The Christmas season is one that’s traditionally known as a time for giving and going to extra lengths to demonstrate benevolence, compassion, and charity toward others. It’s a spirit of selflessness, sacrifice, and generosity that was embodied by the late master showman Bob Hope, when he annually rounded up fellow entertainers and journeyed with them around the globe to bring holiday cheer and a touch of home to American service men and women stationed abroad — taking part in some 200 USO events in all, over the course of more than 50 years. And it’s that same spirit that has infused the more recent mission of two of the performers who worked with Bob Hope, as they follow in the path of his legacy on a year-round basis.
It was just a little more than two years ago, at the commemoration of the 25th Anniversary of the Vietnam Veterans Wall in Washington, DC, that Michelle DellaFave, one of Dean Martin’s Golddiggers from 1969-71 and Dingaling Sisters from 1970-73, and Lindsay Bloom, one of Dean’s Dings from 1972-73, re-teamed professionally for the first time in more than three decades to debut their new act, Blue Eyed Soul.
What they probably didn’t realize on that Veteran’s Day weekend in 2007 was that over the next couple of years, they would go on to travel to 16 more locations from coast to coast and as far away as Alaska, playing to audiences of both veterans and active military personnel and their families, as well as regular civilians, rekindling fond memories of the songs and styles of the ’60s and ’70s, and serving as roving ambassadors of goodwill representing the charm, elegance, and wit that characterized The Dean Martin Show at its best.
TWO FOR THE ROAD: Since reuniting for an engagement marking the 25th Anniversary of the Vietnam Veterans Wall in Nov. 2007, Lindsay Bloom (left) and Michelle DellaFave (right), who sang alongside Dean Martin on his weekly TV series as members of The Dingaling Sisters, have crisscrossed America with their 21st Century act, Blue Eyed Soul, drawing rave receptions from admirers of every stripe.
It was Michelle’s widely-acclaimed turn as lead singer for a Dingaling Sisters reunion concert at the 2007 National Convention of the Vietnam Veterans of America that sparked interest in additional bookings of Dings alumnae at the organization’s local chapters around the country; so it was only natural that, coming full circle, the VVA’s Wes Guidry, who put together that original Dingalings regrouping, and who has managed Blue Eyed Soul from the outset, would invite Michelle and Lindsay to be the headline entertainers at this year’s VVA National Convention, held in July in Louisville, KY.
ANGELS OF THE MORNING: Waving the Stars and Stripes and bedecked in red, white, and blue, Michelle and Lindsay head for the stage (above), to sing at the opening ceremonies of the 2009 National Convention of the Vietnam Veterans of America, where they got things off to a patriotic start with rousing renditions of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” and George M. Cohan’s “Yankee Doodle Dandy” (below).
The two Yankee Doodle Sweethearts, who have already been the recipients of numerous honors at past veterans functions, were showered with even more accolades at this one — so many, in fact, that they began to lose count. Said Blue Eyed Soul Manager Wes Guidry, “The original plan was that they would be given flag pins for each of the states where they had played. Well, things got out of hand, and the receiving line grew longer and longer, as guys we didn’t expect stepped up to greet them. They had pins, necklaces, bracelets, patches — all kinds of stuff. Everybody wanted to give them something, so we weren’t stopping them, and they kept coming. It was a real outpouring of love for the two of them.”
PINNING THEIR FAVORITE GIRLS: (above) Representatives of local VVA Chapters around the country queued up to present Michelle and Lindsay with awards of appreciation for all that the two have done for vets, not just in the last two years, but throughout their careers. Among those conferring laurels was Marsha Four (below), an Army nurse who served in Vietnam and is now Director of the Mary E. Walker House, a residence for homeless female veterans, which Michelle and Lindsay visited last year (see the Super Site article Street of Dreams).
OPENING ON A HIGH NOTE: Michelle awed first-day attendees with a bravura performance of the “Star Spangled Banner” that would give even such once octave-shattering divas as Mariah Carey a run for their money.
CROWDED HOUSE: (above) Hundreds of the faithful turned out to see Blue Eyed Soul’s Friday night show, sponsored by the Veterans Support Foundation…and the gals clearly got as much of a kick out of performing for their audience (see below) as the audience did out of watching them.
SEEING RED: But with scarlet visions this entrancing
(above and below), no one’s going to lose their cool.
WAY OVER YONDER: (above) Is that the ’60s I see?
(below) Is that the ’70s I hear?
CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF THAT FUNKY STUFF: So in an effort to satisfy demand, the Queen of the “Funky Chicken” held court once again (above), joined, as before, by a rugged retinue of funky roosters (below).
PUTTIN’ ON THE RITZ: Dolled up in black for the close of their Friday night show (above), the gals received a standing O from the crowd (below).
SIGNED, SEALED, DELIVERED: (below) As always, the ladies took time out to mingle with their fans and autograph pictures and copies of their CDs for them.
The gentleman above, a vet from Canada, not only posed with Michelle and Lindsay, but also snapped a number of the shots included in this article.
