The Beat Goes On

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FROM SEA TO SHINING SEA: For Michelle DellaFave and Lindsay Bloom, who sat beside and sang with Dean Martin week after week during the penultimate season of his TV series, their interaction with U.S. service men and women over the years has flowed from the deep, long-running, and ongoing passion that both have to give some of their time and talent to those who have given so much to protect and defend our nation. Their full story is chronicled in articles contained in the Updates section of this website; the slideshow above depicts just a few of the highlights.

As Americans take time this Veterans Day weekend to honor the men and women of the United States Military who have served their country so ably, bravely, and nobly since its founding, we thought the occasion provided a felicitous opportunity to catch up with a pair of show business vets whose lives have intersected with our Armed Forces throughout much of their careers.

It was four years ago, in ceremonies commemorating not only Veterans Day, but also the 25th Anniversary of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, that Michelle DellaFave and Lindsay Bloom, alums of both The Dean Martin Show and service to our nation’s troops, reunited on stage for the first time in over three decades, performing before an audience of both Vets and the general public in Washington, DC.

But that was just the beginning of a new adventure for the two gals. For the next three years, the duo crisscrossed the country, not only entertaining at Veterans functions large and small, but also frequently leaving behind the glamour of the limelight, as each of them had done many times in the past, to minister to injured vets in hospitals and residential facilities, bringing them warmth, comfort and joy.

And although they haven’t had the chance to work together over the last year or so, that’s hardly stopped either Michelle or Lindsay from individually pressing on with their respective efforts on behalf of those who wore, and continue to wear, the uniform of our country.

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STILL THE ONES: Michelle DellaFave and Lindsay Bloom, whose rapport dates back to their stint as members of The Dingaling Sisters on The Dean Martin Show, continue their long tradition of performing for Veterans groups, with Michelle (left) most recently headlining the 40th Anniversary Reunion of the West Point Class of 1971, while Lindsay (below right) was joined by her daughter, Sage Nutter (below left), this past summer as host and featured singer/songwriter, respectively, at the national convention of the Vietnam Veterans of America.

Michelle Maintains The Momentum

Michelle DellaFave had been a member of The Golddiggers for only six months when she enlisted with the all-female ensemble in 1969 for what would be the group’s second, but her first, USO Tour with the legendary Bob Hope, entertaining and bringing a touch of home to American service personnel around the world. After an exciting and eye-opening initiation, she re-upped with the tour the following year, this time singing and dancing with a quartet formed as an offshoot of The Golddiggers — The Dingaling Sisters.



ETERNAL FLAME:
Both of Michelle’s parents performed with the USO for troops during World War II, and her own history with the organization and with entertaining service men and women can be traced back to her international tours with Bob Hope in 1969 and 1970 (above and below).
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It was on the domestic leg of that 1970 journey that Hope and company made a stop in West Point, NY, to perform for the cadets at what’s regarded as the preeminent military college in the world, the United States Military Academy. And as was the case everywhere that they went, The Golddiggers and Dingaling Sisters left a lasting impression on the young men that they met that day at West Point, shortly before the Christmas holiday.



FUNKDAFIED:
Whipping up a storm with their rendition of the Rufus Thomas R&B hit “Do The Funky Chicken”, Michelle (above) and her sister Dingalings brightened The Long Gray Line (as graduates of West Point are known) with a splash of color when they performed at the Academy as part of Bob Hope’s entourage shortly before Christmas in 1970, as these photos from the 1971 USMA Yearbook attest. Comprising the short but lovely line of Dings below are: (l. to r.) Susan Lund, Wanda Bailey, Tara Leigh, and of course, Michelle.
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So it’s not hard to understand why, for the 40th reunion of West Point’s Class of ’71, held this past September, Frank Durrum, one of the members of that class who was there as a senior watching The Golds and Dings do their thing, would invite Michelle, lead singer on The Dingalings’ signature number, “Do The Funky Chicken,” to be the surprise guest and sole entertainer at the reunion’s Friday night dinner gala, held in the banquet hall of the Hilton Hotel in Woodcliff Lake, NJ.


AIN’T NOTHING LIKE THE REAL THING…Which is why West Point alumnus Frank Durrum (above left) asked Michelle to help his fellow graduates of the Class of ’71 relive the wonderful time they had watching The Dingaling Sisters perform in concert just before Christmas in 1970 — as well as why, for the honor of singing again for the grads, Michelle was only too happy to oblige.

In introducing Michelle, Frank reminded those gathered that their guest had supported the troops long before that phrase had been invented. Offering fresh evidence of that support, Michelle then proceeded to wow the over-400 USMA grads and their families in attendance with an eclectic repertoire of ’60s and ’70s favorites, including a one-woman update of her famous “Funky Chicken” strut. It was a flawless performance that was all the more remarkable given the fact that while she had all along kept up her craft singing jazz standards at local venues, it had been close to two years since Michelle had last covered the special material that she does for the Vets. And yet, she picked up right where she had left off — a true testament to what a natural and gifted artist she is.

