The world’s first (almost) complete, and certainly most comprehensive, Directory of Dean’s Girls, Golddiggers and Dingaling Sisters.
Endeavoring to compile this rundown, and be as thorough and accurate as possible, has turned out to be a fairly daunting and onerous task, and we now know why no one else has ever before attempted to undertake it. The folks who put together these shows — as great as they were at what they did — didn’t make this mission any easier, since they practically never identified any of these ladies on-air by name.
That said, we’ve laid the foundation for what we set out to achieve and consider this to be a work in progress. Where details in the individual listings below are sparse or absent, it’s only due to a lack of information upon which to draw.
Over the years, there were at least 75 women who at some point were part of The Golddiggers, The Dingaling Sisters and/or Dean’s Girls. Due to the limitations of time and the need to preserve some semblance of our sanity (or what’s left of it), our focus here has been trained on those performers who were members of the aforementioned groups between the years of 1965 and 1973, when The Dean Martin Show — and for a portion of that time, the various Golddiggers series — aired on a regular weekly basis.
These were the years during which these all-girl conglomerations reached the peak of their popularity and saw their most recognizable faces emerge. However, even with that concentration, we know that there are some faces that have been left out, and some shown about whom we would like to include more details.
Therefore, to anyone who was a member of The Golddiggers (1968 and beyond), The Dingaling Sisters (1970-1973), or one of Dean’s Girls (1965-1970): If you have not been included on this honor roll but would like to be, please contact us (see the Comments section).
Likewise, if you are listed below but wish to notify us of any errors or omissions about yourself or others that you’d like corrected; or inform us of any news about yourself that you’d like included; or if you’d like to submit a different photo or photos of yourself than the one or ones that we’ve used — again, please, by all means, contact us.
As updates to this list are made, we will call attention to them in (logically enough) the Updates section of this site, for quick and easy reference.
We’d like this site to serve as a comfortable and enjoyable environment for both the showcased performers who entertained millions and the fans whom they entertained, and the only way that it can be completely successful is if those to whom it pays homage are happy with the end result.
And should you like what you see, please feel free to post comments to that effect on our discussion board.
One of two British “birds” (as young women were popularly called in England back then) discovered by Lee Hale and choreographer Jonathan Lucas during their scouting trip abroad for Dean Martin’s 1970 summer replacement series The Golddiggers In London, Pauline proved to be one talented songbird with a very euphonic voice indeed. After the summer skein ended and she was invited to come to the U.S. to appear on the sixth season of The Dean Martin Show, she was often given solo parts to sing during the girls’ “Welcome To My World” medleys with Dean, imbuing beautiful chestnuts such as “But Beautiful” with her dulcet tones.
Golddigger: 1970-71ooDingaling Sister: 1970-71
The other English export to emerge from The Golddiggers In London, Wanda not only found a home in America when she traveled with The Golddiggers back to the States for the sixth season of The Dean Martin Show, but also found favor with the producers of the series, who chose her to be one-fourth of the new subsidiary group spun off from The Golddiggers — The Dingaling Sisters.
In addition to her vocal contributions, Wanda also played a part in contemporizing the look of The Golddiggers, bringing to the party a cool, refined air and chic, sophisticated beauty that seemed to capture the very essence of modern haute couture.
Dingaling Sister: 1972-73
This fetching blue-eyed blonde corker, hailing form the nation’s heartland in Omaha, Nebraska, was the last gal picked to be a Dingaling Sister before the quartet was finally disbanded after the 8th and next-to-last season of The Dean Martin Show. Though she didn’t join the series until the ’72-’73 term was already under way, once on board, Lindsay dove right in and distinguished herself as not only easy on the eyes, but also a first-rate performer.
It was talent honed over 15 years of ballet, jazz and tap dance instruction, eventuating in a degree in dance from the University of Utah. But the seeds of Lindsay’s career were actually sewn long before she was born. As she tells it:
“One of my personal favorite (experiences of being on Dean’s show) was getting to work with (guest star) Ginger Rogers. I was in heaven…My Mom had always wanted to grow up and be a dancer like Ginger Rogers. Since her parents couldn’t afford dance lessons during World War II, my Mom made sure I got dance lessons. I am so glad she did! I was able to get Ginger Rogers’ autograph for her as a way to say ‘Thanks Mom, for all your encouragement!’”
But the fact is that even after work on The Dean Martin Show came to an end, Lindsay’s show business résumé was just starting to fill up.
Right after handing in her Dingaling duds, she began rolling up a raft of acting credits in theatrical films and episodic TV series (see http://
www.imdb.com/name/nm0089194), culminating in her landing a part that would become the capstone of her career — that of Velda, foxy secretary to Mike Hammer, the tough-as-nails private eye created by Mickey Spillane, and in this updated ‘80s version, played by Stacy Keach.
Going from blonde to brunette, Lindsay first limned the role of Velda in the 1983 made-for-TV movie “More Than Murder”, then reprised it when Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer became a regular part of the CBS primetime lineup the following year. The series ran for about a year-and-a-half, then went off, but returned a year later with another TV movie and was back on the fall schedule in 1986 for one more season…followed by one last movie-of-the-week in 1989.
