18 , 2008
OUT OF THE DARKNESS
November 5, 2008 -The politics of hate, fear and division has been
pushed back into the dark cave from which it came. It will still
rear its ugly head from time to time, but we have a fine young man
as our president, who, I believe, will lead us with a calm, steady,
compassionate hand. This country that we all love so much is now
lit by the pure white light of hope. Last night we came out of the
darkness and into this beautiful light. I am grateful to have lived
long enough to see this.
I wrote the above thoughts the morning after Barack Obama was elected
President of the United States. I am sure that some of you were
disheartened, sad, and fearful when it became clear that he had
won. I can only say to you that now you understand what I felt after
the elections of 2000 and 2004. However, this great country will
go on because our founders were very wise men. Although our nation
is going through some very hard times right now, her people are
strong and resilient. We are can do Americans and we
will rise again to our respected place in the world. I can only
ask that you give this young president a chance..... give him a
chance to lead. If, after offering him a grace period,
you still feel he was the wrong choice, you have the opportunity
to vote him out of office in 2012. We are a most fortunate people
indeed to be Americans.
TONI'S TAKE.... AGAIN
Some of you have written many times asking when I would start writing
TONIS TAKE again. I have been known to be a procrastinator,
but this is ridiculous! Actually, I have been having a very long talk
with myself about why I have not written in such a long time, and
here is what I have finally decided is the reason..... my life now
would not be particularly interesting to most of you. Daryl and I
are, for all intents and purposes, retired from performing and recording.
Retiring wasnt so much a deliberate decision as it was something
that just seemed to happen. After the VICTOR/VICTORIA tour, I was
emotionally bruised and battered.... no ones fault but my own.
I made a decision without thinking about how it would actually affect
me and my family. I loved the show, and couldnt wait to tackle
the part..... I really felt I would be great in the role. However,
I didnt think it through well enough as to what the tour would
actually entail. Once I got out there and started the tour, the bottom
fell out of my heart because of homesickness..... I missed my home,
my dogs and cats...... and I ached for Daryls constant reassuring
presence. Lying in bed in one of the hotel rooms in a big city, listening
to the sirens and the trash trucks, I missed the sound of silence
at night in rural northern Nevada, a quiet occasionally broken by
the sound of the wind or a coyotes manic laughter.
Well..... Ive discussed all of this in previous posts. Lets
just say that was the beginning of the end of touring for me. And
its funny that now, THAT life...... the one I had on television
and on radio.... seems like a dream.... like Toni Tennille isnt
me. I see her on YouTube, and admire her energy and singing, but she
seems unreal and totally unconnected to me.
I now have a much simpler life, and it suits me and Daryl just fine.
But I doubt it will be that interesting to most of you. But so many
of you have written to ask how we are doing, let me take some time
to catch you up on what has been going on since I last wrote TONI'S
OUR NEW PRESCOTT HOME
Daryl and I moved into our beautiful
new home in Prescott AZ in June. We lived in the guest house for
about 2 1/2 weeks until the main house was completely finished. I
must say I am so proud of Daryl's work on the design of this home.....
the fourth house we have built from the"ground up." We essentially
copied the house we had in northern Nevada but made some changes we
thought would improve the original design. Daryl had the vision to
design exactly what was needed. The house is sturdily built, gracious,
open and welcoming.... exactly what we wanted.
We have been going through some rather difficult times physically.
Daryl had bi-lateral knee replacement surgery on October 13th. That
means he had BOTH
knees surgically replaced at the same time. His knees have been
horrible since his 40s, but he put off having surgery until he just
couldn't stand it any more. We are extremely fortunate to have a couple
of wonderful orthopaedic surgeons here in town. Daryl's surgery was
done by Dr. Bertrand Kaper (pronounced "copper"), and he
did a spectacular job. Daryl was in the hospital here in Prescott
for five days, and then came home to begin recuperating along with
help from my brother-in-law Frank, who is a nurse. Frank flew out
here from Florida and stayed with us for 18 days, eliminating any
necessity for Daryl to go to a rehab facility, thank goodness.
Daryl is now walking on his own, using a cane occasionally. He is
going through post-op rehab three days a week, and drives himself
to the rehab facility. His tremor is still quite bothersome and embarrassing
to him, so he is really uncomfortable in social situations...... even
more than usual. The most difficult thing for Daryl has been re-training
his leg muscles to support his perfect, new knees. He was using those
muscles incorrectly for decades, compensating for his bad knees. Now
they have to learn to work with his new ones. It is truly amazing....
where Daryl used to be slightly knock-kneed, his legs are now perfectly
straight. Thank God for the skill of a fine surgeon.
I foresee Daryl's struggling with his recovery and rehab for another
couple of months, but there will come a time when he will be able
to hike with me again.... hopefully soon.
MY LEFT HIP
Actually....it will take ME a couple of months before I can go hiking
again. A week ago Sunday, I broke my left hip running agility with
our dog, Smoky.
He and I were running a pattern of three jumps leading to "c"
shaped tunnel, with both ends pointing towards the jumps. The object
was for the dogs to go over the jumps, enter the tunnel on the right
side, come out of the tunnel on the left, and go back over the jumps.
I put Smoky in a sit/stay, walked halfway down the jumps, and then
called him to jump and "go tunnel". After he went over the
jumps, he headed for the left entrance to the tunnel, instead of the
right side I was indicating. I called, "Smoky.... here! Here!"
