Early 'Shindig!' included stars who would shine later

March 16, 1992|By Chicago Tribune

Back in the mid-1960s, before "Tootsie," "Mr. Mom" and the infamous shower scene on "Late Night With David Letterman," actress Teri Garr was dancer Teri Garr.

Specifically, Garr was one of a corps of professional dancers who appeared on the ABC-TV series "Shindig!" -- a half-hour, prime-time, rock 'n' roll cavalcade on which the dancers often did not so much dance as explode into frenzies of limb flailing that resembled a marionette show performed during an 8.6 Richter scale quake.

It was a start.

"I saw Teri maybe four months ago at a party given by Rhino Home Video," recalls Jimmy O'Neill, who, when in his mid-20s, had been the chipper, boyishly handsome host of "Shindig!" during its 15-month run on ABC.

"I hadn't seen her since she left 'Shindig!' Actually, we hadn't had a chance to get to know each other that well back then. She wasn't that high-profile on the show, and she wasn't on the show that long, only about three months before she departed. She told me at the party: 'You know, I never wanted to be a dancer. I wanted to act. It was just an opportunity that I thought might get my foot in the door.' "

Garr was one of several performers who went on to greater acclaim after singing, strumming or frugging their way across the set of "Shindig!" -- a show that has now been revived on videotape by Rhino Home Video with its "Shindig! Presents" series of cassettes containing moments both classic and camp from the program.

An energetic, fast-paced, black-and-white program that showcased pop, rock and R&B performers, "Shindig!" had its own house band and cast of semi-regular singers as well as dancers and choreographers. The roster of talent included Leon Russell (the regular pianist in the "Shindig!" band) and Billy Preston (organist in the band).

Other often-featured talent included the Righteous Brothers, Glen Campbell, Bobby Sherman, Delaney Bramlett and ace guitarist James Burton.

Guests on the show included the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds, the Animals and other British Invasion acts, as well as homegrown talent like the Byrds, the Beach Boys, Howlin' Wolf, Little Richard and Jackie Wilson.

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