A Thousand Lifetimes
Interview with Joan Benedict Steiger

08/2015 Song River
(50th Edition of Vents Magazine)

To live a thousand life times and with an attitude of embrace your passions, Dancer, Actress, Author, Joan Steiger spent a little time with me on a rainy California afternoon. We talked about dancing, Television, Ginger Rogers, her beloved husbands, and her new book- “Brooklyn Baby,” due out this year.

Song River: Joan it is so good to speak with you today, thank you for taking some time out to chat with me about your forthcoming book, “Brooklyn Baby.”

Joan Steiger: Well, I am so very happy to, and very excited about my book.

SR: Having watched some of the reruns of Candid Camera and The Steve Allen Show, you have been a part of television and film through some very exciting times.

JS: Yes, yes and it will all be out in my book soon.

SR: When is the book, “Brooklyn Baby,” looking to be released?

JS: Probably by the end of the year.

SR: Who is publishing it?

JS: That is happening now, and I can't say who it is right now. They are telling me they think it's going to be a big winner!

SR: Will you be doing a book tour?

JS: Yes, I am planning on it.

SR: Well, tell me what you can about your book.

JS: It's called, “Brooklyn Baby,” and it begins where I was born in Brooklyn, it's in the Park Slope area of Brooklyn, Upper Fifth Ave by Prospect Park. It's a gorgeous section, I lived in my grandfathers beautiful townhouse. I can't tell you too much as it's in the book, but I had a very exciting childhood. At about 7 or 8 I was sent to Europe, and I lived in Paris and Rome studied there my dancing and everything. When I was 15 I started my acting and I have had some of the greatest teachers in the business. It was all during the heydays of the '50's and live television.

Along with a splendid childhood, I have been blessed with three of the most gorgeous husbands, who are no longer with me. 

And (smiled warmly) I am still dancing even today, anyway it's all in the book.

SR: Back when you were 7 years old and you began taking dance lessons, was it something you wanted to do?

JS: Yes, yes. I always loved tapped dancing. I studied ballet and when I went to Rome I was a member of the Royal Opera Ballet School. 

I still tap three times a week.

SR: I suppose tap dancing is very good exercise. I think once you’re a dancer, you’re always a dancer.

JS: Absolutely, it is just great happiness. I have a class here now and it is all full of professionals. People who have been on the Dean Martin Show, The Rockettes, we are all ex-professional dancers and we all have a great, great class and we do intricate routines, it's just fabulous.

SR: Who leads the class?

JS: JOE GIAMALVA a well-known choreographer.

SR: Now, do you as a group go out and perform?

JS: No, this is something we just do for ourselves.

SR: So often we forget to take care of ourselves.

JS: I wouldn’t know any other way. I am much too vain, (laughed), I am a size 6, I never go to the door without makeup and my hair done, well I have been like that ever since I was 7 years old. So, I don't understand this 'taking care of myself' we are all God's creatures, why wouldn’t we? That’s an insult to God not to, that’s the way I see it. I have just been very lucky all my life to be able to do something I love so much; acting and dancing. And having the greatest of great marriages, which all ended through different cancers, but I’ve always done what I wanted to with my life, and how lucky that is. Anyone who just goes through life without doing anything they love doing, well I just feel sorry for them.

SR: Did you have any children?

JS: Yes, I did with one of my husbands. She lives in Palisades. She was at one time a producer, but now she isn’t.

SR: How about grandchildren?

JS: Yes, two. One works with fashion in New York City and the other is in college studying graphic arts.

SR: If you had to pull one of your favorite memories from your days with Candid Camera or The Steve Allen show, what would it be?

JS: I have a really great memory back when I was beginning to tap dance. The people I admired most were Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire.  I was doing the last Steve Allen Show in New York, before they moved the show out to California, and as I was heading into rehearsal I was wearing my gold lame bathing suit, just as I walked in somebody tapped me on my butt. I turned around quickly, and well who do you think it was?

SR: I bet it was Ginger.

JS: It was! And here I was looking at my idol and she said to me, “You sure do something for that bathing suit.” She has been the whole reason for my passion for dancing, it was really thrilling. I think I was just dumbfounded.

SR: That was such a different time, and so much has changed. I can't imagine what New York must have been like then.

JS: Oh it was, and it is all in the book. I have so many wonderful stories to share. I have truly lived a thousand lives in my lifetime.  

SR: Your book I am sure will be filled with wonderful stories and photographs of all those lifetimes.

JS: Oh yes, so many.

SR: Aside from your wonderful book, “Brooklyn Baby,” what films do you have coming up?

JS: I have a wonderful film coming up called, “Thou Shall Not Steal,” it's a comedy and I am playing the mother of the head of NASA. Shooting for that began in August. The writer for the movie is the same person who co-wrote my book, Film Producer/Writer- David Minasian. The comedy is pretty much of a slap stack comedy.

SR: Well, we can't wait to read your book, “Brooklyn Baby,” and we are looking forward to reading all about your memories and getting an inside glimpse into your thousands of lives Joan. Truly an inspiration!