Since then, Lindsay has taken a few parts here and there, but these days, much of her attention is devoted to her husband, country singer and actor Mayf Nutter, and their three children. In that timeless expanse that is classic TV, though, Lindsay will always be remembered as Velda; and, naturally, for us, as the final Dingaling Sister.
And in real life, this onetime Super Password celebrity champion is one smart cookie…and couldn’t be a kinder, nicer person.
The eyes have it — or at least hers certainly did: shimmering, inviting, beguiling. How nice, then, that the rest of her made for such a vision of loveliness, as well. Jimmi first caught the eye of viewers on The Golddiggers’ syndicated series, in which she participated from the show’s start in Sept. 1971 right up to its finish in the spring of 1973.
As she noted in a letter to tvparty.com’s Golddiggers section, Jimmi’s post-Golddiggers life has included a record deal with Warner Bros., ownership of a nightclub, work in real estate, and her own talent agency, in addition to raising a family.
If the 1970-71 season of The Dean Martin Show marked the year in which The Golddiggers seemed to take on a younger, more contemporary look, then subsequent editions of the group often placed an even greater emphasis on youthful appearance, as reflected in the hiring of a performer like Karen Cavenaugh during the second and final season of The Golddiggers syndicated series. With her wide-eyed innocence, long wavy blonde tresses and girlish demeanor, Karen epitomized the 1970s’ evolving concept of female allure.
When Tanya DellaFave (see below) left The Golddiggers syndicated series to get married in the Spring of 1972, the producers of the show held open auditions for a replacement and the event was widely covered by the press, including a feature article in what was then the best-selling magazine in America, TV Guide. The winner of that competition was a fresh-faced ingénue by the name of Loyita Chapel, who was signed for what would turn out to be the final season (1972-73) of the syndie skein, and who would break ground as the first Hispanic Golddigger. After the show ended, Loyita racked up quite a few additional credits appearing on various TV series and in several motion pictures (see http://www.imdb.com/
name/nm0152118 for details).
There was Jackie O, and then there was “Oh, Jackie!” — the reaction that smitten admirers had every time they got a glimpse of this gorgeous, statuesque lass. A regally resplendent redhead from Stamford, Connecticut, Jackie signed on with The Golddiggers in 1969 and wound up with the record for longest continuous service with the group, doing two tours of summer duty (1969 and 1970), a full season of Dean’s show (1970-71), and then two more in syndication (1971-73), until the entire troupe decamped in the spring of 1973.
Whether donning an evening gown, a black cocktail dress or fringe and go-go-boots, Jackie always managed to look nothing less than graceful and elegant. No wonder it was she who was chosen to play the Ginger Rogers part in a segment of the regular sixth season feature “Everybody’s Got A Song”, dancing cheek-to-cheek with Dean, waltzing through the Fred Astaire role.
Joining The Golddiggers in time for the start of their second season in the summer of 1969, Paula Cinko was an outstanding addition to the group in more ways than one. While she may well have been the tallest Golddigger of all time, she also bucked the trend among most of her long-locked peers by sporting one of the shortest coiffures ever worn by a member of the group.
Large expressive eyes, a sunny voice that was often given a chance to shine in solo spots, and a sincere warmth and enthusiasm that easily came through the TV screen all gained this Akron, Ohio hometown girl further notice, and made Paula one of the most unforgettable parts of The Golddiggers ensemble.
She already had a fresh-scrubbed, apple-cheeked look about her upon her initiation into The Golddiggers in 1969, but when Rosie took to wearing her hair in pigtails during the 1970-71 season of Dean’s show, she grew even more darling. And that innocence, along with a penchant for burlesquing old-time Hollywood musical stars, were put to great effect, such as when she played Ruby Keeler to Dean’s Dick Powell, and Eleanor Powell opposite guest star Jimmy Stewart, re-creating his own role from the film Born To Dance, in different editions of the regular feature “Everybody’s Got A Little Song.”
But Rosie wasn’t all just sweetness and light; this native of San Bernardino, California also cut quite a figure dancing in the girls’ more up-tempo production numbers. And in the years since departing The Golddiggers in the spring of 1971, she’s carried her love and knowledge of dance, music and performing to its next logical step: imparting it to future generations, via the Center Stage Dance LA school that she founded and runs.
She looked like the girl next door (how many times have you heard that one before?), but in this case, it would apply only if the girl next door also just happened to look like Meredith MacRae. Still, this flaxen-haired cutie’s warmhearted smile and unaffected manner enabled her to display her considerable performing skills (and yet make it all look easy) to an appreciative audience during her year-long stay with The Golddiggers syndicated show.
Cathy Lee Crosby
Here’s a very familiar face to anyone who’s watched television since the early 1970s; and yet how many people are aware that Cathy Lee Crosby actually received her first big break in the entertainment business as one of the women chosen to be among the very first of Dean Martin’s Golddiggers?
But that was hardly her first taste of showbiz, having grown up in a household steeped in it: Her mother was actress Linda Hayes, and her father, Lou Crosby, a local TV host in Los Angeles and announcer for The Lawrence Welk Show.
So for Cathy, it was in the genes, but as with her two sisters, so was great athletic ability. Before the age of 21, she was already a professional tennis player, as well as a recreational skydiver, windsurfer, and swimmer.
