Barrett in 1975
October 8, 1936
New York City, New York, U.S.
Rona Barrett (born Rona Burstein, October 8, 1936) is an American gossip columnist and businesswoman. She 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
Barrett 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 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. 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 Frank Sinatra's enemies list by criticizing his personal life, particularly his relationships with his children. Barrett also angered actor Ryan O'Neal after she wrote some unflattering things about him. To retaliate, he supposedly sent her a box containing a live tarantula. She developed the first in-depth personal TV specials about film, television, music, sports and political celebrities, and she 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. She also appeared on Jack Paar Tonite where she clashed with Clement Freud.
Barrett began appearing on Good Morning America in 1975. In 1980, she moved to NBC's Today Show and was signed to co-host NBC's Tomorrow with Tom Snyder, but a very public feud with Snyder, who regarded her as a correspondent rather than a co-host and refused to allow her segment to lead the show even when she had a major interview, resulted in her quitting the program in June 1981. She attempted other projects at NBC which were either rejected by the network as too costly or which, in the case of Television: Inside and Out, were relegated to poor timeslots.
After leaving NBC, Barrett was senior correspondent for Entertainment Tonight from 1983 to 1986. In 1989, she briefly returned to NBC to host ten episodes of a morning show, At Rona's. 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 from the media and moved to her ranch on Santa Ynez, California, where she devoted her time running the Rona Barrett Foundation, an advocacy group for underserved senior citizens.
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 and discussed 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).
Barrett 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 has been sold.
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. As of May 2012 it was a pilot program that was still under development.
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)|
|1974||The Odd Couple||Herself||Episode: "The Dog Story" (S 5:Ep 5)|
|1976||The Sonny & Cher Show||Herself||Episode: "Premiere" (S 1:Ep 1)|
|1981||Television: Inside and Out||Herself/Host||Short-lived TV show about television personalities|
|1985||America||Correspondent||Short-lived TV show|
|1990||WrestleMania VI||Interviewer||Skydome (now Rogers Centre) in Toronto|
- Leszczak 2015, p. 16.
- "Rona Barrett". TMZ. Retrieved April 20, 2016.
- Royce, Bill; Wieder, Judy, eds. (2009). "Rona Barrett's Hollywood: Nothing But the Truth". Glendale, California.
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- O'Connor, John J. (December 20, 1980). "TV View; RONA BARRETT'S DOWNHILL RIDE". The New York Times. 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. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 13, 2012. Retrieved February 23, 2016.
- Keeler, Janet K. (July 31, 2001). "Rona Barrett's new scoop". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved April 20, 2016.
- "History". United States: Rona Barrett Foundation. 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. Retrieved April 20, 2016.
- Terrace 1985, p. 353.
- "Gossip Queen Rona Barrett Dishes on Her Favorite Stars, Famous Feuds and More!". Closer Weekly.
- "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.