Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Clay Aiken - A Man of Character and Caricature

Congratulations Clay Aiken! What a delightful honor to be given your very own caricature at the world-famous Sardi's Restaurant on December 23rd.

Clay's very successful run in Monty Python's Spamalot ends on January 4 and the show closes on January 11. If you haven't seen this fabulously funny show yet - get your tickets before it's too late. Discounted tickets for Spamalot are available.

How fitting that Broadway performers are celebrated at Sardi's as the restaurant was the birthplace of the Tony Awards. After the death of Antoinette Perry in 1946, her partner, theatrical producer and director, Brock Pemberton, was eating lunch at Sardi's when he came up with the idea of a theater award to be given in Perry's honor. For many years Sardi’s was the location of the announcement of the Tony Award nominations. Vincent Sardi, Sr. received a special Tony Award in 1947, the first year of the awards, for "providing a transient home and comfort station for theatre folk at Sardi's for 20 years."

Clay joins more than 1,300 celebrity caricatures on display. The drawings were originally done by Alex Gard, who created more than 700 caricatures for the restaurant,before he died in 1948. After Gard, John Mackey took over drawing for the restaurant but was soon replaced by Donald Bevan. Interestingly, Bevan was a playwright who co-write the wonderful play, Stalag 17.

Bevan did the drawings until 1974 when he retired, and was replaced by Brooklyn-born Richard Baratz,a banknote and certificate engraver by profession. Living in Pennsylvania, Baratz continues to the present day as the Sardi’s caricaturist.

The walls of the main dining room cannot display all the caricatures done over the past 80 years. (Or, actually, the copies thereof, since too many originals were stolen — from James Cagney and Streisand to Maureen Stapleton, who snatched her own and burned it.) So now, the originals go into a vault, and two copies are made. One goes to the subject of the caricature, the other up on the Sardi's wall.

Clay's had quite an exciting year and on he Reflects on a Year of Coming Out, Being a New Dad. Clay plans on spending his down time with his son, Parker and Parker's mother and Clay's dear friend, Jaymes Foster before getting back to singing.

Have a Wonderful Holiday and a Fabulous New Year!

And . . . if you have a minute - let us know what's next - there are old fans and new who are eager to hear you sing LIVE!

See more pictures of Clay at Sardi's here at Just Jared

And read more at Playbill

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Chardonnay said...

I loved this! So informative and so many facts I was not aware of.

And I like the drawing! It is what it is. And what it is... is another huge step up the ladder for Clay! Thanks for sharing!

dee said...

How exciting that Clay was honored with his caricature .

Thanks for all the additional information about that tradition at Sardis . Great blog .

Anonymous said...

Loved your blog and all the background information. What an honor and he gets to keep a copy!


Anonymous said...

Nanjean - thank you for the lovely blog. Caly has to be thrilled for the Sardi's honor. And you say it all so beautifully.

IU Gal