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July 10, 1987 - Image 60

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-07-10

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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Continued from preceding page

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60

FRIDAY, JULY 10, 1987

ferent, eclectic, funky. She
has done some interior
designing, and radio and T.V.
commercials.
The interviewing aspect of
her life began with a little
chutzpah. "I was always
fascinated by the theater," she
comments. "I called up the
late John Essex, who was for
25 years the publicity agent
for the Fisher Theater, and
told him I was interested in
show people, and the plays,
and was there a way I could
interview some of the stars?
He asked me what show I
had. I told him I didn't have
one yet, but would."
"He invited me down to the
theater, and decided I'd be a
natural for radio and televi-
sion because I talk very easi-
ly, and he offered me the op-
portunity to do an interview
that night. That was 25 years
ago?'
Ignoring "bio sheets" on
people is the way she works.
She doesn't read the
background material on a
person before fronting up at
the theater dressing room,
hotel room or restaurant,
because she doesn't want to
form any preconceived no-
tions. Ad libbing is her strong
point, Hilsen feels.
"I try to ask people things
that won't hurt them or in-
timidate them. I try to find
something good in everyone I
talk to. After all, their mother
and father loved them."
Not everyone is an ideal
subject for asking questions.
"I have found singers are not
nearly as easy to talk to as
dramatic actors, actresses, or
men in business. I was asked
to interview Tony Bennett.
He was just waiting for me to
ask questions, then he'd
answer in a word or two . . . I
had to drag every answer out.
"Mel Torme was another
one. He'd just come off stage
when I met with him, and
was into a new romance. He
was afraid I was going to ask
him something about that.
Then I remembered he loved
racing cars, so we started
talking about _that. Of course,
if you can compliment a man,
you've got him in the palm of
your hand."
Hilsen likes men, at least,
intelligent men. She prefers
talking to them rather than
to women since she feels she
knows what's going on inside
a woman's head before she
begins. her, there's an ele-
ment of mystique to be un-
covered in a man. And she is
not coy about this. -
"In a man's company I like
to pick his brain. I like a per-
son who is intelligent, that I
can look up to. If I found a
man that loves me, and I love
him, and he has money to

Valerie Hilsen meets with Kingsley Inn pianist Ronny Phillips.

keep me, I'd marry him
astrology, emeralds, Chinese
tomorrow," she laughs. "I've
food, friends, attending auc-
been a widow since 1968, and
tions, and manufacturing
it's never been difficult to
cosmetic skin creams.
meet men, because in this
However, Hilsen emphasizes
business there are more men
her three children have top
than women."
priority in her life. Her son is
Talking to the greats, the
a clothes designer for Bloom-
stars, she has done it. Among
ingdale's in New York, and
her interviews she includes
her two daughters live with
Peter Ustinov, Sammy Davis
her in West Bloomfield.
Jr., and Rock Hudson.
She ruefully admits she is
"I loved speaking to Sammy
too busy to be a very obser-
Davis Jr. and to Bob Hope.
vant Jew, although she does
Carol Channing was very
believe in God. Some of her
good. There's a funny incident
family were members of
attached to that. I knocked at
Shaarey Zedek and others of
her door at the Fisher
Temple Beth El. Occasional-
Theater, and said, 'Miss
ly she attends services.
Channing, Valerie Hilsen
Always on the go, Hilsen
here to talk with you.' The
said she believes in doing
door opened and a woman everything she wants. And so
was standing there. 'I'm here
her new radio program is a
to speak with Miss Chann-
follow-up of a recent interest
ing,' I explained. She replied,
of hers — the plight of lonely
`I am Miss Channing!' She
singles. "There are so many
had hair as dark as mine —
lonely people out there, who
all those wigs were in her
tell me they are lonely."
dressing room," remembers
"What I'm doing on the
Hilsen.
show that's different from
"I have found that some of other shows is, well, many
the most gracious people are
people don't see their own
those in the highest places —
faults, why they don't attract
they are very down-to-earth,
the opposite sex, and we are
very cordial. I have talked to
going to be candidly honest,
Henry Ford II, among others."
and say, for example, if you
With the Fisher Theater changed your make-up — and
and Masonic Temple involve-
that applies to men, too,
ment, the interviews are ar-
because so many are wearing
ranged for her by the
it these days and are even
management. But these are vainer than women. We have
not her only subjects.
people calling in, others in
"Some of the other people I
the studio.
talk to — if I read an item in
Another venture in the
the newspaper that interests
planning is the production of
me, I'll call and I've had
a show called Eve Bit the Ap-
tremendous luck talking to
ple. She is hoping for a Fisher
people. Being interested in so
Theater premiere somewhere
many facets of life — I love the
in the future, but the propos-
theater, music, art. People
ed opening is a long way off
fascinate me — some of them,
yet. Her son is designing the
I should say."
clothes for the show. Hilsen
Those interests are certain-
explains she worked on it
ly
diverse,
including
with the late astrologer, Jac-

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