Walk of Stars
Though we’re half a country away from the Hollywood Walk of Fame, in 2001, Starlight Theatre proudly introduced its own Walk of Stars. Each night of our Broadway performances, you can see our Stars recognized with permanent markers throughout the theatre.
Walk of Stars
Dedicating more than five decades to show business, Phyllis Diller won the hearts of many as she performed on television, film and stages across America. A soft spot for live performance spurred her career in stand-up comedy that transitioned into acting. Starring as the Wicked Witch of the West in Starlight’s production of The Wizard of Oz in July 1991, Diller helped Starlight set a new weekly attendance record (55,364 guests) as she taunted Dorothy, Toto and friends. Four years later, she returned to Starlight as the evil stepmother in Cinderella and received her bronze star on Starlight’s Walk of Stars. Diller died in 2012.
A standout in television and film, Jo Anne Worley is perhaps best known for her work on the TV comedy variety show “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In.” She ruled the Starlight stage twice in the 1980s, as the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz (1984) and as Mama Rose in Gypsy (1987). Worley reprised her Wicked Witch role in 1999 in the Broadway national tour of The Wizard of Oz, and her most recent stint on Broadway came in 2007 as Mrs. Tottendale in The Drowsy Chaperone.
Angela Lansbury was dubbed the “First Lady of Musical Theatre” by The New York Times and for good reason – she has five Tony Awards® to her credit and performed in eight Broadway musicals and six Broadway plays between 1957 and 2012. Lansbury achieved worldwide fame for her acclaimed performances, both on stage in musicals like Gypsy and The King and I, and on screen in “Murder, She Wrote” and Beauty and the Beast. She lit up the night at Starlight in two Broadway productions – 1976’s Mame and 1987’s Gypsy.
An accomplished Broadway actor, director and choreographer, Tommy Tune’s many credits include Baker Street, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Nine, The Will Rogers Follies and Bye Bye Birdie. He has won 10 Tony Awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015. Tune was presented his bronze star in a July 12, 2006, ceremony at Starlight, while in town starring in the Broadway tour of Dr. Dolittle.
Richard “Dick” Berger presided over Starlight for two decades, tapping his passion for the arts to bring success to a small outdoor theatre in Kansas City. During his tenure as Starlight’s manager, Berger featured many famous figures in Starlight shows, even bringing in President Harry Truman for a cameo appearance in Mr. President in August 1964. The Richard Hill Berger & Richard Laurence Berger Rehearsal Hall at Starlight was dedicated in 2006, honoring Berger and his son, Richard Laurence, who was a chorus member and stagehand at Starlight before going on to a very successful career in Hollywood as president of both Walt Disney Pictures and MGM. The elder Berger died in 1998, and his son died in 2004.
Shirley Jones, known for her roles in musical films including Oklahoma!, Carousel and The Music Man, has performed on stage and television for nearly six decades. She is, perhaps, most recognized as the widowed mother of five and star of TV’s hit sitcom “The Partridge Family,” which aired from 1970 to 1974 and also starred her late stepson David Cassidy. Jones performed on Starlight’s stage five times – On a Clear Day (1967), Shirley Jones Show (1972), Shirley Jones with Jack Cassidy (1974), Showboat (1976) and The Sound of Music (1977).
A star of both screen and stage, Tony Randall performed in Starlight’s 1978 production of The Music Man. He was best known for his role as Felix in both the stage and TV renditions of The Odd Couple, winning a 1975 Emmy Award for the latter. He was a six-time Golden Globe nominee for both movies and TV series. Randall died in 2004.
Michele Lee’s career spans all aspects of entertainment: theatre, television, film, singing, dancing, producing, directing. She began her career on Broadway in Vintage ’60 in September 1960, made her movie debut in 1967 in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, and starred in TV’s prime-time soap opera, “Knot’s Landing,” for 14 seasons, beginning in 1979. Starlight audiences were charmed by Lee’s outstanding performances on two occasions – in 1978’s Damn Yankees and 2005’s Hello, Dolly!
Beloved for her characters’ great expressiveness and clear, identifiable voices in Broadway and film musicals, Carol Channing has filled every stage she’s played. Performing on Broadway stages since the early 1940s, she won the first of her three Tony Awards in 1964 for Best Actress in a Musical in Hello, Dolly! She received a Tony for Lifetime Achievement in 1995. Channing performed twice at Starlight, first solo in 1971’s The Carol Channing Show and in the title role in 1977’s Hello, Dolly!
