This website is dedicated to my Aunt Barbara, she helped raise me as a child, and I can tell you that she was truly one of the sweetest, loveliest women I have ever known. She was as beautiful on the inside as she appeared to the eye. She made a major difference in my life and many others, and has always given me the inspiration to dream big, and reach for the stars, she would say,
“If you reach for the stars and follow your dreams, even if you accomplish half of your dreams, You’ve made it!”. Quoted by Barbara McNair to her Nephew.
I must say I was very fortunate to have a Aunt like Barbara McNair, she taught me more than any kid could ever learn in school. Looking back in my life, I’ve realized that she was like a second mother to me. I remember living with her in Las Vegas, NV at 4265 S. Bruce Street. A large home where Barbara and my Uncle Rick would welcome their Family and Friends with open arms. Many famous people visited us and as a child I had a lot of fun announcing visitors, and also getting to know them in a relaxed, kicked back environment. I remember playing the Piano with Duke Ellington, Burt Bacharach, looking upat Gladys Knight, while I was playing the piano to her singing, and her looking down at me saying “You Ain’t No Pip”.
Sammy Davis Jr.would visit with his wife and dance across the kitchen floor with a cool glide, singing the Candyman while reaching in his pockets and pulling out candy for me. When he smiled at you, it gave you the feeling of The World Lighting Up. That was magic and Sammy knew how to make you feel good.
Then there was Flip Wilson, he would come over, a gentle man who would go upstairs with Barbara and come down that spiral staircase as Geraldine Jones, he played the part of a proud women who was boss. I must admit it confused me as a kid, but he or she made me laugh every time. Even my Uncle Rick would bust out in laughter, and if you knew my Uncle Rick, he was a quiet Man who portrayed strength.
You see, we were all like family. We had dinner together, and no one ever left feeling unwelcome.
I remember traveling with Barbara back and fourth from Las Vegas to Los Angeles, and then to Canada when she was creating The Barbara McNair Show. She was The First Black Women to ever have successfully launch her own Musical Variety Show. But did you know that years before The Barbara McNair Show, Lonnie Sattin hosted a show (Schaefer Circle) with Barbara as a co-host, and it was very successful. The Sattin-McNair Duo was deemed to have the best-looking and most exciting young combination to come along and appear on Television back in 1960.
Maybe this was just the inspiration that enticed Barbara to later start her own Musical Variety Show just nine years later.
I remember Lucille Ball bringing her children over for Barbara to watch back in the days when Lucy and Desi Split. Desi was living in his Las Vegas Condo at the time and Lucille trusted Barbara with her Children.
1969: Elvis Presley and the Colonel “Tom Parker” came, and I still remember Elvis and Barbara interviewing a fleet of Nuns sent to Las Vegas from The Chicago Catholic Archdiocese. You see, Elvis at the time wanted to see if the Nuns were treated differently if they walked the streets of Las Vegas in plain clothing verses wearing their Nun attire in Habit. This proved to be successful in the filming of the Movie “Change of Habit” a movie that was way ahead of it’s time. No one knew back then that it would be the last Movie Elvis ever appeared in.
Linda Hopkins also stayed with us for extended periods of time. At the time her home was in New York, but she was there when I arrived as a kid, and I remember her making me breakfast, Grits under Glass she would prepare and serve. She would say, eat this Johnnie, it will put hair on your chest, and then she would scratch my chest with her long manicured fingernails. Back then she introduced herself to me as Aunt Ethyl, and I went on for years think she was Barbara’s Sister, only to learn when we produced a show with her, who she really was. I have very fond memories of Linda Hopkins, she had an open heart, and helped any who crossed her path.
The night Stevie Wonder came to dinner, he had a feeling that the song written by Barbara and Ron Miller “For Once In My Life” a ballad at the time could be re-created into a Pop Hit, he asked Barbara for permission to sing it with faster beat and rhythm which proved to become so successful for him, that Barbara recorded both versions.
There were many more wonderful people that surrounded us back then, special people who were never fake, and had amazing talents.