Columbia College, Columbia, Missouri
November 9-11, 2007
A group of Froman fans hosted the Jane Froman Centennial Weekend in Jane's hometown of Columbia, Missouri, to commemorate what would have been Jane's 100th birthday on Nov. 10, 2007. This is a report of the events from some who were there...
STARTING OUT - ON TV!
Four of us went to the television station but only three could appear, due to the size of the set. It was decided that Bobbie, Win and Babs should go on because they were original Fromanettes. However, it was a tough call because Joyce Liskin (nee Lasky) has certainly become an honorary Fromanette over the last two years and good naturedly rooted us on while we awaited the start of the show.
Paul wanted to know the story of the beginning of the Fromanettes – how we had met Jane, what drew us to her, and how we had gotten so close to her. He asked about Jane’s early history as a performer and spoke with Bobbie about her new biography of Jane. For much of the show, photos that are posted in the gallery section of our web site at www.janefroman.com were shown on the screen – the presentation was beautifully done. Finally, he reviewed all of the events of the coming Centennial weekend and wished us great success.
I believe that the official kickoff of the Centennial Celebration was a roundtable discussion held in Windsor Auditorium at Stephens College on Friday, November 9th, at 2:00 P.M. Ellen Friedman moderated and asked questions of Robert Paulson, Joyce Liskin, and Carol Peck. Robert Paulson, a World War II vet, drove Jane around France when she was overseas entertaining the troops in 1945. Joyce Liskin was one of Jane's secretaries. I represented Jane's fans. Ellen asked questions of the panel members and then panel members answered questions from the audience. I had not read Bobbie's book at the time of the roundtable, so one of the things I learned for the first time that day was that the camps entertainers visited then were all named after brands of cigarettes. Robert Paulson also said that Jane sometimes sang from a wheel chair. One of the things Joyce Liskin talked about was how happy Jane was when Peter Birch taught her to dance with him. It gave Jane back something she thought she had lost.
BIRTHDAY PARTY FOR JANE AT ELLIS LIBRARY
The birthday party kickoff for the Jane Froman Centennial celebration was held on Friday, November 9th at the Western Historical Manuscript Collection at the University of Missouri-Columbia campus. A birthday cake with a photo image of Jane was provided for the occasion, along with Jane's music.
Those attending were members of the Jane Froman Fan Club, their guests and friends, along with David Moore and the WHMC staff and friends.The event provided a unique opportunity to learn more about Jane from those who knew her, and to learn more about the times in which she lived.
The United States Postal Service issued a Jane Froman Centennial Pictorial Postmark to honor Jane and to commemorate her centennial at the “Jane Froman Centennial Station” which was set up and serviced by U.S. postal employees on November 10th at the Boone County Historical Society from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mail (such as Centennial Postcards or even Christmas card envelopes with first-class postage) was submitted and hand canceled with this commemorative pictorial postmark for future mailings or just for remembrance of Jane’s special birthday.
The postmark, which also appeared in the United States Postal Bulletin issued on November 8, 2007, actually became the property of the U.S. Post Office, but was available for 30 days to collectors from all over the world via the Columbia Post Office. Although it is no longer available, it may still be viewed at the USPS web site. Anyone interested in seeing the Jane Froman pictorial postmark may go to:
Site map (lower left)
Help - Postal Bulletins
Under View Previous Issues – Click on 2007 Issues
Click on HTML of the 11-8-07 Postal Bulletin Issue
Go to the Information Desk (on left), Philately,
Pictorial Postmarks Announcement (then Click)
Scan down to view the Jane Froman Centennial
Carol Stess & Joan Grandi
THE JANE FROMAN CENTENNIAL FILM & VIDEO FESTIVAL
On Saturday, fans were able to spend a full day at the Boone County Historical Museum Film and Video Festival viewing Jane’s appearances in movies and on television. These began with her very first screen appearance in Kissing Time (1933) and clips from her two Hollywood movies, Stars Over Broadway (1935) and Radio City Revels (1938). Videos of her appearances on television included six episodes of her own CBS television show USA Canteen/The Jane Froman Show, as well as numerous guest appearances on the Voice of Firestone, the Paul Whiteman Show, Toast of the Town/the Ed Sullivan Show, the Buick Berle Show, the Jimmy Durante 25th Anniversary Show, the Arthur Murray Dance Party and What’s My Line.