Following her one season as a Golddigger, guest parts in episodic TV series began to come her way, and her athletic skills no doubt were taken into consideration when she was cast for a television movie/series pilot as a modern-day reimagining of classic comic book heroine Wonder Woman. No series ever came of that effort, and eventually, of course, the character was portrayed in classic form by Lynda Carter.
But Cathy would actually go on to experience far greater success on a weekly TV series when she became one of the co-hosts of That’s Incredible, an ABC-TV reality show that debuted in 1980, and spotlighted what Marv Albert might call “the wild and the wacky”. Audiences loved it; to critics, the most incredible aspect of it was that it lasted a full four years.
But for Cathy, it took a semi-recognizable actress and, for a time, catapulted her into the firmament of TV stardom — thus proving that there is not only life, but also potential fame and fortune, after being a Golddigger.
Even before she became a Golddigger, this Boston native had already made a guest appearance on a network prime-time series — one of a very different nature, but one that was also destined to become a classic. Just a few months prior to her joining the very first set of Golddiggers for their premiere summer excursion, Lezlie played the part of Drea (pictured below), one of several superior alien beings who attempt to hijack the Enterprise, on an episode of Star Trek entitled “By Any Other Name”.
Well, one look at Lezlie is all one would need to categorize her as a superior being, but her rendezvous in outer space with Captain Kirk and company was about as alien to how she’d be spending her summer with her fellow Golddiggers as one could imagine. And she obviously felt comfortable in the more grounded world of singing and dancing because she returned for a second year with the girls in 1969.
After that, it was back to guest roles on various TV series throughout the early-to-mid ‘70s, until she landed the regular role of Elizabeth Spaulding Marler, which she played from 1977 to 1981, on the CBS daytime soap opera The Guiding Light.
Dean’s Girl: 1968-70
Almost impossibly pretty, this crème de la blonde knockout, with a smoldering magnetism somewhat reminiscent of Noxema Shaving Cream babe Gunilla Knutson (“Take It Off…Take It ALL Off!”), became perhaps best known for running a similarly provocative line by Dean each week, when, during a game of Musical Questions in which the girls would engage in a little saucy lyrical repartee with the host, she would alluringly sashay up to Dino and announce: “I just had my whole body tattooed with a map of the United States” — to which Dean would reply with a few bars of something like “I’ve Got The Whole World In My Hands”.
Diane also frequently — and quite ably — filled the role of blonde bombshell in many of the show’s comedy sketches during her tenure as one of Dean’s Girls from 1968-70.
Golddigger: 1969-71ooDingaling Sister: 1970-73
Blessed with serene, ethereal beauty and a magnificent, highly versatile voice capable of tackling a wide range of singing styles, Michelle put all of her strengths to full use as one of the longest-running female regulars in the history of The Dean Martin Show.
As with many of her peers, her career was one for which she had years of preparation. Born in New York City and raised in Bergenfield, New Jersey, she studied music and dance from a very early age, with her mother, who had been a dancer and her father, who was a drummer (they met during a WWII USO show), seeing in their daughter the potential for her to follow in their footsteps.
And the promise was indeed fulfilled: Becoming a Copa Girl at New York’s famed Copacabana nightclub just a short time out of high school, the tall, sleek blonde journeyed West to become one of The Golddiggers in time for the 1969 summer series; repeated for The Golddiggers in London in 1970; and then, while remaining with the larger set of girls for the 1970-71 season of The Dean Martin Show, was anointed one of the first four Dingaling Sisters, and by virtue of her strong vocal abilities, the de facto lead.
When The Golddiggers landed their own series in syndication in the fall of 1971, Michelle was one of two (along with Tara Leigh) picked to remain in network primetime as a Dingaling Sister with Dean, a spot that she would hold down (save for a brief hiatus in the fall of 1972) until the Dingaling’s swan song in the spring of 1973.
In fact, the reason for Michelle’s short time away from Dean’s show in the last quarter of ’72 was that she was tapped by producer Greg Garrison for a fresh act to appear regularly on a new syndicated series that he was launching, The Wacky World of Jonathan Winters. An experienced performer with a powerful set of pipes, Michelle became one half of female duo The Soul Sisters, paired with Lonette McKee. Once those tapings were completed, Michelle rejoined the Dings for their final fling.
During the course of that last year on The Dean Martin Show, one of Michelle’s proudest moments came on an episode in which Dean himself introduced her as a solo artist.
In the years following Dean’s series, Michelle took on other gigs, including singing in the mid-‘70s on another of Greg Garrison’s vehicles, Music Country USA. And reinforcing her show business lineage, not just she, but her mom, as well, both had recurring roles on late ‘70s talk show send-up America 2 Night. Also of note, both Michelle and her former Dingaling Sister-in-arms Lynne Latham danced as Rockettes in the 1982 film version of the Broadway musical Annie.
However, the sector of the performing arts from which Michelle may have derived the greatest personal satisfaction is the legitimate theater, where she has illuminated the stage as an Equity actress in both straight plays and musicals. And to be sure, enjoyment of her work has been shared on both sides of the footlights, with Michelle earning critical plaudits for her many roles, including two of her favorites: those of real-life Holocaust survivor Fania Fenelon in Playing For Time and as the calculating (and entirely fictional) Claire Zachanassian in The Visit.
Even amidst all of this professional activity, Michelle still managed to start and raise a family. And within just the last year, she relaunched her singing career with the release of a self-made album entitled Cool Burn, and has a Gospel album set for release shortly (click here to go to the Goldmine section of this site for more information).