He turned on a dime and headed for the correct entrance, but I didn't
move fast enough to get out his way, and he knocked my feet out from
under me. I landed with my full body weight on my left hip.
Actually, I was most fortunate.... I didn't BREAK the hip, I cracked
the femur. Luckily I have big, strong, dense bones, so I didn't need
a hip replacement, just three titanium screws to hold the crack in
place until the bone heals. The only trouble is I am not allowed to
put any weight on my left leg for at least four more weeks, so I am
limping around the house using a walker or crutches. The walker is
good because it has a basket to carry things around, but it really
slows me up! The crutches are faster, but I have to be very careful
while I'm using them. If I re-injure the hip, I will have to have
hip replacement surgery...... YIKES. So I am being VERY careful and
patient so the bone will heal good as new.
So, here we are...two injured people.... recuperating with the help
of my wonderful younger sisters and nieces, who have been here since
I got out of the hospital, and will be here, in shifts, until January
3rd. After that, my terrific neighbors will help out a bit until I
can throw way the crutches...hopefully by January 11th.
OUR CREATIVE LIVES IN PRESCOTT
I am doing some creative things, but nothing big. I took part as an
actress in an "old fashioned radio show" at the Prescott
Fine Arts Theatre on Prescott Ghost Walk night during Halloween.
Although the show was presented live on stage, we acted an original
mystery script, written by a local writer. It was lots of fun and
was great to be part of an ensemble again. The experience took me
right back to my days of community theatre, and I will probably do
more of it if asked.
I also sang (donating my performance) as part of the Prescott Jazz
Festival, held in Prescott every August, and presented by Mike
Vax, a terrific trumpet player and jazz educator. He brings in
top quality jazz artists from all over the country to perform in various
venues in the Prescott area. I dug out some of my great Sammy Nestico
Big Band arrangements and performed with the big band here in town.
It was great, because I was just part of the show...I sang five songs,
I think. It was kind of a relief not to have the entire show depend
I have been doing a lot of dog agility with our 18 month old blue
merle Australian Shepherd, Smoky. I always wanted to do agility with
Adelaide, but we were on the road all the time, and I never had the
time to work with her. Now she is almost 12 years old..... feisty
as ever, but a bit too old to be learning agility.
Smoky and I are also in training to pass the Delta Society Hospital
Therapy Dog test in late January. Once we are certified, he and I
will become part of the therapy dog volunteer teams who visit patients
and their families once a week at our local hospital. His father,
Moon, was a beloved therapy dog who worked at the hospital for six
years. Sadly, Moon died of a virulent cancer just two months after
Hubble died. He was only eight years old. Smoky has his daddy's sweetness
and gentle nature, so I know he will carry on Moon's legacy with honor.
I have just started working on a theme song for our agility club,
TOP DOG. I'm really doing it for fun, and to keep myself creative.
I am at a stopping point now, because I need Daryl to do a track for
me based on what I've written. Unfortunately, Daryl doesn't have his
recording area set up yet, and now that he has had knee surgery, he
won't be able to do it until he can get up and down from the floor
easily (all the plugs and outlets are down low to the ground).
I can honestly tell you that our touring days are over. Neither of
us can stand to fly, especially as things are now. Daryl's tremor
embarrasses him so much, I doubt if he will ever appear onstage in
public again, which really puts an end to Captain and Tennille, since
I will never do those songs without him. He has always been the sound
of C&T. There is no one quite like him.
Now I have brought you up to date. Our lives, I'm sure, are not that
interesting to you now. We've gone back to being just regular people...kind
of like we were before all the hits. I plan to contribute my talents
in smaller ways, but hopefully meaningful ones. I hope to always be
creative in some way. My deepest thanks to all of you who have been
such great fans over the years. We have loved hearing from you. If
you like, I will try to write a TONI'S TAKE every now and then. Mostly
I will just write about what's going on here in Prescott.
I hope some of you are enjoying our Christmas CD, THE
SECRET OF CHRISTMAS. You aren't likely to find it in stores, but
all of the online stores (Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com, CD Universe.com)
have it available. In the meantime, have a very merry Christmas and
a wonderful Holiday Season, and..... Keep
A Song of Joy Inside Your Heart.-
YOUR BIRTHDAY WISHES / ON TURNING SIXTY-EIGHT / RAVENSTONE / HUBBLE
- YOUR BIRTHDAY WISHES
Well, I just had to come out of my self-imposed blog break to say
a heartfelt thank you to all of you who wrote with birthday wishes.
It is very heart-warming to see how many fans sent emails and ecards.
Although I havent always been thrilled to see another birthday
come around, I have always been happy that I am a May baby. It seems
hopeful and positive to me to have been born in the spring, when the
world is waking up from a dark, cold winter and we are able to open
our windows wide to the bright warmth and sunlight of spring.
ON TURNING SIXTY-EIGHT
Now, as my dear and well-spoken younger sister, Louisa, might say,
HOLY CRAP....HOW CAN I BE THIS FRIGGIN OLD????????????!!!!!
There are a few problems with being a so-called celebrity.
One of them is that, since it is often announced in the newspapers
or on television, everybody knows when your birthday is, and how OLD
you are (unless, of course, you have lied about your age from the
If I had my way, birthdays would roll by, and no one would be the
wiser, except perhaps my sisters and closest friends (cant do
much about them). Id really rather that each birthday was just
a day like any other day. However, it WAS quite nice to hear from
all of you, and to go out to a romantic dinner with Daryl
last night to one of our lovely restaurants here in Prescott. He actually
did his best not to talk about all of his conspiracy theories and
negative notions, and he even used his own credit card to pay the
bill! That was particularly amazing, since his personal
credit card hardly ever sees the light of day.