All of these videos are in the archives at the Boone County Historical Museum and/or Western Historical Manuscripts Collection at the University of Missouri and can be seen by fans anytime by prior arrangement. The festival also included two new videos which were limited to showings at the Centennial: The Orchid Award Show and the only currently available color footage of Jane from the Bell Telephone Hour of 1960. Historian Elizabeth Kennedy provided a surprise, complimentary lunch for festival attendees.
On Saturday, November 10, several members of the Jane Froman Fan Club were interviewed by members of WHMC. Many wonderful stories were told of their experiences with Jane and the Fan Club, and WHMC staff had the opportunity to learn still more about Jane. Dennis did video interviews with Robert Easton and Bob Paulson. The latter was particularly emotional as Paulson recalled difficult war experiences.
CENTENNIAL CONCERT TRIBUTE TO JANE
Saturday night was the big centennial concert, sponsored by Columbia College. It also took place in Launer auditorium. The setup on the stage was simple: musical instruments were on the right, and a table with a photo of Jane and flowers were on the left, in the spotlight. The room went dark, it got quiet, and Jane's voice filled the room, singing "My Shining Hour."
Then Valerie Lemon did her popular show, "The Jane Froman Songbook," the personal tribute to Jane that has been presented in New York for the last two years, but this time featuring the famous Jane Froman Singers under Nollie Moore's direction. The singers were lined up at the back of the stage in a double row, seated, and Val came out in a beige gown with a strapless top and a full skirt and long satin gloves, very much in Jane's style. Her accompanists were a pianist and bass player. Valerie added "St. Louis Blues" for the Missouri audience. It was quite moving, and this audience loved it. Lots of eyes were moist.
RECEPTION - MISSOURI HALL
Following Valerie’s concert Columbia College held a reception in Missouri Hall to which we were all invited. We all attended a lovely dinner preceding the concert and were invited to have desert following the concert. Columbia College did a lovely job catering this reception. Missouri Hall looked very elegant and there were hors d’oeuvres passed around. To celebrate Jane’s centennial they had a beautiful display of birthday cakes in different shapes and sizes. The cakes were decorated beautifully.
Valerie Lemon also attended the reception and many of the guests congratulated her, asked for autographs and posed with her for pictures. It was a most elegant and enjoyable event to end a wonderful evening.
AUTHORS' PANEL DISCUSSION
Two big tables of people met at Les Bourgeois winery in Rocheport for lunch on Sunday. The weather was gorgeous - so nice that we sat outside while waiting for all the group to arrive. A trip to the winery is a tradition for this group. Some people left the winery afterward and headed home, but most of us went to Columbia College for the Authors Panel Discussion which started at 2:00 P.M. in Dorsey Chapel.
Barbara Seuling and Ilene Stone each talked about their books on Jane. Ilene was a history professor and wrote her book having done historical research and interviews. Bobbie, a children's book author, became interested in Jane as a teenager and wrote about someone she knew and loved. Both authors have taught classes, so they were very easy to hear, articulate and comfortable answering questions from the audience. I saw and met two Columbia residents who became interested in Jane after attending other Centennial Celebration activities. They bought both books and asked questions. The repartee between the two authors was fun for all. I found the whole discussion very interesting.
We wanted to have the Centennial weekend conclude with some music on Sunday, November 11. Through Kathy Casteel at the Columbia Missourian we were directed to Ken LaZebnik, former Dean at Stephens College, and now screen writer and playwright. We asked him about getting some musical talent, and he told us about the Velvetones, a a jazz-oriented group of young woman who sing primarily a cappella -- from Stephens College. We contacted their director, Pamela Ellsworth-Smith, who very quickly consulted with the singers and got back to us telling us they would be happy to perform. The group has a very nice sound, indeed, and they did a splendid job of finishing off the weekend in great style.
The last event was dinner at the Longhorn Steakhouse. I don't know how many people were there, but I know the table was so long that Ilene called Babs on her cell phone to talk to her. After dinner, out in the parking lot Babs opened the trunk of her car and people bought postcards, stamps, and CDs. It was fun and kept people from being sad about this special weekend coming to an end.
