Danny was my ballet and jazz teacher from the time I was 6 till I was 9 when he was stolen from me by a monster. Jean continued to be my teacher until I was 22 and she retired.
Jean and Danny were not just my teachers, they were the best friends of my family. They came to our house or we went to theirs for nearly every holiday. My mother Sharon and Danny were the same age. I "escorted" his son Jeremy to Disneyland during a visit to his grandmother when we were both teens.
I am the proud caretaker of their antique upright grand that entertained so many wonderful people in their home - celebrities, performers and others - all wonderful people. I miss them all terribly. My husband plays that piano and composes music there. My infant son now reaches out to those ebonies and ivories and I know Jean and Danny are smiling down.
I recently moved to Va. and hope to begin teaching musical theater here. I was previously on the board of directors at the Anaheim Community Theater. I tried Hollywood myself, and cannot help but think that had Danny survived, he would have gotten over the musical theater slump of the 70's the same way that Tommy Tune and Michael Crawford did. Danny was too driven and talented to have fallen completely out of the scene. I would have loved to have benefited from any advice he could have given me as a grown up in the business.
I speak of Danny whenever I can and always with love, candor and respect. I had an enormous crush on him when I was a girl. He was one of the most charismatic people I have ever known.
I too would love to hear the album he was working on. They were original songs and he played guitar. I believe the cover photo for the album was of him holding his guitar in a field or by a tree. I was young and have an image in my mind's eye of him like that, so I think I may be correct. He was also writing the book and music for a musical at the time of his death. I wonder whatever happened to the manuscript? There are so many things I wish I had discussed with Jean, but somehow, because of the nature of his death, I tended to avoid bringing up things like that - afraid to cause her any pain. She missed him so desperately. I wonder what happened to Tony, the lovely friend who for a while stepped in as a surrogate son to Jean. He moved to NY to dance and I wrote to him several times but didn't get responses. I hope he is still well and active in theater.
I will look through my old albums and videos to see if I have any of Danny, but if I recall, we didn't take many of him for some reason. I know we had a snippet of film (super 8, no sound) of him dancing at the LA fair in Pomona the summer before he died. If I can locate any, I will submit them here.
Thank you so much for this site. You are an angel. ~JoLynn
Joseph Tatner's Story
Danny was a great guy with amazing talent and energy. He was always smiling. He did unfortunately have a substance abuse problem and he had been married but his wife left him. He was crushed. I don't know if the substance abuse had anything to do with that. He definitely was not strictly gay. He liked women, too.
He never talked about his plays, but in all our performances, I never saw him have stage fright. I've never had it either. For both of us, being on stage was simply natural -- probably because we both started at such an early age.
From what I understand, Hopkins only met Danny that evening at a bar when Danny and Billie Jo Conway went there after the Gong Show performance. He may have stalked Danny or had pictures of him, but I never heard that and have no knowledge of that. Jean was absolutely crushed when they let the guy out (as you can imagine). I understand she was never the same after.
Jean was concerned about Danny's substance abuse and worried about him as any mother in the same situation would, but she was also very proud of his accomplishments. She taught me tap for a few lessons then sent me to Danny since we were both males. He was an amazing dancer and VERY patient and professional. He was always very positive. I believe he was very proud of me too.
There was a dancing competition one year where I competed for a tap trophy and the title of "Mr. Tap." Danny was one of several judges who were all local dance teachers. When the son of the event's organizer was announced as the winner of that category and received the trophy, Danny was angry. He went to the other judges and asked who they voted for and they all said they voted for me. That, frankly, was the only time I ever saw him upset and not smiling. It was too late to do anything and I told him not to worry about it. It was annoying, but I had enough trophies and stuff and I was glad he was proud of me.
Since I was only 9 - 11 years old at the time, I didn't know too much, but I know he had a DUI and lost his license and couldn't drive, so my mom had to pick him up the couple of times he came over to our house for dinner or something. Again, I don't know about why Cathy left him. I do know that I NEVER saw him intoxicated or stoned or anything, especially during a performance, which is somewhat odd when you consider a lot of musicians and entertainers think they need a little "pick me up" before going on stage -- but then, since Danny never evidenced any stage fright, he probably didn't feel the need. I believe he would binge or abuse when he was at home alone feeling lonely or sorry for himself or maybe at a party or for whatever reason, but again, at age 9 - 11, I wasn't exactly his drinking buddy. He was always professional and never glassy-eyed or behaving erratically at any time I was with him.
