Mike Madill Entertainer
Mike Madill 1925-2013. Mike was a Vaudeville performer in the 1920s and 1930s. He started on radio with his twin sister Rita Madill and Rita and Rusty, as they called themselves, sang and danced on the West Coast until Mike joined up with Frank Benham and started an act known as The Benham Brothers. In 1951 Mike joined the Lucky Strike Hit Parade on NBC and later he teamed up with fellow Hit Paraders Susanne Cansino and Dusty McCaffery and toured as Susanne and the Escorts with George Jessel's Showtime. In addition the had a very successful run with Fems and Furs on the Tivoli Circuit in Australia. Mike also headlined Radio City Music Hall with Gil Johnson. Johnson and Madill toured the US and Europe playing major theatre's and concert halls all over the world. Mike was a permanent member of the Bob Hope Personal Appearance Tour. Mike appeared in over 30 countries. Mike directed a "Salute to Cole Porter" starring Yvonne De Carlo. Some of the other performers Mike toured with include George Jessel, Bob Hope, Nat King Cole, Sammy Davis Jr., Carmen Miranda and the love of his life, the great Lena Horne. Mike also introduced his agent to a fairly unknown comedy act in Europe--the duo known as Dan Rowan and Dick Martin. After touring Europe for three years, Mike returned to Sacramento, California and founded the Studio Playhouse. A few of the many plays Mike choreographed included: "Seventeen", "West Side Story" (starring a young Morgan Freeman, actor extraordinaire), "Frankie and Johnnie", "Music Man" and "Pal Joey". He also appeared as a guest artist with the Sacramento Ballet Company. While touring, teaching, and performing, Mike still found time to obtain a BA in English at San Francisco. Later he would complete Masters in Speech/Drama at Chico State, as well as a second M.A. in English. Mike designed, built, and implemented the Speech-Drama-Dance department at California State University, Chico and was responsible for bringing Harold Lang, (originally of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and the star of Broadway's 1952 "Pal Joey") to teach ballet. Together they directed and produced "Take Five" starring Irene Manning with their advanced students and many campus shows. But Mike never gave up performing. He was a tremendous success in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty at CSU-Chico in 1971 and took home the Most Valuable Teacher award the same year. Later the City of Chico also awarded him a Community Service award. In 1971 Mike was the Artistic Director, Cultural Exchange for the US to Mexico. His dance company toured Mexico representing the US. Additionally, he received an honorary PH.D conferred by the President of the University of Mexico and the Trophy Award on television, presented by the President of Mexico. . Some of Mike's students included: Eddie Fisher, Broadway's "Hair"; James Beaumont, Ballet West & A Chorus Line" (second Broadway cast); Tommy Aguilar, "A Chorus Line" (original London cast and national US touring company). In 1976 he accepted a position at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, where he taught dance until 1995. After retiring from UAF/UAA, he went on to continue his education and became an Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counselor III. He worked for the Fairbanks Correctional Facility, Cook Inlet Pre-Trial and the City of Ketchikan. He retired as a probation officer only to go to work a few weeks later as a prep cook and housekeeper for Doyon Universal on the Alaska North Slope. One year later he took a job with Princess Tours (now HAP Alaska) as a tour guide and bartender on the Alaska Railroad. His final career in life was as a greeter at the midtown Wal-Mart in Anchorage. Mike Madill was not someone who could accept the traditional idea of retirement.