By Betty Slade
For years, I built up in my mind that I wanted to attend a Broadway show. It was always on my “Bucket List” of things to do. That is, until I met the tall man with the soft walk whose smile lit up the room.
I crossed 42nd Street off my list around at the same time I met this man who cut his teeth performing on stage. I told him that I wanted to know more about his life. From there, the house lights faded, the orchestra began its overture and a million stories poured into me as the curtain lifted.
Lynn Michael Anthony is a name that only a laminated backstage pass could contain. He was modeling at the age of 2 1/2 before he could even talk. His first choreography? Pointing when the photographer said, “Say cheese!”
Flip through a Spiegel, Neiman’s, Big Chief or Austrian Bushman magazine and there he was. Left cheek exposed, smiling in his Sleepies pajamas.
He eventually traded one stage for another and found himself performing for Tennessee Williams. Next, he would be counted among the stars in “The Unsinkable Molly Brown.”
At the age of 8, he was acting in the Old Alley Theater in Houston, Texas, lauded by the Houston Press.
Anthony describes himself as the one with olive skin and blond hair who got to experience the best and worst in life. As a Spaniard Jewish Italian, he was introduced to prejudice at a very young age. The personal assistant in a ’52 gold Rolls Royce that picked him up at school to take him to a set probably added to the taunts.
After college, he moved from Texas to California and worked with familiar names such as Doris Day, Donna Mills and Mary Martin’s son, Larry Hagman. Lynn gushed as he recounted story after story. His favorites were the “Old Broads,” Kay Ballard, Ann Southern and Joan Blondell.
I felt like my leather flats had been lifted en pointe. I was sitting with someone who toured as a primary dancer next to Carol Channing in “Hello Dolly.” And if that wasn’t impressive enough, he also worked with Carol Burnett in “Once Upon a Mattress,” and with Lucille Ball in “Mame.” When he wasn’t touring or in residence, he took side work at places like Zebra Lounge in the Fairmount, in San Francisco. That was where he met Ginger Rogers.
Coming from someone who was there, I felt like I had a front-row seat to the best of the stage and screen. This would have been a fantasy for anyone to experience. For Anthony, it was all part of where he found himself.
“I never wanted fame, I just wanted to perform and have fun.”
He said that his ankles were so small, he could wear a watch around one. Just for laughs, when someone asked him the time, he lifted his leg straight up in the air and told them.
He credits his love of life to his grandmother who, he said, “Showed him the world.”
That is probably what led him to do it all, even to take on work as a hair designer for the Ice Capades.
I had to ask, “Do you miss it?”
“I’m not missing a thing. Now I get to support Thingamajig Theater and Curtains Up Pagosa. Outside of the Broadway big ones, I think the productions in Pagosa are just as good as anything I’ve been involved with.”
Anthony told me that he lives by his own mantra, “Open a new window every day and experience the zest of life.” As for learning how to deal with the prejudice he had to live with, he said, “Always consider the source.”
Final brushstroke: A new window was opened for me the day I sat with Anthony. I felt like I had been whisked away and entertained in a velvet-draped hall. Who knew our Pagosa boasted such life. As for my Bucket List, “I’m not missing a thing.”
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Artist’s Lane: Broadway in Pagosa
By Betty Slade