All eyes were on Rich Little last night at the Hollywood Museum as America’s master mimic unveiled a new exhibit featuring a few items from his career representing George Burns, Dean Martin and Johnny Carson at a private event attended by Ruta Lee, Paul Sorvino, Barbara van Orden, Alison Arngrim, Geri Jewell, Peter Mark Richman, Judy Tenuta, Kate Linder, Darby Hinton, Bob Bergen, Geoffrey Mark and other celebrities. The items, which include a headpiece that the impressionist wore while performing as Carnac the Magnificent, one of Carson’s signature characters, will remain on display in the Museum lobby.
Little shared a few anecdotes during the unveiling ceremony, which was emceed by Donelle Dadigan, founder and owner of the Museum. The impressionist invited Ruta Lee to join him on stage when he spoke of their mutual friends Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra. The legendary singer/actress, who co-starred with the Rat Packers in Sergeants 3, joked that Martin affectionately called her “Loudy” because of her booming voice. Little then briefly donned the Carnac headpiece and revealed that, for him, the secret to capturing Carson’s distinctive voice and mannerisms was “to think of [the movements of] an ostrich.”
The evening ended with Little signing copies of his memoir, Little by Little: People I’ve Known and Been, a collection of stories and anecdotes about thirty of the most famous people that he impersonated over the years, including George Burns, Jack Benny, Ed Sullivan, Robert Goulet, James Stewart, Richard Nixon and John Wayne. The book also includes a host of color and black-and-white photographs, plus charcoal sketches of each celebrity that discussed in the book, all done by Little himself. The book signing portion of the evening was open to the public; all proceeds from the signing benefited veterans through the Gary Sinise Foundation.