Shahams’ album, glamour costumes and more

Gil and Orli Shaham

By Lois Caplan

VIOLINIST GIL SHAHAM AND HIS SISTER ORLI (we also know her as the spouse of our fabulous SLSO conductor David Robertson) have joined forces to record “Nigunim: Hebrew Melodies,” selections that reflect their Jewish heritage. According to Post-Dispatch classical music critic Sarah Bryan Miller, “This is a lovely album, with a satisfying variety of composers writing in a soulful, happily melancholy minor key.” It is recorded by Canary Classics CC10.

GLAMOUR COSTUMES and Images From The Collection Of Mary Strauss opens Oct. 4 at the Sheldon Art Galleries. The exhibit features costumes worn by Norma Shearer, Elizabeth Taylor, Susan Hayward and many others, transporting viewers into the magical world of film and theater glamour through the decades. You can hear Strauss discuss her costume collection, the history of costume design in the movies and its influence on fashion at 11 a.m. Nov. 9.  Admission to the Sheldon is free and the exhibit goes through December. 

CRAZY RICH – Power, Scandal, and Tragedy Inside The Johnson & Johnson Dynasty” (St. Martin’s Press, 456 pages $27.99) is a new book by Jerry Oppenheimer, the author of several unauthorized biographies, including Martha Stewart, Barbara Walters and Jerry Seinfeld. This book may be of some interest to St. Louisans because its main character, Woody Johnson, was married to Nancy Sale Frey, the daughter of Melisse and Robert Frey, who happen to be friends. Oppenheimer found my telephone number and interviewed me about the Freys. I told him that I would talk to him but that if he quoted me, I would sue him. Quote me, he did, but surprisingly in a very nice way and I even made it into his index.

Little did I know Nancy (later and even today called Sale) was marrying into one of the richest families in America and “one of the most dysfunctional families in the Fortune 500.” The groom, billionaire Robert Wood “Woody” Johnson was the heir to a Band-Aid and baby powder fortune and enjoyed unimaginable wealth. According to Oppenheimer, “their lives have been marred by drug abuse, sexual aberration, bitter feuds and tragic suicide.”

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Basically “Crazy Rich” is about the Johnson and Johnson family, four generations, so you have to read a couple hundred pages before you get to the Frey/Johnson episode.  The book is chatty and filled with quotes from friends and family, business associates, lovers and detractors. As an unauthorized biographer, Oppenheimer is very talented, surprisingly so, and I found it effortless to read it with its endless quotes. 

HERE’S EXCITING NEWS for dance junkies. On Oct. 4-5 at the Touhill Performing Arts Center, four nationally renowned choreographers from all corners of the country travel to St. Louis to collaborate with four local professional dance companies to create four distinct, clever and moving world premieres. Thanks to New Dance Horizons II and Dance St. Louis, four local dance companies (Leverage Dance Theatre, MADCO, Common Thread Contemporary Dance Company and St. Louis Ballet) will present four world premieres in different styles of dance. Dance St. Louis Artistic and Executive Director Michael Uthoff will host a free program in the Touhill’s Terrace Lobby at 7:15 p.m. prior to the 8 p.m. performance and at 1:15 p.m. prior to the Saturday 2 p.m. performance. Tickets, at $30, are available at the Dance St. Louis box office, 3547 Olive Street in the Centene Center for Arts and Education in Grand Center, or by calling 314-534-6622 or at

THE GREAT RIVERS ENVIRON-MENTAL LAW CENTER will hold its eighth Annual Awards Celebration on Sunday, Sept. 29 from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at the Bluffs on Broadway. The event will honor St. Louis Public Radio for its exceptional coverage of environmental issues and Steve Mahfood for his service as Director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Guests will enjoy cocktails and hors d’oeuvres on the Bluff’s 4,000 square feet of decks and terraces. The event is open to the public but limited to 150 guests.Tickets, at $125 per person, can be purchased by contacting Great Rivers Environmental Law Center at 314-231-4181. For more information, visit