I believe Billie Jo Conway continued dancing and teaching. She was my original tap teacher, by the way. After about half a year, she sent me to Jean and Jean soon sent me to Danny. I never saw the Gong Show episode so I don't know if it ever aired. I'd love to see it if anyone has a copy.
Ray Workman's Story
In March of 1967, the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera announced that they were bringing back the smash hit musical, "HELLO, DOLLY!", for a seven week run at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion of the Los Angeles Music Center. I was a freshman at Compton College, and a major in Dramatic Arts, with a minor in Journalism.
After attending the opening week, Thursday matinee of the show, I was overwhelmed by the performance of a young man by the name of Danny Lockin, in the role of Barnaby Tucker, and sent Danny a note backstage that I would like to interview him for my college paper.
A few days later, my phone rang on a Saturday morning, and it was Danny himself, stating that he would be delighted to do an interview and could I meet him backstage of the Music Center after the next Thursday afternoon right after the matinee, where he marched me to his dressing room, up the stairs behind the stage of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, and I conducted the interview for about 45 minutes. We talked about his role in the national tour of Dolly, starring Ginger Rogers and David Burns, and his mothers dance studio, his part in the film GYPSY, his move from Hawaii to Omaha and eventually to the Southern California area. He had just left the Chicago company of DOLLY starring Eve Arden, to join the 2nd National Company, that would tour for one year.
After our interview, Danny invited me to take a tour of the backstage area and see the sets for DOLLY, and he and I even strolled out over the ramp on the outer edge of the orchestra pit that Dolly uses throughout the performance, bringing her closer to the audience.
After I filed the interview with the paper and it was released, I forwarded a copy to Danny, who was thrilled with it, and suggested we get together after a Friday night performance for coffee. Then a friendship started, that I will treasure forever. Danny introduced me to Ginger Rogers one night after the show, and she and I struck up a friendship that remained intact, even after Ginger went to London to star as MAME, several years later.
During the Los Angeles run I purchased tickets to see DOLLY nearly 30 times, each time spending a few minutes after the show, or meeting for dinner or just to hang out many, many times.
When the show closed and moved onto San Francisco and to the Curran Theatre, Danny offered me a ticket for the closing night in San Francisco, if I would travel north for that final weekend (after 7 weeks in San Francisco), to see the show and spend some time. He offered to pay for my ticket for the show, but I insisted on purchasing my own ticket and travel expenses, as just to be in the audience on closing night in San Francisco was treat enough for me.
After the show closed in San Francisco the show moved to Fresno, California for one week, then on to the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas, where they were to do 14 performances a week of the show, in a 90 minuted scaled down version of the show, and no days off. Ginger Rogers refused to do that many shows with no time off, forcing Producer David Merrick to hire Dorothy Lamour to share the part of DOLLY with Ginger, with each lady doing seven shows a week. However, the rest of the cast, including Danny, played all 14 shows a week with no days off. Actors equity now would not allow such a working agreement, but years ago that was normal for shows playing Las Vegas.
One night after dinner, Danny and I were walking back to the stage door of the LA Music Center, and he told me that he had just signed the contract to do the film version of DOLLY, to be directed by Gene Kelley. I was thrilled for him.
After Danny continued with the DOLLY tour, we were separated as he eventually went back to New York to rejoin the New York cast, then with Phyllis Diller, just about the time the 20th Century Fox film of DOLLY was released.
I flew to New York for a weekend and surprised Danny, backstage of the St. James Theatre, after a Saturday matinee, of DOLLY, and we had dinner before I returned to San Francisco, where I had moved to.
Sadly, the last time I saw Danny, was at a performance of JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR in Long Beach, just a year before his tragic death.
I never met Danny's wife or son, but his son should know what a kind, gentle and loving man his dad was, and that in all the years I knew Danny, I NEVER saw him take a drink of anything stronger than Iced Tea. I hope that Danny's son will see what a wonderful guy Danny was, and how much we all wish he were still here today.