TRANSFORMED: That’s the title of Michelle’s Gospel CD, and that’s exactly the effect that she and Lindsay seemed to have on Ray, the veteran pictured above, who arrived in a wheelchair, but who, with just a little touch of that Blue Eyed Soul, managed not only to stand, but to actually dance with both Michelle and Lindsay (below).
MOVING TIE-IN: When Michelle told Ray that she liked his necktie, he promptly proffered it to her as a gift — and she then proudly wore it through the remainder of the evening, while dancing not only with Ray, but other vets, as well (see below), and as she and Lindsay put in a guest appearance with The Wulfe Pack, the house band for the convention’s Saturday night banquet and dance (bottom).
FAIR MAIDENS ON THE FAIRWAY: In-between shows and other activities, the girls took to the links with some of the vets.
HOBNOBBING WITH CELEBS: VVA National Conventions always attract a number of high-profile guests, and the ladies of Blue Eyed Soul found a real rapport with the luminaries attending this year’s edition, including actor Jon Voight (above); Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak (in the two pictures below); and Retired Lt. General Russel L. Honore (bottom), who may be best known to the public for serving as Commander of the Joint Task Force responsible for coordinating military relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina-affected areas along the Gulf Coast.
That’s What You Get For Waking Up In Vegas
A few weeks after the VVA Convention came to a close, Blue Eyed Soul set off for Sin City, for a little picture-taking and a reunion with some fellow entertainers from bygone days.
Now, why fly to Las Vegas for a photo session? Because it happens to be the home base of one of the finest glamour photographers in the world, as well as a longtime friend of Lindsay’s, Lamonte McLemore. Although perhaps more familiar to most people for his work as a founding member of one of the most popular vocal groups of all time — The 5th Dimension — Lamonte has actually been a professional photographer longer than he’s been in the music business, racking up such achievements as having been the first African-American photographer hired by Harper’s Bazaar, and the photographer chosen to shoot Stevie Wonder’s first album cover. He’s also captured beautiful women on film for over 40 years, with his work featured regularly in Ebony and Jet Magazines.
UP, UP AND AWAY: Lamonte McLemore of The 5th Dimension, seen above in the 1960s with the group he helped make famous — (l. to r.) Florence LaRue, Ron Townson, Marilyn McCoo, Lamonte McLemore, Billy Davis, Jr.
Lamonte this past August with Michelle (above) and longtime pal Lindsay (below)
Having taken some great shots with Lamonte during her early days in show business, Lindsay thought that he would be the perfect choice to snap some fresh photos of Blue Eyed Soul. And while it’s definitely a huge advantage to have subjects that look like Lindsay and Michelle, a top-flight talent behind the camera can certainly enhance the outcome, as the results below indubitably affirm.
The other folks with whom Blue Eyed Soul became reacquainted during their trip to Las Vegas were The Osmonds, for whom Michelle and Lindsay, as part of The Dingaling Sisters, had opened on the Strip in the early ’70s. After seeing the brothers’ current show, the girls were welcomed backstage, where everyone did some quick catching up on what each has been up to in the intervening years.
HIGH ROLLERS: When they weren’t busy appearing as regulars on The Dean Martin Show, The Dingaling Sisters were often out on tour — either playing dates on their own, or serving as the opening act for groups like The Osmonds. So while stopping off in Las Vegas this past summer, it was a treat for Michelle and Lindsay not only to catch the current show of the singing brothers with whom they once shared the marquee, but also to be introduced by them from the audience. Afterward, the gals were invited backstage, where they waxed nostalgic with, among others, Merrill Osmond (above center), lead singer of the group.
A lot has changed in the world since the days of Bob Hope’s USO tours; but sadly, one fact that hasn’t is men and women fighting and dying in combat. World War II, Korea, and Vietnam may be in our past, but many of their scars remain; and challenges in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other distant corners of the Earth naggingly persist.
Early in their adult lives, Michelle DellaFave and Lindsay Bloom brought joy and comfort to men and women in uniform defending our freedoms, and they’re proud and honored to have been able to do so again for veterans and active duty personnel alike.
Their efforts over these last two years have been a living testament to the words that Bob Hope spoke about the troops at the end of his USO Christmas Special in 1968: “They taught us the real meaning of Christmas: You do a few jokes, sing a song, chat with them, and they give you so much in return, it makes you feel humbled.” And what he said in his 1972 close still rings just as true: “They make you feel like you’re doing something big for them, when really, they’re laying it all on the line for us. God Bless ‘Em.”
On behalf of:
their manager, Wes…
and, of course, your Super Site host, Video Vision…
…We at The Golddiggers Super Site, along with all of the members of the GoldsAndDings and Dinopallies Groups, want to wish all of our friends and supporters, and those of good will everywhere:
A Very Merry Christmas
A Happy, Healthy New Year
For lots more facts, photos, and fun relating to Michelle and Lindsay, Dean Martin, The Golddiggers, and The Dingaling Sisters, be sure to tune in to:
The Blue Eyed Soul Website:
The GoldsAndDings Group:
and now previewing:
The Official Website of Michelle DellaFave: http://www.MichelleDellaFave.com