— Disco Ball at Trump Taj Mahal will celebrate the storied careers of two ‘Saturday Night Fever’ stars later this month.
Daytime TV star Wendy Williams will be on hand to host the 10th annual Disco Ball concert at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City on Saturday, June 23.
This year’s event will honor Disco legends Donna Summer and Robin Gibb — who died within three days of each other last month — in a special star-studded lineup of some of the greatest acts of the era performing over 30 hit songs.
The concert will also pay tribute to the 35th anniversary of the smash hit Saturday Night Fever with two of the film’s featured players, Donna Pescow and Karen Lynn Gorney, on hand during the festivities.
Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Pescow, 58, said she was bitten by the acting bug after her mother took her to see the Broadway show Funny Girl as a present for her 13th birthday.
“From the moment the curtain went up and the show started, a light bulb went off in my head,” Pescow recalled. “I was always a little ham and nobody knew how to channel it. But after seeing the show, it was obvious what had to be done.”
Awarded a scholarship to study at New York’s prestigious American Academy of Dramatic Arts, upon graduation she landed a featured role in the touring company of Ah Wilderness. After the play’s run, she resumed her studies in NYC with the legendary Lee Strasberg, and later in Los Angeles with renowned teacher Milton Katselas.
But it was the 1977 release of Saturday Night Fever, starring John Travolta, and her performance as Annette, that allowed Pescow to achieve fame. She was nominated for Best Supporting Actress by the New York Film Critics Circle, among other accolades.
“None of us had any idea this film would become a kind of cult classic,” Pescow said. “We were all new and enthusiastic, and excited just to be involved in this amazing film with John, who because of Welcome Back, Kotter, had already established himself as a TV star with a tremendous fan base.”
After the film hit big, Pescow was able to capitalize on her fame, including her title role as Angie on a popular TV series set in Philadelphia.
“It was a kind of Cinderella story,” Pescow explained, “where the boy was from a wealthy family who lived in Rittenhouse Square, and she and her family lived in South Philadelphia. I’ve always loved Philadelphia, and I think that show just made me love it even more.”
Joining Pescow at the Taj will be another Saturday Night Fever alum, Karen Lynn Gorney. Gorney, 67, concedes that it was her role as Stephanie Mangano in the film that made her a star. As the object of Travolta’s affection on and off the dance floor, Gorney was able to pull off the rare feat of making a tough girl also appear very vulnerable.
Both of Gorney’s parents were in show business. In fact, the Beverly Hills-born actress’ father, Jay, was a popular composer who wrote the music for the classic Depression-era song Brother, Can You Spare A Dime. But it was her shyness that got her into acting, she said.
“I wanted to be a songwriter like my dad, but I was too shy to sing my songs,” she said. “So my mother suggested I study acting, and with that, eventually I was able lose some of the shyness, and sing and play my guitar in front of an audience.
“And then I really got to like it,” she added. “I think I wanted to be famous, but went on to get a master’s degree in drama.”
She earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Carnegie Mellon University and a master’s degree in fine arts from Brandeis University. And then from 1970-74, her acting skills began to pay off, as she played the role of Tara Martin on the soap opera All My Children.
However, like Pescow, it was her appearance in Saturday Night Fever that proved to be her biggest role to date. And, like Pescow, she said that none of the film’s players had any idea the film would eventually become such a classic.
“We thought it was good while we were making it, and did think it was good enough to become a hit,” she recalled, “but we had no idea it would turn into what it has turned into. In fact, I still hear from fans all over the world asking about the film. And I’m happy to oblige.” ••
For times and ticket information, call 1-800-736-1420.