And while her high fashion looks might fool you into thinking that she’s aloof, rest assured that that’s not at all the case. This is one compassionate, outgoing and down-to-earth lady.
There was apparently no shortage of talent in the DellaFave family, as evidenced by the fact that Michelle’s kid sister Tanya also had what it took to become a Golddigger, joining the group as it made its leap into syndication in the fall of 1971.
Readily recognizable that season by her trademark pigtails, Tanya inherited a gift for singing very similar to her sister’s, and it can be heard in her lead vocals on two cuts on The Golddiggers: Today LP: “I Want Some Man To Give Me Some”, a number written especially for the girls by the legendary Peggy Lee; and “An A-Flat Cricket and A B-Flat Frog”.
When the latter tune was performed on TV during the first year of The Golddiggers syndie show, it was staged quite literally, with Tanya adorably clad in cricket costume, playing opposite that episode’s famous guest star, Ernest Borgnine, decked out in full frog regalia. It was a mini-musical reworking of the classic beauty and the beast tale, with Tanya infusing vivacity into — and living every inch up to — her part, and the Academy Award winner for Marty bringing wit and dignity to his.
Dingaling Sister: 1972-73
In picking two new Dingaling Sisters for the kickoff of the 1972-73 season, the producers of The Dean Martin Show, in step with the changing zeitgeist, decided to inject greater diversity into the composition of their female foursome by unveiling to America both the first African-American woman and the first Asian-American woman to be included in the regular cast, in the persons of Jayne Kennedy (see below) and Helen Funai, respectively.
The latter, blazing trails as the first Dino girl of Asian descent, was a petite dazzler who already had a long string of acting and dancing credits to her name, showing up in a number of motion pictures (including smash spy spoof Our Man Flint) and on other television series (including as a background dancer during Dean’s first season) — work that she continued to do post-Dingalings and right up through the end of the 1980s (see http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0298571 for a complete rundown).
Although Patty’s turn with The Golddiggers was relatively brief, her singing ability was such that her well-trained voice earned her several short solo spots during her time with the group on the first season of their syndicated series.
Interestingly, Patty’s very first public performance, at the age of 5, was an impromptu impression of Dinah Shore, delivered in the showroom window of the local Chevrolet dealer in Rahway, New Jersey — a showbiz start not without its elements of irony and destiny, since little could young Patty have then dreamt that within another 13 or 14 years, she’d be utilizing her vocal talents on a weekly television series sponsored by — as fate would have it — Chevrolet.
After parting ways with The Golddiggers, Patty returned to college (eventually even earning a law degree), but continued to sing in musical theater productions, madrigal choir and the like, and remains active in the field to this day, as a first soprano with the Truckee Community Chorus in California.
Dean’s Girl: 1968-69
The “little girl with the funny voice.” That’s how Dean described her when he surprised Jeri Jamerson during the fourth season final episode’s game of Musical Questions by giving her a touching sendoff, as she prepared to trade in her weekly spot as one of Dean’s Girls for wedded bliss.
We’re not sure how everything turned out for the groom and bride-to-be, who had earlier been one of the Tony Charmoli Dancers on Danny Kaye’s variety show and who, for some, invoked recollections of Judy Holliday (with whom Dean costarred in the 1960 hit film Bells Are Ringing), but we certainly hope that the happy couple lived happily ever after, and wound up, as Dean predicted, “raising a bunch of kids with funny voices.”
Rebecca was one of three new enrollees who matriculated during the fall semester of the syndicated Golddiggers sophomore season, and was there with the group when they called it a day in the spring of 1973.
Down the road, Rebecca put not only her singing experience, but also her classical training, to good use as Director of the Marin Theatre Company School of Theatre Arts in Mill Valley, California; and these days, she’s passing on her knowledge of her craft to younger generations through her own Rebecca Jones School of Vocal Arts in San Rafael, CA (http://www.
Dingaling Sister: 1971-72
Taffy was the only one of the four Dingaling Sisters to begin the 1971-72 season having never before worked on Dean’s show. But that hardly meant that she came unprepared for the job. She already had a long and impressive list of stage and vocal credits to her name, and once a member of Dean’s Dings, quickly demonstrated her formidable singing and dancing chops.
That she did it all from the very beginning with the aplomb of someone who had been a part of the series for years (even though her youthful prepossessing looks clearly betrayed that such was not the case) spoke volumes about her high degree of professionalism and training, as well as an obvious natural amiability.
Dean’s Girl: 1967-70
Mary Tyler Moore isn’t the only one who can turn the world on with her smile — so can this stunning gal, who did so, along with displaying her singing and dancing prowess, when she joined The Golddiggers on Dean’s show in the fall of 1970, and continued to do so for the rest of the ’70-’71 stanza, and for the next two seasons on the syndicated Golddiggers series.
What also particularly stood out about Liz for many viewers was the high degree of skill and exuberance that she brought to her terpsichorean presentation — little wonder, inasmuch she had begun dancing at the age of three, studied ballet, jazz, and modern dance while growing up, and by the time she was 17, was performing three solos each night with her idol, Gene Kelly, in his Las Vegas show — all prior to her even becoming one of The Golddiggers.