Daryl makes the whole birthday thing a bit more unpleasant, because
he starts talking about my next birthday about six months before it
occurs. Well, in six months youll be SIXTY-EIGHT
(emphasis mine). Then a few weeks later, Well, you know youre
going to be SIXTY-EIGHT soon. Then as the months go by, Hey,
youre almost SIXTY-EIGHT. By the time I have heard this
often enough, I start thinking of myself as a year older than I actually
am...... Well, Im, ALMOST sixty-eight, I might as well
BE sixty-eight. I hardly get to enjoy being whatever age I just
turned. I cant wait until this fall when hell say, You
know, youll be turning SIXTY-NINE soon. Arrrgggg!!!!
As I am nearing my seventh decade, in spite of eating a very healthy
diet, working out at the gym, walking several miles a day and visiting
the hair salon regularly, things
are beginning to sag, droop, wrinkle, dry up, creak and turn gray.
Somehow I always thought these signs of age would never show up, or,
at least, would show up MUCH later.... but here they are. I am almost
at the point where I say to myself, oh what the hell.... time to cut
my hair short and spiky and let it go totally gray. It WANTS to go
gray. It has been GOING gray for the past several years! But my damned
vanity just wont let me give up just yet. So a few more years
of fighting the inevitable, I guess.
Our new house is close to completion, and our builder has promised
us we will be able to move in the third week of June. We have decided
to call the house Ravenstone, because it is a stone house and because
the skies around Prescott always seem to be teeming with big, black,
glossy, incredibly imposing and intelligent ravens.
It will have been a very long fourteen months since we broke ground,
but the house is beautiful, and we are very happy with how it is turning
out. I can tell you this...... it will be the last house we will ever
build from the ground up! You might remember that, in one of my earlier
blogs, I told you about an elderly friend who admonished us that we
should be where you are going to be by the time youre
seventy. It was that remark that made us finally make the decision
to leave northern Nevadas cold, snowy winters and head south
to Prescott, Arizona.
Prescott is a wonderful town, with beautiful scenery, a colorful history
and a terrific arts scene. We have been living here for almost a year,
and with each passing day we realize that we made the perfect choice
to move here. Prescottonians are warm and welcoming, and we have made
some wonderful new friends. Prescott is a lot like northern Nevada
where we lived for so many years, only without all the deep winter
snow and the heavy traffic. One of the great things about Prescott
is that it is not on the way to anywhere. You have to make an effort
to get here. That keeps the traffic way down!
Now I have something very sad to tell you. Monday morning, three
days before my birthday, we had to put our eight and a half year
old Australian Shepherd dog, Hubble, to sleep.
In early March, we had to rush him to the emergency hospital where
he was diagnosed with a fluid build-up between his heart and the
pericardial sac that surrounds it. The Cardiology Veterinarian removed
the fluid and then told me then that this condition was probably
caused by cancer, but wed have to take another set of x-rays
in a few weeks to see if there was any more evidence of a metastasis.
X-rays about two weeks ago showed what we had feared most. He had
developed a particularly virulent form of cancer... probably a hemangiosarcoma...
and it killed him very quickly. Up until a week before he died,
he showed no signs of the cancer that would end his life. In his
last week, the only symptom he had was a slight slowing down of
his pace on our daily walks.
On Monday morning when I got up, the moment I saw him I knew we
would lose him that day. He moved slowly and painfully and his gums
were almost white, indicating that he was probably bleeding internally.
I could see in his eyes and in his demeanor that he was suffering.
Daryl helped me lift Hubble into the car. On the way to the vet
hospital, I picked up my friends Kathy and Carol (who are also Australian
Shepherd owners), and I am so grateful they were there to help me
through this. After examining Hubble, his veterinarian told us his
heart sounds were very muffled indicating he had most likely developed
fluid around his heart again. She also said that it appeared the
cancer was causing bleeding into his abdominal cavity. It was time
to let him go. I caressed his head and whispered that I loved him
while my friends Kathy and Carol laid their gentle and reassuring
hands on him. Through the skill and mercy of his veterinarian, he
passed peacefully away within fifteen seconds.
We have lost many pets over our 36 years together, and it is always
hard to make that last decision. But almost all of them had been
elderly, and because we knew they had lived out their full lifetimes
in health and happiness, it was a bit easier. Hubble was only eight
and a half years old. But he was a HUGE presence in our lives. When
he was really excited, he would make a sound I have never heard
from another dog. It was a high-pitched sort of musical trill, that
moved up and down the scale. He usually made this sound as he somehow
turned his head toward his tail, almost forming a circle with his
body, and approached
us sideways, kind of like a crab does on the beach. It was funny
and endearing, and made us laugh. What a boy he was!
This was so sudden and so very hard. I still wake up each morning
with tears in my eyes. He was a funny, goofy, strong, loving dog...
a daddys boy. He is over the Rainbow
Bridge now with all of our other dearly loved pets, and he is
safe and free of all pain and suffering. I know from experience
that time will heal, but we will always miss that dear, funny boy.
