It is our great pleasure to welcome our special guest, Liz Sheridan. She is an actress who has been in a variety of films and television series. She joins us to talk about her life in the Arts and her book, ‘Dizzy and Jimmy.’
Who is Liz Sheridan?
(laughs) Are you sitting down?
(laughs) Actually, as a matter of fact, I’m standing up.
Oh! (laughs) I was born in New York City. My father was a famous concert pianist named Frank Sheridan. My mother was a concert singer. I dated this very famous person and somebody brought Jimmy home one day to our living room in our place. We started talking and we became friends. And then we went out for dinner a couple of times and got to be friendlier and friendlier, and finally we decided to live together. So we did. It was wonderful.
Just to be clear, the Jimmy you’re talking about… you knew him before he was James Dean.
To you, he was Jimmy.
Yeah. He wasn’t James… He didn’t go through the portals of fame right at that moment, no.
I want you to take us back a little bit and tell us what was life like growing up in the Sheridan home?
Well, my mother and father were separated when they were very young and my sister and I lived in Westchester County with my mom. It was lovely and my father would visit every Sunday and take us out for a meal or something and then when I moved to New York, that was exciting too. I was born in New York City, so I was very familiar with it. But the Rehearsal Club was a great place to be and someone brought Jimmy home one day to our sort of stately parlor. We weren’t allowed to have gentlemen callers upstairs or anything ‘cause that’s where everybody was… upstairs. We got to be friends. Then we got to be even better friends and then we decided to live together, which you sort of didn’t do in those days.
That’s one of the things in the book that to some people, it may be interesting to know. When you moved to New York City, the book says that was a rule: no gentleman on, I think you said, the third floor?
You mean in the Rehearsal Club?
Yeah. There was a no gentlemen rule?
No gentlemen rule to any of the going up the stairs where all the girls were. It was like an old brownstone, had about three floors I think. No, we weren’t allowed to have visitors upstairs… gentlemen. Just in the parlor, the front living room downstairs.
Then, at this time, your passion in life was dance.
How did you discover dance? I know that with Frank Sheridan being a pianist and Elizabeth Poole Jones being a singer, there had to have been a lot of music around the house.
Always. Always. I was part of a group that was in Westchester County, a dance troupe. I was dancing all the time and my mother was dying for me to go to college. There was just a lot of dance. I don’t know. I spent a lot of time on Broadway dancing in some really, really good shows.
Could you remember a favorite show that you were in?
Mmm… Probably “Ballroom”, by Michael Bennett I think, is the one that he directed. I should be more informative. I’m sorry (laughs)
Oh no. Not at all. So tell me, you mentioned your father was a pianist and your mother was a singer. Can you remember favorite music around the house or favorite songs growing up?
Oh boy, there were so many of them. Well, we didn’t really grow up with my father. They had separated very young, but my mother sang a lot. She sang a lot of Irish songs. She was Irish, Scotch and Welsh and she had some beautiful, lovely tunes that she sang all the time. She did several concerts with my father and they even toured Europe by doing a lot of songs. He was playing and she would sing.
You decided to write this book. The title of it is ‘Dizzy and Jimmy’ and it is a book about your experience to moving to New York City and the love that you and James Dean had. What made you decide that you should write it?
Good question. Well, my husband was alive at the time and he thought that would be a really swell idea, ‘cause everybody was interested in the fact that I knew Jimmy so well. So I got in touch with Harper Collins. They said it was their favorite book and they put it out and published it.
I just love the book. Yesterday I was giving a friend of mine, his name is Kyle, a ride and he started reading the first page and he tried to take the book from me. He said, “I’m hooked from the first page. I have to read this.”
(Laughs) That’s so sweet. That’s nice.
I felt like it would make a great film.
Yes, I agree.
Is there any chance that one day this will be a movie?
Oh God (laughs)… I hope so. That’s what I’ve been trying to do. It’s just when I came back out here again, everybody that I knew in the studios had either retired or died… So it’s a question of finding someone now. I have a friend who has been writing the script for me. It’s over half done. It’s wonderful and I have a couple of people who might be interested in directing, but they’re not huge, famous people. It’s going to take a while to try and figure it out.
When you moved out to New York City to pursue a career in show business, were you optimistic?
Yes, because I was with very good people and very good shows and I was a good dancer. Well, I was in a show called ‘Ballroom’ and it was directed by Michael Bennett who was the director who did “A Chorus Line,” he directed that. I was in a lot of shows.
When you look back at your career and all the television shows and the movies you did, is there one that’s a favorite?
There were so many greats. The “Seinfeld” program, that was just a fantastic show.
Yes, it was and I loved doing it, and I loved the people there and I love Jerry. He’s terrific. And then I did “Alf.”
I remember that one.
Yep. And I loved doing that too. That was four years. “Seinfeld” was nine years. Before that, I was at Julius Monk’s Plaza 9 in New York City where everybody who was anybody would go and watch us perform on stage. It was very “la-te’da” and before that, well… Jimmy and I kind of went our own ways because he was asked out here to Hollywood and I didn’t want to go follow him. So I went down to the Virgin Islands which, an ex-roommate of mine had gotten a divorce down in St. Thomas and I went down there and I got a job. I was singing and playing the piano in almost every bar and saloon in the West Indies.
I really liked that part of the book and I liked that you mentioned that you heard all that Calypso music.
And I think it said that you sang that song, ‘Mary Ann’?
“All day, all night, Miss Mary Ann…..” Yeah.
Yeah. I love Calypso music and I like that you painted a really good picture of what it must have been like to perform in the Caribbean at that time.
It was wonderful. I loved it.
What is the best thing about being Liz Sheridan?
I think I’m an honest person and that goes a long way with me. I think I’m an extremely talented person in almost every direction, like my family was, and that makes me happy.
I think that’s a great virtue to say that you’ve been honest. I can admire that.
Yes. Yes, it is. And I’m fair, honest and you know, talented (laughs). And I’ve been around. Strangely enough, the only place I really don’t want to go is Europe. I went down the other way and I just didn’t want to.
Not Europe though?
No. I don’t know why. I’ve just never been a sightseer.
Well, since you’ve gone to visit a lot of places throughout your career, what has been your favorite?
Well, I loved working on Broadway and I loved working at Julius Monk’s Plaza 9 and I loved singing in some of the bars and saloons all over the West Indies. That was fun (laughs). I love television. It’s fun. It’s just a long, long dreary week. I’ve been to a really good show, so I’m very lucky.
I also wanted to ask you two final questions. One of them is a little light-hearted. What is your all-time favorite meal?
When I was little I didn’t like veal. I didn’t like a lot of meat… But a good pizza’s hard to find.
I guess you can’t get them out in California like they have them in New York.
Well… No, not really. I mean yes and no. I have a favorite place that I go because I know everybody there. It’s right around the corner and I usually have my lunch there and the owner is a wonderful cook.
What’s the name of the restaurant?
It’s called ‘The Outtake.’
Well, I have one final question for you. We have readers all over the place. What would you like to say to all the people who are listening in?
Well, if you are listening in, I’m flattered. Flattered as hell. I really am. If you are looking to find the life that you really want, then you should do it. You should not sit on the porch and just rock and grow old. You should go out there and follow your heart, and I think that’s terribly important. Play the piano! (laughs)
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