Whatever theatrical talent I possess, I came by honestly. My mother, Lyle Stackpole, was a star on Broadway in the Twenties, a career she gave up to run off to Paris with my father, whose then wife refused to give him a divorce. After some lean years during which my mother supplemented their meager income by telling numerological fortunes, my father achieved business success even more impressive than the one he left behind in Pittsburgh. Their life in Paris was idyllic – that is until the Germans went over, under, and through the supposedly impregnable French Maginot Line. Time to leave another fortune and life behind and return to New York City. There they fashioned a good life [given their meager funds] until my father's mysterious illness was diagnosed as lung cancer, to which he succumbed when I was twelve. Providentially my grandfather died about the same time at which point any financial worries disappeared. My mother had kept her theatrical contacts and the apartment was the scene of fantastic, eclectic dinners and cocktail parties – which I remember fondly. However, my mother assiduously kept me away from show business, rightly thinking that a more "normal" life would offer more balance for a child already quite theatrical and given to massive temper tantrums – to go along with periods of exemplary, even cute behavior.
I enjoyed fiddling around on my mother's grand piano, but it wasn't until after graduating from Yale that I wrote actual songs, the melodies and lyrics generally birthed by extravagant despair over broken romances. When listening to my music, my mother would invariably ask why I wasn't trying to "do something" with it; and one night she made this wry observation: "Darling, if you fall in love one more time you'll have enough for a musical!" The fact of the matter was that I simply didn't think my music was anything particularly extraordinary. Of course my friends would praise it, but isn't that what friends do ? Flash forward some thirty years to a Dallas recording studio where I was producing a CD for "RSVP", an enormously talented singing group I managed. In between recording various songs I would go over to the Steinway grand piano and play some of my songs. The engineer, Phil York, came over and asked what I was playing. I answered somewhat sheepishly that it was just something I had written. He said it was wonderful and did I have any other songs ? This time I really believed I had a modicum of talent as a composer because Phil wasn't a friend but someone who had a
long and successful career in the music business. Long story short, in the next few weeks I was introduced to an arranger and we started recording in a small local studio. Soon after my mother died and left me a good-sized inheritance. I've always regretted that she never heard the final product: a dozen songs and another dozen instrumentals recorded in the best studio in Dallas with superb arrangements by Don Zimmers, impeccable engineering from Phil York, some fifty players from the Dallas Symphony, and some of the best sidemen in the business
laying down the initial rhythm tracks. I can still feel the frisson that went up my neck when I first heard these amazing musicians play my music.