Thank you all, once again, for your birthday wishes. Now Im
going to slip back into my blog break until after we have moved
into the new house. Until then, Keep
A Song of Joy Inside Your Heart.-
A TONIS TAKE HIATUS | LOOKING INTO OUR FUTURE | OUR SHIP OF
A TONIS TAKE HIATUS
To all of my faithful readers who have noticed how UNfaithful I have
been about posting, I must say thank you for your patience. I have
been asking myself why it has been so difficult for me to sit down
and write TONIS TAKE, and I have finally realized that
I am so distracted by this house we are building, I simply cant
concentrate on matters that, hopefully, might be of interest to you.
So I have decided to take a hiatus from TONIS TAKE until after
the house is finished and we have moved in and gotten ourselves settled.
The builder seems to think the house might be finished in early June.
Since we broke ground last May, that is just about a month over the
estimate of one year to build. So I would hope I can get back to regular
posting in late summer or early fall.
If you send me specific questions, I will copy them to a list, and
from time to time answer them in TONIS TAKE. I also promise
to post any momentous news that may occur in our career
(although I wouldnt hold your breath for anything like that). -
LOOKING INTO OUR FUTURE-
- - >
Ive been thinking a lot about the stage of life that Daryl and
I find ourselves in. This beautiful house we are building will probably
be the last home we live in. Truthfully, since I am 67 years old now,
I will be 87 after we have lived in the house for 20 years. This is
a fairly scary thought. The house is big, and I have always done my
own cleaning and such. I have to start thinking of how I will manage
when we become VERY old.
The first thing I think of is how critical it is that Daryl and I
stay as strong and healthy
as we possibly can, both physically and mentally, so we can do what
needs to be done as long as possible.
Heres an example of how we are thinking now. When we worked
with a landscape contractor for the new house, we realized that we
would have to buy at least a few VERY
large, expensive trees, because we dont have the luxury
of years to wait for little ones to grow and mature.
We are installing grab bars and high-boy
toilets in the new home... not because we need them now, but because
we know we will need them down the road.
I recently took an online test, sent to me by my brother-in-law, Frank
(Janes husband). You answer about 37 questions about your current
health, your diet, family medical history, whether or not you smoke,
use your seat-belt, exercise regularly, have a chronic disease, etc.
Then the test calculates your Virtual Age (versus your
real age) and how long you can be expected to live (assuming you dont
get hit by a truck or struck by lightning). The test results said
that my Virtual Age is 38.1, and I can expect to live 109.9 years.
Yes, thats right.... 109.9
years. If that is the case, I need to work VERY hard right
now to stay strong and independent. I cant see myself still
cleaning that big house by myself in my 100s!
Daryl and I are also re-thinking our career. Our life
together has always been about music.... loving it, writing it, creating
it. The truth is, we were damned lucky to have had the career weve
had. As I may have mentioned before, a Personal Manager-type who was
frustrated by some of the less-than-ambitious career choices we made,
told us we had to have a RAGE TO SUCCEED to make it big
in our business. Well, we have never had that rage. Our choices were
all about the music, and nothing else. Of course, there WAS that Verizon
commercial we did a few years ago..... but that was all about fun
(and we did make a nice bit of change for that).
I guess what I am trying to say to you is that we have come to a very
important milestone in our lives, and are trying to figure out the
right choices to make. At this point, both of us want to make music
for the joy of making it.... not because we have to do it to make
a living. We are thinking about drawing down into a smaller, more
manageable, less stressful universe now.
We are seeing the music
as we knew it, disintegrating before our eyes... something Daryl has
been predicting for years. It is very sad. But, once again, we realize
how lucky we were back in 1974 to have been able to walk, unknown,
into a radio station with our 45 record of THE WAY I WANT TO TOUCH
YOU, and convince the station Music Director to give it a chance on
the air. You just cant do that today.
I have hope, since I am an optimist, that the recording business will
find another way to work that will give young, worthy artists a chance
to be heard... to find their audience... to make a good living doing
the thing they love most. In the mean time, well just have to
watch and wait.
OUR SHIP OF STATE
So.... just a quick comment on the events of this momentous day in
politics...... Tuesday, March 4, 2008... another Super Tuesday
that may determine the Democratic candidate for president. John McCain
(who lives about an hour from us in Sedona, AZ) is a given on the
I did receive four emails from Republicans after my last post, so
I am relieved to know that I DO have Republican readers. I had hoped
that they wouldnt feel excluded after reading about my political
beliefs. We are an equal-opportunity blog here!!
Right after my last post, we had our presidential primary here in
Arizona. I must tell you I honestly had no idea which candidate I
would choose, even as I stood in line to vote. I didnt know
even as I stood at the voting machine. I finally just let myself go
Zen and calm (quickly, because there was a line behind
me), and my vote went to Hillary.... almost like I was standing outside
myself, watching me vote! Still, I have second-guessed myself constantly
after that, and I still am.
I like both Democratic candidates for different reasons. I also like
John McCain as a person, but disagree with him on many of his political
positions. As Ive told you before, I consider myself a Pragmatic
Centrist, and I feel we MUST start a change in Washington. I am appalled
at what has happened to our beloved country in the past seven years.
But the great and beautiful ship of the United States of America cannot
turn on a dime.
It has to turn very slowly and very carefully.... like a huge tanker
in the vast ocean. But it will turn, and hopefully find itself on
a straight, solid, safe path to the future.