An acclaimed cabaret singer and musical theatre actress, Wichita, Kan., native Marilyn Maye began her career as a young child performing in live concerts and on the radio. While later performing in Kansas City, Maye was discovered by TV personality Steve Allen, the first host of “The Tonight Show.” She would go on to appear on the TV show a record 76 times during her career. Maye returned to Kansas City to perform in three shows at Starlight: Can-Can (1969), Hello, Dolly! (1970) and The Doc Severinsen Show (1973). She has since returned to town on many occasions and has received local honors including the Distinguished Arts Award (2008) and the Outstanding Kansas Citizen Award (2012).
A major name in entertainment during the early and mid-20th century, Ginger Rogers starred in musicals, films and on radio and television. Rogers made her Broadway debut in 1929 in Top Speed and began her film career in 1929. Her rise to stardom came during the 1930s when she teamed with Fred Astaire and, together, they became one of the best cinematic couples to ever grace the silver screen. Rogers’ final appearance on Broadway was in Hello, Dolly! in the mid-1960s, and she then toured in musicals and stage plays in the United States, Canada and Europe. Born in Independence, Mo., Rogers came home for turns at Starlight in Tovarich (1964) and Anything Goes (1980). She died in 1995.
Patrick Cassidy has starred in numerous television series, including “Smallville,” “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman” and the short-lived “Dirty Dancing,” but he has also been a fixture on stage. Cassidy began his Broadway career in The Pirates of Penzance in the early 1980s and most recently appeared on Broadway in 2004 in 42nd Street. In 2001, he took the stage at Starlight in the national tour of Aida, winning the national Touring Broadway Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his portrayal of Radames. Cassidy was back in Kansas City in 2016 with his mother, Shirley Jones, to star in “Have You Met Miss Jones” at the New Theatre Restaurant. The autobiographical stage show was written by his brother, Shaun Cassidy.
American film heartthrob Tony Curtis’ career spanned six decades, peaking in the 1950s and ‘60s. Curtis’ credits included more than 100 films covering a wide range of genres. Among his most notable were The Sweet Smell of Success, Some Like It Hot and The Defiant Ones, for which he received an Academy Award nomination. In 2002, he made the leap to live stage performance and starred as Osgood Fielding III in the national Broadway tour of Some Like It Hot, which stopped at Starlight along its cross-country route. Curtis died in 2010.
Cab Calloway, a renowned jazz singer and bandleader in New York City during the 1930s and ‘40s, made his Broadway debut in 1953’s Porgy and Bess. When the show’s soundtrack was set for release in 1959, it was to feature vocal tracks from Sammy Davis, Jr., however, due to a contract conflict, Calloway’s vocals were used instead. When Starlight produced Porgy and Bess in 1964, Calloway got star billing. He returned to Starlight 16 years later, along with Duke Ellington, Eubie Blake, Count Basie and Fats Waller, in the Bubbling Brown Sugar musical revue. Calloway died in 1994.
A powerful presence on screen and stage for nearly six decades, Florence Henderson was best known in pop culture as mom Carol Brady on TV’s “The Brady Bunch” (1969-74). Her career, however, began in musicals. She first toured in Oklahoma! (and met Shirley Jones!) at age 17 and soon made her Broadway debut in 1952’s Wish You Were Here. She continued to work in live theatre through the 1960s and, then, returned to the stage later in life. At Starlight in 1980, Henderson lit up the night as Nellie Forbush in South Pacific. She died in 2016.
Singer, actor, media personality and former teen idol Donny Osmond has been stealing hearts since he debuted with his musical family, the Osmond Brothers, on “The Andy Williams Show” at age 5. He soon became the group’s standout performer and lead vocalist on several tracks, including the brothers’ first big hit, “One Bad Apple,” which topped the pop charts for five weeks in 1971. Over his career, Osmond has released 60 studio albums. A 2001 concert tour in support of his This Is The Moment album stopped at Starlight.
