Julie Budd Interview
She began her professional career at the age of 12 in a Catskill Mountains
Six months later she signed a major recording contract, and went on
to co-star with people like Frank Sinatra, Joan Rivers, George Burns, Bob Hope,
Bill Cosby and Liberace, in concert halls throughout the world.
These days finds her giving her one woman performances all over the
country and promoting her newest CD Pure Imagination on Touchwood Records.
The woman we're talking about is Julie Budd and she shared some thoughts
with us recently about a pretty impressive career.
Q - I actually remember seeing you on the Merv Griffin Show when you were
starting out. Now correct me, if I'm wrong, but weren't you being hailed as
the new Barbara Streisand or the next Barbara Streisand?
A - When I was a kid.
Q - What does that do to someone who's starting out, being compared to an
A - Well, first of all it was a compliment because I was a child. I was a
child and they were saying I was just as good. So, when you're a child and
somebody says you're Tina Turner. He was just relaxing. He was just up there
with his family. I had joined this amateur talent show. The m.c. of the show
told me that Herb Bernstein who was this famous arranger and conductor
was vacationing up there with his family. And so I kind of cornered him on
the handball court, (laughs), and I said you've got to hear me sing on Saturday
night. I'm gonna be in this talent show and I'm really terrific. It was like
yeah, yeah, yeah, kid. But, I kept bothering him and I kept bothering him.
And finally, just to kind of get me out of his hair, he came to the show, and
he was real turned on. He loved it. So, he asked my parents if he could cut
a demonstration record with me and they took me into the city and cut a demo.
Then Herby was recording Merv Griffin and he, brought me to the session. On
the break, he played the demo for Merv and asked me to sing at the piano and
Merv put me on two days later. And there it was. I've been working ever since
that day, which is kind of an unusual scenario.
Q - You were ambitious as a kid.
A - Well, all I wanted to do was this. All I wanted to do was sing. I drove
my parents crazy and they really didn't want me to. Their idea of a life for
me was to fix my nose and marry a doctor, (laughs). You know, I don't
have to tell you what the life plan was for a typical Jewish kid in Brooklyn.
To be quite honest with you, I don't blame my parents for not wanting me to
be in this business. It's really not the greatest and the most solid place
for a parent to want their kid to be. But, they met Herby and they liked him,
and so they let me do this
Q - You really love show business then.
A - Well, it's all I know at this point of my life, when you really think
Q - Did you ever go to college?
A - No. I finished high school. I was busy working with Frank Sinatra. I
was busy working with Jimmy Durante.
Q - How were you treated by these headlines and specifically...
A - The audience embraced me, because it was like the kid. I mean, we made
no excuse for me being a kid. We approached the work where I was to be just
as professional and just as prepared as any veteran. That was very, very
good because I grew up with a certain expectation. I grew up with a sense
of excellence. None of this hey she's a kid, let's fall back on that.
Q - Specifically, what was it like to open for Frank Sinatra? And, Liberace?
A - Liberace became my very, very dear friend. I was friendly with Lee for
17 years. I met Lee when I was 17. We were very, very close friends for the
next 17 years until he died. I went everywhere with him. We went to France
together. We went all over Europe together. We were just very dear and very
close. You learned something different from each one of them. Lee taught
me all about lighting and clothing and production. Frank taught me about stage
presence and lighting. They were all into lighting because it's very important
when you work 'live'. It adds so much. And, pacing. Lee and Frank were very
much into the pacing of a show. And Frank, the importance or the honesty
of the material. Always picking material that was really right for you. Frank
was very good to me. A lot of the people I worked with like Frank Sinatra and
Danny Thomas were all very fatherly to me. Lee was more of a friend. With Frank
Sinatra it was very parental. Same thing with Danny Thomas. I had a theory
as I got older that I think a lot of them worked through their relationships
with their kids through me. Don't forget they were traveling on the road.
They had families. They felt a lot of guilt about that. As their kids grew
up, I think a lot of them felt a lot of guilt, like maybe they should have
given their kids more time, or they had to accept that they had to balance
the lifestyle. They always wondered if it had been enough. Through me it was
an interesting transference because I think they were all so good to me. I
feel they were working out a lot of parental stuff through me. But, if that
happened it was good.
Q - What years were you opening for Frank Sinatra? Would it have been in
the early to mid 70's?
A - Yes it was. It was in Vegas at Caesar's Palace. I worked for Frank when
I was 16. He was so great to me.
Q - Did you ever perform in Syracuse?
A -I didn't get a chance to do Syracuse. I worked in Rochester at the Kodak Theatre.
I worked a lot there. The closest I got to Syracuse was Rochester. I used to
go out with a guy who was from Rochester. It's funny; I always wanted to play
a lot of the surrounding towns. There just wasn't the opportunity, at the time.
There's a Pops orchestra in Syracuse that I'm interested in talking to. We're
starting to do a lot of symphony stuff. I'm doing the Illinois Symphony Orchestra.
I've done the Boston Pops and the Philly Pops. So, I was thinking of Syracuse
also. I heard you have a nice orchestra.
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