Marilyn Michaels

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Marilyn Michaels
Birth name Marilyn Sternberg aka Toni Michaels (1961)
Born (1943-02-26) February 26, 1943 (age 74)
New York City
Genres Pop, standards, jazz, classical, comedy, acting, dialectician
Occupation(s) Singer, comedian, writer,
Labels Debbie Records, Warner Bros. Records, ABC Paramount, MEW Records Marilyn Michaels Productions
Website Marilyn

Marilyn Michaels is a comedian, singer, actress, impressionist, author, and composer.


Marilyn Sternberg was born in Manhattan on February 26, 1943 to Russian émigrés: Cantoress and actress Fraydele Oysher[1] and father Harold Sternberg, who was a senior basso with the Metropolitan Opera for 37 years. Her uncle was the cantor and film actor Moishe Oysher.

Marilyn began performing with her mother at age 7 on the Yiddish stage and throughout Canada. At 14, she was soloist in her father and uncle's choir, and also sang duets with Oysher on the classic recording, "Moishe Oysher’s Chanukah Party."

She attended the High School of Music and Art as a music major, but switched to Art in her sophomore year.[2][3] While still in high school, she was signed to Debbie Records, headed by Ray Rainwater (brother of Marvin Rainwater) and her first single, "Johnny Where Are You," was produced by Phil Ramone. This was followed by a recording contract with Hugo and Luigi of RCA Victor, for which she sang "Tell Tommy I Miss Him" — the answer-song to the hit "Tell Laura I Love Her" — by Ray Peterson. She recorded both U.S. and UK versions. She later recorded for Warner Brothers and ABC Paramount [4][5][6] and appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, The Hollywood Palace, The Jackie Gleason American Scene Magazine and NBC’s Hullabaloo, with Sammy Davis Jr.[7] She would appear with Sammy Davis Jr. again on The Name of the Game, The Flip Wilson Show, and Sammy in Acapulco. [8]

Funny Girl, Kopykats, and Playboy[edit]

In 1965, after signing with ABC Paramount and starring at New York’s Copacabana,[9][10][11] as well as Las Vegas and London, Marilyn starred for a year as Fanny Brice in the National Company of Funny Girl.[12][13][14] She reprised the role six months after the year-long run ended when Carol Lawrence was injured before her turn as Fanny at the Westbury Music Fair in Long Island, New York.[15]

During Funny Girl, Marilyn signed with Jerry Weintraub for management, and made appearances on The Dean Martin Show and The Red Skelton Show, The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, and The Jonathan Winters Show. In 1973 she starred as the only female performer in the Emmy Winning comedy series The Kopykats for ABC’s Kraft Music Hall (Smith Hemion Productions).[16][17][18][19] Marilyn later starred with Little in 1981 for the Diet 7 Up Campaign, "Look Who’s Turning Diet 7 Up."

Inspired by an idea from a Playboy pictorial of Peter Sellers as famous historical figures, Marilyn then appeared in a pictorial for Playboy as Bette Midler, Bo Derek, Julie Andrews, Barbra Streisand, Donna Summer, Lily Tomlin and Brooke Shields. She reprised some of these characters while working with Debbie Reynolds on The Love Boat in 1982. In that year, Woody Allen also cast her in a cameo as 30’s film star Mae West in Zelig. When Allen decided to cut the piece, preferring documentary footage to an impression, Marilyn wrote of her experience working with Allen, including photos showing her dressed in Woody’s garb, for U.S. Magazine.[20]

In 1988 she performed five voices for the PBS series Reading Rainbow for the book "Gregory the Terrible Eater," and was all the voices for the satire audio book, "Frankly Scarlett, I Do Give a Damn."