Thats it for now. Send in your questions, and Ill try
to answer them in my next post.... whenever that might be!!! In the
meantime, Keep A Song Of Joy Inside Your Heart.(
PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE SURVEY | GOODBYE TO BILL BELEW
- PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE SURVEY
- WOW!!!!! I finally found the time to sit down and tabulate
the results from my informal poll of TONIS TAKE readers. First
of all, I have to say how incredibly impressed I am with your thoughtful,
carefully considered expressions of your thinking in making your choices.
I detected minimal cynicism, which pleased me so much. It is very
easy to become cynical about politics, and more difficult to try to
make the best of the political situation you face.
Having been around Alabama politics for many years while I was growing
up (my father was a one-term State Legislator in Alabama), I understand
how easily cynicism can creep into political thinking. Politics can
be sleazy and corrupt, filled with insider dealing and
good ol boy networking. There is a great deal of
horse trading and under-the-table bargaining. Still, I
truly believe our system of government is the best in the world, and
I am proud to call myself an American. It thrills me to see our political
system at work.
Only one writer expressed any negativity towards those who might disagree
with her position, calling them ignorant. The rest of
you expressed yourselves in positive ways, using often eloquent language.
It is exciting to a political junkie like me to realize
how seriously you are taking this election.
Of course, most of you mentioned how ready you are for the Bush
Administration to go, but none of you used unpleasant language
or pejorative terms to express your feelings. Good for you.
Since I expressed my OWN political leanings in the same TONIS
TAKE in which I asked for YOURS, I hope I didnt deter those
of you who disagree with me from writing. I am a bit concerned that
might have skewed the results a bit. But since I am not an official
pollster, I doubt it matters much.
- Here is what you told me:
53% of you would vote for Hillary
19% would vote for Barack
14% for John
Edwards(many of you wrote before he withdrew)
There was one vote for Mitt
30% of those choosing Clinton or Obama said they would be fine with
You can see why I am a bit concerned that those of you who are staunch
Republicans didnt write to express your choice, since the vast
majority of writers said you would be voting the Democratic ticket.
Maybe I just dont attract Republican readers. That is interesting
At any rate, THANK YOU!!!! Thank you for writing, and giving me such
a good sense of the thoughtful, well-spoken readers I have for TONIS
TAKE. I am pleased beyond words.
GOODBYE TO BILL BELEW
On another note, I want to mention the passing of Costume Designer,
BELEW. Bill died of complications from diabetes on January 7th
in Palm Springs, CA. He was 77 years old. Bill was most famous for
designing those extravagant, be-jeweled, amazing jumpsuits
Elvis Presley wore during his Vegas years. He also
designed that sexy, tight black leather outfit Elvis wore on his fabulous
comeback television special.
But Bill was special to me and to Daryl, because he was the Costume
Designer for the CAPTAIN AND TENNILLE VARIETY SHOW on ABC, and for
two of our ABC Specials.... HAWAII and NEW ORLEANS. He designed all
those wild polka-dotted, striped, plaid, pink, lime green and red
Captains hats that Daryl wore (wonder where all of those hats
are now?), and all of the gorgeous gowns my sisters and wore on the
shows. He was a gentle, kind, gracious man with a soft southern accent,
and I adored him from the first time we met.
I remember that he used to make trips to Paris, France once or twice
a year to buy fabrics that he thought would make beautiful gowns for
me. When he returned from one of his Paris trips, we would go over
the luxurious fabrics he brought with him... satins, taffetas, peau
de sois, silk jerseys, in beautiful colors, both vivid and soft, fingering
them lovingly, both of us enjoying the sensuous feel of gorgeous fabrics.
And Bill certainly had his work cut out for himself trying to dress
me. I had HIPS and THIGHS!!! (still do). The ideal figure for wearing
clothes beautifully belonged to Cher..... slender, narrow hips, modest
bust. I had the modest bust, but the rest of me was, to say the least,
generous. Bill finally came up with a basic design that worked well
for my particular shape..... a kind of spaghetti strap top, and a
skirt that gently skimmed my problem area without being
too tight. He and I made a few miscalculations over the
years, but for the most part he made me look about as attractive as
One of my favorite of Bills designs were the four taffeta gowns
he created for my three sisters and me to wear on our 1976 Christmas
Special. He wanted us to look like beautiful, elegant Southern
Belles, and that is exactly how we felt when we wore them. You
can see me, Jane, Louisa and Melissa wearing those gowns while we
sang LITTLE SAINT NICK on the Christmas Special. I will always remember
Bill with deep fondness..... he was a wonderful designer and a true
Now Im off to run all my Saturday errands so I can watch tonights
Presidential Primary returns while I make dinner. Thank you again
for your terrific emails. Im very proud of you! Until next time.......
Keep A Song of Joy Inside Your Heart.-
- BACK TO PRESCOTT | MY TALK SHOW | PRESIDENTIAL
- BACK TO PRESCOTT
Once again the days have flown by since I last posted TONIS
TAKE. Since then, Daryl and I loaded up the two dogs and the three
cats and moved to our little rental house in Prescott, AZ. Our new
home here is about four months away from completion, and we really
need to be here every day to answer questions from the builders and
keep an eye on things.
Our little Chalet in the Pines seems smaller than ever
now, bursting at the seams with the seven living souls in residence.
This is because it is SO COLD in Prescott right now! When I let the
dogs out this morning, the thermometer read 16 degrees! Brrrrr! The
locals say temperatures this cold are very unusual, and I am certainly
glad to hear that!
When we were here from last June through late fall, we used the long,
wide deck that runs the length of the house as an extra room.
