"Thanks to my training as a performer, I developed enough character to survive four marriages, six children, the subsequent deaths of my husbands, a long struggle with cancer, and the loss of a child to suicide."
That's entertainer, wife, mother, and survivor Marguerite Piazza writing in Pagliacci Has Nothing on Me! (Lulu), an autobiography Piazza penned with the help of her daughter Marguerite Bonnett. That's also Piazza only scratching the surface of what is a remarkable career by any measure.
Born "a thousand years ago" in New Orleans, it wasn't long before Piazza's voice took her out of the Crescent City to New York City. There she performed with the New York City Opera in the late 1940s, and there, beginning in 1950, she joined the cast of Sid Caesar's Your Show of Shows, which kept her before TV audiences for the next four years. Piazza made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 1951, and beginning in the mid-'50s, she took her act on the road, playing supper clubs — from Manhattan to Las Vegas, Boston to Miami Beach — for the next 15 years.
The cast of nationally known characters highlighting Piazza's book reads like a who's who: Jack Paar, Alexander Calder, Gypsy Rose Lee, and Richard Nixon, to name a few. But for an author with a local booksigning scheduled — Piazza will be at David-Kidd Booksellers on Friday, May 25th — nothing beats a local tie-in. Make that, in the case of Marguerite Piazza, tie-ins: Memphis, where she's been on the entertainment, social, and charity scene for decades, is, despite a lifetime of travel, the city she calls home.
Marguerite Piazza signing "Pagliacci Has Nothing on Me!," Davis-Kidd Booksellers, Friday, May 25th, 6 p.m.