The West Point Class of ’71 has a motto: “Professionally Done.” Frank Durrum certainly proved worthy of it when he nabbed Michelle for his classmates’ 40th reunion — and with her outstanding performance, so did the dinner event’s guest of honor.


MY HEART WILL GO ON: And so will the show, as Michelle (above) entertains the West Point Class of ’71 alumni.
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FUNKY FRESH: Mother hen Michelle manages to coax not only a couple of roosters, but a pair of pretty spry chicks, as well, to rise from their perches and follow her lead doing the “Funky Chicken”.

Lindsay Lengthens The Legacy

It was while with The Dingaling Sisters in their capacity as the regular singer-dancers on The Dean Martin Show that Michelle met Lindsay, who became the last gal hired for the foxy foursome. In the years following her stint on Dean’s series, Lindsay, too, would answer the call of those who sacrificed so much for their country, visiting wounded soldiers in VA hospitals during the 1970s.

WIND BENEATH MY WINGS: As far back as the mid-’70s, and right through to the present, Lindsay has demonstrated selfless dedication to Veterans, extending her commitment beyond just entertaining them to bringing them cheer as they recover from war wounds (as she did in her 1976 visit to the VA Hospital in Long Beach, CA, above) and staying in touch with them to follow their progress.

In the time since she and Michelle last did their act together, Lindsay has been busily involved in activities that pay homage to vets, including a role both this year and last as co-host (with actor Ron Masak) of the National U.S. Veterans Day Concert in Washington, DC. And this weekend, she’s presenting a wreath at the World War II Memorial for paralyzed veterans.

This past August, Lindsay made her third appearance at the national convention of the Vietnam Veterans of America, emceeing the first-night “Welcome Home” party. And in what had to be an especially gratifying moment for her, she proudly introduced the attendees to her daughter, Sage Nutter, an up-and-coming vocalist following in the footsteps of both her Mom and Dad (actor-singer Mayf Nutter). In turn, Sage treated the Vets and their families to renditions of her own original compositions.



IT’S A FAMILY AFFAIR:
Passing on not only her talent but also her sense of civic duty to the next generation, Lindsay (above right) took great pride and joy in handing the baton to daughter Sage Nutter (above left) at this year’s national VVA convention, and Sage made the most of it, charming the Vets and their families with her original songcraft (below).
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Just as they came together again in 2007, years after their Dingaling days with Dean, Michelle and Lindsay will in time re-team, and next time, without so much time in-between. In the meantime, their time remains time well-spent, pursuing separate though parallel paths on the same, unified mission for Vets — theirs being a cause, as well as a friendship, that, like our Armed Forces’ service to our nation, will endure.


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Additional vintage photos featuring The Dingaling Sisters, The Golddiggers, and Bob Hope from the 1970 USO Christmas Tour at West Point can be seen on our sister site, Dean, Golds and Dings:

To keep pace with events both past and present concerning Michelle, Lindsay, Dean Martin, The Golddiggers and The Dingaling Sisters, we invite you to visit, Like, and participate in these informative and image-rich Facebook pages:


2 Responses to The Beat Goes On

  1. Kylie Hughes says:

    Hi Michelle and Lindsay :)
    These pictures are so wonderful, congratulations on your great work entertaining the veterans and bringing so much joy into their lives.
    Lindsay, you have a lovely daughter, it`s wonderful she is following in your footsteps persuing a singing career and entertaining the veterans.
    I wish we could hear Sage sing.
    Michelle you look so beautiful in that long dress :)
    It`s a wonderful picture, so are all the other pictures of you, Lindsay and Sage :)
    Hugs and Kisses
    from Kylie xxxoooxxx

  2. Hi Kylie,

    Thank you, I hope you are doing well. I loved the story here about Lindsay, Sage and myself. I had a wonderful time with all the West Point alumni and their friends and family, class of 1971! It was a big crowd and they were having a grand time. I sang a few and sang and danced the “Funky Chicken” as I did many years ago. What a hoot! I had some guys and gals to come up and we kicked up our heels! I then then finished off with a special arrangement of the Star Spangled Banner. Thank you Frank Durrrum for the opportunity to be the surprise!

    Lindsay and Sage went to the National VVA Convention this year and I wish I could have seen them both enjoying the festivities and their entertainment. I sure do miss all the wonderful Vets. I have had the pleasure of meeting many wonderful Vietnam Veterans the last few years. I hope all the fans and followers of The Golddiggers Super Site have a blessed and Joyous Holiday.

    Love and good wishes,

    Michelle DellaFave

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