The Celebrity Collector
Loring has a fun collection of pigs
By Ken Hall
Gloria Loring had never considered
collecting anything at all before visiting the home of a friend in
Atlanta about twenty years ago. "She'd invited me over for lunch and
there in her kitchen was a shelf with all these little hippopotamus
figures on it," she said. "They were so cute! I decided then and
there to be on the lookout for something of my own to collect,
something just as adorable."
She found it a short time later while in
a shop. "I saw this little crystal pig in a specialty store
somewhere, and I just knew this was going to be my collectible,"
Loring said. "I figured, all right, now I've got a crystal one, next
I'll get a wooden one, then a ceramic one -- that's how my mind was
working. Then, friends and relatives heard that I was collecting
them and the gifts began pouring in."
The mother lode came, though, in the
mid-'80s, when the tabloid paper the Star did a story on celebrities
and the things they collect. "They contacted me and I told them a
little bit about my pig collection and I thought that would be the
end of it," she said. "But that was right at the height of my
appearing on 'Days of Our Lives' (1980-86). With ten million daily
viewers, I should've known better."
Suddenly, every imaginable pig item was
sent to her by way of NBC, producers of the show. "I was absolutely
stunned," she recalled, "not so much by the sheer volume of stuff --
and it was sizeable -- but the fact that these wonderful, adoring
fans would actually take the time and effort to send these pigs to
me. It was incredible. I still have many of those items in my
collection, even now."
As she scans her home in Lake Arrowhead,
Calif., which she shares with her husband of ten years, television
production designer Rene Lagler, Loring points out some of her more
interesting pigs. "I love this pink ceramic pig," she said. "He's
lying on his belly with all four legs scattered off in different
directions. And of course I have a Beanie Baby pig. And Steiff pig
dolls, too, in three sizes."
One plush pig toy gives off a convincing
"oink" when a button is pressed. "It was given to me by a man who
works with underprivileged children," Loring pointed out. "And this
wonderful bed tray with folding legs was given to me as a birthday
present. It shows a pig who's weightlifting, with the inscription,
'Who's afraid of the big bad wolf?' I also have a framed pig cartoon
hanging on a wall."
Loring tells the story of how pigs
suddenly became part of her honeymoon in Salzburg, Austria, in 1994.
"Rene and I got married on New Year's Eve," she said. " We didn't
know it at the time, but it's a custom in Austria that everybody
gives each other little pig gifts at New Year's. It's a sign of
prosperity, abundance and good luck. Pigs tend to have big litters,
so there's the connection."
As a result, Loring ended up with three
more pigs than when she left home: a chocolate pig, a marzipan pig
and a little glass pig. At the house, most of what she has is up on
shelving, high enough to be out of reach from Bearli and Heidi, her
two Havana Silk dogs (a breed related to the bichon frise). "They've
done a good job of destroying a few of the stuffed dolls in the
past," she said.
Most of Loring's collection has been
relegated to a front and back office. On that she blames her
husband. "It used to be there were pigs in hutches and on shelves
throughout the house," she said. "But Rene, who's Swiss, has
accumulated all these little Swiss collectibles and now they've sort
of taken over. The pigs are in a yoga and fitness room and in my
mini-recording studio, mostly."
As it happens, the pig plays a role in
the life of Loring's first child from a previous marriage. Brennan,
29, was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes at age five and has lived
with the disease ever since. Gloria became an outspoken spokesperson
in the fight to find a cure. "Coincidentally, the insulin produced
by pigs is so close to human insulin it was once used as a
treatment," she said.
Gloria Loring was born Gloria Jean Goff
in New York City in December, 1946. She took the professional name
"Loring" later on, as it just sounded better. With a musician for a
mom and a singer for a dad, young Gloria was surrounded by music
while growing up. "I'd mimic the singers on TV and we'd always sing
songs in the car," she said. "I learned harmonies when I was very
Loring sang in the church choir and in
school plays. She began singing professionally at age 14 with a folk
group called "Those Four" -- "me with my long blonde hair and three
boys with guitars." At 18, she auditioned to sing at the Playboy
Club in New York and got the job. An agent then booked her into
clubs in the area. Her break came with an appearance on TV's "Merv
More television appearances followed:
"The Tonight Show," "The Ed Sullivan Show" and "The Carol Burnett
Show," as well as guest spots on the Emmy Awards and Academy Awards
telecasts. Not only was Loring singing, she tried her hand at
songwriting, too. She co-wrote the theme songs for two of the
biggest television shows of the era: "Diff'rent Strokes" and "The
Facts of Life."
In 1980, Loring won a plum role on TV's
"Days of Our Lives," the venerable and long-running daytime drama.
It was her first acting job, one that lasted for more than six
years. She played "Liz Chandler," a role that allowed her to
showcase her singing talents to a broad TV audience. With help from
her "Days" fans, Loring had a #1 hit song, "Friends and Lovers," a
duet with Carl Anderson.
Loring created and published The Days of
Our Lives Celebrity Cookbook to benefit the Juvenile Diabetes
Research Foundation, for which she serves as a spokesperson. The
cookbook, plus an album -- "Shot in the Dark" -- raised over $1
million for juvenile diabetes research. She also created the Kids,
Food and Diabetes family cookbook, published in 1986, to raise money
In 1991, Loring's second book, Parenting
a Diabetic Child, was published. An updated version, titled
Parenting a Child With Diabetes, was released last year. In December
2000, a CD was issued called "By Request." It was inspired by the
many e-mails Loring receives that often start with, "I loved the
song you sang called....Did you ever record it?" The most requested
titles were included.
In recent years, Gloria's career has
moved to theatre. She starred in, "Blame It On The Movies," the
comedy, "Queen of the Soaps" (which won a Los Angeles dramalogue
award), the San Francisco production of "Stardust" and George
Furth's "Music Minus One." In 1999 and 2000, she toured the U.S. and
Canada as "Reno Sweeney" in the Cole Porter musical "Anything
Loring's latest completed project is a
holiday CD titled, "You Make It Christmas." One of the tracks, "The
Prayer," is a duet with her other son, Robin, who records under the
name "Thicke." Projects in the works include two books -- one about
people with Type 2 diabetes and the other a semi-autobiographical
work about coincidence. Loring practices yoga and is a certified
Fans of Gloria Loring may visit the star
online at http://www.glorialoring.com/.
Gloria Loring was born
Gloria Jean Goff in New York City. Both of her parents were