winning singer Nancy LaMott died on Wednesday, December 13, 1995 at
11:40 p.m. at Roosevelt-St. Luke's Hospital, NYC. She was 43.
The cause of death was complications arising from uterine and liver
two hours before her passing, she asked her boyfriend, actor Peter
Zapp, to marry her. Rapidly, a bedside ceremony was held in her room.
Her close friend Kathie Lee Gifford, who had stayed by her side throughout
her illness, visited her in the hospital and spoke lovingly about
her on her "Live" show with Regis Philbin. Margaret Whiting was also
a regular visitor. And President and Mrs. Clinton called her the day
before she died.
had suffered with Crohn's disease, with bad arthritic effects since
she was 17. In 1993, she had an ileostomy that reversed many of the
symptoms, allowing her recording and singing career to soar. Her newly
released fifth album, "Listen To My Heart", produced and orchestrated
by Peter Matz, is currently listed in the top-lO sellers in its class
at Tower Records.
many health problems over the years, Nancy LaMott became a regular
on the cabaret scene in NYC. Having begun in The Duplex, she went
on to perform at small clubs for years, including Don't Tell Mama
and Eighty Eight's, before moving on to the Russian Tea Room, the
Oak Room at The Algonquin and Tavern on the Green. Her musical collaborator
for eleven years was Christopher Marlowe.
funeral plans were announced. A memorial service was held in February
in NYC. Nancy requested that donations be made to Broadway Cares/Equity
Fights AIDS, the Association to Benefit Children and the Crohn's-Colitis
John Hoglund, CABARET HOTLINE - Copyright December 1995.
addresses of the causes that Nancy wished donations be made to in
lieu of flowers are:
CARES / EQUITY FIGHTS AIDS
165 WEST 46TH STREET - #1300
NEW YORK, NY 10036-3821
& COLITIS FOUNDATION OF AMERICA
386 PARK AVENUE SOUTH
NEW YORK, NY 10016
TO BENEFIT CHILDREN
316 EAST 88TH STREET
NEW YORK, NY 10128
last is the organization through which Kathie Lee and Frank Gifford
are building CODY HOUSE & CASSIDY'S PLACE to help "Crack Babies"
with AIDS. They will be naming a wing after Nancy).
want to get more information from:
TO MY HEART
The Nancy LaMott Fan Club
P.O. Box 138 - Old Chelsea Station
New York, NY 10113-0138
LAMOTT MEMORIAL SERVICE - SUNDAY FEBRUARY 11 1996
said in the invitation that the service would begin at 7:30 pm sharp,
and I arrived at St. Paul's Apostle Church around 7:05 to discover
every seat nearly taken. This is not a small church - it is one of
the largest in NYC, and at that point, figuring 80 rows of pews seating
30 across (I will try to confirm this - it was a rough count as I
walked down the side) already over 2500 people were waiting for things
to begin. They set out about 10 rows of folding chairs, and these
quickly filled as well - I managed to get one in the very last row.
the program books were already taken, and people were still arriving.
The lady in front of me had a program which she loaned me for a few
minutes, so I quickly noted the order of the program and waited in
silence with the rest. A few custodians arrived with another 6 rows
of folding chairs, and they too were quickly snatched up. My estimate,
counting the hundreds that remained standing at the sides and rear,
was between 2,500 and 3,000 people were there, but it could easily
have been more.
Steven Harris opened the service (at 7:31 on my very accurate TIMEX)
with a quotation from one of David Friedman's songs. He called us
to celebrate the life of Nancy LaMott, and pointed out that Nancy
had four outstanding qualities: she was honest, direct, passionate
and brief. This, he hoped, would be the guide for the speakers that
were immediately thrust into darkness, and on the giant TV screen
set up in the front of the church was a tape from 1991 of Nancy singing
"Listen to My Heart."
director and manager for the past 5 years, Scott Barnes, took the
podium and introduced us to the Nancy he knew, "lamottski" as she
liked to call herself. He called their relationship "short, intense,
and gratifying." As the evening progressed we would hear that theme
again and again, since it seems that Nancy's life was partitioned
in phases, each with very special people playing a very special part.
next speaker was R. Kennard Baker (Bob), to whose country home in
Connecticut Nancy would retreat when the busy city life, and the pain
of her many physical afflictions became too great to handle. He was
followed by Nancy's former boyfriend, Bill McGrath. He spoke of her
beauty and determination, and another of her mottos: "Be nice, stay
sweet, and recognize the worth of every person you meet."
room once again darkened, and on the screen we were shown still photos
and video and movie clips of Nancy's life - from childhood to the
White House performances to the hospital bed. The tune "You Must Have
Been a Beautiful Baby" serenaded the photos as they flashed on the
David Zippel shared his memories with us next. His impression was
that Nancy would "eat just about anything, but was very particular
about the songs she sang." Nancy suffered from an intestinal disorder
early in life (Crohn's Syndrome) which restricted the foods she could
eat and when an operation gave her relief from this, she set about
making up for all the times she missed the fun foods in her youth.
