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FAMED IMPRESSIONIST APPEARS AS HIMSELF, ARNAZ JOINS HIM
By Robert W. Plyler (taken from THE SUNDAY POST-JOURNAL)
Famed impressionist Jim Bailey performed Saturday evening at the Reg Lenna Civic Center as part of this year’s Lucy-Desi Days.
Bailey has built an international career around strikingly accurate impressions of female singers and comics, including Barbra Streisand, Judy Garland and Phyllis Diller.
In Jamestown, Bailey appeared as himself, for only the second time ever.
The evening began with a brief film, showing Bailey in costume to play his famous subjects. There followed a showing of the episode of the Here’s Lucy television series, in which Phyllis Diller was supposed to appear in a charity show, chaired by Miss Ball. When the comedienne became ill, according to the plot, Lucy’s daughter, Lucie Arnaz, convinced Bailey to perform as Ms. Diller, in her place. It ended with Lucie and Bailey doing a nightclub number. Following intermission, Bailey came onstage in a tuxedo. He alternately sang songs in his own persona, and told the audience stories about his career of playing the powerful women of show business. Accompanied by piano, bass and drums, Bailey sang songs such as "Too Close For Comfort,” and “Secret Love.”
There was a phone call which was played over the Civic Center’s sound system so the whole audience could hear, from Phyllis Diller, who chatted with him about being on stage in Jamestown. Of course, it may have been a recording of Bailey impersonating Miss Diller-with impressionists, one can never be sure.
Bailey then sang a series of duets with videotapes of himself, in costume. He sang “Don’t Rain On My Parade,” together with himself wearing a costume similar to that worn by Barbra Streisand in the film Funny Girl.
He then sang “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” with himself, the recorded image gowned and coiffed as Judy Garland.
Bailey told the audience that he typically spends three hours being made up as his female characters.
At the conclusion of the show, Lucie Arnaz joined him on stage. Considering that their recorded duet took place 32 years ago, both looked extremely good. The two sang a couple of songs, and answered questions, which had been submitted by the audience in writing, before the program began.
In addition to her career as singer and actress, Ms. Arnaz is president of the Board of Directors of the Lucy-Desi Museum, which exists to honor her parents. The program ended with a lengthy ovation.