“Is that you in there?” cried Margaret Whiting.
“What is going on?”
Margaret Whiting was one of the biggest singing stars from the 1940s to the 1980s.
His recordings of songs like “Moonlight in Vermont” and “My Ideal” have sold millions of copies.
She starred in the television series “Those Whiting Girls” and she toured North America on the popular show “Four Girls Four” with Rosemary Clooney, Helen O’Connell and Rose Marie of the “Dick Van Dyke Show”.
I loved Margaret Whiting. Every time she appeared in New York at the Algonquin Hotel, I flew in to see her perform in the hotel’s Oak Room. I saw her so many times that she got to know me. She would look for me in her audience.
Once in 2007, I decided to stay at the Algonquin, a rather fancy and expensive hotel in Manhattan. It would be so easy to take the elevator down, see Margaret’s number, and return to my dear room. Perfect, right?
I checked into my deluxe room at the famous inn and got ready for the show downstairs in that famous Oak Room. Better get off a little early, I thought. That way I could relax before the show.
I went to the door and the doorknob twisted and turned in my hand. Oh, oh, I thought. I think I’m stuck in my room. I called the office and they immediately freaked out.
“What do you mean, are you stuck in your room?” asked an annoyed employee.
“Who’s in there with you?” We come to check. And we call the police.
A few moments later, the deputy director knocked on my door. “Open that door,” he yelled. I thought, well, I would if I could.
He had a great idea. “Can you just step out onto the ledge and into the next room through the window if we open it?” He asked.
“You’re crazy,” I said, “This room is on the 10th floor and I’m dizzy.”
“Okay,” he replied, the police are on their way. Ten minutes later, one of New York’s finest was knocking on the door. “Who’s in there?” He shouted.
“Just me,” I replied in a small voice. “I’m here to see Margaret Whiting’s number downstairs. I really need to get out of here now.
“We’re going to have to kick down the door,” Mr. Policeman said.
Just then, I heard a voice from the next room. “Is that you Gary?” Are you in there? What the hell is happening ?
It was Margaret Whiting. Who knew? She used the next room to change and rest after performances.
“I’m going to miss your show,” I shouted.
“Oh no, you’re not,” she cried. “I won’t start my number until you get out of there.”
Finally, someone arrived to break down the door.
“Stand back,” called Mr. Policeman. When the door crashed to the ground, I was faced with an officer with his gun drawn.
Then Marguerite appeared. “Hello honey,” she said. “You’re watching this man’s room,” she told the puzzled assistant manager. “He’s coming with me right now and he’s going to sit at ringside.”
Whiting’s show was brilliant, as always. She sang all the great familiar songs from her Capital Record albums.
Halfway through the show, she introduced her boyfriend, Jack Wrangler, the hunky male pornstar.
Wrangler stood and bowed to polite applause from the crowd.
‘Hmmm,’ he smiled. “I guess you don’t recognize me by my clothes.”
The whole place collapsed.
After the show, I sat down with Margaret and Jack for a drink.
“I’m going to marry Jack,” Margaret said with a shy little smile.
“I keep telling him I’m gay,” Jack said with a manly shrug.
“Just around the edges Jack, just around the edges,” Margaret smiled.
After our drink, Margaret and Jack took me upstairs to my room. Miss Whiting took her fur coat out of her bedroom and smiled.
“I’m so glad you came to the show tonight,” Whiting said. “I always love seeing your face in the audience. And by the way, I told the hotel to put you in a suite.
Margaret Whiting married Jack Wrangler in 2009. By all accounts, they were a happy couple. When Margaret fell ill, Jack cared for her until her death in 2011.
Talk about a love story.
Margaret Whiting was one of the biggest recording stars, along with Doris Day, Rosemary Clooney and Jo Stafford. She defined the way “feminine” singers, as they were once called, sang. His voice was strong, warm and lush. Tony Bennett called her “one of the greatest singers of all time”.
Tony knew his onions. He was right.
Thanks for the memories…
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been no consistent delivery of welcome news. Unless you consider The Spectator’s ongoing series of Gary Smith’s encounters with the stars of film, TV, theater and dance. Since the pandemic hit in early 2019, Gary has shared his memories of dozens of celebrities, so far. Here they are, and all of them are available at thespec.com:
Ernie Coombs, James Earl Jones, William Christopher, Cindy Williams, Lucy Arnaz, Stephen Sondheim, Margaret Hamilton, Gary Sandy, Karen Black, Richard Monette, Brian Dennehy, Linda Evans, Tony Randall, Brian Bedford, Kaye Ballard, Agnes de Mille, Cloris Leachman, Joyce Dewitt, Elaine Stritch, Christopher Plummer, Jack Klugman, Lena Horne, Lorna Luft, Vera Lynn, Georgia Engel, Petula Clark, Valerie Harper, Mickey Rooney, Loretta Swit, Sally Struthers, Donald O’Connor, Ginger Rogers, honor Blackman, Lois Maxwell, Gypsy Rose Lee, Judy Garland, Judi Dench and Marlene Dietrich.