FRIARS CLUB EPISTLE, SUMMER/FALL 2005
BY CAROL SCIBELLI
Friar Arlene Herson is an incredible lady. A Friar since 1990, she’s had a remarkable career as a radio/TV personality, celebrity interviewer, and public speaker. She’s the producer/host of The Arlene Herson Show, an award-winning cable television talk show that started in 1978 and can still be seen in syndication on Boca Raton Educational TV and on Manhattan Cable Television.
The guests she’s interviewed over the years have been A list celebrities, including Friar Tony Bennet, Friar Sammy Davis, Jr., Danny DeVito, Friar Phyllis Diller, Suzanne Somers, Friar Neil Sedaka, Friar Harry Belafonte, Friar Red Buttons, Friar Walter Cronkite, Placido Domingo, Friar Steve Lawrence, Bess Myerson, Linda Evans, Friar Don King, Gloria Steinman, Johnny Mathis, Friar Marvin Hamlisch, Julio Iglesias, Chuck Norris, Bea Arthur, Friar Don Rickles, Friar Jerry Orbach, Christopher Reeve, Friar LeRoy Neiman, Friar Regis Philbin, Abbot Alan King, and our Dean Freddie Roman.
“I don't ask about their latest movie or show. I ask them about what’s meaningful to them. It makes for a far more interesting interview,” Arlene tells me.
At her many speaking engagements, Arlene inspires her audience by showing inspirational video clips of these interviews and she enchants the crowd with behind the scenes stories that reveal an even closer look at these nationally known personalities.
She makes sure she does her homework. “I never ask a question that I don't know that answer to. Jose Ferrer told me “My God, Arlene. You know more about me than I do!”
Being a thorough interviewer myself, plus I am nosy, I pushed Arlene for dirt on someone, on anyone. To her credit, she laughed politely and changed the subject.
Suddenly, we were discussing that she was originally from the Bronx, lived in Manhattan, and that she and her husband Milton raised their son and daughter in Rumson, New Jersey. Then they lived happily in Washington DC until six years ago when they moved to Boca Raton, Florida.
Still hopeful she’d slip and tell me a juicy ‘off the record’ celebrity story, I pretended to be impressed when she said her show was nominated for the CableACE Award for the best locally produced talk show nationwide. I recently found out this award is considered the Academy Award for Cable Television and now I really am impressed.
I knew to be impressed, however, that last year she was appointed by President George W. Bush to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council. She was reappointed this year by Governor Jeb Bush to the Florida Film and Entertainment Advisory Council, and years back by President George H.W. Bush to the “Take Pride In America” Advisory Board. I was most excited though to hear that she is on the Florida Bar Grievance Committee. Now I know someone with clout to complain to about Florida’s humidity.
No matter where Arlene lived she becomes an intricate part of the community. Her years in Washington were busy socially and professionally. She was a contributing writer to The Hill, Washington’s weekly paper for and about the U.S. Congress and she brought Friar Robert Merrill, Friar Art Buchwald, and other great talents from New York to perform with the distinguished Washington Symphony Orchestra.
As Executive producer, Arlene worked closely with Victor Borge who conducted The Magic Flute at the historic Constitution Hall with the Washington Symphony Orchestra.
Herson loved producing the award winning musical 1776, also for the Washington Orchestra, at the four-thousand seat Constitution Hall. It was the first time Members of Congress played Members of Congress. The cast included former Senator and current Law & Order cast member Fred Thompson.
In Boca, Arlene books the talent for the Polo Club’s Cavalcade of Stars entertainment series and serves as the Master of Ceremonies. She is active on the board of the Palm Beach International Film Festival and Boca Raton Educational Television (BRET).
She can be heard each Sunday from 11:00 AM to Noon and Monday from 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM on National Public Radio, WXEL, 90.7 interviewing on a program called Florida Forum.
Arlene has done all this with no professional training. “I never set out to do any of this. Opportunities came my way and I said. ‘Why not?’” she says, “I’m so lucky. When many people I know are winding down I’m still gearing up.”
Visit her at www.arleneherson.com then, e-mail her at Arleneherson@aol.com to bug her for dirt.