For all the success Marilyn McCoo has enjoyed, she continues to pursue a multi-dimensional career as a singer and entertainer, an always-in-demand host and respected actress.
An extemely successful female recording artist, Marilyn's combined record sales, as a solo performer, a member of The 5th Dimension and a part of a duo with husband, Billy Davis, Jr., ranks her among the top 10 black female vocalists of the "rock era." This places her among such greats as Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin and Gladys Knight.
Marilyn has won a total of eight Grammys. When she sang with The 5th Dimension, the group won six Grammys. Marilyn and her husband, Billy Davis, Jr., won a Grammy (Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo) for You Don't Have To Be A Star (To Be In My Show). Her eighth Grammy was for participating as a guest artist on Quincy Jones' Handel's Messiah: A Soulful Celebration (Best Contemporary Soul Gospel Album). Her first gospel album, The Me Nobody Knows, was nominated for a Grammy and the title single went to #1 on the gospel charts.
In March 2008 Marilyn released a new interactive music CD, The Many Faces of Love, with her husband, Billy Davis, Jr. The Many Faces of Love is a collection of meaningful love songs that came from their era of the '60s and '70s. With almost 39 years of marriage under their belts, who better to expound on "the many faces of love." The CD's unique interactive features include videos, interviews, bonus songs, rare photos, links and more, all accessible through ones computer.
In 2004 Marilyn and Billy wrote a critically well received book, which shares their secrets of staying happy and committed to each other in Hollywood. It's entitled Up, Up and Away...How We Found Love, Faith and Lasting Marriage in the Entertainment World. It was written in collaboration with Mike Yorkey and was released by Northfield Publishing Company. In it, they talk about how they met, their successful musical careers, and their major struggles behind closed doors, offering practical marriage advice and spiritual encouragement along the way.
In the last ten years Marilyn starred as Julie in the Broadway revival of Showboat, directed by Hal Prince, and then travelled with the show to Chicago. She united with her husband, Billy Davis, Jr., for a tour of concerts across the country entitled It Takes Two, a celebration of great rock and soul duets from the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s. The first three months of 1999 the couple joined in the celebration of the Duke Ellington Centennial by touring in the successful production Hit Me With A Hot Note! - The Duke Ellington Songbook. And, midst her heavy touring schedule, Marilyn guest starred in an episode of the WB's popular "Jamie Foxx Show" with Billy.
From Presidential galas to television specials to headlining live performances, the demand for Marilyn's talents as an entertainer extraordinaire have been non-stop. As a solo performer she has headlined successful engagements at major venues in Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe and Atlantic City, as well as concert theatres across the country. Her current tour, It Takes Two, with Billy Davis, Jr., premiered at the Las Vegas Hilton.
Certain to be at the center of important events both on a national and global level, Marilyn was a favorite of President and Mrs. George Bush. At their request she performed for the heads of state at the First Economic Summit of Industrialized Nations in Houston and along with Billy was invited to perform at one of the Inauguration Gala Balls. When the Pope came to the United States in 1987, Marilyn and Billy were asked to perform for the Pontiff.
Many of the special events she has been featured in were also televised specials. Marilyn has performed with the National Symphony Orchestra for the "live" PBS special, "The National Memorial Day Concert," a musical salute to those who served in the Persian Gulf War. She was featured in "The Constitution Bicentennial" for CBS-TV. And, as sole performer on the "ABU Popular Song Contest" in New Zealand, Marilyn was viewed by more than 400 million people around the world.
In recent years Marilyn has put an emphasis on exploring her considerable acting skills. She starred as Julie in the Broadway revival of Showboat to rave reviews and critical acclaim. The run was so successful that when the show moved to Chicago, Marilyn was invited to reprise her role there. Her other forays in musical theatre include roles as Effie in Dreamgirls and Aldonza in Man of La Mancha. All garnished overwhelmingly enthusiastic reviews. Marilyn starred in Anything Goes, the inaugural production of the Hirschfeld Theatre in Miami Beach, FL. Also on stage, she starred in A...My Name Is Alice. Again, she received rave reviews.
In addition to live theatre, Marilyn's acting career includes guest starring roles in television series and movies-of-the-week and a recurring role on the soap opera "Days of Our Lives." Most recently, Marilyn co-starred with Billy on WB's popular "Jamie Foxx Show." Playing the affluent parents of Jamie's girlfriend, a highlight of the show was Marilyn's a cappella serenade of Wedding Bell Blues, one of their gigantic hits with The 5th Dimension. Other television acting credits include guest starring roles in the ABC-TV movie "The Fantastic World of D.C. Collins," "Night Court," "The Fall Guy" and "Punky Brewster," among others.
For five years Marilyn shined as host of "Solid Gold," one of the most successful TV-music shows of the ‘80s. She is one of the most sought-after female host/co-host in the entertainment community. She co-hosted with Clifton Davis and performed on the Stellar Gospel Music Awards for several years. Along with Glen Campbell, Marilyn co-hosted the Dove Awards and hosted the Readers Choice Awards. She served as one of the hosts of the historic Live Aid Concert as well as a guest host for Chicago's popular "AM Chicago." Because of her exceptional musical background, she was asked to host a Fox Network's pre-Grammy special. For several years, Marilyn co-anchored the Cherry Blossom Parade in Washington, D.C. for Metromedia. She narrated the Emmy Award winning program "Agents of Change: A Blackboard Revolution," "Aging Parents: Planning for the Future" as well as hosted and performed on "The World's Largest Concert," all for PBS. When Sea World highlighted their grand opening in San Antonio, TX, Marilyn hosted their "live" television special.
