Stars in the City: Betty Buckley

By Amy Sapp
September 21, 2016

One of the legends of Broadway, Betty Buckley is best known for her Tony Award-winning origination of Grizabella in the Broadway production of ‘Cats.’ Most recently, Buckley completed filming the M. Night Shyamalan film, ‘Split.’ This month, Buckley returns home to New York at Joe’s Pub to present ‘Story Songs,’ her newest live concert.

I knew I was a New Yorker when I was 8 years old and growing up in Fort Worth, Texas. My mother took my brothers and me to the Ice Capades, and I saw a pair of skaters doing a figure skating routine to George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.” At that moment, just from the music and how it made me feel, I knew there was “someplace else.” I quickly found out that that place was New York City.

I moved to the city when I was 21, right out of college, and got my first Broadway show — which was the musical 1776 — my first day in town. I was so thrilled and immediately found my home in New York City. I love everything about the city.

I moved back home to Texas 14 years ago to ride horses, and I live on a ranch now — and it’s definitely different! My first year, it was quite an adjustment, and I was always relieved to get back to the hum and the energy of the city. I am and have always been a New Yorker. I just currently reside with horses in Texas.

What do you love about New York City?
1. My first guilty pleasure is BONDST. It’s my favorite restaurant in New York. It’s on Bond Street, between Lafayette and Broadway. It is fantastic, and even though I live in Texas now, they send me a Christmas gift every year. As soon as I come in town, my first stop is at that restaurant. It’s the best, best, best possible sushi and the greatest food. They always give me my table, and I cannot believe that they’ve maintained that continuity of warmth and welcoming for me, even though I haven’t officially lived in New York for almost 15 years. But it’s like “my restaurant,” and I love BONDST. I think about it when I’m traveling. I think about it when I’m in Texas, and I can’t wait to get there when I am in New York. When I go with friends, I always tell them we have to be quiet so that we can enjoy the food. I am totally dedicated to BONDST!

2. My second guilty pleasure is Barneys department store. When I walk in there, I tell all my friends, take a moment, take a deep breath and hear the heavenly music of the Spheres because it’s such a beautiful store. I want everything in it, and, of course, I am not able to do that. But I like to go and just enjoy the environment and the beauty of the place. I especially love the shoe department. Well, sometimes I do treat myself to a new pair of shoes.

3. My third greatest pleasure in NYC is the company and counsel of my friend Betty Halbreich at Bergdorf Goodman’s on the third floor in her Solutions Departments. She is one of the all-time great ladies of fashion and design. Years ago, when I was a young actress in New York, the costume designer Jane Greenwood took me to meet Betty and told me that she was the maven for fashion advice. She has dressed me for every important occasion in my life — every concert, every awards show that I’ve ever been a part of. Every audition that I’ve consulted with her on, I call her and I say, “I need to be a United States senator” or “I need to look like this.” I go in and she dresses me for the audition so that I suggest the character, but it is not on the nose. If she dresses me, I get the part. She’s my lucky touchstone. There’s such an art to what she knows. She’s written two great books. One is The Secrets of a Fashion Therapist, which is brilliant, and her most recent is I’ll Drink to That, which is her life story, her memoirs. She herself is such an inspiration. Sometimes when I am in the city, I just call her as I’m running around and drop into her office just to be around her. She’s brilliant, and her taste is impeccable. She’s taught me so, so much about, well, everything.