Jill Corey
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Jerry Brandow with Rocky Graziano and Jill Corey on Miami Beach, Florida


  Jerry Brandow                Jill Corey

                Rocky Graziano

One day in October of 1960, Jerry called me and ask if I would like to go with him to a motel on the beach, where he was to meet a producer who wanted to use him and his band in a TV series called Miami Undercover. When we got there, they were still shooting a scene with Lee Bowman and Jill Corey. We waited and watched the shoot. The producer was Howard Koch.

When they finished we walked down a long driveway to the cars. Howard was talking to Jerry and I was walking with Jill. This is a side trip but, that has been the way things have happened to me most of my life. I have been on more side trips than are necessary. Jill and I exchanged small talk and suddenly Jill looked at me and said, "Havenít we met before?"

I smiled and nodded, " yes."           

She said, "Didnít I have a crush on you at one time?"

Again I smiled and nodded. Jill and I met when she was singing in a polka band in Pennsylvania and her name was Norma Jean Speranza; I danced with her when she wasnít singing, and we dated. I went to Florida and didnít see her for a long time. Before I went into the service in 1951, I returned to Pennsylvania to visit my family. I called Jill and we went out a couple of times while I was home. I went into the army for two years, then returned to Florida, where I attended the University of Miami, and got into many adventures.

In 1954 I delivered a 40 foot Chris Craft to New York City. Bunnie, a lady I met on Miami Beach, joined me in New York. One day I read that Jill was one of the members of the TV show, "Your Hit Parade". I didnít contact her because of Bunnie. I was happy for Jill.

Back in Miami after the summer in New York, I was helping Frank Linale with staging and recording in the Vagabond Club. One night while sitting in the office at the club, I read that Jill Corey and Joel Grey were appearing at the Americana Hotel in North Miami Beach. I commented that I knew her and one of the Vags, I think it was Tillio, said, "Give'r her a call, Sam."

I didnít want to bother her, it had been a long time. Then the other guys got in on it, and they all insisted that I call her right now. They called the Americana and got Jill on the phone. I said hello and we made small talk. Jill invited me to come and see the show. I told her I was in Miami, and probably wouldnít be able to make it to the beach.

When I hung up, the guys all insisted that I go see her. They called the MaitreĎd at the hotel and got me a good table. The Vagabonds had played the Americana and knew everyone there. I drove up and caught the show. I sent word back stage that I was there. After the show I waited in the lobby to see her. Joel Grey was also waiting for someone. We both stood and chatted for about 45 minutes. Then Jill appeared.

I said "goodbye" to Joel and "hello" to Jill. Jill looked at me and then she gave me a zinger. She said, "I donít know you and I donít think you know me. Someone is waiting for me and I have to go." I was dumbfounded. I couldnít think of anything to say. Finally I said, "Look, I only came to congratulate you. You do know me, but thatís okay. Good luck and good bye." What a story I had to tell the Vagabonds when I got back to the club.

Now 4 or 5 years later, here we were strolling down a winding driveway on Miami Beach chatting like old friends. We started talking about old times, and were, once again, good friends when we reached the cars. The Americana never came up. The plan for that very night was to record Jillís voice with Jerry accompanying her on the piano. It was for a night club scene to be shot at the Club 21 at a hotel on 21st street, Miami Beach, later in the week.

That night we went to the recording studio. Jill and I had a soda while they were setting up. She told me she was dating Don Hoak a third baseman for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Jerry was pleased that I had a friend. He knew Kaye, the girl I was seeing at the time. He felt she wasnít treating me right.

Jill gave Jerry her arrangements and they started to rehearse. After a few bars Jill stopped and said your not playing my charts. She was right, Jerry didnít read music. There could have been one of those Hollywood scenes, but Jill went over to Jerry and they talked it out. I was afraid he would lose the gig. But Jill worked with him and they did the recording. Jerry told me he was glad I was along.

Jerry called and said the shoot was scheduled for Wednesday the 6th. Later Kaye called and asked me if I would meet her at the Club 21, she was cast in a TV series that was shooting there. I told he that I was going with Jerry and could meet her in the parking lot by the hotel. She got snippy and said that she would go alone.

We did meet in the parking lot and the three of us entered the club; it was closed for the shoot. The cameras were being set up and Jerryís band was on the stand. Kaye and I sat at the bar talking.

Jill entered with her assistants and as she walked passed me she said, "Hi Sam, How are you feeling today?"

I answered, "Great, How about you?"             


"Knock Ďem dead, Jill."

Kaye was thunderstruck. She couldnít believe what had just happened.

When Jill got to the stand and was doing a sound check, she called me over the mic, "Sam, If I get Jerry to play a polka will you dance with me?"

I yelled back, "My pleasure."

Kaye treated me much nicer after that.

That afternoon, Jill and I watched the world series, Don Hoak was playing third base for the Pittsburgh Pirates. We watched the Pirates win the Series. Our home town. Jill returned to Pittsburgh and married Don Hoak. I stayed in Miami.

I met Jill again in 1988 in the Cine Grill Lounge in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Jill was appearing there as a featured singer. We talked about those times and I watched her act. It was the last time I saw her.

Jerry did another segment of Miami Undercover. This time he played a gangster. He came over to me and whispered that in the next scene he would have to fall out of a rowboat into Biscayne Bay. The problem was he couldnít swim. I was going to jump in and save him if he needed help.

It was a tense moment. Finally, the scene arrived and he was pulled overboard. For a few moments he didnít come up; I was ready to jump in when he surfaced and grasp the side of the boat, gasping for breath. When they got him out, Howard ask him why he didnít say anything. Jerry said he didnít want to slow up the production. He was a true pro.

Rocky Graziano was in that segment. Each day after the shooting, Jerry, Rocky and I would go to the lounge in the Fountainbleu Hotel and have drinks. I had a lot of fun in those days and Jerry was a big part of it.

 I bumped into Rocky some years later in front of the Stage Deli in New York. He was playing hooky from a rehearsal for a show. When I walked past him he was sitting on the bumper of a car. Then it clicked who he was; I went back to said hello. I told him I thought he was a narc sitting there. We went up to my room for some drinks. I was staying at the Great Northern just around the corner on 57th street.    
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