It should thus come as no surprise that in time, Liz would go on to become the founder of her own dance studio, based in her native Kansas City. And not only is the talent still there, but so’s the million dollar smile. For proof of both, check out her studio’s Website (http://dancestudio1.com/).
And by the way, there’s genuine kindness behind that smile: Liz (or Mz. Liz as she’s known these days to her students) also happens to be an exceptionally sweet and considerate person.
Dingaling Sister: 1972-73
Armed with the photogenic face of a model and the shapely figure of a centerfold, Jayne capitalized on her ability to turn heads, using it to break barriers: Crowned Miss Ohio USA in 1970 (the first African-American woman to win the title), she was one of the 10 semi-finalists in the 1970 Miss USA pageant at a time when faces of color were rarely seen in such contests.
That achievement led to her scoring another breakthrough: becoming the first African-American woman chosen to be a regular performer on The Dean Martin Show when she joined The Dingaling Sisters for the 1972-73 season.
But even more milestones lay ahead, when in 1978, she achieved her greatest renown in becoming one of the first women of any color to break the glass ceiling in sportscasting as one-third of the triumvirate that hosted The NFL Today on CBS in the late ’70s and early ’80s, along with Brent Musberger and Jimmy The Greek. During this period and beyond, she also took on acting roles in films and on TV, sometimes co-starring with her then-husband Leon Isaac Kennedy. And in July 1981, she commanded attention once again, this time as the first African-American actress to grace the cover of Playboy magazine.
Dingaling Sister: 1971-73
As glamorous as a movie star from any era, with dreamy eyes and soft, delicate features, Lynne first appeared on The Dean Martin Show as an occasional background singer-dancer during the 1969-70 season, but made her real splash lighting up the screen as one-fourth of the Dingaling Sisters, who breathed fresh life into The Dean Martin Show during the 1971-72 and 1972-73 seasons.
It was during that period that the old Musical Questions segment, popular on the series from 1968-70, was revived in the updated form of the “Dingaling World” Q&A, and it was Lynne who was given the chance each time out to deliver the line that had previously belonged to Diane Davis: “I just had my whole body tattooed with a map of the United States.” Lynne’s rendition mixed a little mild bawdiness with camp, as she pulled off a pretty faithful Mae West imitation in the process; but her singing voice was no joke: Lee Hale, in Backstage at The Dean Martin Show, compared it to that of torch singer Julie London.
Lynne reupped with the Dingalings for the first half of the 1972-73 season, then went on to other pursuits — her current one, we understand, being interior design. Not long ago, we came across Lynne on the Internet (where else?!), and found that in the years following her Dingaling days, she had actually amassed quite a litany of credits both in and out of the entertainment business. To see for yourself, check out: http://jeff.zaadz.com/blog/2006/4/synchronistic_friendship
Dean’s Girl: 1966-70
For Diana, working on The Dean Martin Show really was a family affair. Not only was she a member of the series’ choir — a select group of four male and four female vocalists who, under the direction of Jack Halloran, supplied all of the rich background vocals for the show’s musical numbers — but so was her then-husband, Jerry Whitman. In fact, Diana was practically raised in the recording studio, as the daughter of renowned session singer Bill Lee.
On Dean’s show, Diana not only contributed behind the scenes but right out front, as well, in both the larger on-camera chorus and as a charter member of the original “Dean’s Girls”, the trio in which she harmonized with fellow warblers Melissa Stafford and Julie Rinker. Attractive enough to stand shoulder to shoulder with any of her cohorts, Diana nevertheless always had a sensible, grounded quality about her that suggested that if you were ever lucky enough to go out on a date with her, she would call all of the shots.
Both during and after her run on The Dean Martin Show, this silky-voiced singer’s singer kept busy doing plenty of studio recording. In 1973, she and husband Jerry Whitman dubbed the singing parts of Liv Ullmann and Peter Finch for the both the big-screen musical version of Lost Horizon and the accompanying soundtrack, and they also made several other records together, including Songs from Sesame Street 2 and Songs from the Electric Company TV Show for Disney. (To learn more about not only Diana and Jerry’s work for the Mouse House’s audio wing, but also, the history of the Magic Kingdom’s record label, see Tim Hollis and Greg Ehrbar’s fascinating tome, Mouse Tracks: The Story of Walt Disney Records.)
On her own, Diana provided the singing voice for Samantha Eggar in the original film adaptation of Doctor Dolittle (1967), and lent her vocals to one of the supporting actresses in 1971’s Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, in addition to similar work on a cavalcade of other motion picture and television projects.
And, as one might expect, she also enhanced numerous studio recordings, with she and Jerry even stepping into the foreground to join no less than Frank Sinatra on the song “What Time Does the Next Miracle Leave?”, which can be found on Ol’ Blue Eyes’ 3-disc Trilogy album.
Golddigger: 1970-71ooDingaling Sister: 1970-73
Words such as lovely must have been invented to describe someone like Tara. Remembered and adored for both her exquisitely sweet visage and fine operatic soprano, this raven-haired angel was one of the all-time most popular female regulars on Dean’s series, from her start as a Golddigger in the summer of 1970 to her selection as one of the inaugural set of Dingaling Sisters, the foursome with which she stayed through early 1973.
During their medleys together each week, all of the girls would gather around Dean and fawn over him, but no one seemed to do so with more passion, affection and conviction than Tara. And there has likely never been anyone in the history of show business as good at holding a smile (and what a smile!) while singing and dancing as she.