Marilyn has appeared as a guest on virtually all of the morning and late night television talk shows. She can often be seen on television as a featured performer with special appearances on numerous specials such as "Christmas In Washington" (NBC), "Night of 100 Stars" (NBC), "Happy Birthday Hollywood" (ABC) and "The 25th Annual NAACP Image Awards." Marilyn was featured in the Emmy Award winning "Motown Returns to the Apollo" (NBC). She also has made special appearances on "Placido Domingo, Steppin' Out with the Ladies" (ABC), "Miss America Pageant" (NBC), "Happy New Year America" (CBS) and "20th Anniversary: Songwriter's Hall of Fame" (CBS), among others.
Marilyn's behind-the-scenes activities include performing the title track to the Disney movie The Parent Trap II, the song I'm On Your Side for Neil Simon's Chapter Two and recording the voice of Little Miriam, the "Yes U Can" cub in the ABC animated special "The Kingdom of Chums." With her husband, she sang the title track for the television movie "Getting Physical." Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In, a 5th Dimension hit, was a featured song in the Academy Award winning film Forrest Gump.
In addition to all her professional activities, Marilyn finds time to be actively involved with charitable organizations. For 16 years she co-hosted the national Children's Miracle Network Telethon. For 12 years she co-hosted the Lou Rawls Parade of Stars telethon, which benefited the United Negro College Fund. She has also appeared in several "DIVAS: Simply Singing!" productions to benefit the Minority AIDS Project. Marilyn has donated her time and talent to the Los Angeles Mission. In recognition of her charitable work, Talladega College in Alabama presented Marilyn with an Honorary Doctorate Degree and Harvard University awarded her The Harvard Foundation Award. After Billy had a bout with prostate cancer, which fortunately was caught in its early stage, she has become an outspoken advocate for awareness and testing of prostate disease with her husband.
Marilyn McCoo, born on September 30th in Jersey City to parents who are both doctors, began singing as she learned to talk. Marilyn learned to love entertaining early on, making her stage debut at age 12. Marilyn was actively involved in school shows and in concerts sponsored by professional organizations and at age 15, she made her television debut singing on Art Linkletter's nationally syndicated "Talent Scouts."
Her talent and classic beauty brought Marilyn the Grand Talent Award in the Miss Bronze California Pageant and a brief encounter with the modeling profession. Her association with photographer/musician Lamonte McLemore during this time led her into the vocal group the Hi-Fi's. The group came to the attention of Ray Charles who produced their single, Lonesome Mood, and took them on the road. Marilyn, who had been a Theatre Arts major at U.C.L.A., took a semester's break to tour with the group. When she returned, she obtained a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and was accepted into a management training program for a Los Angeles department store.
But when Lamonte McLemore re-entered Marilyn's life, he changed her career path forever. McLemore invited Marilyn to join The Versatiles, a group including Ron Townson, Florence La Rue and Billy Davis, Jr., later to be known as The 5th Dimension. The group released their first hit on Johnny Rivers' Soul City Records, Go Where You Wanna Go, followed by their Grammy Award winning classic of Jimmy Webb's Up, Up and Away. Reigning over record charts throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s, The 5th Dimension won six Grammys. "It was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life," Marilyn says of that point in her career.
Her marriage to fellow group member Billy Davis, Jr., added to this high point, and after a decade with The 5th Dimension, Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr., decided to leave the group and establish themselves as a duo. Their first single You Don't Have To Be A Star (To Be In My Show) was a #1 hit, a certified RIAA Gold million seller and earned them a Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo. The single boosted their debut album, I Hope We Get To Love In Time, onto the charts and RIAA Gold status as well.
"The Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr. Show" was their reward from impressed network television executives. The prime time summer series premiered on CBS on June 15, 1977, and led Marilyn and Billy into the 1980s as one of America's most successful and popular acts. They headlined in Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe and Atlantic City; played to sold-out engagements in Europe and Japan; and they won the prestigious Grand Prize at the Tokyo Music Festival.
In the early ‘90s Marilyn and Billy joined the original members of The 5th Dimension for a very successful "special reunion" tour. In August of 1991 Marilyn along with the other members of The Original 5th Dimension, was honored with a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame.
Marilyn and Billy celebrated 39 years of marriage on July 26, 2008. Surrounded by musicians and accomplished singer/dancers, they are currently touring major venues through out the U.S. with their "40th Anniversary Celebration Show." The show celebrates the couple's 40-year career in show business and almost 40-years of marriage. It is a musical tribute to the hits and productions that have made up their multi-faceted careers and will include various flavors of R&B, Gospel, Jazz and Pop that have influenced them over the years. The high energy musical celebration includes many hits of The 5th Dimension.
Marilyn defines success as "having the opportunity to do all the things I want to do, and to feel that I've done them well. To feel really, really good and proud of my work and then to have people actually enjoy it. If you follow your heart and follow your mind, then that, to me, is what really makes it successful. What more can you ask for?"