Lola
Falana





 

LOLA FALANA was born Loletha Elaine Falana on September 11, 1942 in Camden NJ to Bennet and Cleo Falana. Falana's Cuban father came to this country to work as a welder years before. Her early years  were spent living at the Clement T. Branch Village public housing project in the Centerville section of Camden. At the age of three, Lola was dancing and at five, she was singing in the church choir. Music was so much a part of Falana's life that, although, her parents didn't sanction it, she left Germantown High School a few months before graduation, to ignite her soon-to-be legendary career in show business.

On arriving in the Big Apple, Lola had no money and slept in a subway car until she could afford to rent an apartment. She snatched her first dancing job at Small's Paradise on 7th Street in Harlem. She also shimmied for Dinah Washington's night club act before Sammy Davis Jr. spotted her moves one day and cast her as the lead dancer in his Broadway musical, "Golden Boy." Her association with Davis (who spent much of the year performing in Vegas) led to Lola's becoming a Las Vegas fixture as well.

The ingenue's star was just beginning to gleam as she cut her first record "My Baby" for Mercury Records in 1965. Lola was the first singer legendary producer Lenny Wanoker produced when he came to Warner Brothers in 1966. He cut her sterling rendition of "Coconut Grove and her sprightly cover of Lee Dorsey's "Working On The Coal Mine."

Over the balance of the decade, Lola traveled abroad and became a major star in Italy. She became fluent in the Italian language and co-starred with Jean-Louis Trintignant in the spaghetti western, "Lola Colt." She also starred with Tony Renis and Rocky Robert in two other Italian films during the period. Her beautiful face was plastered on the cover of so many Italian magazines that she was hailed as the "Black Venus.' It was once reported that over 500 Romans asked for Lola's hand in marriage during her sojourn in the country. After making several guest appearances on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson," she began to make a similar impression in North America.

A consummate performer, Lola starred in the Broadway musical Dr. Jazz" in 1975. The show closed after four performances, but she won critical praise and was nominated for a Tony Award. New York Times critic Olive Barnes, wrote that: "She's a hand grenade of a woman! That summer she was a regular on Ben Vereen's summer replacement series, "Comin' At Cha." Earlier she made regular appearances on "The New Bill Cosby Show," "Laugh-In" and various Bob Hope specials.

In 1975 Lola found her first chart hit with the disco number "There's A Man Out There Somewhere" which reached #67 on Billboards R&B charts in June. The next year she signed with ABC to star in four highly acclaimed variety show specials. She also became the first black spokeswoman for a major perfume when she became the commercial pitch-woman for Faberge's Tigress.

By the late 1970s, Lola found even greater success as the Queen of Las Vegas. Although, she'd sold out ballrooms at The Sands, the Riviera and the M-G-M Grand hotels, the Aladdin made her an offer she couldn't refuse. For twenty weeks a year, she staged an electrifying show that became a major tourist attraction. The hotel management reciprocated by making Lola the highest paid woman in Las Vegas history up to the time, to the tune of $100,000 a week. Only the King of Las Vegas, Wayne Newton, who often shared the stage with Lola, earned more.

In 1984 Lola joined the cast of the CBS soap opera, Capitol, as Charity Blake, a wealthy entertainment mogul. But, in 1987, Lola's career came to a screeching halt when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She was crippled, partially blinded and doctors had no cure to offer her. She lay in her bed five days, spending quiet time and praying with God. On the fifth day, Lola felt the presence of God sweep her body and begin what would be a year-and-a-half healing process. During that time, there were days when she literally crawled on her belly to get to the bathroom, but God has given her a miraculous recovery.

She made a triumphant return to Las Vegas in 1989 with several sold-out shows at the Sand's Hotel. However, Lola has since left the glitz of Las Vegas to do God's work. Although, Hollywood often makes offers and Las Vegas beckons her back to the casinos, her answer is "no" for now. She doesn't want to go back to the past. She wants to move to the future. She knows that God has some new challenges and missions in store for her. She remains open to his will and follows his lead.

