The Celebrity Collector

Singer-actress Gloria 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 young."

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 Griffin Show."

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 for JDRF.

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 Goes."

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 yoga teacher.

Fans of Gloria Loring may visit the star online at http://www.glorialoring.com/. 

2004

Gloria Loring was born
Gloria Jean Goff in New York City. Both of her parents were musically gifted.











 

 

 

 

 

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