North Beach, San Francisco, 1978: Adrienne found the black cockapoo on Christmas, and so the little dog was named Holly. Found abandoned on the freeway, Holly lived out her life with Adrienne.
Holly led a charmed life. The night she dug out of the back yard to investigate the neighbor’s swimming pool, first she tumbled in, and then was unable to climb up the pool’s lip, so she paddled through the night. In the morning, when Adrienne followed the tracks, Holly, now very feeble but still paddling, was pulled from the water. Holly tried to shake off the water, but stumbled and fell. But soon, after a few hours wrapped in a blankey, she was chipper as ever. That gal!
The Beach Blanket Babylon chapter of Holly’s story came later …
Adrienne was dating an actor named Jay, and when she heard of the auditions for Toto the Dog, for the upcoming Beach Blanket Babylon version of The Wiz, she figured Holly had an inside, because Holly looked like Toto. Adrienne signed Holly for an audition, and Jay was suitably impressed.
Beach Blanket Babylon, now the longest-running musical revue in America, had begun its run in 1974. Now located at the Club Fugazi dinner theatre (across from the Green Street Mortuary, the home of the famous marching band), the Beach Blanket troupe produces parodies of current happenings, and is famous for gargantuan and peculiar hats.
In 1978, based on the Broadway smash hit, a movie called The Wiz appeared, starring Diana Ross and Michael Jackson, with a Quincy Jones soundtrack. This was a natch for Club Fugazi!
At the Saturday morning auditions, the line of dogs and owners stretched out the front door. The theatre was dark, smelling musty of last-night’s alcohol. Holly patiently waited her turn. Adrienne was nervous.
Finally, it was Holly’s turn. She jumped up the steps, looked back smiling as Adrienne followed. Adrienne introduced Holly to the audience and to Mr. Silver, the guy in charge. “Go ahead, dear,” he said. Adrienne turned to Holly.
“Are you ready?” Adrienne asked. Holly looked ready.
“Sit,” Adrienne said. Holly lay down.
“Shake,” said Adrienne. Holly sat.
“Speak,” said Adrienne. Holly held out a paw to be shaken.
“Lie down,” said Adrienne. Holly barked.
Adrienne couldn’t help laughing, along with the audience. First one, then another of the audience, rose to their feet, clapping wildly. Holly was a hit. Tears running down his face, Mr. Silver said, “Thank you, dear,” but the audience kept clapping.
It was Holly’s standing ovation.