Songwriter Carol Connors Is Gonna Keep on Flying with a Little Help from Her Friends
It takes fancy footwork to make it anywhere in films, but movie lyricists, it seems, always have to dance as fast as they can. "There are hundreds of talented people out here, but only about 20 movies a year with songs. Figure it out," explains Carol Connors, 36, who has. With her lyrics in both the current Rocky II and Goldengirl, Connors is writing the songs the whole world screens. And that happened because Connors, undeniably talented, is also a past master of the Hollywood Hustle. At celebrity gatherings she is as omnipresent as Perrier—and even more bubbly.
"Half the business out here is done at parties and lunches," says the tiny (4'11") Connors. "If Carole Bayer Sager and I were up for the same song and she knew the producer, she'd get the job. And vice versa." Carol does her spadework with a grind of screenings, premieres, lunches at such chic eateries as Ma Maison, Chasen's and Le Bistro, and evenings at PIPS, the private club, or Hugh Hefner's Playboy mansion ("Hef attracts such fabulous, intelligent, fun people"). Her credits now include Oscar nominations (with co-lyricist Ayn Robbins) for both the Gonna Fly Now theme from 1976's Rocky and Someone's Waiting for You from Disney's The Rescuers (1977). In the last few years she has also written music and/or lyrics for Looking for Mr. Goodbar, The Other Side of Midnight, Orca, Heroes, Matilda, Fast Break—and the Dallas Cowboy fight song, Sunday Afternoon Fever.
Not the least of Connors' connections has been her "A" list of men—starting with Elvis Presley. "He was the first man who ever made love to me," says Carol, then the 18-year-old singer for the Teddy Bears who had recorded the teen throb classic To Know Him Is to Love Him. "We used to harmonize on Hawaiian Love Song," she recalls wistfully. "It lasted 10 months and it was wonderful." Her beaus and escorts since have included Joe Namath, Burt Bacharach, L.A. Rams general manager Don Klosterman, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Stuart Whitman and current steady Robert (I Spy) Culp.
"She doesn't smoke or drink, but whatever she gets high on—energy or talent or whatever—I think she's having more fun than the rest of us," says Culp, who joined her fan club after he and wife Sheila separated a year ago. "She's hot. A lot of people are terribly jealous of her." Unquestionably, her 10-month liaison with David (The Fugitive) Janssen after he fled wife Dani in 1976 set tongues wagging. An amateur lyricist himself, Janssen and Connors wound up making music together for the TV drama A Sensitive, Passionate Man and for a PBS kiddie show.
Born Annette Kleinbard in New Brunswick, N.J. to a jockey turned vitamin salesman, Connors moved to L.A. when she was 5 and showed signs of precocity. While still in junior high school she became one of the Teddy Bears, a trio that also included future record mogul Phil Spector. After recording To Know Him, she wrote the California car cult hit Hey Little Cobra, which sold a million. Then, right after graduation from Fairfax High, her career abruptly shut down, and for 12 years she couldn't get arrested. "I started playing jet-setter, flying down to Mexico and snorkeling off private yachts," says Carol. "My hands started shriveling from being underwater so much. Then in 1973 I said to myself, 'I'm 30 years old. I'm too young to be a failure.' I decided to give the music business a real shot or get out."
So far, it's bullseyes. For the Rocky theme ("The best-paying 30 words I ever wrote") Carol, co-lyricist Robbins and composer Bill Conti have split some $200,000. She invests prudently, lives in a modest two-bedroom Beverly Hills apartment and drives a red 1970 Mercedes. "You enjoy the Hollywood scene while it's happening, but it's all fleeting," Carol now reflects. "Sometimes I think that God will appear one morning and say, 'Sorry, Miss Connors. All these good things were supposed to happen to the people next door.' "
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