I close my eyes and like a film, I fast forward, stop, and rewind images of Paul. Each time, I linger on those images and freeze frame Paul at different …
Singer/Songwriter, Actor, Producer, Film/TV/Musical Theatre Composer and Oscar winner, Paul Frederick Jabara, was born in Brooklyn, New York on January 31, 1948 He was the only son of Olga and Sam Jabara and was the youngest of three children and had two older sisters, Delores and Claudette. His love of music originated almost from birth, and he entertained his family and their friends as soon as he learned to talk. This multi-talented phenomenon began his career a teenager modeling for magazines and appearing in television commercials. As a teenager, he also auditioned for The Sound of Music and was offered a part in the road company, but his parents wouldn’t allow him to go. His first big break came when he was offered a feature role in the original cast of Hair.
Composing myriad hit songs, his credits include many platinum and gold records. He was best known for Last Dance for Donna Summer; The Main Event for Barbra Streisand; No More Tears (Enough Is Enough), a duet for Summer and Streisand; Work That Body for Diana Ross; It’s Raining Men for The Weather Girls, which was also recorded by Geri Halliwell and a worldwide hit for the second time in 2001; and Two Lovers for Julio Iglesias.
Last Dance, featured in the film Thank God Its Friday, earned Jabara a Grammy Award and the 1978 Academy Award for Best Song. Clearly, his music defined an era and continues to keep us all dancing.
As a recording artist, he enjoyed moderate success singing his own compositions on several record albums. His record Shut Out featured Dance and a disco version of Yankee Doodle Dandy. Highlights of Paul’s second album, Keeping Time, include his own version of Last Dance and Something’s Missing In My Life, a duet with Donna Summer. The “epic” medley Disco Wedding/Honeymoon in Puerto Rico/Disco Divorce can be found on The Third Album. Paul Jabara and Friends marked the first appearance of the Weather Girls on It’s Raining Men and a young Whitney Houston on Eternal Love. His later releases include De La Noche – A Poperetta and Paul Jabara’s Greatest Hits and Misses.
As an actor, Jabara made his Broadway debut in the original cast of Hair. He created the role of King Herod in the original London production of Jesus Christ Superstar performing Herod’s Song to a standing ovation at every performance. As a result of this performance. Robert Stigwood wanted to cast Jabara in the starring role in the English production of Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat on the London stage. British Actor’s Equity did not want the part to go to an American actor and refused to allow Jabara to do the part. In protest, he chained himself to 10 Downing Street, making headlines in all the British papers, The New York Times and other papers around the world. He also starred in The Rocky Horror Show in Los Angeles.
At the tender age of 23, this multi-talented performer wrote book, music, lyrics and starred in his own Broadway musical at the Broadhurst Theatre in New York entitled Rachel Lily Rosenbloom – and Don’t You Forget It. The show was produced by Robert Stigwood. The show did not have the opportunity to go on the road first to get the kinks ironed out and unfortunately, the show closed in previews.
During his career he appeared in many feature films including Midnight Cowboy; The Lords of Flatbush; The Day of the Locust; Medea; Light Sleeper; The Ski Bum; Les Patterson Saves the World; Honky Tonk Freeway; Star 80; Legal Eagles; and Thank God Its Friday.
Regularly appearing on television, his credits included The Tonight Show; Merv Griffin; American Bandstand; Dinah Shore; Starsky and Hutch; Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman; The Equalizer; The Rubber Gun Squad; and made-for-television films The Last Angry Man and Out of the Darkness.
Jabara had been honored for creativity and excellence winning numerous awards including The Oscar; Grammy; Golden Globe; People’s Choice Award; Your Choice for the Oscar and many others giving him global recognition.
He will always be remembered by those that knew him for getting up and entertaining people with highlights from his latest production whether it was at home or at a party. He was a one-man show and delighted in performing for his audience.
It has been reported that Jabara co-founded the Red Ribbon Project in 1991, and was credited with conceiving and distributing the first AIDS Red Ribbons. This highly recognized symbol spawned the use of different colored ribbons to quickly raise awareness to other causes and is widely used today.
Paul Jabara passed away in Los Angeles, California at the age of 44 on September 29, 1992. He is buried at Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York.
As a tribute at his memorial service, his friends and collaborators got together and performed a song he wrote entitled, We’re Gonna Win. Since that time, the song has been officially locked in a vault and has never been performed again.
Happily, the memory of this entertainment genius will live on with the anticipation of a new musical entitled LAST DANCE, based on Paul Jabara’s music. LAST DANCE, heralding the glorious days of disco, promises to be a song, dance and fun-filled evening of entertainment. The show opened in early 2006.