John (Jay) Van Ness

Born:                 December 19,1954
Died:                 May 14, 1995

Turtle Years:   1987
Section:            Tenor I

A Turtle’s Tribute:

E-Mail from Sandy Garwood, aka “Snow White” received April 17, 2007

I was in a production of “Snow White” in Los Angeles, with Jay as one of the “dwarves”. (All “dwarves” were over 6’ tall!) I will never forget Jay’s beautiful clear tenor voice. One night the cast were all up at a club in downtown LA – the now defunct “Variety Arts”, I think. You know the standard joke with the drunk in the bar yelling out to the singer “Melancholy Baby” — well, someone did that to Jay, and I will never forget how he – a cappella – brought everyone to tears with his gorgeously beautiful rendition of that song. He had such a gift. It was a blessing to have known Jay.

E-Mail from E. E. Eric Erzinger received April 17, 2007

The memorial page for John “Jay” VanNess is no doubt the same person I had the pleasure of knowing and working with in Los Angeles and Dallas ’81-’84. As Associate Producer and Designer of Robison and Ross’ Snow White, I worked closely with Jay on that production and A Class Act which ran at a many theaters and cabarets in Los Angeles and San Francisco during that time. A member of the Masquer’s Club… a real trouper and dedicated showman, Jay went beyond the bounds of entertainer, making his time and talents available both on stage and off.

A Class Act won several awards, as did Snow White, which in Dec. 1983 was the Dallas theatrical event of the year co-starring Eartha Kitt and Barbi Benton… playing before thousands, the four sold-out performances at the Dallas Lowes Anatole Theater raised thousands of dollars for drug rehabilitation and the Swiss Avenue Counseling Center. Prior to this Jay appeared on stage in You Can’t Take It With You, Gaspump and many others… Was featured at the Las Vegas MGM Grand and appears in the film Street Dance (MTM). A great wit, a voice beyond compare and one that is surely missed.

Jay died May 14, 1995.

At the time of his death, Jay was survived by his partner, J.W. Brasher.

This Turtle Sponsored by: Barry Phillips

A Turtle’s History

John “Jay” was born December 19, 1954 in Dallas. He attended SMU in Dallas Texas. He was a member of Sigma Chi

Jay first performed with the Chorale in “GREATEST HITS” in March 1987 at the Richland Community College, Dallas, Texas. He sang with the Chorale through June 1987. In the April 1987 production of SPOTLIGHT ‘87, Jay sang “Could I Leave You” as a solo and The Bogat with a quartet.

In addition to singing with the Chorale, he was a member of the Positive Voices Choral group at the Cathedral of Hope in Dallas.

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