Long before we arrived in Columbia, we had alerted radio hosts to play more of Jane’s music, which many of them did, and we hounded publishers to listen to the story behind Jane and her fans. We wrote about it for anyone who wanted to hear it. I finished up my book. Deena’s article, “Aunt Jane and the Fromanettes,” was published online in Reminisce’s June 2007 newsletter. Bibs (Barbara Manzo) had her article, “The Song In Our Hearts,” published in the October 2007 issue of Missouri Life, and Cabaret Scenes published “Gifts from Jane” by Valerie Lemon.
As we approached the centennial date, Sara Agnew of the Columbia Daily Tribune heard about us and bumped another story to feature the centennial and the fans who had made it happen. We found ourselves on the front page of their Sunday magazine section, Ovation, complete with photos continuing the coverage with a biographical sketch of Jane and the program of events for the weekend. Kathy Casteel’s article about the centennial and Jane’s fans appeared in Inside Columbia Magazine and Mid-Missouri Mature Living’s November 2007 issue. and on Thursday, November 8th, the Missourian ran another front page feature about the celebration for Jane. Carol Peck was interviewed at her motel by Dan Claxton from KFRU talk radio while she was in Columbia for the Centennial.
The topping on the cake was on Thanksgiving Day, when columnist Liz Smith included a paragraph about Jane’s centennial and her devoted fans in her popular syndicated column. She even mentioned my book!
In all, it was a grand success, and we are still living in the afterglow a bit. We sent out
thank you notes and souvenirs to our honorary members and those who had helped us mount
our celebration. We heard from some of them, too. As time goes by, we will put up as many of the notes and letters that came to us from people, in show business and out, who admired Jane
and had something to say or did their part to celebrate her centennial. We thank you, too, the devoted fans who continue to play Jane’s music and keep her memory alive.
The Jane Froman Centennial Committee
* * *
Many thanks for the hard work of all the members of the centennial planning committee:
Bob Beck, Barbara Buoncristiano, Bonnie Brouder, Miriam Charlow, Jane Crow, Diane Dagley, Sheldon Duchin, Ellen Friedman, Mark Fuller, Winnette Glasgow (Win), Joann Grandi, John Hugh, Carol Kennedy, Liz Kennedy, John Konzal, Barbara Manzo, Deena Meiner, Carol Peck, Diane Pollock, Barbara Seuling (Bobbie), Carol Stess, Ilene Stone, Beverly Wilcox
Updated October, 2008
A group of us winged into Kansas City from New York on Thursday afternoon, November 8, the day before the start of the long-planned for Jane Froman Centennial Celebration. On our plane were Bobbie Seuling, Win Glasgow, Bobbie’s brother and sister-in-law (Dennis & Susan Seuling), Joyce Liskin and me. We awaited the arrival of actor Robert Easton who was coming in from Los Angeles and connected with him quite easily. Without wanting to sound like a commercial, we have to say that Midwest Airlines, our air carrier of choice, was marvelous (perfect flight, good food, gracious flight stewards and delicious warm chocolate chip cookies).
We had reserved two vehicles for the drive to Columbia. Joyce and Babs, who had gotten the name of a hair salon from one of our Columbia College angels, raced to get their hair done since there would be no time in the morning. Bobbie, Win, Joyce and Babs were meeting Jonna Wiseman, General Manager of KWWC-FM radio at Stephens College at 7:15 a.m. Jonna, who is a talented radio personality, actor and teacher, had arranged, months earlier, for us to appear on “Pepper & Friends”, on NBC affiliate KOMU Friday morning, November 9.
The New York Crew, Win, Bobbie, Joyce (standing), Dennis, Susan and Babs, at breakfast with our angel Jonna (far left) before the TV show, "Pepper & Friends"
Jane Froman Centennial
Mary Jean Eisenhower
Mrs. Sid Feller
Following a discussion of the show and the coming weekend at breakfast, Jonna led us to the television station where we met Paul Pepper, host of a talk-variety show. Paul Pepper turned out to be a warm, congenial and charming man. Prior to going on the air, we got into a wonderful conversation with him where he gave us an overview of the show and reviewed what we would talk about. He told us had met Jane following her retirement at a local telethon and it was clear from the conversation that Paul liked and admired Jane very much, which made our appearance much more relaxed.