Founder of the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in New York, legendary singer Tony Bennett (born Anthony Dominick Benedetto) impacted traditional pop standards, big bands, show tunes and jazz. He also made a mark in musical theatre, recording and arranging several tracks for live and film productions, including the 1957 film adaptation of Silk Stockings. In August of that same year, the popular singer made his musical theatre debut, playing the role of Steve Canfield in Silk Stockings for Kansas City audiences at Starlight.
Actress and singer Kristin Chenoweth’s career spans film, television and the stage. The musical theatre star took home Tony and Drama Desk awards in 1999 for her portrayal of Sally Brown in You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown on Broadway. She was also nominated for Tonys for originating the role of Glinda in Wicked on Broadway (2004) and for Lily Garland/Mildred Plotka in On the Twentieth Century (2015). Chenoweth graced the Starlight stage in 2005 as the Star Award honoree and guest performer at our annual benefit gala.
Renowned actress, singer and children’s book author, Bernadette Peter’s career has spanned nearly six decades. She made her Broadway debut in 1959 in The Most Happy Fella and has more than a dozen other Broadway musicals among her credits, including the lead role in Hello, Dolly! in 2018. Peters has received seven nominations and won two Tony Awards for her lead actress roles as Emma in Song and Dance (1986) and Annie Oakley in Annie Get Your Gun (1999). Peters came to Starlight in 1977 to perform with singer-songwriter Anthony Newley.
An acclaimed singer, comedian, musical theatre and television actress hailing from Texas, Sandy Duncan has received three Tony, two Emmy and two Golden Globe award nominations for her work in a variety of productions. Duncan starred in the lead role of Anna in the national tour of The King and I that played at Starlight in 2004.
This accomplished actress, singer and dancer has a trifecta of credits on the Starlight stage – Bye Bye Birdie in 1962 and again in 1980, as well as the 2001 U.S. premiere tour of Casper. Over her more than five-decade Broadway career, Chita Rivera has won Tony Awards for Best Actress in a Musical for The Rink (1984) and Kiss of the Spider Woman (1993) and, most recently, was recognized with the 2018 Tony Special Award for Lifetime Achievement.
Once heralded as a female Elvis Presley, Ann-Margret boasts an acting, singing and dancing career that has spanned nearly five decades. She has won five Golden Globe Awards and been nominated for two Academy Awards, two Grammys, a Screen Actors Guild Award and six Emmys. The Swedish-American star made her stage musical debut in 2001-2002, playing brothel owner Miss Mona Stangley in the national tour of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. The tour stopped at Starlight in July 2001.
Betty Buckley, a 2012 American Theatre Hall of Fame inductee, has been an American stage, film and television presence for four decades and counting. She made her Broadway debut in 1969 playing Martha Jefferson in the original production of 1776. From 1977 to 1981, she starred in the ABC hit series “Eight is Enough.” Buckley returned to Broadway and won the 1983 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for originating the role of Grizabella in Cats. She performed at Starlight’s annual benefit gala in the early 2000s.
After seven decades as a comedian, actress and writer, Carol Burnett remains best known for her long-running TV series “The Carol Burnett Show” (1967-78). Equally impressive is her work in musicals and plays on Broadway. Burnett originated the role of Princess Winnifred in Once Upon a Mattress in 1959, receiving a Tony Award nomination for her work. She first shone under the stars at Starlight in 1961 in Calamity Jane and returned the following summer to perform solo. That 1962 performance set a Starlight record that still stands – highest weekly attendance for a variety show, bringing out 55,142 people!
Robert Goulet’s 1960 Broadway debut, originating the role as Sir Lancelot in Camelot, marked the beginning of an award-winning stage, screen and recording career that spanned nearly six decades. A Grammy, Tony and Emmy award winner, Goulet is remembered for his mastery of stage, screen and recording. He first lit up the Starlight stage in 1972 in a variety show performed with then-wife Carol Lawrence. More than three decades later, Goulet returned to Starlight and the kingdom of Camelot in 2004, reprising his role of King Arthur. He died in 2007.
Lou Diamond Phillips is an actor and director best known for his Golden Globe-nominated performance as Ritchie Valens in the 1987 film La Bamba. He has taken on a variety of film and TV roles over the years, notably José in Young Guns and, most recently, Henry Standing Bear in A&E/Netflix’s “Longmire.” Phillips’ only Broadway role came in 1996-97 when he starred as King Monkut of Siam in the Broadway revival of The King and I, earning Tony and Drama Desk award nominations for his work. In June 2011, Kansas City audiences had the pleasure of watching Phillips perform in that royal role in Starlight’s own production of The King and I.
