Northeast Times

Catch the Night Fever

Donna Pescow, along with Kar­en Lynn Gor­ney, is a star of the hit 1970s film ‘Sat­urday Night Fever.’ Both wo­men will at­tend the Trump Taj Ma­hal’s Disco Ball in At­lantic City.

— Disco Ball at Trump Taj Ma­hal will cel­eb­rate the stor­ied ca­reers of two ‘Sat­urday Night Fever’ stars later this month.

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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. 

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