OFF BEAT

OFFBEAT: Mitzi Gaynor back in Chicago Tuesday for free 'South Pacific' film screening

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2013-03-16T00:00:00Z OFFBEAT: Mitzi Gaynor back in Chicago Tuesday for free 'South Pacific' film screeningBy Philip Potempa philip.potempa@nwi.com, (219) 852-4327 nwitimes.com

The last time I visited with the great Mitzi Gaynor, it was also in March, back in 2010, when she performed a special show at Star Plaza Theatre.

On Tuesday, she'll be back for a quick stage event in Chicago with Turner Classic Movies and COMCAST presenting her classic film "South Pacific," introduced by film historian and author Leonard Maltin and Gaynor at the grand Music Box Theatre, just a stone's throw from Wrigley Field.

This free screening is a part of TCM's 10-city Road to Hollywood Tour, the exciting prelude to the 2013 TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood.

Tuesday's Mitzi movie screening is at 7:30 p.m. at this wonderful movie palace space of yesteryear, located at 3733 North Southport Ave. in Chicago.

Although the screening is free, tickets are required for entry. Free tickets may be obtained online at http://www.tcm.com/roadtohollywood, while supplies last.

The star-studded TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood is April 25 to 28.

The 2012 TCM Classic Film Festival included appearances by Liza Minnelli, Kirk Douglas, Mel Brooks, Kim Novak, Debbie Reynolds, Angie Dickinson, Robert Wagner, Stanley Donen and others. FYI: tcm.com/festival/.

The first time I met film musical legend Gaynor, it was also at the Star Plaza Theatre, back in July 2000, while she was testing out a new tour designed by her now late, beloved manager husband Jack Bean.

The Chicago-born and reared blonde beauty now calls California her home.

Before she takes her popular stage shows to Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe and Atlantic City, she's always followed her same "good luck plan" by trying them out and fine tuning them with Star Plaza show biz wiz Charlie Blum and his Northwest Indiana and Chicagoland audiences.

"Midwest audiences are the real people and they love to laugh and be entertained with shows that pull out all the stops," Mitzi told me, while chatting with my parents Chester and Peggy backstage in 2010.

Her most recent stage tour was called "Razzle Dazzle, My Life Behind the Sequins," a reference to her career, her life, her million dollar-insured famous legs and all those gorgeous Bob Mackie gowns.

The legendary star of musicals made famous in the late '50s -- such as "South Pacific" and "There's No Business Like Show Business" -- said she always reminds me she is just as comfortable in an apron as she is any of the dozens of gowns created for her by Cher's designer Mackie.

I even included her delicious recipe she gave me for her Chicken Paprikash and Galuska, a type of egg dumpling in my second cookbook "More From the Farm."

"There's no denying that there's a certain amount of excitement that comes with performing in Las Vegas and places like that," she said.

"If you remember, I actually was one of the owners of the Flamingo Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas, the first woman to ever own her own casino. But the audiences are just more enthusiastic when you're performing some place like the Star Plaza. I love to get to know my audiences and I think they love hearing those behind-the-scenes stories of the greats like Ethel Merman, Bing Crosby, Kirk Douglas and Marilyn Monroe."

Turner Classic Movies is a Peabody Award-winning network that presents great films, uncut and commercial-free, from the largest film libraries in the world. Currently seen in more than 85 million homes, TCM features the insights of hosts Robert Osborne and Ben Mankiewicz, plus interviews with a wide range of special guests.

As the foremost authority in classic films, TCM also offers critically acclaimed original documentaries and specials. TCM is part of Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner company.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at philip.potempa@nwi.com or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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