My parents come from NJ but I was born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and am the youngest of four children. Father was working for Bethlehem Steel at the time. He had graduated from Syracuse University (Fraternity-Phi Gamma Delta) and then became a graduate student at Harvard University. He majored in Engineering and was an extremely talented architect having natural artistic abilities and proved this by renovating our home over the years with natural woods, etc. They were extremely happy in Pa. and had also lived in Vermont but when my maternal grandfather passed we moved back to NJ to be with my grandmother who could not take care of 15 acres by herself. I was two years old at the time so I consider myself a New Jersey native. Dad then changed jobs and worked for another corporation commuting to Wall Street everyday. He was a very special person but did have to travel from time to time to Santiago, Chile. He headed the entire NYC office, located at Wall Street, as the President--when I was a student at Laboratory Institute of Merchandising I met him for lunch and travel home from time to time. His wife and our very special mother was a stay at home mom. She cared about her family more then anything else but also got involved with the town, church and whenever possible was a volunteer worker and fundraiser always busy in the community, very special and very well liked. Her interests were writing, painting and she participated in many sports. She was also involved in politics for a while and contemplated running for Mayor. My grandmother was fortunate to have all of us back there. Dad had a huge garden where he planted fresh vegetables, fruits and flowers. We had all types of animals-cats, dogs, cows, ducks, chickens (yes, I gathered eggs and "candled" them), and a couple of horses. Our land included a "natural" spring lake which enabled all of us and our friends to have fun in the summer (swimming and a row boat that Dad designed as well as any manufactured now...it was polished, shiny and perfect)...in the winter~ice skating, sleigh riding, skiing the small slopes. I could go on and on.
As far as my younger days and life are concerned I love the entertainment industry which seems to always stay in the blood. This was always reinforced by most of my family members giving me confidence along the way. I took lessons in piano starting at the age of five along with dance--this included tap, ballet and toe dancing. As time went on due to my parents noticing this talent decided to inspire me with acrobatic and gymnastic lessons. As junior high and high school approached music became a huge interest even though I played the piano. Singing was a natural to me and my parents were amazed proving myself with "natural" song harmony when we all stood around the piano as a "family gathering" at a very early age. Also, hid a harmonica in my pocket and surprised them. In high school I chose the clarinet and played first clarinet (soprano melody) being placed in first row, first seat for the school orchestra. I was also in marching band which was highly enjoyable and we performed every football game half-time and also filled in with "flag twirling." Disappointed as a junior/senior I was almost chosen as the "band" majorette but was too tiny although I had the other attributes and talent. Instead it went to a boy who was chosen for the first time ever in this highschool history. He truly gave it that "strut." Since singing has always been a part of my life I sang in the choir never forgetting that the church choir from age seven gave me "peace of mind" and loved "gospel music" and the red or black choir book. I always enjoyed being on stage and when my dance instructor asked me to dance per her instruction I tried but when I messed up flipping and dancing a few steps her words and advice were, "do what you want my dear, you are a natural." I love acting and participated all through my school years. When in high school I auditioned for the senior play with a director from NYC and won the lead role as Roanne in "The Night Is My Enemy," playing a blind girl. Being very involved with music I auditioned for Student Director for "The Student Prince" and got the job. I also Student Directed "The Sound of Music," the following year.
After high school I attended and graduated from the Laboratory Institute of Merchandising, (with honors for showing the "Greatest Proficiency in Merchandising" as stated on the Certificate). All of my young lady classmates were thrilled to learn our graduation was to be held at the Waldorf Astoria. It was a beautiful day.
My first position was with " Conde Nast Publications, " I sat in with the owner, Mr. Samuel Irving Newhouse, Jr., for a couple of weeks and then moved on as a "Rover" which meant giving new employees an option to choose what they felt comfortable and content with. I moved from "Brides" to "Glamour" and then chose to work for "Mademoiselle" in the Merchandising Department as Assistant to Editor. I stayed with Conde Nast for approximately two years. It was one of the best experiences I had in the business world especially at such a young age. I left that position because of marriage and relocation and was hired as a copywriter for a catalogue, Popular Club Plan, and in a short period of time I was promoted to "Head Fashion Stylist" in the Children and Men's divisions hiring models and setting up photography sessions. This included choosing photographers, props and locations. The company was close enough to NYC where most of the assignments were booked. I truly loved this work and the talent always seems to stay.
We then had to make another decision and we decided to serve our country because of the Viet Nam War. My husband signed up for the Naval Flight Program and we were on our way to Pensacola, Fla., then Meridian, Ms. for Jet Flight training. His solo flight was exciting and beautiful. We moved several times and were with the military for approximately seven years, having lots of pleasure along with sorrow. After this bout ended I moved back to NYC and lived there for twenty years picking up with working in the entertainment industry.
I cherish film work and I was in approximately fifteen films, some of which were rewarding and exciting from "extra" to "day player" to "lead" not necessarily in that order (see sub-tab "Acting Resume" upper left). I have done commercials, voiceovers, print ads, background vocals, demonstration records, trade shows, TV, including "game shows."
