“Start Spreadin’ the News…”

Louis Gossett, Jr., right, pictured here with actor Jon Voight enjoying the association’s 2009 event.

Yo! Put on yez Yankee caps, dust off yez Sinatra records, ordah in some deli, an’ brush up on your New York attitude ‘cause it’s time again for da greatest show on eart! I’m talking of course about the New York Alumni Association’s annual reunion and stage show. I call it the greatest show on earth because it really is. You won’t find a better show on Broadway. This is the event of the year.

It all happens on Saturday, October 2nd, in Beverly Hills. The evening begins with the world’s biggest high school reunion, as transplanted New Yorkers (and others from the East Coast) congregate to share some pastrami, an old fashioned egg cream, and a ton of memories. Following the reunion is the piece de resistance, the icing on the cheese cake – the variety show and award ceremony.

The NYAA reunion, in its 25th year, is shaping up to be a dandy. NYAA is the brain child of Lou and Fran Zigman, who supply the heart and soul of the event each year. It’s their labor of love, and they take pride in the fact that they have honored some of the biggest names in show business throughout the years. Past honorees include Sid Caesar, Milton Berle, Steve Allen, Rita Moreno, Jerry Vale, Mickey Rooney, Cyd Charisse, Tony Martin, Charles Durning, Gene Barry, Ruby Keeler, Martin Landau, Jerry Stiller, Melissa Manchester and Ed Ames.

This year they will honor Louis Gossett, Jr., who served with Jon Voight as honorary chairs for last year’s event. Brooklyn born Gossett made his professional acting debut at the age of 17, winning the Donaldson Award as best newcomer to theatre. He went to NYU on a basketball scholarship and was invited to try out for the New York Knicks. He decided instead to continue his acting career with a role in the Broadway production of A Raisin in the Sun.

Gossett has won numerous acting awards, including a couple of Golden Globes, as well as an Emmy for his role as Fiddler in Roots. He won an Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for An Officer and a Gentleman. Oh, and by the way, he was named “King of Brooklyn” at the Welcome Back to Brooklyn Festival in 1990.

You can bet the evening’s entertainment will be nothing short of, as Sinatra would say, “A-number one, top of the list” Comedian Freddie Roman will return, keeping the joint jumping and the audience in the aisles. Also helping to keep everyone in stitches will be comedians Sal Richards, “Sarge,” and Dick Capri. Other performers include singers Billy Davis and Marilyn McCoo, Hal Linden, Mike Burstyn, and Theodore Bikel. And to top it off, Garry Marshall will welcome everyone. Whew! How’s that for talent?

It seems almost everyone in California either knows a former New Yorker or is a former New Yorker. But as someone who married a former New Yorker, I can tell you that there really is no such thing as a “former” New Yorker – just New Yorkers who happen to be living somewhere else. Not only did I marry a New York girl, I married the city of New York. We’ve been happily bi-coastal for over 30 years. What a wonderful city New York is, exciting like no other. New York is what all cities want to be when they grow up.

If you’ve never attended the reunion and are curious, I recommend you check it out on the Internet. Some of their past shows are available for viewing on YouTube. There’s still time to order tickets for the reunion and show, but don’t put it off too long, as the best seats go fast. Know what I mean, Bubee?

Visit www.nyalumni.com, e-mail nyalums@aol.com or call (310) 276-2754 for more information.

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