Episode #214 — Actor & Author Dinah Manoff

Picture it: Chicago, Spring 2022. A not-so-young podcast producer decides to attend the first-ever Golden Con — a weekend-long fan convention for “The Golden Girls.” It’s a celebration filled with special guest stars, trivia, merchandise, plays, a dance party, and even a Shady Pines cafeteria. The producer only attended for a day, but by the end she had two significant epiphanies.

I figured it would be a fun way to spend a Saturday and I have friends in Chicago, so why not see what Golden Con was all about. The first indicator it would be a big event was that the venue moved from various theater/bar locations in a Chicago neighborhood to Navy Pier. Guess a few people wanted to celebrate Dorothy, Sophia, Blanche, and Rose. Truthfully, I was glad for the change. Though I generally avoid Navy Pier at all costs (it’s a madhouse there), I was glad there would be extra space and room to breathe through my mask. A local friend agreed to go with me, though she admitted it was mostly for the people watching. And that’s partially why I was going, too. What sorts of people were mega fans of “The Golden Girls?” Seriously, of all the things to be obsessed with …

Once there, I got every inside joke, every visual gag, every aside, every staged photo op. And whenever a quote from the show was started, I could finish it. Every instance from an episode that a panel member referenced didn’t need to be explained to me. Enter my first significant epiphany: apparently, I’m a super fan. Not sure how it happened, and it doesn’t dictate my life in any major way, but “The Golden Girls” minutiae are filed away in my brain. All I can do is acknowledge and accept it!

The second epiphany happened during a panel discussion between Golden Guests, including a couple of guest stars, a recurring character, and a writer/producer for the show. Dinah Manoff played Carol Weston on both “The Golden Girls” and “Empty Nest,” and as soon as she began answering the drag queen moderator’s first question, my friend and I looked at each other with an “ah-ha” expression because this lady gets it. The more she spoke, the more it was clear that this actor is sharp, witty, hilarious … all of my favorite adjectives. Dinah also did a reading, later, from her book, “The Real True Hollywood Story of Jackie Gold.” And it confirmed my suspicions: Dinah Manoff is fantastic, and we needed to get her on the podcast tout de suite!

Here we are, less than six months later, and she’s this episode’s guest! And while not everyone may be into “The Golden Girls” and “Empty Nest” as much as I am, everyone in the world knows her as Marty Maraschino (you know, like in cherry) from “Grease.” Perhaps you became a fan when Dinah’s character became Chucky’s first victim, Aunt Maggie, in “Child’s Play,” or for her role as Elaine Lefkowitz on “Soap.” Oh, yeah — she also has a Tony Award for her role in Neil Simon’s “I Ought to Be in Pictures.”

Look, I could go on and on about the wonderful work of Dinah Manoff (She played a nun on “Night Court”!), but after listening to this week’s episode you’ll agree that she also is a fantastic interviewee. We learned about what it was like to have her first major movie role be in “Grease,” who she keeps in touch with from her 90s TV days, and how she feels about fan conventions. Dinah also shared the very important reason she decided to teach acting and improv classes at a women’s prison, developing an arts program there. And we got more information about her novel and what inspired her to write it in the first place.

If you’d like to learn more about Dinah — and trust me, you do — check out her website and Facebook page. You can also go there, or to anywhere else you buy books, to get a copy of “The Real True Hollywood Story of Jackie Gold.” Read it, enjoy it, and write a review!

Listening to this episode really makes me wish I hadn’t been shy about going up to chat with Dinah at Golden Con. But it’s probably best I didn’t — the other attendees would have gotten miffed about how much of her time I was taking up. And you definitely don’t want to piss off a drag performer dressed like Dorothy Zbornak. Those shoulder pads and sarcastic glances really pack a punch!


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