I was out there all the time, reading, writing my blog, watching the
birds, and just enjoying the fresh air. Since this little place faces
north, and is in the midst of shady pines, we get practically NO sun.
That worked just great in the summer, when the daytime temps could
reach the mid to high 90s, but not now!!!
Still.... .the sun is shining brightly every day, the little gas fireplace
is cozy in the early mornings, the house heats up quickly, and we
have absolutely nothing to complain about!
MY TALK SHOW
Quite a few of you have written, asking about my short-lived, 1980
syndicated talk show, the TONI TENNILLE TALK/VARIETY SHOW. Some musical
numbers from that show have been posted
on YouTube, and I guess that piqued your interest.
When I was approached in 1980 about hosting a talk show, I was very
interested in trying my hand at it for a couple of reasons. My mother
was a pioneer television talk show host on the ABC
affiliate, WSFA TV, in Montgomery, Alabama in the 1950s. Her half-hour
show was called THE GUEST ROOM, and she was on live five
days a week, interviewing notable personalities who might happen to
find themselves in Montgomery. My sisters Jane, Louisa and I often
went down to the station to watch her do her show (Melissa was too
young), and sometimes we were even her guests if one didnt
show up. Mother was gracious, charming, and funny, and I was very
proud of her.
As for reason #2, I always admired singer, Dinah
Shore. She was a southerner (Tennessee) about my mothers
age, and hosted a nationally syndicated talk/variety show for many
years, after enjoying a long, wonderful career as a singer. Daryl
and I appeared on her show many times in the 70s, and she always seemed
to be thrilled to see us (EVERY one of Dinahs guests felt that
way). She was truly interested in people and the stories they had
to tell. Dinahs warmth and southern charm reminded me so much
of my mother, and I thought that, perhaps, I might be able to follow
in Dinahs footsteps, since she was about to retire from her
What I discovered when I finally started taping the show was how very,
very hard it was to do. Since it was a Talk/Variety show, that meant
I had to do at least two or three musical numbers per show.... an
opening song, sometimes a duet with a guest, and usually a featured
song during the show. Since we taped two shows a day, three days a
week (a total of six shows, so there would be some to air during hiatus),
that meant very intense musical rehearsals on the off days. Songs
had to be chosen, arrangements had to be written, and I had to rehearse,
learn the songs I wasnt that familiar with and have all the
songs performance-ready for those three days of intense taping.
In addition to the musical numbers, I had to read all of the information
and bios about my guests, go over possible questions for them with
the producers, and keep all of that info in my mind so I could do
a fairly intelligent interview.
As far as my particular interview style, I preferred to have a conversation
with my guests, making them feel comfortable and welcome (like my
mom and Dinah... and Merv Griffin, as a matter of fact). I was not
in that interview chair to play gotcha or try to make
them look foolish or shallow (although some of them did that on their
own!). It is my opinion that you get more interesting information
from people when they feel comfortable with you than when you make
I had a great band on the show, headed up by guitarist, Ira Newborn,
and including, among other fine musicians, Rusty Higgins, who was
a member of our Captain and Tennille band, and later on was my conductor
for Big Band and Symphony gigs. Daryl made guest appearances as often
as I could persuade him to, but he wasnt interested in committing
to the daily talk show grind.
The band was so good, it made the musical numbers a real joy for me.
But there were so MANY songs!!!! I soon found my head so full of musical
arrangements and information about guests, I could hardly remember
things like my own phone number! Once I had interviewed a guest or
performed a song on the show, I tried to remove that data from my
brains hard drive, but so much of it would remain there. It
was alarming and drove me crazy.
I also discovered that I began to have reservations about what I was
doing. I was interviewing people who were usually celebrities... actors,
musicians, singers, directors, etc..... who were very excited about
what they were doing creatively, and eager to talk about it. I found
myself thinking, Wait a minute. IM a creative person.
Im a singer. Im a songwriter. And, because of this show,
I dont have the time or energy to do any of it! It was
a real dilemma for me. In many ways, I loved doing the show. I met
and talked with some incredibly accomplished people and sang some
great songs with a wonderful band. Once again, I was torn as far as
the direction of my career. In a way, by doing the show, I was kind
of saying that I thought my own creative days were behind me.
Anyhow, I was savedby
I guess, because the show was not renewed. Since it was syndicated,
it showed up at different times in different cities. In some places
it did wonderfully. In New York City, for example, it was the top-rated
show at 7PM. I was always proud of that, because New Yorkers are very
sophisticated about their entertainment. After all, they have a true
banquet of the arts available to them at all times.
In Chicago, a city I also love, the show was on around 3AM.... NOT
my audience, I think. Anyhow, it was not meant to be, and I actually
felt a tremendous amount of relief when it was over.
Another thing happened towards the end of the show that contributed
to my cynicism and distaste for a lot of the so-called reality shows
on television now. My show had always been about interesting, creative
guests and terrific musical artists, and I loved it. My producers
came to me one day and said they wanted to do a piece about a family
that had been separated somehow by adoption or something. I honesty
cant remember the details, because Ive blocked it out
of my memory (I do that all the time with unpleasant things... keeps
Anyhow, they wanted to have a surprise reunion of this
family on the show. I immediately had a bad feeling about it. This
is probably because I am a very private person, and dont believe
in sharing momentous, personal events like this one on national television.
After all, who knows what the participants actually would think about
the surprise. Their reactions would be tainted by their
knowledge that they were on television.
