It’s never too late to get insight into Gypsy, the classic 1959 musical about cerebral stripper Gypsy Rose Lee and the mother who destroyed her and made her a star at the same time.
I recently ran into Peter Riegert, who played Herbie opposite Bette Midler in the 1993 TV version of the show.
He told me that when he was preparing to do the part, he ran into Jack Klugman, the original Herbie opposite the immortal Ethel Merman.
Klugman generously passed on to Riegert the advice he was accorded by the great Merm.
“Jack, I’ll stick to the singing, you stick to the acting, and we’ll have a hit.”
Riegert realized that was a good idea since he couldn’t sing any more profoundly than Klugman could.
In fact, Riegert told me that when he played the original cast album as part of his research, he thought, “Hey, I could miss those same notes!”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 23, 2011