End of an era
Palm Springs Follies to close after 23 yearsOne of America’s longest running theatrical attractions, The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies, closes its doors forever after the May 18 matinee, thus ending a celebrated 23-year run which welcomed nearly four million patrons during its 5,000 performances.
Follies Impresario Riff Markowitz, 75, says, “We have dramatically shown the world a new way of looking at ‘old.’ Looking back over these many seasons, I would say I’m most proud of that. Our cast has proven—beyond any shadow of a doubt—that there really is life after 50, 60, 70, 80 and beyond—that life can have extraordinary value regardless of age.”
Mary Jardin, Follies co-founder and director of marketing, adds, “The Follies has truly been a labor of love for everyone involved. It has been our lives for nearly a quarter century. It’s very sad that our theatrical family will never be together again, but I am so grateful for this experience. I will miss this show and everyone associated with it terribly.”
When the Follies was first announced in 1991, it was met with skepticism by the media, but it wasn’t long before they heartily embraced “the little show that could” with feature stories in The New York Times (twice), The Los Angeles Times (multiple times), The Washington Post, People Magazine, AARP Magazine, NPR, The Today Show (twice), ABC’s Day One, The CBS Evening News with Dan Rather, CBS’s Sunday Morning plus hundreds more. In 1997, the Follies was the subject of an Oscar-nominated documentary short film entitled Still Kicking: The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies.
From the show’s first guest star, Ralph Young (of the superstar duo “Sandler & Young”), to the last, Darlene Love, the Follies has presented a diverse roster of musical greats, including Howard Keel, Donald O’Connor, Kay Starr, The Mills Brothers, The Four Aces, Frankie Laine, Tony Martin, Gogi Grant, Mary Wilson, Carol Lawrence, Lesley Gore, Maureen McGovern and Rita Coolidge to name but a few.
And from the very first season, celebrated figures from the entertainment, sports and political worlds have sat in the Plaza Theatre audience, celebrities like Kirk Douglas, President Gerald and Betty Ford, Phyllis Diller, Alan Shepard, Andy Williams, Betty Hutton, Don Meredith, Clive Davis, Art Linkletter, Mike Wallace, Stan Musial, Shirley Bassey, Herman Wouk, Berry Gordy, Yogi Berra, John Elway, Jane Russell and, for every year of the show until his death, Bob Hope, who once jumped onstage to join the cast in an impromptu soft shoe during the finale.
“We sincerely wish to thank our loyal patrons for their support during these past decades,” Markowitz and Jardin say in closing. “It is because of them that we were able to continue this theatrical journey. Also, we cannot fully express the gratitude we feel toward our cast and staff, tour operators and group leaders, members of the press, the City of Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley merchants with whom we’ve partnered throughout these 23 years. This has been a magical experience we will never forget—and one we hope will never be forgotten.”
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