The Pirates of Penzance

Universal Press Department
January 5, 1983


Linda Ronstadt is probably the most successful woman singer of the past decade. Cash Box named her the top female pop singer of the Seventies, her concerts sell out within hours of being announced and each of her albums since 1974 has sold more than one million copies. She has won numerous awards, including a Grammy in 1976 for the best female pop vocal performance. She has subsequently won a further three Grammy Awards.

In July of 1980, Ronstadt made her stage debut by appearing as Mabel in Joseph Papp's New York Shakespeare Festival production of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates Of Penzance in Central Park. It then moved to Broadway in January of 1981, becoming the musical smash hit of the season.

Now, she makes her motion picture debut by repeating the role in the screen version.

Linda Ronstadt was born in Tucson, Arizona, one of four children, in 1946. Her English-Dutch-German mother (whose father invented such things as the electric stove, rubber ice trays, the grease gun) grew up in Michigan. Her Mexican-English­German father, who runs a successful hardware store, is from an old Arizona ranching family.

At four, her father, who loved to sing, pronounced his daughter a soprano, and that was it. From that moment, she wanted to be a singer. She became addicted to the radio, memorizing every song she heard. Music dominated her life.

Ronstadt attended Catholic schools, and her penchant for flouting tradition surfaced early on. She teased the young priests, exasperated the nuns. She managed to stick it out for one semester at the University of Arizona before hitting the road in 1964.

Arriving in Los Angeles, she hooked up with Bob Kimmel and Kenny Edwards and formed the 'Stone Poneys,' which was basically a folk/country band that played local gigs at places such as the Troubador and the Palomino. The group eventually signed with Capitol Records and released three albums. The band had one hit, "Different Drum."

In 1969, Ronstadt struck out on her own and released her first solo album, "Hand Sown, Home Grown". Her second album, "Silk Purse", was released in 1970 and included her first hit, "Long, Long Time;" it also earned her her first Grammy nomination.

In 1971 she released her third solo album, "Linda Ronstadt," and formed a new band, which included Glenn Frey and Don Henley, who later formed a band of their own, 'The Eagles.' In 1973, "Don't Cry Now" was released. By that time she had a cult following, pulling her fans not only from the country ranks but from pop and rock as well.

But it was in 1974, when she teamed up with Peter Asher, who became her manager and producer, that Ronstadt took off. She released "Heart Like A Wheel," and the single from that album, "You're No Good," sprinted up the charts to number one. Her version of Hank Williams' "I Can't Help It (If I'm Still In Love With You)", also from "Heart Like A Wheel", won her her first Grammy Award for best female country vocal.

"Prisoner In Disguise" came next and was followed, in 1976, by "Hasten Down The Wind" and "Linda Ronstadt's Greatest Hits," and she won another Grammy, this time for best female pop vocal performance. The Playboy Music Poll named her the top female singer in both pop and country categories.

There was no stopping her. The next year, she released "Simple Dreams," which some critics still call her best work. The album produced five hit singles, including her all-time biggest single, "Blue Bayou." "Simple Dreams" was also her best­selling album -- over 3,500,000 copies in less than a year in the United States alone. And Playboy again named her the top female singer in both pop and country categories.

"Living In The USA" hit the stores in 1978 with an initial shipment of more than 2,000,000 copies. That album further demonstrated Ronstadt's versatility and growth. She sang the Hammerstein/Romberg tune "When I Grow Too Old To Dream," covered Smokey Robinson's "Ooh, Baby, Baby," Chuck Berry's "Back In The USA," as well as Warren Zevon's "Mohammed's Radio" and Elvis Costello's "Alison."

In February of 1980, her album, "Mad Love," was released with instant success. Five months later she made her stage debut in that tremendously successful revival of The Pirates Of Penzance, which led, the following year, to her making her motion picture debut in the same production. Her new album, "Get Closer" was released in October of 1982 and immediately enjoyed very substantial success.

Edward R. Pressman presents A Joseph Papp Production, "The Pirates Of Penzance," starring Kevin Kline, Angela Lansbury, Linda Ronstadt, George Rose and Rex Smith. It is directed and has a screenplay by Wilford Leach, and Joseph Papp is the producer. A Universal Release, the executive producer is Edward R. Pressman, and the co-producer is Timothy Burrill.

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