Hal Linden

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The great actor Hal Linden, who turns 82 this month, put his musical talents on show to an audience in Aventura (North Miami Beach) on Feb. 28. As celebrities go, Linden is on the A-list. He has won a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical (The Rothschilds, 1971) and three Emmy Awards. His best-known work was on TV as the star of the hit police show Barney Miller, which ran from 1975-1982.

With a career spanning 65 years, he is in the same league as Tony Bennett as an octagenarian who just won't quit. And why should he? He is great, and wowed the largely elderly audience with his powerful voice that has not declined with the years.

He began as a saxophone player with big bands such as Sammy Kaye, but he had a secret desire even then. "I always wanted to be the boy singer, the one who sat on the chair beside the piano." While he did sing with every band he played for, he never achieved the solo status he craved before the Big Band era ended. But he gave the audience a taste of it with his rendition of Mack the Knife, and most spectacularly with a re-creation of the famous Benny Goodman concert of 1938. After that landmark concert at Carnegie Hall,  "music was never the same again," he said. The famous battle between Goodman's clarinet (played by Linden) and the drums was a musical delight.

His favourite part of the show came with two numbers from The Rothschilds. Linden said that even though members of the Rothschild family sometimes attended the Broadway show, none of them ever came back stage to say hello. In the musical, Linden plays the father of the family, the one who never left the ghetto even after his family had made millions and lived in castles. While on stage, he applied makeup and costume to turn himself into Meyer Rothschild.

Regarding Broadway productions, Linden said "people often ask me how can you do the same show every day for weeks or months, saying the same thing every day? I never had that problem- everything I did closed Sunday night," he quipped.

"I just adore being out here- I love it," declared Linden. His genuine excitement at performing shone through in this nostalgic show.

Photo and story by Cliff Cunningham. email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Clifford Cunningham

Clifford Cunningham is a planetary scientist currently affiliated with the National Astronomical Research Institute. He did his PhD work in the history of astronomy at James Cook University, and has undergraduate degrees in science and ancient history from the University of Waterloo. He is the author of 12 books on asteroids and the history of science. In 1999 he appeared on the TV show Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Asteroid 4276 was named in his honour by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in 1990.

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