She was also capable of quite credible impressions of musical stars of yore, as when she voiced Kathryn Grayson, opposite Dom DeLuise’s Howard Keel, in a parody of one of the famous screen team’s classic duets, “So In Love” from Kiss Me Kate.
Although most of her legion of fans from The Dean Martin Show may be unaware of it, in the early ‘80s, Tara resurfaced for a time under the name Renee Anderson (perhaps her real name?) as a running character on the ABC daytime soap opera General Hospital, playing the love interest of star Anthony Geary.
She’s originally from Whittier, California; but where Tara is today, no one is quite certain. She herself said in an interview back in 2001 that she had been working for some time in the industry on the other side of the camera. But then, a number of listings in the Internet Movie Database seem to point to a recent resurgence of ON-camera work. Well, wherever she is or whatever she’s doing, her years on The Dean Martin Show ensure that she will remain forever in our hearts.
Golddigger: 1968-73ooDingaling Sister: 1970-71
They don’t come any cuter than this little blue-eyed, auburn-haired living doll, yet she still managed to project plenty of sex appeal, and that dichotomy may help to explain why Houston, Texas’ own Susan Lund (née Susan McIver) rapidly grew to be a fan favorite shortly after joining The Golddiggers in the fall of 1968, and why she was still with the group five years later, when it broke up in early 1973.
Along the way, that popularity also accounted, no doubt, for her being chosen as one of the four original Dingaling Sisters. But a Golddigger she was destined to remain, staying with the larger outfit as it made the move to syndication in the fall of 1971.
In her next act following her years with The Golddiggers, Susie took on guest parts on a number of different television series and also appeared in several movies, both theatrical and made-for-TV (see http://www.imdb
In more recent years, she has managed the career of her son Blake McIver Ewing, an actor who first followed his mom’s footsteps into show business by winning a Junior Star Search competition at the age of six, and has since gone on to accumulate a lengthy list of credits of his own (see http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0263945)
This native of Boston, Mass. was in the starting lineup of The Golddiggers team that played London during the summer of 1970, and although she returned in the fall for The Dean Martin Show but left the game early after the first few innings, Micki has hardly just sat on the bench for all of these years. In fact, one of our crack scouting agents managed to find her in 2007 (on the Internet, of course), going to bat (under the name Raynee Ashman Steele, given to her by her manager) on behalf of a line of skin rejuvenation products that she created — and she herself may represent the best proof of their effectiveness, because her beauty still scores a home run. From the fountain of youth, here’s the pitch: http://www.cantron.com/html/ youth.html.
Luminous green eyes, long dark hair, lustrous, pouty lips, sultry, leonine moves — all accurate descriptions of this Texas native, but the fact is that Francie also sounded every bit as good as she looked.
Little wonder, then, that she was frequently called upon to solo during her time with The Golddiggers from the Fall of 1970 to the Spring of 1973. Her lead vocals can be heard in living stereo on three songs featured on The Golddiggers: Today album, running the gamut from soft, reflective ballads (“Last Summer” and “Cloud Hill”) to her bewitching take on the fiery “Man With A Problem”.
She came from a theatrical background, and for many years, continuing right up to the present, Francie has remained very active in show business, starring in regional theater productions. She also has a terrific flair for narrative, as borne out by her authorship of a very amusing, entertaining and well-written piece on the portion of tvparty.com’s site devoted to the Golddiggers, in which she recounts some of her experiences with the group and working with Dean (http://www.tvparty.com/golddiggers2.html). For Golddiggers and Dean Martin fans, it’s a must-read.
Taking her place with The Golddiggers just after the 1969 summer series had wrapped, Pat arrived in time to participate in both the 1969-70 season of The Dean Martin Show and the making of the girls’ Christmas album. She then journeyed with the group to London for the 1970 summer skein and reupped for the ’70-’71 season of Dean’s weekly get-together.
Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Pat, during her time as one of The Golddiggers, managed to catch the eye of quite a few admirers — and not all of them just on the other side of the TV screen. On at least one occasion, when Pat and Dean were seated next to each other for the “Welcome To My World” segment, they both seemed to be smiling like a pair of Cheshire cats. Hmmm…For one possible explanation, see page 104 in Lee Hale’s Backstage at The Dean Martin Show!
Dean’s Girl: 1966-70
One of two female regulars on the series (the other having been Larri Thomas — see below) to appear with Dean not only on the small screen, but the big one, as well, Margie had a small part in the 1966 flick The Silencers, Dean’s first romp as secret agent Matt Helm and his answer to Sean Connery’s James Bond and James Coburn’s Derek Flint.
For Margie, cast in the film in the role of pin-up, there was little more to do than look decorous and say “cheese” while Matt snapped pictures of her for his “Slaygirls” calendar (you see, after retiring from the spy game and before returning to it, Matt had become a photographer — this was the mid-60s, after all).
But Margie enjoyed far greater visibility on Dean’s TV show than she did in The Silencers, being one of the most frequently seen regular female performers in dance numbers, comedy skits and in the Musical Questions segment that aired during the 1968-69 and 1969-70 seasons. And audiences, as well as Dean and his crew, obviously liked having her around, since she stayed with the series for a good four-year stretch.
