly emotional
as Paulson recalled difficult war experiences.
Actor Easton and Sgt. Paulson became fast friends
Paulson's stories sometimes stirred up difficult memories
clings to her new hero
CENTENNIAL CONCERT TRIBUTE TO JANE
Saturday night was the big centennial concert,
sponsored by Columbia College. It also took place in Launer
auditorium. The setup on the stage was simple: musical instruments
were on the right, and a table with a photo of Jane and flowers
were on the left, in the spotlight. The room went dark, it got
quiet, and Jane's voice filled the room, singing "My Shining
Jane's voice came into the darkened auditorium
Then Valerie Lemon did her popular show, "The
Jane Froman Songbook," the personal tribute to Jane that
has been presented in New York for the last two years, but this
time featuring the famous Jane Froman Singers under Nollie Moore's
direction. The singers were lined up at the back of the
stage in a double row, seated, and Val came out in a beige gown
with a strapless top and a full skirt and long satin gloves,
very much in Jane's style. Her accompanists were a pianist
and bass player. Valerie added "St. Louis Blues" for
the Missouri audience. It was quite moving, and this audience
loved it. Lots of eyes were moist.
Valerie Lemon poses with the administrators of Columbia College. Clockwise from Valerie are Sallie Parshall, Nollie Moore, Claudia Aufdemberge, Mike Kateman, President Gerald Brouder and Bonnie Brouder
Vets were given front row seats, as was Jane's practice
RECEPTION - MISSOURI HALL
Following Valerie’s concert Columbia College
held a reception in Missouri Hall to which we were all invited. We
all attended a lovely dinner preceding the concert and were
invited to have desert following the concert. Columbia
College did a lovely job catering this reception. Missouri
Hall looked very elegant and there were hors d’oeuvres
passed around. To celebrate Jane’s centennial they
had a beautiful display of birthday cakes in different shapes
and sizes. The cakes were decorated beautifully.
An array of beautiful cakes awaited us
Valerie Lemon also attended the reception and
many of the guests congratulated her, asked for autographs and
posed with her for pictures. It was a most elegant and
enjoyable event to end a wonderful evening.
Valerie with the vets in their intage uniforms
Valerie with two of the Jane Froman Singers
AUTHORS’ PANEL DISCUSSION
Two big tables of people met at Les Bourgeois
winery in Rochport for lunch on Sunday. The weather was gorgeous
- so nice that we sat outside while waiting for all the group
to arrive. A trip to the winery is a tradition for this group.
Some people left the winery afterward and headed home, but most
of us went to Columbia College for the Authors Panel Discussion
which started at 2:00 P.M. in Dorsey Chapel.
At the winery, Joyce poses in front of Fromanettes Diane Pollock, Winnette Glasgow, Bobbie Seuling, Babs Buoncristiano, and Ellen Friedman
Barbara Seuling and Ilene Stone each talked
about their books on Jane. Ilene was a history
professor and wrote her book having done historical
research and interviews. Bobbie, a children's
book author, became interested in Jane as a
teenager and wrote about someone she knew and
loved. Both authors have taught classes, so
they were very easy to hear, articulate and
comfortable answering questions from the audience.
I saw and met two Columbia residents who became
interested in Jane after attending other Centennial Celebration
activities. They bought both books and asked questions. The repartee
between the two authors was fun for all. I found the whole discussion
(Bobbie) Seuling and Ilene Stone talking with the audience about their biographies of Jane
Discussion continues during the book signing
We wanted to have the Centennial weekend conclude
with some music on Sunday, November 11. Through Kathy Casteel
at the Columbia Missourian we were directed to Ken
LaZebnik, former Dean at Stephens College, and now screen writer
and playwright. We asked him about getting some musical talent,
and he told us about the Velvetones, a a jazz-oriented group
of young woman who sing primarily a cappella -- from Stephens
College. We contacted their director, Pamela Ellsworth-Smith,
who very quickly consulted with the singers and got back to
us telling us they would be happy to perform. The group has
a very nice sound, indeed, and they did a splendid job of finishing
off the weekend in great style.
The last event was dinner at the
Longhorn Steakhouse. I don't know how many people
were there, but I know the table was so long that
Ilene called Babs on her cell phone to talk to her.
After dinner, out in the parking lot Babs opened
the trunk of her car and people bought postcards,
stamps, and CDs. It was fun and kept people from
being sad about this special weekend coming to an
Long before we arrived in Columbia,
we had alerted radio hosts to play more of Jane’s
music, which many of them did, and we hounded publishers
to listen to the story behind Jane and her fans.
We wrote about it for anyone who wanted to hear
it. I finished up my book. Deena’s article, “Aunt
Jane and the Fromanettes,” was published online
June 2007 newsletter.
Bibs (Barbara Manzo) had her article, “The
Song In Our Hearts,” published in the October
2007 issue of Missouri Life
, and Cabaret
published “Gifts from Jane” by
As we approached the centennial date,
Sara Agnew of the Columbia Daily Tribune heard
about us and bumped another story to feature the
centennial and the fans who had made it happen.
We found ourselves on the front page of their Sunday
magazine section, Ovation, complete with
photos continuing the coverage with a biographical
sketch of Jane and the program of events for the
weekend. Kathy Casteel’s article about the
centennial and Jane’s fans appeared in Inside
Columbia Magazine and Mid-Missouri Mature
Living’s November 2007 issue. and on
Thursday, November 8th, the Missourian ran
another front page feature about the celebration
for Jane. Carol Peck was interviewed at her motel
by Dan Claxton from KFRU talk radio while she was
in Columbia for the Centennial.
The topping on the cake was on Thanksgiving
Day, when columnist Liz Smith included
a paragraph about Jane’s centennial and her
devoted fans in her popular syndicated column. She
even mentioned my book!
In all, it was a grand success, and
we are still living in the afterglow a bit. We sent
thank you notes and souvenirs to our honorary members and those
who had helped us mount
our celebration. We heard from some of them, too. As time goes
by, we will put up as many of the notes and letters that came to
us from people, in show business and out, who admired Jane
and had something to say or did their part to celebrate her centennial.
We thank you, too, the devoted fans who continue to play Jane’s
music and keep her memory alive.
The Jane Froman Centennial
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