Tag Archives: Happily Divorced

Renee Taylor Has a New ‘Daughter,’ a New Show, a New Product, and a Hubby Who’s a Classic

Funny lady Renee Taylor reports she has a new daughter on “Happily Divorced,” one who is as flamboyant as Renee herself – pop star Cyndi Lauper.  “She was adorable, really funny and very emotionally responsive to work with,” notes the septuagenarian show business veteran.  Cyndi’s episode will be coming up next month on the show in which Renee has a recurring role as a family friend.  Long known as mama of “The Nanny” on Fran Drescher’s former series, Taylor is having a blast working with Drescher again on the popular “Divorced” series that launches its third season on TV Land tonight (11/28).

“People ask me what’s the difference between this character and my character on ‘The Nanny,'” notes Renee, “and I say this one is younger, more glamorous and smarter.”

Robert Wagner and Joan Collins are also among the guest stars who’ll soon be showing up on the series.

It’s a hectic time for Renee, who also has her recurring role on “How I Met Your Mother,” a new stage show on the way for next year entitled My Life on a Diet — plus her burgeoning Renee Taylor’s Face Love business.

My Life on a Diet is “semi autobiographical,” she says.  She plans to do the show in New York, and “then hopefully, TV.”

As far as Renee Taylor’s Face Love, she tells us it took awhile to develop the product with her friend, Florida-based makeup artist Cindy Cohen.  “I asked her if she had a skin tightener and she said yes, and I tried it and said, ‘It’s good, but it’s not enough.  And it’s a little irritating,’ so she went back to work on it and for five years she’s been perfecting this serum with me criticizing.  Today, you can use it instead of botox,” proclaims Renee, whose brand can be found at reneetaylorsfacelove.com   She’s no fan of excessive nipping and tucking.  “When you go into a room and everyone looks the same it’s scary — and it happens, especially here in Hollywood.  I don’t want to do too much to myself or when I get to heaven, God will say, ‘Who are you?'”

Taylor always seems to be working.  Earlier this year, she was in Tyler Perry’s “The Marriage Counselor” in a role Perry originally wrote for a man.  He ended up liking Renee’s spirit, and obviously, the affection was mutual.  “He is so fun and so sexy,” she says of Perry.  “He just laughed at everything I said, which I loved.  That was also the reason I fell in love with my husband — that he laughed at everything I said,” she adds of her favorite leading man, onstage and off, Joe Bologna.  The couple is looking forward to celebrating their golden anniversary.

The secret to their longevity?  Not surprisingly, it’s laughter.

“We have an agreement,” she says.  “If he leaves me, it has to be for a much older woman with more depth and maturity.”


Rita Moreno Finding Life Rewarding — And Oh So Busy — At 80

Rita Moreno in “Singin’ in the Rain”

The legendary Rita Moreno reveals she is working hard on her memoirs, which “are going to be published in the spring.  It was my personal manager who just kept pushing and saying, ‘You know, there’s a great book in you,'” says the Oscar, Emmy, Grammy and Tony winner.  What a life saga – including blasting to movie stardom — and immortality — with “West Side Story,” a tumultuous six-year relationship with Marlon Brando, Broadway success with shows including The Ritz, and television acclaim.

            Moreno, widowed two years ago after 46 years of marriage to cardiologist Leonard Gordon, says that working on her book has been “revelatory.  I figured some things out that I couldn’t find answers to — I mean some really, really deep-seated memories of things I just couldn’t figure out.  And a number of times of course I wept copious tears.”
            Asked if her writing is helping to fill the hours since she lost her husband, Moreno smiles and says “Oh, my dear — I barely have time to eat!  I’m redecorating the house now, my way.  That’s just one thing.”  She laughs slightly, then notes that she was at a party the other day, and found herself talking to a group of divorced and widowed women who were “relishing their freedom. That happened to me as well.  I was married a long time, and there’s something pretty fabulous about not having to explain anything.  This is unexpected.  Boy, I sure hope that doesn’t sound callous, but I was so surprised when the other widowed woman there said the same thing.”
            Her  days truly are full, including her current TV gig, on TV Land’s “Happily Divorced.”
           “I’m 80 years old, I’m playing Fran Drescher’s mama, I look really good in the series — thanks to the glories of makeup and lighting — and I adore her.  What could be bad?  We have a fabulous chemistry, she and I.”
            Moreno is also helping promote the special, 60th year anniversary video release of “Singin’ in the Rain” — which ends an 18-month moratorium July 17 with the debut of a three-disc Ultimate Collector’s Edition Blu-ray and DVD Pack from Warner Home Video.  The classic musical marked one of her first film roles.
            “It was one of the happiest times of my life.  I was working with my icon, my hero, my idol, Gene Kelly.  I mean, you have to put yourself in my place, this little girl from Puerto Rico and New York, suddenly, there I am — my God — with Gene Kelly, who actually cast me in the movie as Zelda Zanders.”
            She recalls that casting session “was an amazing experience, but then he said, ‘I want you to cut your hair.’  And like a good Latina, I said, ‘No, I won’t cut my hair.’  I went home and thought, ‘What have I done?’  But he finally acquiesced and he said, ‘Okay, we’ll put a wig on you.'”
            She goes on, “I only had about four scenes, maybe five, but I attended every shooting day of that movie.  I had to be there.”
            Kelly’s beloved title number was the last sequence shot, she says, because he and co-director Stanley Donen knew how difficult his singing and dancing in the rain was going to be.  “They wanted to be able to control the way things looked, so they had a huge, huge four-sided black tent.  And every so often they would have to roll up the sides to let in some air because the camera lens would fog up.  They used cold water, which was very important, and I saw him splish and splash for days on end.  I don’t know how he did it, because he was just sopping wet.  He caught a terrible cold after that.”
            Moreno also fondly recalls being on hand when Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Connor shot their bouncy “Make ‘Em Laugh” number.  “It’s sort of a play on ‘Be a Clown.’  I remember someone told me that the songwriter who actually wrote ‘Be a Clown’ was not thrilled because it was such a ripoff, an absolute knockoff of ‘Be a Clown.’ They got away with it because it was not the same melody, but it had many similarities musically.  Many people think of it as the ‘Be a Clown’ number.  ‘Be a Clown’ goes like this,” she says, and demonstrates, voice soaring.  “And ‘Make ’em Laugh’ goes like this,” she says, and sings part of the familiar tune. “It’s the melody turned on its side.”
            According to the marvelous-looking Moreno (and no, it’s not all due to makeup and lighting magic) the film team knew “Singin’ in the Rain” was special, “but only in that it was going to be another great Gene Kelly MGM musical.  I don’t think anyone really thought it would be the classic it’s become.”