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Performing Art
"I never felt typecast," Audrey Landers says of her image. "I've played a pretty good variety of characters. I was a CIA agent once. I shot an uzi!"
Arts and Entertainment Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2012 10 years ago

Audrey Landers: A chorus girl

by: Heidi Kurpiela Contributing Writer

Let’s start with the pink bikini.

Those of you who are familiar with Audrey Landers’ famous number in the movie “A Chorus Line” know what I’m talking about.

In the film, Landers stands on stage in a pink bikini and a black belt. In a voice that’s a cross between girlish and bawdy, she sings a politically incorrect song about her augmented assets while an amused Michael Douglas looks on.

When Director Richard Attenborough cast the actress as the flirty Val Clarke in the 1985 film version of the musical, she was already a star on one of the hottest shows of the decade — “Dallas.”

A Juilliard-trained singer, Landers never thought she’d get the part. She wasn’t a dancer, and she had yet to see “A Chorus Line” on Broadway.

She auditioned anyway.

“Pretty much what you see in the movie is what I did at the audition,” Landers says. “I left feeling like I made a fool of myself, and then my mother (Ruth Landers, her manager) called to tell me I got the part.”
That was 27 years ago. She still has the bikini.

In person, it’s more of a faded peach color than a pink. And it’s tiny — seriously tiny. When Landers heads to her bedroom to retrieve it, she returns carrying a sandwich baggie.

The bikini fits in a Ziploc.

“This is it,” she says, holding it up like it’s a laboratory specimen. “There’s nothing to it.”

Over the years, numerous collectors of Hollywood memorabilia have asked to buy the itty-bitty two-piece, but Landers, now the mother of two 18-year-old sons, has never caved — until now.

In honor of The Players Theatre’s production of “A Chorus Line,” the 55-year-old actress will auction off the suit at a fundraiser this month benefiting the theater.

“I hope they have a good way to display it,” she says with a shrug. “Otherwise, it won’t look like much.”

It’s a Tuesday afternoon and Landers is sitting at her kitchen table in Osprey. Her two dogs — small rescue pooches named Roxy and Andy — are circling her stiletto-ed feet, begging for apples and cheese, which the actress has neatly arranged on a tray lined with éclairs and starfruit.

It’s a gracious bounty for a mid-morning interview, and Landers has no problem sharing it with her pets.
In between bites, her cell phone rings. First, it’s a text message from her son Adam, who’s currently studying economics at Duke University. Then it’s a call from her husband, Donald, regarding the clothing line Landers launched four years ago with her mother.

The company ran into a legal snafu branding shoes.

If this were an episode of “Dallas,” there would be drama. Landers would probably pout and hang up the phone in a huff.

Instead, she brushes off the issue and returns to snacking, explaining that in 13 years, she’s never regretted relocating her family from Beverly Hills, Calif., to a sleepy community on a golf course in Osprey.
“It was total culture shock,” she says of the move. “But I wanted to raise my kids away from the spotlight. I needed a break from show biz.”

A testament to her career in show business covers the walls of her foyer.

An impressive mixed-bag of magazine covers, movie posters and tabloid features, the wall of fame includes everything from Landers’ 1983 clothed “Playboy” pictorial to the 2006 Sarasota-based adventure flick, “Circus Island,” that she co-wrote and co-directed with her mother and sister, Judy Landers.

Many of the magazines were published in Germany, where Landers is still a hot pop singer.

“It’s like a secret career that no one knows about in the U.S.,” she says of her celebrity status in Europe.

That doesn’t mean the paparazzi don’t still trail her in Los Angeles.

“It’s fun every now and then to have that attention,” Landers says. “It makes you appreciate the peace and quiet when you come home. It’s a different world here. You don’t have to be done up to take out your trash. It’s nice to chill out and have a normal life.”

Does that mean she has no interest in returning to “Dallas” for the remake slated to premiere this summer on TNT?

Landers blushes. Of course she wants to be back on “Dallas.”

And, yes, she’s familiar with the Facebook fan page dedicated to the cause: “Bring Audrey Landers Back to Dallas on TNT.”

It’s up to 6,272 likes.

She says producers have already talked to her about appearing in a cliffhanger at the end of the first season.

As for whether we’ll finally find out who shot J.R., the actress can’t say.

“I can tell you one thing,” she says. “It wasn’t me.”

The Players Theatre will host a “T&A Soiree” at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 20. Named after Landers’ musical number in the film version of “A Chorus Line,” the fundraiser will feature a performance by the singer/actress and her son, budding pop star Daniel Landers, as well as commentary by her mother and longtime manager, Ruth Landers. Single tickets are $65 or $100 for two. The evening will include a pre-show reception and live auction. All proceeds will benefit The Players Theatre. For more information, call 365-2494. “A Chorus Line” opens Feb. 15 and runs though March 4.

• The Landers family filmed several episodes of a reality show for the E! Network. They opted out of the project when producers suggested they spice things up by faking arguments and posing for “Playboy.”
• Landers’ 18-year-old twins, Daniel and Adam, graduated from Pine View School.
• Landers last major TV role was in 2008, on the cable network crime drama “Burn Notice.”
• Landers’ early television credits include “The Love Boat,” “Fantasy Island,” “One Life to Live” and “The Dukes of Hazzard.”
• Landers, together with her sister and mother, co-created the children’s TV series “The Huggabug Club,” which ran from 1995 to 2000 on PBS.

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