In tribute to a dear friend who passed away on February 13, we’re rebroadcasting a podcast interview with Lou DeGrado conducted in February of 2006 as he was about to receive his star on the Palm Springs Walk Of Fame.
In the world of show business, there are some people that fall under the radar of stardom but still made a lifetime career of entertaining people. Lou DeGrado was one of those people. Even though the public at large may not recognize his name, chances are that in one medium or another, you have seen and enjoyed his performances.
Born and raised in Chicago, Lou’s career began as a professional ice skater with his mentor Sonja Henie. Lou criss-crossed the country doing figure eights on his ice skates. As a regular performer on Broadwayat the RoxyTheatre, he would perform five shows a day on weekdays, six shows a day on Saturdays, and then on Sunday rehearse routines for the new shows.
In the 1970s, Lou gained commercial recognition when he teamed up with Martha Raye as a spokesperson for ‘Polident’. In the late 1980s and early 90’s, Lou appeared on numerous soap operas, in films and in television series including making several appearances on ‘Fraiser.’ Then in 2004, Lou joined the cast of the long running Palm Springs Follies which showed off his triple threat talent of singing, dancing and acting.
Unbeknownst to most was that Lou was also one of the foremost ballroom dancers in the country. In his interview, you can hear Lou discuss his stint with the Army in World War II, where he became the choreographer for the Army’s variety troupe show.
Lou was always the consummate professional. Moreover, Lou was a gentleman and a good friend. I am grateful to have been able to document in his own words, his incredible stamina in the entertainment business. Lou DeGrado demonstrated to us all that even though you may not have celebrity status, you can still be a success in an industry where humility is a rare thing.
Lou DeGrado passed away in Palm Springs, California on February 13, 2008 at the age of 77.
Jason Mills slips behind the mask as the elusive Phantom who lurks beneath the stage of the Paris Opera, exercising a reign of terror over all its occupants in THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. The U.S. National Tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s international award-winning musical, directed by Harold Prince, is currently playing at the Cadillac Palace Theatre through January 5, 2008.
Jason Mills returns to the National tour directly from the Broadway cast of Phantom where he was seen as both the Phantom and Raoul. He was in the original cast of Forbidden Broadway: SVU and can be heard on the cast recording.
New York credits include the Carnegie Hall South Pacific (also the PBS broadcast), Pardon My English and The New Moon(recording) at City Center Encores!, and the new musicals Lonely Rhymes, Illyria,and The Taxi Cabaret for the Prospect Theater Company.
Regional credits include Chris in Miss Saigon at Gateway Playhouse, both men in I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change; Phantom (The Phantom, Yeston/Kopit); Godspell; Camelot(King Arthur); and Fiddler on the Roof.
He has a degree in biology from Harvard University where he was vice president of the Hasty Pudding Theatricals.