For the last few years, she's toured the country, giving inspirational lectures and sharing her testimony. Aside from devoting time to Catholic evangelism and spending a lot of time in prayer for the world, Lola is very happy with the simple things in life. She's become focused on seeing God's will done on earth as it is in heaven. One could say that she's left the throne of the Queen and adopted the wings of an Angel.

Lola Falana has risen from a star to a servant -- a much higher and rewarding cause than her previous career as an entertainer. During the seventies, Lola made millions as the Queen of Las Vegas, but she has left that career for the noble task of serving the poor and faithless. Today Ms. Falana is an introspective poet, a mesmerizing motivational speaker, a concerned civic activist and a Catholic evangelist.


Lola Falana in Vietnam with Bob Hope
Johnny Bench and Gloria Loring are to Lola's Left


Jet Magazine - Fall 2002


LOLA FALANA'S FILMOGRAPHY

Hullabaloo Vol. 8 (1996)
The Burning Cross (1995)
Mad About You (1988)
Claudia Christian ] [ Shari Shattuck ] 
Circus of the Stars #4 (Made for TV) (1979)
 Loni Anderson ] [ Brooke Shields ] [ Lee Meriwether ] [ Elke Sommer ] [
 Mariette Hartley ] [ Candy Clark ] [ Charlene Tilton ] [ Cathy Lee Crosby ] 
Circus of the Stars #2 (Made for TV) (1977)
 Lucille Ball ] [ Lee Meriwether ] [ Kristy McNichol ] [ Cindy Williams ] [ 
 Valerie Perrine
 ] 
Lady Cocoa (1975)
Millie Perkins ] 
Klansman, The (1974)
Linda Evans ] [ Luciana Paluzzi ] 
Bob Hope Vietnam Christmas Show, The (Made for TV) (1971)
Liberation of L.B. Jones, The (1970)
Barbara Hershey ] [ Brenda Sykes ] 
Quando dico che ti amo (1968)
Stasera mi butto (1967)
Lola Colt (1967)
Man Called Adam, A (1966)

LOLA FALANA'S TV ROLES & GUEST APPEARANCES

Starring Roles

Capitol (1982) - Charity Blake (1984-1986)
The New Bill Cosby Show (1972) - Announcer/Regular

Guest Starring Roles

Late Night With David Letterman - Guest - 870520 (1987)
Hotel - Sheila Wilson - Changes of Heart (1986)
The Big Show - Guest - Episode 4 (1980)
The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson - Guest - 800128 (1980)
Circus of the Stars - Ringmaster - SPECIAL #4 (1979)
The Muppet Show - Herself - Lola Falana (1979)
Vegas - - Red Handed (1979)
Fantasy Island - Esther Bolling - Spending Spree / The Hunted (1979)
The Love Boat - Foxy Lady - Marooned (1) (1978)
The Love Boat - Foxy Lady - Marooned (2) (1978)
Circus of the Stars - Performer - SPECIAL #2 (1977)
The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson - Guest - 760716 (1976)
The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson - Guest - 750501 (1975)
The Streets of San Francisco - Ms. Sterling - A String of Puppets (1974)
The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson - Guest - 731019 (1973)
The Mod Squad - Marcie Weaver - The Song of Willie (1970)
The Hollywood Palace - Guest - Host: Anthony Newley / Lulu / Dyan Cannon (1969)
The F.B.I. - Lenore Brooks - The Sanctuary (1969)
The Ed Sullivan Show - Guest - Young Rascals / Joan Rivers / Lola Falana / Nancy Walker (1967)
The Hollywood Palace - Guest - Host: Bing Crosby / The Mamas & the Papas (1966)
Hullabaloo! - Herself - Host: Frankie Avalon (1965)
Hullabaloo! - Herself - Host: The Dave Clark Five (1965)
Hullabaloo! - Herself - Host: Peter Noone (1965)

 

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