Donna McKechnie

Donna McKechnie

Broadway aficionados and holiday enthusiasts should recognize this iconic Promises, Promises showstopping song and performance. Or perhaps you were a Gleek, and remember this song mashed-up with "Let's Have a Kiki" (Scissor Sisters) in the Glee 2012 holiday episode, or perhaps you recognize it from the 2003 movie Camp, with Anna Kendrick. Either way, the 1969 Act One finale of Promises, Promises promises us one additional interesting fact. The lead is played by none other than Donna McKechnie, who has ties to Grayville.

            McKechnie has several awards under her belt for her leading role in A Chorus Line (1976) and has performed in numerous Broadway, off-Broadway, and television programs since her arrival in New York City in 1959. In 2006, she authored an autobiography, “Time Steps: My Musical Comedy Life,” and she just started a new weekly podcast on the Broadway Podcast Network titled "The Ladies Who Lunch," recorded at the infamous Sardis restaurant in NYC. But, the most exciting thing is the fact that she is going to be inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame for Lifetime Achievement in the American Theatre being held Nov. 18 at the Gershwin Theatre in NYC. Unfortunately due to her busy schedule, The Navigator was unable to connect with Ms. McKechnie before going to print; nevertheless, her cousin Ann Fieber Hays was available to discuss visiting with Donna over the years.

            McKechnie was born in Pontiac, Michigan in 1942. Her father, Donald Bruce McKechnie was drafted into the war and served in Europe so Ms. McKechnie and her mother, Carolyn Ruth Johnson McKechnie, went to live with her grandparents, Dillard and Gladys Cowling Johnson in Huntington Woods, Michigan. In her book, Donna discusses her early childhood in depth. She mentions how her grandparents moved to Detroit from "...an early English farming settlement that went back to the seventeenth century" in Albion, Illinois, which she visited with her grandparents during her childhood. Her grandparents' house may be recognized as the late George and Betty Franklin house on the north side of Albion. Donna adored her grandparents, and enjoyed spending time with her Edwards County family when visiting. She discusses her closeness to her cousins in her book, even as an adult.

For the rest of the story, check out last week's Navigator.