May 26, 2022
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As the title character in his movie “Broadway Danny Rose” (1984), Woody Allen is a hapless expertise agent identified for his secure of bizarre, hard-to-book novelty acts: a blind xylophone participant, a stuttering ventriloquist, a balloon folder — and Gloria Parker, who performs music by rubbing her moistened fingers alongside the rims of 28 crystal wine glasses.

“She is the Jascha Heifetz of this instrument,” Danny says in a single scene, pitching her to the skeptical proprietor of a summer time resort as she performs “The Band Performed On.” “It’s unbelievable. By no means took a lesson. That is self-taught. Subsequent yr, my hand to God, she’s going to be at Carnegie Corridor.”

Miss Parker would later say that the movie — through which she additionally performs for Danny’s clientele at a Thanksgiving dinner — led to an uptick in provides for bookings and elevated consideration for her mastery of the “singing glasses,” or glasspiel, which she realized from her grandfather.

“The film will maintain them alive,” she told The New York Times in 1984. “I’m simply an emissary, God’s employee to carry glasses to the world.”

Miss Parker, who died at 100 on April 13 on Lengthy Island, didn’t simply cajole music out of glasses. A multi-instrumentalist, she additionally performed the marimba, vibraphone, violin, maracas and tabor, a kind of drum.

She led an all-female troupe when she was 14 and fronted the all-female Rumba Maids in the Forties and the Afrikan Knights Orchestra in the Sixties.

In the Forties, she starred in several Soundies, music shorts that had been proven on coin-operated jukeboxes. In these movies, she sang, performed the glasses and marimba, and shared the stage with co-stars like Mel Blanc, the virtuoso voice actor, and Lincoln Perry, higher often called Stepin Fetchit.

She additionally hosted a present on the ABC radio community in the Fifties that featured one other band consisting completely of ladies, the Swingphony. And he or she was a prolific author of songs, many of them with a Latin beat, like “Up and Down Mambo” and “The Push and Pull Mambo.” One other track, “Clap Your Fingers and Shake Your Blues Away,” was recorded by Lionel Hampton.

In 1981 she recorded an album, “A Toast to Christmas in the 80’s With Singing Glasses.”

Gloria Rosenthal was born on Aug. 20, 1921, in Brooklyn. Her father, Jack, owned a storage; her mom, Rose (Glickman) Rosenthal, performed violin with Mark Warnow & the Hit Parade Orchestra. Gloria later adopted Parker as her stage identify.

At a younger age, Gloria started finding out violin (she stated she performed a child-sized instrument at the Brooklyn Academy of Music when she was 4 or 5). At 8, she started studying to play the glasses from her grandfather, who had introduced the ability (and eight fragile Bohemian crystal glasses) from his native Czechoslovakia.

“Once I was nonetheless a bit lady,” Miss Parker informed United Press Worldwide in 1984, “I had a musical vaudeville act enjoying each the glasses and marimba.”

She mastered find out how to conjure music from 28 glasses, every stuffed with water or white wine to supply explicit sounds.

“One drop both method makes a distinction,” she told The Daily News in 2012. “Top, circumference — all of it makes a distinction soundwise.”

She would rub her fingers over the rims of the glasses to supply a musical vary of two octaves as she performed pop, classical, jazz and calypso songs.

Along with enjoying her glasses in “Broadway Danny Rose,” Miss Parker was a visitor on “The Ed Sullivan Present,” “The Mike Douglas Present” and “Late Evening With David Letterman.”

“We booked her based mostly on her attention-grabbing expertise, however when she confirmed up with the huge setup, it was very spectacular,” Robert Morton, the govt producer of “Late Evening” at the time, wrote in an e-mail. “We liked the little dance she did whereas enjoying and the way she was very involved that no one touched the setup.”

In 1979, she carried out with the Hartford Symphony at a pops live performance.

“Ms. Parker, along with her lengthy blond hair, created a placing spectacle as she labored over her glasses, someway coaxing pitched tones into melodic, even up-tempo passages,” the critic Owen McNally wrote of her efficiency in The Hartford Courant.

No fast relations survive. Her pal Jean Lundy stated Ms. Parker died in a hospital in Syosset, N.Y., close to her residence in Laurel Hole.

Miss Parker’s devotion to her music — and her repute — led her into a number of court docket battles. In 1965, she and a co-writer, Barney Younger, sued the Walt Disney Company for $12 million, accusing it of pirating their 1949 track “Supercalafajalistickespeeaaladojus” for the 1964 hit movie “Mary Poppins,” through which Julie Andrews sang “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.”

A choose dominated in opposition to her and Mr. Younger’s request for a preliminary injunction, saying that they’d not made a case for copyright infringement as a result of, apart from their comparable tongue-twisting names, the two songs “had no discernible similarity.”

In 1990, she sued the writer Oscar Hijuelos for libel over a number of passages that she stated mirrored poorly on her in his Pulitzer Prize-winning 1989 novel, “The Mambo Kings Play Songs Of Love.” In the novel, a personality is known as the chief of “Wonderful Gloria Parker and Her All-Lady Rumba Orchestra” — the actual identify of a band she had as soon as led — and is concerned in a late-night romantic scene.

“My background has nothing to do with what this man has stated,” Miss Parker informed Newsday after she filed the lawsuit. “I journey in good firm. He has damage and crushed me.”

A federal choose dismissed the swimsuit.

Engaged on “Broadway Danny Rose” was a extra nice expertise for her — regardless that she was not conscious of the movie’s plot when she signed on.

“We solely received in the future’s script at a time, and I had no concept what was occurring,” she informed The Instances. When requested if the accomplished movie made her really feel that Mr. Allen had mocked her artwork, she dismissed the notion.

“Why, no one can poke enjoyable at the glasses,” she added. “Benjamin Franklin performed them — launched them to America in 1751, in truth. They’re half of our heritage. And now, by the film, the entire world can see them in the twentieth century, and I shall be the particular person affixed to them.”

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