She one time told David that "Cabaret is the World's most expensive
Jensen, who was Nancy's musical director in the early years reflected
on that period of Nancy's career - the smaller cabarets, the passion
with which she sang every song, and some of her favorite selections,
including James Taylor's "The Secret of Life" - she sang it nearly
every show then, and it appears on her last album.
of Nancy's favorite friend and singing partners, Nancy Timpanaro and
Lina Koutrakos spoke of Nancy's way of always reaching out to give
friends encouragement - of how they did a tour in Europe together,
where Nancy would insist each day that they recite the mantra "I Am
members of Nancy's immediate family, Ted McGee, along with two others
from Michigan, were simply overwhelmed by the size of the gathering,
and had some difficulty expressing all they wanted to say.
in this segment of the program, cabaret legend turned songwriter Portia
Nelson took the microphone and told how Nancy insisted on singing
great music from great songwriters, and how honored she was when Nancy
chose to sing one of her songs on the final album. She told us about
a brief motto that she had written and had hanging on her wall when
Nancy came to visit one day. It went a bit like this:
I was walking
down the street - there was a big hole in the sidewalk - I fell in.
It wasn't my fault, and it took me a long time to get out of it.
I was walking
down the street - there was a big hole in the sidewalk - I tried to
avoid it but I fell in. It wasn't my fault. It took me a long time
to get out of it.
I was walking
down the street - I saw the big hole in the sidewalk, but I fell in
it anyway. It was my fault, but I knew how to get out of it quickly
I was walking
down the street. I saw the big hole in the sidewalk. I carefully walked
I chose a
read it and exclaimed: "That's the story of my life - I must have
it!" Portia complied, adding "And I thought it was my life!"
instrumental musical interlude followed, with just a single photo
of Nancy looking at us from the TV screen. A sextet made up of Christopher
Marlowe at piano, Jay Leonhart on bass, John Redsecker on drums, Glenn
Drewes on trumpet and Mike Migliore on sax, played two songs from
Nancy's repertoire - "It Might as Well Be Spring" and "How Deep Is
the Ocean." This was followed by sustained applause.
Jonathan Schwartz spoke next - sharing two humorous anecdotes of Nancy's
sly and witty side.
Matz, who directed Nancy's last recording, and who knew Nancy just
a short while before her death, related how Nancy had been troubled
by the Los Angeles air while staying at his home, preparing to appear
in a benefit there. He called the malady "CADD - California Airborne
Diva Disease" - and how later that night she stole the show.
Award winning songwriters Marilyn and Alan Bergman recalled how hard
Nancy worked on the show of their works at the 92nd Street Y some
time ago, and said "every generation has someone who shines - and
the next generation now has a great deal to live up to." Alan also
told us that Nancy had three outstanding qualities - a great mind,
great determination and a great heart.
room darkened and Kathy Lee Gifford spoke via video tape for a few
minutes of the happy times and sad times she and Nancy shared - of
Nancy's love for animals and children. "I know I'll see her in Heaven,"
she said, "because she promised to teach me to sing."
very shy Christopher Marlowe, who was Nancy's collaborator, arranger,
musical director and close friend, took the microphone and told us
of Nancy's unique ability to bring power to the high notes - a power
she seemed to pull out of nowhere. He spoke of her compassion towards
the underdog, and the line she always said at the start of the show,
a line that he hears her say now every day: "I'll meet you at the
and producer David Friedman gave us his reflections of the past 5
years with Nancy, and how he decided that this was a voice that had
to be shared with the World and put up the money for Nancy's first
album - and produced the four that followed. He told us that there
is enough recorded material on hand to produce at least three more
albums, and related his deathbed promise to her that he would continue
his mission to give the whole World a chance to hear her voice.
10 minute video made up of clips from Nancy's appearances from 1978
through 1995 was shown. The effect of watching Nancy emerge as the
beautiful singer she came to be was stunning. Most striking was a
tape made on December 6, 1995 - just 7 days before she died - that
Nancy made for the Charles Grodin show on CNBC. There is not a hint
of pain, suffering; no clue to the events that would follow.
final speaker was Nancy's husband, Peter Zapp - the actor from California
that Nancy married just a few hours before she passed away. If one
could count 3 dry eyes in the gathering of 3000, it would have been
with every cabaret performance, there was an encore - a video of Nancy
singing "I'll Be Here With You."
left the church rather quickly. I really didn't want to talk to anyone
- gave a few nods to people I recognized, a handshake here and there,
but I wanted some moments by myself. I walked slowly to the subway
- to be greeted on the steps by the haunting sounds of a subway musician,
mournfully playing "Bye Bye Blackbird" on a trumpet. I couldn't remember
the words - just the part about "pack up all your cares and woes"
- and then the silver clad #1 train arrived to take me to the Village
- and as the doors swished shut I could hear the musical notes...
"Black bird - bye...bye..."
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