Sissy Bingo Diva

With talent shined and polished in New York, Linda Gerard gets freaky with the tame game



Linda Gerard hosts Sissy Bingo on Monday nights at King’s Highway at Ace Hotel & Swim Club in Palm Springs.

ETHAN KAMINSKY

Peering through sunglasses that resemble two pineapples (they’re prescription), Linda Gerard greets and later surprises guests during Sissy Bingo at Ace Hotel & Swim Club’s King’s Highway restaurant in Palm Springs. She adds to her fan base every Monday night, when she picks numbers, breaks into song, and reveals memorable moments from a stage career that included starring in her most beloved Broadway musical on the day Barbra Streisand was unable to perform.

How did you land the role as Barbra Streisand’s standby in Funny Girl?
I auditioned, auditioned, auditioned. Callback, callback, callback. Probably over the course of two months, maybe more. It was really neat, because you rehearse with people like Sydney Chaplin, Kay Medford, and Jean Stapleton — the biggest stars on Broadway at the time. It was really exciting.

Did you imagine yourself in the role?
Opening night 1964, I was at the Winter Garden Theatre and saw Barbra do the show. I saw it with my husband, and I nudged him and said, “Jerry, I will be up on that stage performing that role some day.” He said, “Yeah, right. You’re a girl from Trenton, New Jersey, who sings in nightclubs.” I knew when I saw it that the part [Fannie Brice] was written for me. I had the same accompanist that Barbra and Lainie Kazan had, and he played for me at my audition.

At Sissy Bingo, do you flash back to the Winter Garden?
No, it’s so different. First of all, I’m in a restaurant and there is no spotlight on me. I wear street makeup and street clothes. I look around and I see young and old, fat and thin, gay and straight, and the first thing I sing is “Forget your troubles, come on get happy, you better chase all your cares away.” And people ask, “Is that the woman who sat us for bingo?” Some of them don’t know they’re coming for a musical night. So it’s fun to get them to like me; and toward the end, I will give them a glimpse into who I am. Sometimes at the beginning they ask, “Are you a professional singer?” And I nod my head.

Would you do anything differently?
Yes. Mimi Heinz [who eventually took over the role of Fanny Brice when Streisand left Funny Girl] asked me to go to Las Vegas with her and do the matinees and Sundays. And everybody who did that went on to be a major star. I said no and didn’t become a major star. But, in retrospect, I have a wonderful life and did things that they’ll never do and couldn’t have done. I’ve jumped out of a plane. I became a lesbian. And they ask, “You did what?” I did, I jumped out of a plane at 50.

Ace Hotel and Swim Club
701 E. Palm Canyon Dr
Palm Springs, CA 92264
760-325-9900
http://www.acehotel.com/palmsprings

Comments to this website are moderated by staff. While all comments are welcome, we encourage all to be polite and please do not use this system for advertising or business promotions. Any complaint towards a business or service should be directed directly to that business and not posted here. If anyone has a complaint that a comment is defamatory, please contact me at tmay@palmspringslife.com and I will take appropriate action promptly. Thank You

Add your comment:
Edit Module
Palm Springs Life
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Articles

Happy 2015!

Ring in the new year at a party that suits your style. 3, 2, 1 ... Cheers!

Lisa Vanderpump Will Preside Over Palm Springs Festival of Lights Parade

A place on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars and now Reality TV star Lisa Vanderpump will be the Celebrity Grand Marshal of the 23rd annual Palm Springs Festival of Lights Parade on Dec. 6.

"The Imitation Game" Garners Ensemble Award from Palm Springs Film Fest

"The Imitation Game" will receive the Ensemble Performance Award at the 26th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala on Jan. 3.

Tom Dreesen Performs Act to Benefit Barbara Sinatra's Children's Center

Tom Dreesen recalls Frank Sinatra didn't go to bed until sun up, so they would leave Sinatra's Rancho Mirage compound in the middle of the night and drive around the Coachella Valley talking politics, sports, and Sinatra's childhood.

Neil Sedaka Covers 50-Plus Years of Hits in McCallum Show

Neil Sedaka has been performing for more than 50 years, and the legendary singer reveals he is working on a "very serious musical" about his life, struggles, and comeback featuring all of his songs.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions + Contests

Cartoon Caption Contest

Cartoon Caption Contest

Each month, we provide a vintage 1950’s cartoon illustrated by Alice Rovinsky. You are invited to submit a caption or vote for your favorite caption.
Fashionista Friends

Fashionista Friends

Experience the glitz and glamour of Fashion Week El Paseo 2015.
2014/15 Best of the Best

2014/15 Best of the Best

Palm Springs Life’s annual Best of the Best. Readers tell us who their choice is for the “Best of the Best” of the Coachella Valley in over 40 categories.