I just hated the whole idea..... not that these people would be having
a special family reunion, but the fact that we would all be voyeurs....
peeping Toms in a way. Still, I agreed to it. I thought
that maybe I was being too stuffy about the whole thing. Television
was changing, and I was supposed to change with it.
Well, the reunion was taped. Tears were shed all around....
by the family members, audience, etc. I hated it. I thought it was
phony, contrived, and I refused to do such a thing again.
Now, of course, you see this kind of thing all the time. I know the
strings being pulled behind the scenes to make it all look spontaneous
and real, but dont be fooled by it. I guess, in the long run,
it is just hard for me to watch people sharing their most personal
and most private moments with a vast bunch of strangers out there
in the dark, faceless television audience. Who knows... there may
come a time, God forbid, when we will have NO private moments anyway.
But I can assure you that I will go down, kicking and screaming, to
On another note....we are finally at the beginning of the Presidential
primaries. It seems like the candidates have been running for years
and years, but this is really it. I dont usually talk publicly
about politics, although I am a true political junkie. My father was
in the Alabama State Legislature when I was a kid, and I remember
sitting in the legislative chambers, playing with the Silly
Putty daddy kept in his desk, while voting was going
on. I got a very good lesson in the intricacies of questionable, and
even dirty politics on the state level.
Today, I am a registered Democrat (Daryl is registered
but I call myself a Pragmatic Centrist, and usually vote
for the person I think is best for the office, regardless of his or
her party affiliation. It is no secret that I am ready for the Bush
administration to go. I was actually ready seven years ago.
I will tell you that I am not interested in any of the candidates
fielded by the Republicans this year, although I believe John McCain
to be an honorable man who cares about our country. Im just
not happy with his strong support for continuing the Iraq war.
I think the Democratic candidates have more in common policy-wise
than they differ. I am leaning towards Obama, although I would be
fine with Clinton or Edwards, too. Actually, I loved Chris Dodd and
Joe Biden, but the people (and the money) have spoken, and they are
no longer in the race.
I am telling you where I am standing at the moment, because Id
like to hear what YOU think. Where is YOUR vote going? It would be
very interesting to me to know how my readers are leaning. After Ive
heard from a good number of you, Ill try to put put together
a report for you, admittedly an unscientific one..... just more of
a snapshot of my readers opinions.
Let me know if you have any specific questions about my former talk
show, and Ill try to answer as best I can. Also, I have to admit
that you are more likely to hear from me every other week right now.
With all that is going on with the new house construction, I just
cant seem to keep up a weekly schedule. Actually, I have to
say I am surprised and pleased at how many of you seem to be interested
in what I have to say.... especially with all of the millions of blogs
SO, until next time...Keep A Song Of Joy Inside Your Heart.(
CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY HOLIDAYS | ET APPEARANCE | C&T FUTURE?
- MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY
To all of my Christian readers...a Joyous and Happy Christmas, celebrated
in the glow of your faith! To all of my readers of other faiths....
and of no particular faith.... a Warm and Wonderful Holiday Season!
I hope all of the holidays that fall from Thanksgiving through December,
leading up to the clean slate of the sparkling, hopeful
New Year, will bring to all of you all of the love, good health
and happiness you could possibly hope for. And I hope you will remember
from this Christmas to the next, the wise words of the legendary
lyricist Sammy Cahn..... the secret of Christmas is not the
things you do at Christmas time, but the Christmas things you do
all year through.
It is Christmas morning in La Quinta, and as I write this at my
little desk in the kitchen, I can see, through the sunny window
in front of me, the large terracotta flower pots filled with bright
red, pink and white geraniums blooming cheerfully in our courtyard....
perfect Christmas colors against the green of their leaves. And
as I do every single day of my life, I think of how absolutely blessed
I have been in my life. I am truly humbled and thankful.
Today Daryl and I are going to share Christmas dinner with long-time
dear friends of ours. As my regular readers know, my sisters and
their husbands were out here earlier in the month, and now is the
time to concentrate on friends... who are, after all, extended family,
and just as precious. I am trying out a new recipe for my contribution
to dinner today...Bishops Bread.... a dense, moist cake filled
with pecans (or walnuts), chopped dates or raisins, semi-sweet chocolate
chips, and chopped marachino cherries. It is meant to be eaten in
thin slices, perhaps with a cup of tea or coffee. Just so you know.....
it is NOT the dreaded FRUITCAKE!!! If it turns out well, Ill
post the recipe in my blog before the New Year.
ET finally aired the segment they shot on us, and before I say anything
else, I want to say thank you to the ET producers for including us
in one of their shows. It gave us a great deal of exposure for the
Christmas CD we would never have otherwise, and we are grateful.
However, I am now going to give you my impressions of the surreal
experience of watching ourselves on that show. To me, Daryl and I
seemed like a couple of big old elephants in a room full of darting,
racing bees and hummingbirds. It is very clear to me now that television
and peoples tastes have really moved on since our heyday. I
mean, I knew it, but, frankly, I dont watch ET or ACCESS HOLLYWOOD
or any of those shows. My taste in television runs to news, Public
Television and HGTV.
Daryl and I didnt know where we would appear in the show, so
we watched it right from the beginning. Frankly, after about 15 minutes,
I was starting to get a headache. All of the quick cuts, rapid pace,
commercials, Paris/Lindsay/Britney/Britneys little sister/and
all kinds of superficial silliness was just getting to me! Most of
the stories seemed to be measured in seconds. I must say
I was pretty amazed when our segment lasted a bit longer than a minute
or so... that seemed very generous for that type of show.