Perhaps best recognized for his jet-setter image and perpetual tan, George Hamilton has appeared in numerous dramatic and comedic film roles. He made two memorable biopics: Your Cheatin' Heart in 1964, in which he portrayed country-western music legend Hank Williams, and in 1971, Evel Knievel, the life story of the motorcycle daredevil. Hamilton executive-produced and was nominated for a Golden Globe Award as the campy neck-biter in the Dracula spoof Love at First Bite (1979). At Starlight in 2012, he starred as nightclub owner Georges in the national tour of La Cage Aux Folles.
Cathy Rigby was a high-flying success when, at age 59, she reprised her leading role as Peter Pan in a national Broadway tour that played at Starlight in July 2012. She had previously soared in Peter Pan at Starlight in 1998 and also lit up our stage as Annie Oakley in 1993’s Annie Get Your Gun. After winning America’s hearts as an international award-winning gymnast, Rigby embarked on a career in entertainment after retiring from the sport in 1972. While an expert commentator for ABC Sports, she also studied acting and singing. Rigby made her stage debut in 1981 as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz and went on to perform in several national touring musicals. She starred in Broadway’s 35th anniversary production of Peter Pan in 1991, earning a Tony nomination for Best Actress. She reprised the role in the A&E TV production in 2000.
Yul Brynner was already a veteran of Broadway when he originated the lead role of King Mongkut of Siam in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s new musical, The King and I, in 1951. His work soon earned him the 1952 Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical. He reprised his role in the film version in 1956, winning an Academy Award for Best Actor, and two more times in Broadway revivals in 1977 and 1985. Over his career, Brynner played the role of the conflicted ruler a total of 4,625 times, including a weeks’ worth of performances in Starlight’s own production in 1976. He died in 1985.
Stars of the Backstage
A hairdresser, wig and makeup designer, Jan DeLovage was a constant backstage presence for Starlight shows. She also lent her talents to several productions for the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Theatre for Young America, Kansas City Repertory Theatre, the University of Kansas Theatre and the New Theatre Restaurant.
Karen Errington was an influential part of Kansas City’s theatre scene. Her ties to Starlight included being a member of the Divas, a female quartet that performed at private engagements for EPIC Innovative Events, and playing the roles of Alma Hix in the 2008 production of The Music Man and Mrs. Harcourt in 2009’s Anything Goes.
Gary Holcombe graced Starlight’s stage several times during his career. He was a founding member of the Actors Theatre of Kansas City and also worked extensively at Kansas City Repertory Theatre, American Heartland Theatre and Unicorn Theatre. Holcombe landed his signature role as Daddy Warbucks in the fourth national tour of Annie, where he met and performed alongside his future wife and EPIC Innovative Events president Donna Thomason. He went on to play the part in three Starlight productions between 1994 and 2004. Throughout his career, he performed as Daddy Warbucks roughly 1,500 times and even owned his own costume.
Molly Jessup served as Starlight’s choirmaster and assistant musical director for more than 20 musicals in the mid-1980s and returned as musical director and conductor from 2000 to 2004. Jessup’s dedication to the musical arts extended to nearly every professional theatre in Kansas City. While Jessup wowed audiences with her directorial talents, she was an educator at heart. The Starlight STARS program took shape under her tutelage as did Starlight’s Blue Star Awards.
A dedicated rigger and stagehand, Lon Muncrief prepared stages at Starlight and elsewhere for concerts and musicals for more than 30 years. He even toured with the Rolling Stones, Elton John and Fleetwood Mac. After spending the first half of his career unloading trucks and building trusses for traveling bands, Muncrief became head carpenter at Starlight in the early 2000s. He was a member of local stage union IATSE Local 31.
Steve Peters was a member of Starlight’s orchestra for nearly three decades. He had a true calling for music. Peters often played double bass and electric bass guitar with the Kansas City Symphony, performed in local chamber ensembles and freelanced as a jazz bass player. He was a founding member of KKFI 90.1 FM and contributed to the station’s folk music programs.