Johanna Dordick
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New York, The Catskills and Far Away Places

During her Miami engagement at the David William Hotel, the manager
introduced Pat to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who was in Miami on business. Upon hearing her southern accent, he asked where she was from. When she told him that her family lived in Albany, Georgia, his powerful gaze seemed to look right through her and he became particularly interested in talking further.

He told her that he had been to Albany several times working with the Albany Movement. In their discussion, Dr. King told her that Albany had been a particular challenge, that he had been unable to accomplished his goals there. Though she was only vaguely aware of his experience in Albany, she felt embarrassed and apologized to him.

Pat recalled that it seemed as if a light emanated from him; the power of his personality was overwhelming. She knew she was in the presence of a great man. Just weeks later, Dr King made his great Promised Land speech; the following day he was taken from us. Pat would carry that brief meeting in Miami, Florida with her forever.

Subsequent engagements included the Palm Beach Biltmore and the Tampa Sheraton. One of her favorite engagements involved headlining for Guy Lombardo at his exclusive Port 0' Call resort near St. Petersburg. Why? Earlier headliners included Marlene Dietrich, Frank Sinatra and Liberace. The resort even had its own landing strip for those who arrived in private planes.

Her work soon took her to more exotic places. When she appeared at the Intercontinental in Aruba, the chairman of Mercedes Benz took her up in his private plane to fly over and see all the Antilles. In Curacao, she was thrilled by the sounds of the 50-piece orchestra (mostly percussion instruments) that had been provided for her. Her arrangements never sounded so vibrant and alive!

While performing in Suriname, Dutch Guiana, John Walsh (of the International Society for the Protection of Animals) led a team rescuing wildlife from the coming dam, work featured in Life magazine. Walsh asked her to visit their camp where she visited native villages deep in the bush, and saw the amazing work being done to save endangered wildlife. When a Costa Rican Senator and his party attended her show in San Jose, Costa Rica, she was invited to join them in the President's box at the National Theatre for a concert of music by Latin American composers - music of passion, elegance and great beauty.

The Poconos and the Catskills in upstate New York afforded a fun summer trip for Pat and her daughter Sylvia. Guests would often fight over who could have Sylvia seated at their table for her mother's show.

She particularly loved working with comics Jackie Mason, Nipsey Russell, Henny Youngman, Johnny Brown and George Kirby at Catskill venues like the Concord, Grossingers, the Nevelle, the Pines, Kutchers and Fallsview.

Then, during the 1963-64 World's Fair, Pat was booked for a month into New York City's elegant #One Fifth Avenue with comic Dick Lord and duo pianists Dick Hankinson and Johnnie de Maio. While there she enjoyed the opportunity to sing some of her favorite arias for the club's opera-loving patrons.

 

 

 

Johanna Dordick

Pat Ford (Johanna Dordick)

Johanna Dordick

Pat Ford (Johanna Dordick)

 
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