What did NOT make me happy was the emphasis on my comments about Karen
Carpenters anorexia...... although I now realize that was probably
the only reason we made it onto the show. A little bit of dirt
seems to be needed for todays audiences. Here is how that happened.
In November, the ET crew was at our home in La Quinta for about four
hours, setting up the lights and camera, taping an interview, taping
us performing CHRISTMAS IN CALIFORNIA at our piano, and also shooting
some footage of us walking together in our backyard. They also shot
some of the personal photos we have in the house, including the one
of us that quite a few of you mentioned.... the sepia-toned photo
of us taken way back in the early 70s. It was our first publicity
photo, and we have it displayed on the mantel over our fireplace in
Anyhow.... after the producer finished our interview and the crew
was getting ready to wrap things up, somehow Karens name came
up. I think the producer and I were talking about singers we particularly
loved. She asked if we had known Karen, and I said we had been at
A&M Records at the same time and knew each other casually. She
then signaled the camera operator to start taping again, and began
to ask me about Karen and her anorexia.
Although alarm bells went off in my head, I thought (in my usual positive
way), Maybe they are going to do a special about Karen some
day, and want to store comments from people who knew her in their
files. So I went along with it. It never occurred to me they
would use it on the show we were on! After ALL of these years in this
rotten business, I am still too damned trusting! Yes, indeed, things
have changed, and tabloid TV has taken over.
I had hoped that my comments about Karen might be used in a way to
help other young women (and men) struggling with anorexia and bulemia.
Instead, it was used to titillate and tease, and draw in an audience
in the cheapest possible way. I am so sorry. She deserves so much
more kindness and respect for the great joy she brought to all of
us with her beautiful voice.
This new year ahead of us looks like it will be a year when Daryl
and I will have to make a lot of decisions about our future, and what
we want to do professionally in the next twenty or so years of our
lives. We have a lot of thinking and pondering to do. Here are some
of the things we are taking into consideration as we think about our
On the ET show, it was kind of unnerving to watch ones self
age so rapidly in such a short piece..... from our first
publicity photo (1972) to early TV clips from 1976-77, to our appearance
on the GLAAD Awards show back in the early 90s to NOW. Yes, we both
look pretty darned good for folks in their late 60s, but there is
no doubt that we are now looking rather... ahem.... mature. I see
my mother looking back at me from the TV screen.
This is not a BAD thing.... my mother was such a terrific woman, and
so much fun to be around. It is just that, inside myself, I was always
that young woman from 1970's TV. Now it is time to move to a much
later phase, and be the most graceful, cheerful, MATURE woman I can
possibly be. I am thinking that the best thing I can do right now
is to pass on to younger people some of the things I have learned
over a pretty long career. For example, Daryl and I were thinking
about doing some Master Classes for the local Prescott colleges, perhaps
passing on some of our performance and music business knowledge to
Every October in Prescott, jazz trumpeter and music educator, Mike
Vax, puts on a jazz festival that lasts for three or four days. The
events occur in several venues throughout the town. Last year I had
the privilege of attending one of the jazz concerts, which included
a performance by a big band made up of Arizona university musicians...
I believe they were from either Arizona State University or Tucson.
Anyhow, their musicianship and enthusiasm just knocked me out, and
took me right back to the days when I sang with the AUBURN KNIGHTS
ORCHESTRA while I was at Auburn University in the early 1960s.
I was thinking that, once Daryl and I get settled into the new house
and finally get our music library moved down from Carson City, I would
dust off my great big band arrangements, and volunteer to sing and
share them with these young college bands. It would be great fun for
me, and I think they would love playing the fabulous arrangements
Sammy Nestico and Matt Catingub (among others) have done for me over
the years. This is kind of what I have in mind... giving back musically
in some way.
I will write more about things Daryl and I are considering for the
future as soon as we figure them out!! Right now, I think Ive
gone on enough for now. I do appreciate all of you who take a look
at TONIS TAKE from time to time, and I will try to write more
regularly after the first of the year. So... until next time... Keep
A Song Of Joy Inside Your Heart! (
UPDATE !! DARYL AND TONI ON ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT
Well, we just got word that ET will air the Christmas segment
they shot at our La Quinta home in November TOMORROW NIGHT, December
20th. I am so sorry I am so late letting you know about this,
but we just found out this morning. Remember, the segment could
be as short at 30 seconds, so if you are going to watch for it,
I think I told you that an ET crew was at our home for four hours
last month, shooting the segment. It was supposed to air on their
Christmas Special, but according to the producers, they ran
out of time and wanted to give us more time than was available on
the special. Actually, considering how many Christmas CDs
have been released this year (about 3 times more than last year),
we feel fortunate to be included at all!!!
I will try to write a new blog before Christmas. Thank you so much
for being patient during this busy and hectic time. Right now we
are in Prescott, checking on the construction of our new home. In
about half an hour, were going to be receiving a call from
my sister, Louisa, who teaches second grade in Torrance, California.
Her second grade class is going to sing I WANT A HIPPOPOTAMUS FOR
CHRISTMAS just for us over the phone! Louisa says they just love
the song, and cant wait to sing it for us. This will be fun!
Until next time....Keep A Song of Joy (and a hippopotamus)
Inside Your Heart!-