Just out and out ravishing, Nancy was with The Golddiggers for only the first season (1971-72) of their syndicated series — not nearly long enough for viewers who had rapidly taken a shine to her, but just enough time for her to have left an indelible impression that lingers to this day.
Dean’s Girl: 1967-68
With her fluid, feminine voice, sassy good looks, and short, fashionable Twiggy hairstyle, Julie Rinker apparently seemed like just the right choice to round out The Dean Martin Show’s first female “supergroup” — the trinity comprising Julie, Melissa Stafford and Diana Lee that was the first set of ladies to be known officially as “Dean’s Girls”.
Julie also provided background vocals on a number of record albums in the ‘60s and ‘70s, including Frank Sinatra’s 3-disc Trilogy, on which fellow “Dean’s Girl” Diana Lee also sang.
But even if you never heard her on the latter recording — indeed, even if you never watched a single episode of The Dean Martin Show on which she appeared — odds are that you’ve still heard Julie Rinker sing — and numerous times, at that!
You see, a few years after The Dean Martin Show ended and long after Julie had left it, she provided the female vocals on a little ditty that could hardly have escaped anyone’s notice: the theme song to the hit TV series Three’s Company.
That’s right — that’s Julie’s voice that you hear, singing alongside Ray Charles (no, not the iconic R&B singer, but the man known in show business circles as the other Ray Charles — the veteran composer, arranger and conductor whose Ray Charles Singers were featured on over 30 choral albums and backed Perry Como and other stars on scores of records and radio and TV programs).
But for both Ray and Julie Rinker, their best remembered contribution to the musical lexicon may well be the catchy refrain that begins with “Come And Knock On Our Door.” Honestly, you didn’t really think that that was John Ritter and Suzanne Sommers singing those lyrics, did you?!
Dean’s Girl: 1966-74
Cross the ingenuous radiance of Marilyn Monroe with the spunky All-American appeal of Katie Couric, then throw in a gift for vocalizing, and the result would probably be someone like Melissa Stafford. This perky bundle of energy, joy and talent holds the distinction of having served on The Dean Martin Show longer than any other regular female performer.
Introduced to the series’ producer, Greg Garrison, by the show’s protean musical director, Lee Hale, who had worked with her previously, Melissa so impressed her new boss that for Dean’s first summer replacement series in 1966, Greg assigned her the honor of opening the show each week.
Returning to the main series in the fall of 1966 as a regular member of the chorus, she demonstrated such on-camera presence that she was given another chance to shine during the third season [1967-68] in spotlight segments as one of the first three performers to be officially dubbed “Dean’s Girls”.
Although the sixth season (1970-71), during which she was frequently seated to Dean’s right for the acclaimed “Welcome To My World” medleys, would be the last one in which she would appear regularly on the program, Melissa would stay with the show for the remainder of its run (through 1974), attending, as she had already been doing for several years, to many behind-the-scenes tasks, including: filling in for guest stars during run-throughs; overdubbing the vocals of other singers, including at least one or two big-name guest stars; and recording the female singing parts for the cassette tapes that Dean would be given for off-set listening to familiarize himself with the musical sequences in which he’d be involved (since his contract famously stipulated his right to skip rehearsals). And every now and then, she’d even pop up again on screen.
Despite her obvious good looks and talent, Melissa was portrayed by Lee Hale, in his book Backstage at the Dean Martin Show, as a self-possessed professional, utterly devoid of ego and affectation — and someone whom Greg Garrison considered (along with the doyenne of the show’s choir, Loulie Jean Norman), to be his good luck charm. To this day, Melissa continues to keep busy in the industry, supplying background vocals for records, commercials, television programs and the like.
Dean’s Girl: 1965-68
Of all the ladies who ever appeared regularly on The Dean Martin Show, she was one of the few — indeed, perhaps the only one — with whom Dean had actually crossed paths before the series started. The fact is that by the time Larri Thomas became a familiar presence on Dean’s show during its first season on the air in 1965, she already had years of experience as a much-in-demand Hollywood chorus girl.
Tall, blonde and leggy, she fit the part to a tee, and from the early ‘50s on, played it in numerous motion pictures (including Guys and Dolls) and on just as many TV series (among them, The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour).
She did have bit roles in big films such as South Pacific and The Music Man playing characters other than a dancer, but the latter was certainly her forte, and she milked the persona both on-screen and off for all that it was worth — including in the gossip columns, where she was frequently linked romantically with various figures in the entertainment and sports worlds (for more details, see both http://www.glamourgirlsofthesilver
screen.com/show/326/Larri+Thomas/index.html and http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0859129/)
Her first encounter with Dean (at least professionally, so far as we know) was on the set of the 1964 Rat Pack movie Robin and The 7 Hoods, cast as — you guessed it — a dancer (she would be one again in Dean’s 1966 Matt Helm adventure, The Silencers). So it was a natural fit for both her and Dean’s weekly Thursday night bash when she joined the festivities in 1965 in a capacity that had become her specialty.
And on Dean’s show, she not only high-stepped with her fellow hoofers, but frequently stepped out of the chorus line to appear alongside Dean in songs and sketches, with the script often calling for the two to fall into one another’s arms, and sometimes into a clinch.
