Marilyn Michaels is America's premier woman of a thousand faces and voices. She's known worldwide for her singing, acting, impersonations, and paintings. Marilyn has been in the entertainment business since the age of 7 when she started singing with her mom, famed Cantoress Fraydele Oysher, then in her father's choir, the late Metropolitan Opera Basso Harold Sternberg and Cantor Moishe Oysher.
Marilyn won an Outer Critics Circle Award and a Drama League Award for her Broadway debut in "Catskills on Broadway." She toured the country in the national company of "Funny Girl" and starred in the Emmy Award Winning series "The Kopykats." Marilyn's numerous television appearances continued on such shows as "The Tonight Show," "Regis and Kathie Lee," "Lifestyles with Robin Leach," "The Today Show," "Sally Jesse Raphael," "The Howard Stern Show," "Ed Sullivan Show," "Sullivan on Broadway," "The Dean Martin Show," "Dean Martin Roasts," "Name of the Game with Sammy Davis," "The Love Boat," "One Life To Live," and PBS' "Reading Rainbow." She has hosted "Girls Night Out" on Lifetime TV and CNBC's "Talk Live"
Marilyn has also delighted audiences with her beautiful voice. She's headlined both Vegas and Atlantic City, performed at Town Hall in NYC and has released numerous CDs including "Voices," "An Oysher Heritage" (timeless Yiddish and Hebrew duets with her great uncle, Cantor Moishe Oysher and mother Fraydele Oysher), "A Mother's Voice," and her most recent CD "Wonderful At Last" (in which she wrote some of the music and lyrics with her son, Mark Wilk). "Wonderful At Last" contains songs from The Great American Songbook as well as some original songs written by Marilyn and Mark from the in development musical "ALYSS," based on "Alice, Through The Looking Glass." Click here to order Marilyn's CDs!
In addition to stage performing, Marilyn is an accomplished artist who paints celebrity portraits such as Marilyn Monroe, Barbra Streisand, Bette Davis, and Elizabeth Taylor, as well as landscapes and seascapes. Marilyn's art can currently be seen on display along with her rich history of theatre memorabilia at The Jewish Heritage Museum of Monmouth County in NJ (310 Mounts Corner Drive, Freehold, NJ) from May 10-July 30! For more information on this extraordinary exhibit, click here! For tickets to the May 7 Gala Fundraiser, click here!
For much more on Marilyn, be sure to visit her website http://www.marilynmichaels.com!
1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? I was born into a theatrical family. I never knew anything else. My mother was Fraydele Oysher and my father was the late Metropolitan Opera Basso Harold Sternberg and my uncle was Cantor Moishe Oysher. Music was everywhere growing up and I was always a part of it.
2. Who is the one person you haven't worked with that you would like to? There are two people I would have loved to work with...Laurence Olivier and Frank Sinatra, both of whom I adored. I did get to work with Frank's son at one of the last Ed Sullivan shows on Broadway and he was a pure delight. Oh, I would have also loved to work with Elizabeth Taylor...I was always fascinated by her. I just did a series of paintings for my current exhibition at The Jewish Heritage Museum of Monmouth County in NJ which runs from May 10-July 30.
3. How do you decide which celebrities to impersonate? As a kid, I just started doing voices I heard of the celebrities I watched. My mom said to me, I should do Barbra Streisand because she is going to be somebody big and you know what, she was right. When I started doing The Kopykats, I was in a man's world and I realized quickly that if I wanted more camera time I had to hone in on my impressions and make them really great, so that's what I did.
4. How did you get into fine art painting? I started drawing at a young age. I was very talented artistically, but not in math or science. When I was 9 years old, I was in art class and did something on construction paper in blue and brown. The teacher said to me that what I put together was very unusual, but it showed my talent. When I got into the High School of Music and Art, I started as a music major because I loved music, but eventually I switched to art. What do you get to express through your paintings that you don't get to express through your stage performance? When I'm painting, it's just me and the canvas. I don't need in audience, in fact I don't like having an audience while I'm painting. I like to do it alone. When I perform, I need the audience. I need their feedback.
5. What excites you most about your upcoming exhibition? Everything excites me about this exhibition. The Jewish Heritage Museum is a new museum in Monmouth County and it's in a landmark building. It's just a beautiful space to have an exhibit. I'm showing more work here than I ever have in any previous exhibit. I'm showing many of my celebrity paintings as well as my seascapes and landscapes. I'm also displaying a lot of my theatre memorabilia. It's a real trip down memory lane and look back at history.
6. If you couldn't be doing what you are doing, what career would you choose? If not for show business, I would have painted more seriously. I would definitely still work in the arts in some respect. I'm a creative person so I would need to express myself. I might have also done some kind of designing, maybe with clothes.
7. Favorite place to practice/rehearse/paint on your own? I like to paint in my home office. I love nothing more than to take my canvas and stick it up against the wall and just paint. I paint a lot at night because I'm somewhat of an insomniac, but it's also my most creative time. As for rehearsing for a show, I like to do that in a rehearsal hall or at home.
8. Favorite way to spend your day off? I like to do very little. I have a wonderful chair that I sit in, that really supports my back. I love stretching back in it and watching old movies on Turner Movie Classics and cuddling up with my husband. I also enjoy swimming and going out to eat. I tell you, I'm a difficult person to eat with because if something isn't right, I send it back. If I'm going to eat out and pay money for my food, I want it to be the way I want it. I believe you have to stand-up for what you want in life, including the food you are going to put in your body. You have to sometimes push the envelope, otherwise, you'll get pushed over.
9. Favorite website? There are so many, but I would have to say Jdate.com or Match.com. I met my husband on Jdate.com. The world was changing with the internet and I wasn't going to wait for someone to come knock on my door, so I went to the candy store and went out on a lot of dates. I wanted to be desired, have some fun, and fall in love! I was very bold to do this, but I made some wonderful friends along the way.
10. Mary or Rhoda? I've met both of these women (Mary Tyler Moore and Valerie Harper) in real life and they are wonderful, wonderful people. To be honest, I never fell in love with either character. "Mary" was cute, but prissy and anyone that thin annoyed me. "Rhoda" was a stereotypical Jew and I felt was not a real representation of Jewish women.
11. What's the best advice you've ever received? The best advice I ever received was from Jack Benny. I was in Lake Tahoe doing the Ed Sullivan Show with Jack and he said "when you are doing impressions, it's very important to say who you are doing, so the audience knows."
12. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? As I've gotten older, I have endured some terrible loses of family members, like my mother. When I dream about them, it feels so good, but sometimes the dreams are so real that when I wake up, I wonder if it was true.