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Husband and Wife to Toast Their Dads
By Jerry Fink
When husband-and-wife entertainers Lisa Dawn Miller and Sandy Hackett perform later this month at the Suncoast, a small but important segment of the show will be a tribute to their respective fathers.
Miller is the daughter of legendary Motown songwriter Ron Miller ("For Once in My Life" and "Touch Me in the Morning," among many others).
Hackett is the son of the late, great comedian Buddy Hackett.
Buddy Hackett died June 30, 2003. A week later Sandy and Lisa met, and have been inseparable ever since.
They were married in April.
Buddy Hackett and Ron Miller passed the entertainment torch to their children, who in turn are poised to pass the torch along to their own children.
Oliver, Miller's 5-year-old son from a previous marriage, is part of the Miller/Hackett show.
"He absolutely loves being onstage," Miller said. "We can't keep him off. He does a scene from the 'Wizard of Oz.'
"He has his own Web site. He has his own agent."
Miller and Hackett's daughter will be onstage with the family as well, in a way -- but she won't be performing. Ashleigh Hackett won't be born until after the first of the year -- she is expected to make her debut in February.
"The Suncoast will be my last performance before the birth," said Miller, who has kept a busy schedule during the pregnancy, including some tour dates with her husband and cutting a new CD ("Fly Away").
The album is available on Miller's Web site (lisadawnmiller.com), but won't be released nationally by LML Music until March 1.
United Airlines will feature the album on its in-flight audio in January and February, which is kind of ironic in that the CD was made on the fly last summer when Miller and Hackett (and Oliver) were touring the country.
"We brought an engineer with us," Hackett said.
Several songs from the album will be included in the upcoming Suncoast show. One will be "If I Could," written by Miller's father and sung by Celine Dion in her show at Caesars Palace.
Miller won't get much rest after Ashleigh's birth.
"There is a lot of interest in the CD," she said. "I've got some touring dates -- I'll be back into the swing of things in March."
Hackett's schedule isn't any less hectic.
In addition to being a doting husband and father and touring with his wife, he continues to produce and star in "The Tribute to Frank, Sammy, Joey and Dean." Hackett portrays Joey Bishop.
The original production is at the Greek Isles, but Hackett has taken a franchise to San Francisco, where it has been playing to rave reviews at the Post Street Theatre.
Hackett said some minor changes were made for San Francisco audiences.
"They are very politically correct," he said. "You have to be careful how you insult them."
The show will close temporarily on Jan. 8 and reopen at the Marines Memorial Theatre in February for an open-ended engagement.
Co-producer Dick Feeney oversees the Las Vegas production. Hackett takes care of the San Francisco show.
San Franciscans apparently have welcomed the show with open arms.
"We're doing very well," Hackett said. "The summer crowds were terrific -- it slows down a little in the fall, but we're doing well enough to want to stay in the market."
Hackett says he is taking a page from the Clint Holmes book of success. Holmes spends a lot of time doing community events, and Hackett is following suit.
"Clint has done a lot to endear himself to the locals," Hackett said. "We did a tree-lighting ceremony at Ghirardelli Square -- thousands of people were there.
"We're doing a thing at Macy's in a couple of weeks. We're doing something for the Salvation Army."
Hackett says there may be more productions in the future. "We're in negotiations for several other opportunities," he said.
Meanwhile, Hackett and Miller are getting ready for their engagement at the Suncoast.
In addition to a fatherly tribute and songs from Miller's album, there will be some Christmas music and comedy. Hackett compares the act to Sonny and Cher.
"Only Lisa sings better than Cher, and I ski better than Sonny," he said.
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