I asked Jo Anne Worley what the audience can expect from her shows at the Purple Room this Friday and Saturday, May 24 and 25.
“A lot of singing—mainly comedy singing,” she replied. “And what I like to do is take a song and do something unusual with it.”
I asked for an example … and, boy, did she respond—by belting out, right into the phone, a few verses from her gluten-free song.
It really is boring
It’s kind of like snoring
When you are gluten FREEEEE!
Worley, 81, is a living legend. Her career spans six decades; her first credit on IMDb is The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, in 1960. She’s been in many movies and TV shows; she’s performed on Broadway and enjoyed a well-reviewed stint as Madame Morrible in the Los Angeles production of Wicked.
However, Worley is best known for being a cast member on Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. The iconic show, which ran from 1968 to 1973, remains popular thanks to its long run in syndication and its DVD releases; it airs every weeknight on the Decades digital network. Netflix this month released the documentary Still Laugh-In: The Stars Celebrate, which features Worley—wearing the same purple feather boa, given to her by her Laugh-In castmate Henry Gibson, that she says she’ll be wearing at the Purple Room this weekend.
I asked Worley why Laugh-In has retained its popularity.
“Because it’s funny. It’s just funny,” she said. “It’s short and quick, and if there’s something that’s on there where you say, ‘Oh, this isn’t interesting,’ it’s gone in a minute, and then you’re on to something else. So it moves, and it’s funny.”
I asked Worley if she had a favorite role or performance from her 60-year career.
“What pops into my mind is something that I did that is a gift that keeps on giving: I did the voice of the wardrobe in the Beauty and the Beast movie,” she said. “That is absolutely a gift that keeps on giving.”
Worley is a proud lover of animals, and currently serves as the president of Actors and Others for Animals, an organization founded in 1971 that, among other things, funds spay/neuter programs in Southern California. Worley said that she just made a new addition to her family, a Chihuahua named Cupid.
“I’m looking forward to Palm Springs, and I’m bringing my little dog with me. I have a new little dog who I saw on (Los Angeles) Channel 7. He was the Pet of the Week. I was on the phone talking, and I went, ‘Oh, I have to write this number down.’ I went the next day and got him from the shelter.
“I’m very fortunate. His audition was getting in the bag of the purse on my shoulder. He passed that audition, and we went home.”
Jo Anne Worley will perform at 8 p.m. (with dinner at 6 p.m.), Friday and Saturday, May 24 and 25, at Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. Tickets are $50 to $60. For tickets or more information, call 760-322-4422, or visit www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.