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JIM BAILEY
Jim Bailey
Jim Bailey
Jim with Barbara Streisand

 

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JIM BAILEY 


I met Jim Bailey in London in 1991. We were both guests at a radio
station on a light entertainment talk show. We ate shark together and
later spent the night talking about the business with his superb manager
Steve Campbell. Enjoy the interview!


HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN SHOW BUSINESS? 

It all began in Philadelphia with piano lessons when I was five years
old. My life revolved around the piano when I was very young. I wanted
to be a concert pianist. At eleven, I entered and won my school's talent
contest. Oddly enough, the song I sang was YOU MADE ME LOVE YOU, in
essence one of the first songs Garland sang when she was a kid. Part of
the prize was winning a spot to audition for a Sunday morning kid show
on a Philadelphia station. This, plus five years of operatic training at
the Philadelphia Conservatory of Music, was the beginning. I did a
little theater after the conservatory, then went on to New York, where I
was in the chorus of several Broadway shows. From there I performed in
Chicago, eventually ending up in Los Angeles.



























WAS JUDY GARLAND THE FIRST PERSON YOU INCORPORATED INTO YOUR ACT?

No, it was Phyllis Diller. When I first moved to Los Angeles, I met
Phyllis. I became a camp follower of hers - sort of followed her around.
I mimicked her at parties - did one-liners. Someone advised
incorporating her into my act, which I did, but not for several years.

HOW DID YOU TAKE ON JUDY GARLAND? 

After Phyllis Diller, I decided I should takeon a character that sings.
Garland seemed like a natural, and I was a huge fan of hers. In the
beginning, I performed for Judy - we socialized at her house. I absorbed
everything like a sponge, and filed it away. Sometimes she would say,
"You should do it more this way," or get up and sing a song for me,
almost as if she were giving me a tip. I found her presence so powerful,
sometimes I still can't believe she is not here. I still have her phone
number in my address book. I'll never forget one night in 1969, shortly
before her death, I was performing in Los Angeles. Judy caught my act
and loved it. Afterwards, she put her arms around my neck and said, "I
never realized I was that pretty."



































WHO DOES YOUR MAKEUP FOR EACH CHARACTER?

I do my own makeup. When I am preparing for a show, I block out my face,
my face becomes a canvas. It is a matter of changing bone structure
through shading to become a different person. I also strive for makeup
as natural and normal as possible. I taught myself makeup with Phyllis.
Then I met a guy from Warner Brothers who showed me the fine points. I
never give myself credit for being a makeup artist, but maybe I should.

WHO MAKES YOUR GOWNS?

Some of my costumes are Bob Mackie, some by Nolan Miller, some by Jeran,
and others by relatively unknown designers. I like to find new and
talented people who need a break.




























HAVE YOU THOUGHT OF EXPANDING YOUR LIST OF CHARACTERS WITH WOMEN LIKE
CHER OR BETTE MIDLER?

People have suggested them to me, who knows, maybe sometime in the future.

WHY WOULD YOU RATHER BE CALLED A CHARACTER ACTOR WHO SINGS, NOT AN
IMPRESSIONIST OR FEMALE IMPERSONATOR?

From the first minute on stage when I am Barbra Streisand, I look like
her, talk like her, I have her mannerisms and sing like her…I am Barbra,
not an imitation, lip-syncing or a witty impression. When I made my Las
Vegas debut in 1970, I opened doors for all the guys who came to town in
dresses. The mental and physical process I go through begins the day I
am doing the show, as soon as I get up in the morning. I make sure it is
a light day. I don't do lunch and I don't run around. In the back of my
mind, I'm subliminally thinking of Judy or Barbra. It's a three-hour
process to get into the lady I'm doing that night…the body makeup…and
then I am psyching myself into the character. Then it gets involved, as
I paint my face. I need to have quiet and no distractions. As the
evening progresses and it gets closer to show time, my voice changes and
I become a part of the illusion I am trying to create.



















HAS LIZA MINNELLI SEEN YOUR JUDY GARLAND PERFORMANCE?

Yes, in fact, if she is in the audience, she sometimes joins me onstage
for a mother and daughter act. She gave me the greatest compliment once.
She said that if I stop performing Judy Garland, how would she ever see
her mother again?

YOU HAVE PERFORMED ALL OVER THE WORLD. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY WAS THE HIGH
POINT IN YOUR CAREER?

My performing for Princess Diana.











































YOU RECENTLY PERFORMED IN THREE NEW PLAYS BASED ON THREE POWERFUL WOMEN:
MAE WEST - BETTE DAVIS - TALLULAH BANKHEAD. DID YOU FIND ANY
SIMILARITIES IN THESE WOMEN WHILE PREPARING FOR THESE ROLES?

All three women, Mae-Bette-Tallulah, have incredible DETERMINATION and
DRIVE!!!!

YOU APPEARED ON THE "HERE'S LUCY" PROGRAM. DID LUCILLE BALL MAKE AN
IMPRESSION ON YOU?

Absolutely. I learned more from her in a week than I could have learned
in a year at any acting school.






























WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE INTERNET, DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING TO SAY TO YOUR
CYBERFANS?

It's all a bit confusing, you see I've just gotten used to the electric
typewriter, HA! Thank you everyone for your loyalty over the years. Make
sure you bookmark this website to read about my newest projects!
 

Copyright text and photos ©2001 Jim Bailey. All rights reserved.