Bob Paulson, Joyce, Carol and moderator Ellen
Joyce talks about her days as Jane's personal secretary while Bob Paulson gets ready to talk about driving Jane to the camps around Paris.
The Birthday Cake
David Moore leads us in a round of "Happy Birthday To Jane."
The vets on campus in their WWII jeep
The launch of "Say It With Music: The Life and Legacy of Jane Froman" by Barbara Seuling, was hosted by the staff of Western Historical Manuscript Collection in their offices at the Ellis Library on the University of Missouri campus. It was a great success as people milled around the trays of food, chatted, and lined up to buy autographed copies of the new book. Throughout the room, people were flipping through the pages looking for tidbits. Each of the men escorting Paulson had a copy of the book and they eagerly looked for the pictures of Paulson. Robert Easton and Robert Paulson took the opportunity to begin a strong friendship. A uniformed Bob Paulson sat with Barbara for much of the time as they chatted with attendees. The publishers, Paula and Bob Morrow of Boxing Day Books were also there.
Bobbie happily autographs a book for Joyce.
Friday night's opening ceremonies took place in Launer Auditorium at Columbia College, Jane's alma mater. (It was Christian College when she attended.) First, Babs made a short speech that was just right in style, length, and sincerity, getting us off to a warm start. That was followed by the presentation of two proclamations. The first, from the Missouri State Senate, in recognition of Jane’s impressive career, outstanding service in entertaining our troops, and in her support of numerous charitable organizations, was presented by Ilene Stone to a representative of Columbia College. The second was presented by Mayor Hindman of Columbia, declaring November 10, 2007 “Jane Froman Day” in the town of Columbia, to David Froman, representing the Froman family. David thanked the Mayor in a short and informative talk about the history of the Froman family and their settling in Missouri.
Mayor Hindman declares "Jane Froman Day" as David Froman stands ready to accept the proclamation
Next on the program was tenor Mark Fuller, former recipient of a Jane Froman Music Scholarship at Columbia College, who sang a musical valentine to Jane with three of her favorite songs: "I Only Have Eyes for You," "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered," and "With a Song in My Heart" - as still photos of Jane in her most glamorous poses were projected; Win and I had put the photos onto a CD and some wizard of technology at the College made them run in a slide show with fade-ins, fade-outs, and pans that were quite effective.
Mark Fuller sings a valentine to Jane
Bob Easton was introduced next. He had been a young actor when he played the part of a GI from Kansas in "With a Song In My Heart." Now, at 77, he sported a long white beard. He introduced the brand new DVD version of "With a Song In My Heart," and invited people to hang around after the movie and a rest break, to come back and take part in a discussion of the film.
I had the good fortune to sit next to him at the showing, and it was something, to hear his remarks and sense his excitement as he saw himself as a young lad with freckles and red hair, and as he remembered the other actors with whom he has worked over the years. Not too many people did stay after the movie, but there was a good sprinkling of interested folks who enjoyed his reminiscences of speaking to Jane and her mother on the set of the film, and a bit of backstage observations. He also
spoke of his interest in history and being fascinated by Jane's mother, a Missouri native whose pioneer parents had settled in the area.
Under that beard one can see the 21 year old Robert Easton as the Kansas GI who had to get Jane's jeep out of the mud.
The pictorial postmark and stamp
Actor Easton and Sgt. Paulson became fast friends
Paulson's stories sometimes stirred up difficult memories.
Susan clings to her new hero
Jane's voice came into the darkened auditorium
Valerie Lemon poses with the administrators of Columbia College. Clockwise from Valerie are Sallie Parshall, Nollie Moore, Claudia Aufdemberge, Mike Kateman, President Gerald Brouder and Bonnie Brouder
Vets were given front row seats, as was Jane's practice
An array of beautiful cakes awaited us
Valerie with the vets in their vintage uniforms
Valerie with two of the Jane Froman Singers
At the winery, Joyce poses in front of Fromanettes Diane Pollock, Winnette Glasgow, Bobbie Seuling, Babs Buoncristiano, and Ellen Friedman
Barbara (Bobbie) Seuling and Ilene Stone talking with the audience about their biographies of Jane
Discussion continues during the book signing