Kicking off Adopt-a-Cat Month!
June is Adopt-a-Cat Month, and Robin kicks off the celebration by speaking with the national spokesperson, two-time Oscar nominee Carol Connors, co-writer of Gonna Fly Now, the theme from the film Rocky. Ms. Connors discusses her lifelong love affair with cats and chats about how they have inspired her music. Later, David Leavitt, the president of Palm Beach Island Cats, is interviewed on how his group is helping to care for and manage a feral cat population in South Florida.
Carol came out of the womb singing (and swinging later when she co-wrote the theme from ROCKY). Her amazing diversity of talent is personified as a successful Singer, Songwriter, Storyteller, Charity Organizer and Cat Lover. She has been nominated for 10 major music awards: Emmy’s, Grammy’s, Golden Globes and two Oscars.
While still in high school, Carol's career was launched with a $10 loan from her parents. The money went toward making a demo of a song her classmate, Phil Spector, had written called "To Know Him Is To Love Him" (Gold).
Spector fell in love with Carol's voice and Carol performed the song as the lead singer of the Teddy Bears...and that song is the reason Elvis Presley became her first love... He too fell in love with her voice and they fell in love with each other. Today the song is #184 of the Top 5,000 Rock & Roll Hits according to Billboard magazine.
Carol enjoys the distinction of being the only woman to have co-written, with her brother Marshal, a mega hit in the ultra-macho genre of hot rod songs: "HEY LITTLE COBRA" (Gold) by The Rip Cords, which was and remains an American car song classic. It is considered, by Billboard magazine, to be one of the most important songs of the Hotrod era. She also co-wrote the only Christmas Hot-Rod song, “Santa’s Got a Cobra”, co-written and also recorded by The Rip Cords.
Speaking of gold - her walls are adorned with gold and platinum records along with countless photos of Carol with international dignitaries, and why not? She's penned the official themes for entire nations such as Jamaica, Singapore and Malaysia as well as the theme song for the Sultan of Brunei's airline...Royal Brunei.
Co-writing the theme from ROCKY, "GONNA FLY NOW" with Bill Conti and Ayn Robbins (Platinum Records and ASCAP Award for most performed song), that became a box office giant (Academy Award Nomination, Grammy Nomination & ASCAP Award of Excellence) and plunged Carol into filmdom. This song was incorporated into the music for the subsequent Rocky's (Gold and Platinum Albums) and is heard on all of the related soundtrack albums. "They play it whenever Sylvester Stallone walks into a room,” says Carol with a smile. It bought her house in Beverly Hills and she smiles when she walks to the bank. It is also considered the number one physical fitness and motivational song in the world
Since then, Carol's film and TV work has been legendary and includes music and lyrics of such varied films as: THE EARTHLING, LOOKING FOR MR. GOODBAR, DRESSED TO KILL, THE ONION FIELD, BUTTERFLY (1981 Golden Globe Nomination) ORCA and Walt Disney's THE RESCUERS (Academy Award Nomination), to name a few.
She's co-penned the theme for Robin Leach’s LIFE STYLES OF THE RICH AND FAMOUS, "CHAMPAGNE WISHES AND CAVIAR DREAMS" sung by Dionne Warwick and for STAR SEARCH, "YOU CAN BE A STAR".
Carol has received five Emmy nominations; one of them was for "LOVE WITHOUT STRINGS" (“Bob Hope Presents: Morris the Cat Salutes America's Pets"). Over the years her special songs have accented many of the major television series.
Of all the songs she’s written, one of Carol's favorites is, "WITH YOU I'M BORN AGAIN” (Gold & Silver Record/BMI Citation Of Achievement For Over Two Million Air Play) co-written with David Shire. In it are her favorite lyrics, 'Come bring me softness, comfort me through all the madness..."
Spreading her musical wings as a producer, she co-produced the song that kicked off the Hope In Sight National Telethon for the Retinitis Pigmentosa Foundation. To sing the campaign's theme song "FORGOTTEN EYES", Carol and co-producer Lee Holdridge assembled a mind-boggling group of performers: the late Bob Hope and George Burns, Dionne Warwick, Marilyn McCoo, Billy Davis Jr., Smokey Robinson, Herbie Hancock, the late Sammy Davis Jr., the late Mel Torme, Jack Jones, Patti Labelle, Andre Crouche and more.
When the National Anthem needs to be sung, Carol has become the one to call. She has performed this song with a full orchestra to a cappella... at the White House, State ceremonies and Tribute Dinners, to Football stadiums and Basketball games at the Forum.
Most recently, she was a part of history by performing her heart-felt version at the inauguration of President George W. Bush at the Military Ball honoring the Congressional Medal of Honor Recipients, and just this past Veterans Day she sang America the Beautiful at the laying of the wreath in Arlington National Cemetery for the US Marines 227th Birthday in front of the Iwo Jima Memorial at the request of former Commandant of the Marine Corp. General James L. Jones. She says, that singing America the Beautiful was a defining moment in her life, and touched the heart and soul of her being an American, America is ----Truly Beautiful…. Past Presidents and Dignitaries such as President Ronald Reagan, President Gerald Ford, Madam Sadat, Senator Diane Feinstein, Elizabeth Taylor, Whoopi Goldberg, Angelica Houston, Liza Minnelli, Ray Charles, and Barbara Mandrell have been privileged to hear her creative artistic interpretation. Robert Conrad and James Woods and the incomparable Mr. Blackwell have all said; "Only Carol makes our National Anthem sound like a love song ... and boy is it sexy."
The highly acclaimed film by Roman Polanski, “The Pianist” received 3 Academy Awards and is based on the true story of Wladyslaw Szpilman’s life as a holocaust survivor. This remarkable man was a leading contemporary composer and one of the great pianists in the world. Ms. has written two lyrics for the Wladyslaw Szpilman Songbook.
Ms. received the Israeli Cancer Research Fund, “Woman of Action Honor” in 2003. She has been Board member of the Friars Charitable Foundation since 2000 She received the Southeast Symphony 2004 “Woman of Excitement” Award, The Asthma Allergy Foundation of America “Orchid Award” in 1999. She is a Board member of The Connie Stevens CES Foundation, since 1992. Ms. is a celebrity Ambassador for Childhelp USA since 2001. Just to name a few, a very few of her charitable works.
Ms. was the sole recipient of an Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts and Public Service awarded by the President of the John F. Kennedy University (the only University that bears the late President’s name) in 2000 as a "Woman of Achievement", a recognition she will cherish forever.
Carol also wrote the theme for the Dolphin Research Center called “The Dolphins Are Coming: Let the Magic Begin”. The research center helps children with special needs, medical conditions, or emotional concerns.
Carol lives with her two Abyssinian cats, appropriately named MUSIC and *NLYRICS. If she's not with them you'll probably find her underwater in Key Largo swimming with the dolphins. She enjoys Gershwin, Lorenz Hart, and the very romantic classical composers Chopin, Liszt and Rachmaninoff. When Carol isn't singing or composing she likes to E-Mail the world with unique messages that stand alone as signature Carol.
Oh yes, she bakes pies, brownies and cookies too, with or without peanut butter, in hopes that Elvis may one day drop by. Now doesn't that just take the cake!
David Leavitt is president of Palm Beach Island Cats, which is working to prevent a future generation of homeless cats in the community of Palm Beach, Florida by implementing the humane practice of trap, neuter, and return. He has also worked extensively with dogs as both a breeder and trainer, but has always had a love for cats and has several of his own at home.