We headed out on I95 but my mind superimposed Rt 17 in New York State. The signs advertising Medical Facilities, Orthopedic Surgeons, and The Hard Rock Casino became the Billboards for Grossingers, The Concord, and Browns Hotel. Freddie Roman, creator and star of Catskills on Broadway and comic superstar was going to receive the Footlighters Club’s Shecky Greene Lifetime Achievement Award at Miami Shores Country Club. Getting such an award is usually a momentous solemn ritual, but when 7 of your fellow comedians will be toasting and honoring you the event becomes a room that is filled with the most amount of laughter on the planet.
Freddie arrived late, (the car sent for him got lost) and entered to the cheers of all his show biz friends and then the fun started. Errol Dante Footlighters president opened with the song “Make Em’ Laugh” and then they sure did! Starting with 96 year old former TV comedian and talk show host Woody Woodbury, who seemed more like one of the current crop of young comics. Then came Rick Star, Dick Capri, Ken Block, Rick Corso, Stewie Stone, and Sal Richards. Sal also sang an emotional tribute to Freddie.
Even the silent auction run by musical director Mark Friedman became a laughing matter with folks yelling out bids even before the items were produced. At one point when Mark mentioned that the Footlighters raises money to help Indigent entertainers in need, Dick Capri wryly heckled “thank you very much”!
It was one of the most heartfelt afternoons one could experience, and Freddie Roman after accepting the award emotionally declared….. “I am so touched by this honor and want to assure my fellow Footlighters that I will always be supportive of this wonderful organization and attend all of it’s events”..but then mischievously added…”as long as you send a car for me.”
Music by The Bobby Barnett Orchestra