I was fortunate to have traveled to the French Riviera during the celebration of the Cannes Film Festival and also enjoyed my stay at the Hotel Du Cap with my fiance. We were checking it out for a wedding which unfortunately did not work out but we had a wonderful time. He was a "theatrical attorney" and it was a business and pleasure trip...it is one of the most "beautiful, beautiful" places to travel to. We also drove the cliffs in a rented Mercedes and also rented a speed boat where we "brunched" at one of the private islands. Martin Heller, my fiance, incidentally was the "creator" of "The Raging Bull" and convinced Jake La Motta to put his story into words. Peter Savage (1921-1989-RIP) who was a good friend of both Martin and Jake collaborated on this entire project. They talked to Robert DeNiro and everyone knows what happened after that. I was cast for the part of Vicki but did not look enough like her according to Cis Corman (that was the name of the game at that time). I also had a half hour interview with Robert De Niro which was truly quite interesting. Who knows how far this group of people would have gone had "The Raging Bull" not been produced. It was the beginning of a wonderful romance for them although Robert had done a few other memorable films such as "Mean Streets." Everyone thought that was a "one hit wonder." How wrong they were.
Don't get me wrong--I have had my share of disappointments as the majority of people in the entertainment industry do--not all but most. It is a big part of the entertainment business. To make things work between acting jobs I worked (single parent) after returning to NYC. I worked as a model, a "temp" for seven years (after two years mostly for corporate executives because I proved myself to be deeply trusting, a very good organizer who showed initiative and I also typed well). This included many companies--about 50. I also worked for a film corporation one summer, was a personal assistant for a restauranteur and as far as transporation when I worked I walked blocks, took buses and once in a while a cab. However, one of the most rewarding positions I accepted was as the Producer/Director/Coordinator for the "Leukemia Society of America" Radiothon working along with WOR and most of the broadcasters. I learned alot. We broadcasted the 24 hour show at the Sheraton Hotel in NYC with Kevin McCarthy as the Host and Robert Lansing as Co-Host. Corporate Executive Sponsers, Specialty Doctors, patients and many celebrities (dedicated people whom I have kept watch over for a couple of decades and who I appreciate, always put in a category described as my top ten). I will add as I remember--Mandy Patinkin, now starring on a Showtime series called Homeland--when I saw that he accomplished winning this role I was ecstatic. His personality stays the same, his demeanor stays the same and more importantly, his acting is superb.
As far as the outcome of the purpose to help the Leukemia Society all of this group and all of my production people raised quite a bit more money than previous shows.
Wondering how I was going to make the finale a "star spangled banner" in walked Marvin Hamlisch who within three minutes raised approximately $20,000 extra. Marvin became a true friend after this radio broadcast affiliated with WOR Radio. May Marvin Hamlisch, RIP...he is one of the most talented songwriters, pianists, performers, in my opinion, as well as being kind.
My union affiliate is "Screen Actors Guild" with whom I was a member for fifteen years. Also ASCAP for music under Ivory Pearl Music, along with Eric Rackin who I collaborated with when we became partners. I was with different agents for modeling and commercials. Ann Wright for commercials and William Morris for film and commercials when Peter Kelly was there. Worked with Stewart Cowley as a friend and colleague and knew Gerald Ford (Ford Models Men) because I was a "booker/fashion stylist" in charge of the Men's and Children's Division for the catalogue mentioned above. I also studied with various instructors and groups. Betty Cashman trained me for commercials and Lee Strasberg taught me determination along with perseverance. I had also studied for two years with my voice and drama coach in mentioned professional college L.I.M. Plus I took courses at the University of Tennessee and Fairleigh Dickinson University.
Time passes. I continue to work in the same field. Most recently I met Eric Rackin (more on home page tab) who became my partner and he and I connected with composing music as mentioned...however he was way ahead of me in that area and it was his special gift in life...he was a great mentor and he was proud to acknowledge my talents and abilities that he feels were not as recognized as they could have been. He mentioned many times that he thought I would be perfect as a judge on the musical reality shows. Thank You Eric and may he be resting wherever he is, and in peace. I continue my career in show business and to read more please click on the tabs on the upper left to read more about other subject matters. Thank You.
I love New York and now live close enough where I frequent it often and still work there, and everywhere continuing the same career. Reach me at Ivory Pearl Music ~ Gretchen Anne ~ 1.862.200.5400 ~ I welcome invitations to all events regarding show business, charity and fundraising events. Call or e-mail me.
In Memory of My Husband, Francis Joseph, Naval Pilot Officer
The "Relationship Book" I wrote is a perfect gift for you and your significant other and partner in life~hopefully it will enhance your special days with some new ideas and tips to keep the "spark" alive~it is a great surprise gift for any holiday or romantic occasion purchased by either women or men. Not for children. Gretchen Anne, designed the Blingee.
Blingee standee designed by Gretchen Anne
LOVE and LIGHT to YOU and YOURS~
TREAT YOUR PARTNER WELL with KINDness and LOVE~