Singer picks up where she left off-and dazzles reviewers

Patty Clark reenters the music scene as a singer of American standards. She started out in radio and in television in the 1960s, but put off her career to raise a family.

Patty Clark restarts her music career after almost 30 years.

By Lindsay Kuhn/Special to The Malibu Times

Surrounded by the Spanish décor of her Malibu living room, Emmy Award-winning Patty Clark sings and dances to the bossa nova rhythms of her newly recorded CD finished just this month, like she was on the grandest of stages.

After almost 30 years, Clark, singer of classic American standards, has returned. Her homecoming has so far been marked by two CDs, acclaim over the U.S. and England, and countless live performances. Beginning in mid-February, she has a run at the Coconut Grove Theater in Miami and is off to New York this summer.

When she reentered the scene, the BBC reviewed her first CD as “an unexpected and delightful surprise.”

While the BBC was right in saying Clark’s music is delightful, this should not come as a surprise.

In the ’60s, she won an Emmy for best Chicago singer, went on four national tours with the Bob Hope Troupe, was a weekly featured vocalist on the “Glenn Miller Show,” and sang on various radio shows, including CBS’ “Supper Club” and “Josh Brady Show,” to name a few.

Clark has been singing since she was three. “My mother couldn’t keep me quiet,” she said.

She was raised by her mother, a clothing designer, who, Clark said, was not by any means a stage mom. Clark’s mother encouraged her by not stopping her. “She didn’t say no,” Clark said.

Clark accredited her mother as one of the two people who’ve understood her and her artistic aspirations. Her husband, Tony Fantozzi, a former talent agent who is producing a play in London this summer, is the other of the two. “Tony has been totally supportive,” she said.

Even so, Fantozzi takes no credit for her success. “It’s her thing,” he said.

Clark and Fantozzi met in Chicago, when he came to one of her shows at a local nightclub.

Clark was in her 20s and had recently moved to Chicago to work for CBS. “I was so homesick I thought I was going to die,” she said.

Clark grew up in Dwight, North Dakota, a town of 150 people. She got her start there when the local radio station WBBM hired her. At 17 she was hired by NBC and from that point on, until she was in her mid-20s, she appeared on both television and radio. The networks kept her busy. At CBS, she’d do a show on the radio at 5 p.m. and then follow it with a television appearance. “I’d do ten tunes a week,” she said.

When Clark married Fantozzi, she took a break from her music career and dedicated herself to him and their two children. “I stopped singing cold turkey,” Clark said.

Clark said she didn’t have any regrets about leaving her career. Her children are grown now, out of the house and living nearby. Her daughter is 24 and her son is 32.

“My dream has come true,” she said, talking about the proximity of her children to her in Malibu.

Clark got back into singing after her friends encouraged her to perform at a housewarming party about four years ago. “They said you have to do this,” she said.

Clark has just as much verve as the 20 something singer in her videos. “She was terrific then and still is now,” Fantozzi said of his wife.

Clark’s second CD took about a year and a half to complete and is full of American standards with rich bossa nova rhythms, beats that were introduced as a jazz samba in the ’60s.

“It’s totally me,” Clark said, dancing in her living room, her sparkling blue eyes closed.

As she dances, one hand hovers out in front of her, grasping the air, as though it is reaching out to touch the vibrations of the music. Her step is graceful and with the beat.

She belongs onstage. The crowd would’ve gone wild.