But to her credit, Larri didn’t remain forever pigeonholed in the showgirl role. In 1972, she shed her glamour girl image (at least outwardly) and donned an animal costume to play soft-spoken Southern belle Henrietta Hippo on the award-winning children’s show New Zoo Revue. And in later years, she wasn’t afraid to tackle older characters, parodying her own longtime stereotype as an over-the-hill dancer in the 1988 filmic farce Earth Girls Are Easy; and then playing a more mature woman on a 1993 episode of the ABC series Coach.
Thirteen proved to be a lucky number for The Golddiggers, when, at an open call audition in 1969, producer Greg Garrison made the on-the-spot decision to hire Los Angeles-born-and-bred Sheryl Ullman, thus extending the 12-member Golddiggers squad to a baker’s dozen. Being selected for that elite troupe represented a major accomplishment for any aspiring female singer-dancer, but stood as an especially triumphant one for Sheryl, who had dealt with polio as a child.
In fact, her job with The Golddiggers was at least as challenging as that of any of her colleagues, if not more so — for one of Sheryl’s assignments was to understudy all of the other girls and learn their individual parts, filling in if one took ill, or another had the night off.
And juggling all of those parts kept her very much front and center in The Golddiggers lineup, as she sang and danced with the group on the fifth season of The Dean Martin Show, accompanied them on the road to Vegas and other destinations, and traveled with them for Bob Hope‘s 1969 USO Christmas tour, during which she roomed with someone who remains a friend to this day, Michelle DellaFave.
For Sheryl, balancing the demands of an artistically-inspired life was a skill learned at a very young age. Already taking piano lessons by the time she was four, she was giving recitals in her teen years. And it was while attending classes as a freshman at UCLA that she was spotted by veteran film director Norman Taurog, who signed her to appear in three big-screen Elvis Presley vehicles in a row: Spinout (1966), Double Trouble (1967), and Speedway (1968) (notably, years earlier, Taurog had helmed a number of Martin and Lewis pictures).
During the mid-’60s, Sheryl also gained exposure in TV commercials and on prime-time programs, including a gig coveted by many starlets of the day — playing a contestant on the nighttime edition of ABC’s The Dating Game. The lucky bachelor who won her over on that episode happened to be Michael Reagan, the adopted son of California’s then-Governor (and needless to add, later the 40th President of the United States), Ronald Reagan.
On top of the usual large audience that the show’s matchmaking always drew, this particular pairing gained extra coverage, due to its being chosen by TV Guide to illustrate a typical Dating Game outing. “When Cinderella Meets Prince Charming…” read the article’s title. And though the story indicated that both had fun but didn’t seem too inclined to pursue the relationship any further, a more durable fairy-tale romance ultimately blossomed between Sheryl and Ed Scharlach, a writer for Dean’s show, as well as The Golddiggers’ summer series, and the stepson of Dean’s longtime head writer, Harry Crane (of whom Sheryl was very fond and with whom she’s pictured below).
Sheryl and Ed were married for more than a decade, and while eventually going their separate ways, they remain friends to this day.
Even after leaving The Golddiggers, Sheryl continued to multitask, guest starring on Love American Style, Happy Days, Mork and Mindy, The White Shadow and other tube fare, while earning a B.A. in English Literature and a Master’s degree in Psychology. With the personal approval of Stephen Sondheim, she played Countess Charlotte in a Hollywood production of A Little Night Music. And in the ’80s, she branched out into writing freelance pieces for a variety of publications, including The Los Angeles Times.
These days, she not only keeps a hand in the entertainment field, but is also a certified dog and cat trainer, doing business under a name that’s about as clever as any that one could imagine for such an enterprise — Bonefido! And whether it involves pets or people, Sheryl is one caring soul who strives for harmony among all.
While we don’t know for certain, its seems a pretty safe bet that strawberry blonde sweetheart (later turned redhead) Janice had a fair amount of classical dance training in her background, because when Francie Mendenhall sang the tender Lee Hale/Geoff Clarkson-penned ballad “Cloud Hill” on The Golddiggers syndicated show, it was Janice who was handpicked to perform a solo balletic accompaniment, which she executed with tremendous grace and sensitivity.
But make no mistake: During her two years with the troupe, first on Dean’s show (1970-71) and then on the first year of the syndie series (1971-72), Janice was every bit as much at home warbling and shimmying to jaunty numbers like the girls’ 1971 signature ditty, “Gimme Dat Ding”, a novelty song that had been a Top 10 sleeper and one-hit wonder the previous year for pop group The Pipkins (but in retrospect, it’s the Golddiggers’ version that better stands the test of time).
Dean’s Girl: Never
Golddigger: Are You Kidding?
Dingaling Sister: Not On Your Life!
Sometimes referred to as the “The Missing Golddigger” (and also “The Missing Link”), Gladys used to delight Dean, the other girls, the producers and audiences alike each week — by not showing up! These days, when not concussing lecherous old men over the head with her leaden pocketbook, she passes her time playing solitaire, turning off the lights and listening to old Rudy Vallee records, screaming at the wind, howling at the moon, and throwing darts at pictures of The Golddiggers.
But seriously, Ruth Buzzi, who made us all laugh playing Gladys Ormphby — but who in real life is nothing like her — gave us many hours of viewing pleasure over the years, both on Dean’s show and on Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, and we thank and salute her for her comic mastery and for being such a good sport.