Barrett in 1975.
October 8, 1936
New York City, New York, U.S.
Bill Trowbridge (m. 1973; div. 1982)|
Daniel Busby (m. 2008)
Rona Barrett (born Rona Burstein, October 8, 1936, New York City) is an American gossip columnist and businesswoman. She currently runs the Rona Barrett Foundation, a non-profit organization in Santa Ynez, California, dedicated to the aid and support of senior citizens in need.
Early life and career
Burstein was born on October 8, 1936, in New York City. As a teenager, she overcame a degenerative hip condition that made walking extremely difficult, and organized fan clubs for popular singers she admired, such as Eddie Fisher and Steve Lawrence. She became a gossip columnist for the Bell-McClure newspaper syndicate in 1957, and soon went to work for the management handling teen idols Frankie Avalon and Fabian.
In 1966, she began broadcasting Hollywood gossip on the Los Angeles television station KABC-TV. She appeared on TV regularly, going on to appear on ABC's five owned and operated stations around the country. However, not everyone was thrilled with the arrangement. WABC-TV in New York put her pre-recorded gossip segment into its nightly local news, but anchor Roger Grimsby would generally introduce it by making disparaging comments about her. Barrett made the enemies list of Frank Sinatra by criticizing his personal life, particularly his relationships with his children. Barrett also invoked the ire of actor Ryan O'Neal after she wrote some unflattering things about him. To retaliate, he supposedly sent her a box containing a live tarantula Spider. She developed the first in-depth personal TV specials about film, television, music, sports and political celebrities, and had a series of magazines on the entertainment industry that were top-rated at newsstands, including Rona Barrett's Hollywood: Nothing But the Truth, published by Laufer Media, edited by Bill Royce and Judy Wieder.
Barrett began appearing on Good Morning America in 1975. She was signed in 1980 to co-host NBC's Tomorrow with Tom Snyder, but a very public feud with Snyder resulted in her leaving the show the following year (and the show ultimately being canceled shortly thereafter).
Barrett also made the occasional film appearance, playing cameo roles in The Phynx (1970) and the Mae West film Sextette (1978). In 1990, she made a guest appearance as an interviewer at WWF's WrestleMania VI at Skydome (now Rogers Centre) in Toronto. In 1991, she retired full-time to her ranch.
In 1972, her novel titled The Lovo-maniacs was published. Her autobiography, Miss Rona, was published in 1974. It began: "Just an inch, Miss Rona, just let me put it in an inch!", as an unnamed famous actor pleaded to be allowed to experience a modicum of sexual intercourse with her. In the book she also acknowledged having a nose job, while discussing details of her teenage fan club involvements and her work with Frankie Avalon's management. She wrote another book, How You Can Look Rich and Achieve Sexual Ecstasy (1978).
Rona Barrett Lavender Company
Barrett found marketing lavender flowers was not simple and decided to duplicate Paul Newman's methods from Newman's Own products. She founded the Rona Barrett Lavender Company, in Santa Ynez, near Santa Barbara, in the Central Coast region of California, as a small producer of lavender bath, beauty, food and aromatherapy products. The company follows a model of using celebrity-branded consumer goods to generate funds and raise awareness of a non-profit cause. A portion of all company proceeds were donated to the Rona Barrett Foundation. According to the foundation's website, they have ceased selling lavender products and the company was sold.
Rona Barrett Foundation
Barrett started The Rona Barrett Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to the aid and support of senior citizens in need that was supported by a 2% portion of the profits from her lavender business until it ceased production. The foundation now only takes direct donations and is working on building a village called "the Golden Inn and Cottages" for seniors in need of proper housing and care facilities. At present it is a pilot program that is still under development.
Barrett was married to Bill Trowbridge from September 22, 1973 until their divorce on October 19, 1982. In 1986, she bought a ranch at Santa Ynez, California, and began commuting back and forth to Los Angeles. On February 14, 2008, she married Daniel Busby.
|1970||The Phynx||Gossip Columnist||Comedy film directed by Lee H. Katzin.|
|Do Not Throw Cushions Into the Ring||Starring role||Drama film written and directed by Steve Ihnat.|
|1978||Sextette||Herself||Comedy/musical film directed by Ken Hughes.|
|1968||Mannix||Herself||Episode: "The Falling Star" (S 1:Ep 15)|
|1974||Episode: "A Choice of Victims" (S 8:Ep 12)|
|1981||Television: Inside and Out||Herself/Host||Short-lived TV show about television personalities.|
|1990||WrestleMania VI||Interviewer||Skydome (now Rogers Centre) in Toronto.|
- Leszczak 2015, p. 16.
- TMZ Staff. "Rona Barrett". TMZ. Time Warner. Retrieved April 20, 2016.
- Royce, Bill; Wieder, Judy, eds. (2009). "Rona Barrett's Hollywood: Nothing But the Truth". Glendale, California: Laufer Media.
- O'Connor, John J. (December 20, 1980). "TV View; RONA BARRETT'S DOWNHILL RIDE". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved April 20, 2016.
- "Before Barbara Walters, There Was Rona Barrett". Modern Times Magazine. United States. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
- Barrett, Rona (1974). Miss Rona;: An autobiography. Los Angeles: Nash Publishing. ISBN 978-0840213365.
- Barrett, Rona (1978). How You Can Look Rich and Achieve Sexual Ecstasy. New York City: Bantam Books. ISBN 978-0553115970.
- "Palm Springs Walk of Stars" (PDF). Palm Springs Walk of Stars. United States. Retrieved February 23, 2016.
- Keeler, Janet K. (July 31, 2001). "Rona Barrett's new scoop". Tampa Bay Times. Times Publishing Company. Retrieved April 20, 2016.
- "History". Rona Barrett Foundation. United States. Retrieved April 20, 2016.
- Armstrong, Lois (December 15, 1975). "Love Her or Loathe Her, Rona Barrett Is Hollywood's Queen of the Tattle-tongues". People. Time Inc. Retrieved April 20, 2016.
- Terrace 1985, p. 353.
- "The Phynx". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
- "Do Not Throw Cushions Into the Ring". Movie Fone. United States. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
- "Sextette". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
- Leszczak, Bob (2015). From Small Screen to Vinyl : A Guide to Television Stars who made Records, 1950-2000. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield. p. 16. ISBN 978-1442242739.
- Terrace, Vincent (1985). Encyclopedia of Television Series, Pilots and Specials, Volume 2. Bonn, Germany: VNR AG. p. 353. ISBN 978-0918432612.
- Rona Barrett Foundation
- Rona Barrett at the Internet Movie Database
- Rona Barrett interview video at the Archive of American Television