Apr 17, 200808:06 PMThe Life
SHOWGIRL - MOTHER OF SEVEN - GRANDMOTHER OF TEN Palm Springs Follies' Glenda Guilfoyle Relishes All Roles
Palm Springs, California (April 14, 2008) The names define Glenda Guilfoyle and her being.
She reels them off in sequential order: "Stacy, Stephanie, Karin, Sean, Curt and the twins, Victoria and Vanessa." The oldest, Stacy, is 47 and a burgeoning fine artist of Hawaiian motifs.
They are the seven children of the classic septuagenarian hoofer who performs in the chorus line of "long-legged lovelies" for the long-running Fabulous Palm Springs Follies.
But wait. Add to her progeny ten grandchildren, from ages 20 to infancy, and again Glenda proudly recites and without a hitch: "Corey, Courtney, Brett, Connor, Maci, Ross, Shane, Kaitlyn, Gabrielle and, the newest one, Lilyana." She displays a sweater that she knitted for the baby. Between shows.
While nurturing that brood in the matronly bubble of motherhood and grandmotherhood, Glenda, 74, has been dancing in the Follies for 13 seasons to cap a lifetime in show business that started 57 years ago.
She was born in the Bronx to a show-business family that moved to San Bernardino, Calif., where Glenda graduated from St. Bernardine High School. Her father phoned Russell Markert, the originator of the famed Rockettes, and persuaded him to audition his dancing daughter. They all packed into the family car - mother, father, brother, Glenda, cat and dog - and drove straight through to New York. At 17 she was on stage, high-kicking with the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes for the next three years (and has since attended a Rockettes' reunion).
Returning to California, the statuesque 5'7 1/2" terpsichorean performed in Donn Arden's Moulin Rouge in Hollywood, was personally handpicked by Walt Disney for his Golden Horseshoe Revue at the soon-to-open Disneyland, did TV specials with Fred Astaire and Dean Martin, appeared in movies such as The Music Man and Frank Sinatra's Robin and the Seven Hoods, taught at dance academies and modeled. After many years as a divorced mother and the sole support of her family, she joined the Follies when the youngest twins finished high school and married.
The entire Guilfoyle clan gathers each year to see the Thanksgiving matinee then feasts afterwards. On her days off, she treks to the Los Angeles area to see them.
"My life," she says, "is just the way I want it."
What does ever-beaming Glenda Guilfoyle see when she peers out from her vantage perch on stage?
"A sea of glasses," she chirpily describes the vastly geriatric audience.
The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies, now in its seventeenth season, has been seen by nearly three million patrons and celebrates the music and dance of the 30s, 40s and 50s with a cast ranging in age from 56 to 84 years "young." Tickets for the Follies are available through the Box Office at (760) 327-0225 or online at http://www.psfollies.com.