Catskills on Broadway—Present[edit]

In 1991, Marilyn won an Outer Critics Award and Drama League Award for her Broadway debut in Catskills On Broadway, followed by her own revue Broadway Ballyhoo, at Harrah's in Atlantic City, and was the host of the radio show The Broadway Hour. She has written two articles for The New York Times regarding the proposed revival of Funny Girl,[21] and has composed the score, as well as co-written the libretto, to a new musical comedy, Alysha, with son Mark Wilk.


Michaels has been married three times. She married Israeli designer Isacc Robbins in 1968, and they divorced in 1970. In 1982 she received a fan letter from a Bronx surgeon, Peter Wilk. They married in 1983 and have a son: playwright, critic and musician Mark Wilk. They divorced in 2000. In 2005 she met New Jersey attorney Steven Portnoff. They were married in 2008.[22] They divorced in 2012.


  • The Moishe Oysher Chanukah Party (1957)
  • Johnny Where Are You (1959, produced by Phil Ramone)
  • Tell Tommy I Miss Him (single, 1960)
  • Danny (single, '60)
  • Past the Age of Innocence (single, '60)
  • Fraydele Oysher and Her Daughter Marilyn: Yiddish Soul (1961)
  • Marilyn Michaels, The Fantastic and Exciting Debut 1963
  • Don’t Count The Days (Bacharach/David single, 1967)
  • Macarthur Park (single, 1967)
  • My Red Riding Hood (single, '67)
  • I’m Naïve ('67 single, from The Dangerous Christmas of Red Riding Hood)
  • The Times They Are A Changin ('67)
  • I Wonder Who’s Kissing Her Now ('67 Single)
  • Voices (1983)
  • A Mother’s Voice (1998)
  • The Oysher Heritage: Moishe Oysher, Fraydele Oysher (2005)
  • Wonderful At Last (2008)



  1. ^ "Fraydele Oysher, 90, Actress Who Starred in Yiddish Theater". January 10, 2004. 
  2. ^ "Dewar's Profile". 
  3. ^ Fields, Sidney (September 6, 1967). "Only Human, Our Local Redgraves". New York Daily News. 
  4. ^ New York Post. February 22, 1965.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ Eaker, Ira (February 12, 1965). "Marilyn Michaels Cinderella Vintage 65". Backstage. 
  6. ^ Dominic, Serene (2003). Burt Bacharach, Song by Song. Schirmer Trade Books. pp. 195–196. ISBN 0825672805. 
  7. ^ "Liner Notes". 
  8. ^ Fishgall, Gary (2003). Gonna Do Great Things: the Life of Sammy Davis Jr. Scribner. p. 263. ISBN 0743227417. 
  9. ^ "Blab It Interview". 
  10. ^ LaPole, Nick (July 2, 1965). "Marilyn's Magnificent". Journal American. 
  11. ^ Sobol, Lewis (July 2, 1965). "New York Cavalcade". Journal American. 
  12. ^ "Girl Next Door". Newsday. July 19, 1965. 
  13. ^ Smith, Cecil (June 5, 1966). "Marilyn Michaels, A Funny Girl". Los Angeles Times. 
  14. ^ Safran, Don (Oct 6, 1965). "Funny Girl in Rehearsal Here". The Dallas Times Herald. 
  15. ^ Canter, Nathan (August 23, 1967). "Carol's Cut is Marilyn's Break". New York Daily News. 
  16. ^ Nachman, Gerald (March 17, 1972). "Kopykats Copy Excellence, Impersonating Top Stars". New York Daily News. 
  17. ^ "Queen of the Mimics and Her Court Jesters". Boston Globe. February 20, 1972. 
  18. ^ McCann, Hank (January 16, 1972). "Kopykats, a Korps of Korkers". The Long Island Press. 
  19. ^ Harris, Harry (February 20, 1972). "Marilyn Michaels Mimics the Stars and Becomes One". The Philadelphia Inquirer. 
  20. ^ "Chopping Woody". US Magazine. January 1, 1983. 
  21. ^ "Artsbeat". 
  22. ^ "Weddings/Celebrations". 

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