BYE BYE BIRDIE! HELLO LADA!

If you came of age during the Sixties you may well remember the name Lada Edmund, Jr. who was one of the original gyrating, mini-skirted go-go girls who danced in a cage on NBC-TV’s music program, Hullabaloo 1965-66. Similar to ABC’s Shindig, Hullabaloo featured a different celebrity host each week to introduce some of the most popular musical performers of the day. However, the show received most of its press not for the rock groups or vocalists that guest starred but for Lada and fellow dancers who bumped, grinded and twisted their way into the homes of teenagers every week. So popular was she that she landed on the cover of TV Guide magazine.

Before she found small screen fame, Lada began her career dancing on Broadway. She was one of the original dancers in the 1960 Tony Award winning musical Bye Bye Birdie with Dick Van Dyke, Chita Rivera and Paul Lynde. When rock star Conrad Birdie is drafted, his agent randomly selects high schooler Kim MacAfee from Sweet Apple, Ohio for Conrad to give his final goodbye kiss to on The Ed Sullivan Show before he goes off to the military. Lada played Penelope Ann one of Kim’s friends and one of the many hysterical fans of the singing idol. With the first Broadway revival of Bye Bye Birdie starring John Stamos and Gina Gershon scheduled to open in October, Lada has been invited to return to Sweet Apple, Ohio as a special guest and will be visiting backstage soon.

Besides dancing on stage (including productions of West Side Story and Promises, Promises) and TV, Lada shimmied across the big screen as a surf loving sorority girl in the beach flick For Those Who Think Young (1964) with James Darren, Pamela Tiffin and Nancy Sinatra

. She then went dramatic in the moonshine movie The Devil’s 8 (1968) and the coming-of-age drama Out of It (1969) starring Jon Voight in his film debut though released after he found fame in Midnight Cowboy.

During the Seventies, she became a stuntwoman in Hollywood and performed death defying feats in films including Smokey and the Bandit (1977) starring Burt Reynolds, and classic TV shows such as Charlie’s Angels and Starsky and Hutch.

Out of the spotlight for years working as a personal trainer in New Jersey (I tried to locate her for my Glamour Girls of Sixties Hollywood book without any luck), Lada (now known as Lada St. Edmund) has re-surfaced and has launched a comeback. She is available for interviews through her publicist Walter Newkirk at newkirkpr@aol.com.

Click here to read columnist Peter Filichia’s recent interview with Lada on theatermania.com.

 

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