In the first phase of her show business career, Barbara Minkus wanted to sing ballads.
But casting directors and producers had a different agenda.
"They always wanted me to sing funny songs because I look funny," said Minkus of Encino. "I never got to sing what I wanted."
Now, after 25 years of performing, Minkus sets her own agenda. Beginning Sunday for four weeks, Minkus will perform her one-woman autobiographical show, "On Sunday I Sing!" at the Richard Basehart Playhouse in Woodland Hills. She will sing 25 songs and tell stories about her journey from Broadway to Hollywood to motherhood.
Minkus played Fanny Brice in a national tour of "Funny Girl" and appeared in the short-lived Broadway production of "The Education of Hyman Kaplan." (The show was doomed when, at intermission on opening night, the audience learned that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated. "In the first act, they were laughing their heads off," Minkus said. "In the second act, they just sat there. I thought it was me.")
Minkus is perhaps best known as a regular for six years on ABC-TV's "Love, American Style" in the early 1970s. She thought she'd act in the show's primary skits but instead was relegated to brief blackout scenes that came just before the commercials. Minkus played the short, homely woman jilted by her lover who fantasized about landing the long-haired beauty in the bikini.
"I beat out Penny Marshall for the part," said the 40-something Minkus. "She must be laughing now--Barbara who? But it was very disappointing not to be on the main show. I was constantly pushed over a cliff, had sand kicked in my face, or left at the altar."
After the series was canceled in 1974, her career tapered off. She got a few small guest spots on sitcoms and appeared in some commercials and plays. She married, had two children--Ben is now 11, Jennifer, 9--and became a licensed family therapist. She completed requirements for her license after two years of classes at the California Family Study Center in North Hollywood, and began practicing in the early '80s in Sherman Oaks.
"Everybody who sees me is in show business," said Minkus, who has 14 clients and practices only two days a week. "They face a lot of issues of rejection."
But she never abandoned show business entirely. For years, she sang at area clubs, usually for just one or two nights.
About a year ago, she started developing a more scripted show, which she said "is about me as a performer." It doesn't mention her counseling at all, because, she said, "it would be too confusing."
Marcia Rodd, who directs the new show, said Minkus has the right character to make a one-person show work.
"I've seen zillions of one-person shows and the most important thing is that the audience come to know and like the person," said Rodd, who directed "Deathtrap" this summer at Actors' Alley Repertory Theatre in North Hollywood. "I've known Barbara a long time and it's amazing the things she's done in her life."
The first act of "On Sunday I Sing" focuses on the funny songs Minkus was forced to sing in the early stages of her career.
In the second act, a metaphor for her life, she performs her beloved ballads.
"It doesn't matter to me whether it's Broadway or Woodland Hills," she said, "as long as I am singing what I enjoy."
Where and When
What: "On Sunday I Sing" starring Barbara Minkus.
Location: Richard Basehart Playhouse, 21028 Victory Blvd., Woodland Hills.
Hours: 7 p.m. Sundays through Nov. 1.
Call: (818) 704-1845.