HELLO AMERICA!—I’ve known Melba Moore since the early 1970s when she made her first trip to Hollywood as a Tony award winner in the acclaimed musical “Purlie.” She was one of the nicest, most clearheaded young artists I had ever met. And it is so gratifying to discover that this beautiful, gifted artist hasn’t changed one bit.
MSJ: Melba, since you appeared in that great musical “Hair,” was it very difficult for you to appear in that very controversial scene where all the cast were totally nude?
MM: Oh, my goodness! First of all, not everybody had to appear in that scene. The director made it very clear that it wasn’t compulsory, it was up to us. And at that time I wasn’t that worldly to display everything I had to any kind of audience. No! I kept my clothes on, Oh yes!
MSJ: So you were not one of the free spirits that made headlines in all the magazines and papers around the world during that period?
MM: Michael, I was a kind of a “flower child” in many ways but with my clothes on. Yes, I wore the flowers in the hair, the sandals and sang the songs about love and freedom, but that was the extent of it. I was still under the rules my parents set up in the family.
MSJ: Speaking of your parents, they were in the business as well were they not? That must have had quite an influence on you as a youngster, I should think.
MM: Definitely. They were both musicians. My dad played the sax and my mother, she was a singer. There was always music in our house, and I loved every minute of it. I learned a lot watching, observing how my parents handled themselves as professionals. I learned so much about being completely honest in presenting yourself to an audience; they can always tell if you’re for real.
MSJ: I saw you on Broadway in the musical “Timbuktu!” with Eartha Kitt that must have been quite an experience! But you only stayed with the show for a few months, what happened that made you decide to cut it short?
MM: (laughs) Well, you’ve appeared with Eartha, and you knew her personality… lets face it; she was a diva of divas. How did you handle her?
MSJ: Oh, I just pulled her wig off and ran from the theater. However, we did appear together on the Joe Franklin TV show in New York and pretended it never happened. I’m sure your experience wasn’t that physical.
MM: No, it wasn’t Michael. It was just a personality clash and I was being swallowed up in dramas which made it difficult to have fun in the role I was playing. So it was best that I should leave the show, and I was right. However, it proved to be a good learning experience for me.
MSJ: You’ve had so many hits, major successes musically and even a TV series. That must have been quite a challenge for you.
MM: It was a terrible experience! It was a sitcom called Melba and it debuted the same night the Challenger explosion happened. And it was cancelled right after it was aired. But five additional shows aired later that summer.
MSJ: Generally, how do you feel about the way your career has moved forward?
MM: I really don’t have a complaint; I’ve been very lucky all during my career. There have been some bumpy times but there have been more fantastic times. Right now I’m very excited about “I Feel Sin Comin’ On” the newest play I’ve been offered. Without a doubt it will be the most challenging role I’ve ever had in a theatre piece. And I can’t wait to hit that stage again! Melba Moore is back!
By Michael St. John