To Know, Know, Know Her is to Love, Love, Love Her

by Tammy Beck August 31, 2012


By Tammy Bleck

From her Beverly Hills home a month ago, Carol Connors laughs about her very modest start in show business.

“My first apartment was actually a cave. I’m not kidding!” she laughs. “I was 18 years old, and it was in L.A. and only $95 a month. I can still remember my mother lamenting as she rocked back and forth ‘Oy! My daughter is living in a cave!’”

Born Annette Kleinbard, Connors went on to become known by her stage name. If you don’t know (or quite remember) who she is, you’ll want to.

A prodigy in her own right, Connors is a singer, songwriter and advocate of living life to the fullest. When she shares her personal side, it proves that greatness is never boring.

Her petite frame doesn’t even begin to fit her larger than life personality and roaring sense of humor. Everything about her is unconventional, and one simply can’t help but to immediately like her. Clearly this is a woman who knows a thing or two about life. She lives it out loud.

And for Connors, life started very young and very fast.

Born in New Brunswick, this Jersey girl went on to be nominated for two Academy Awards, two Golden Globes, five Emmys, one Grammy and 10 major music awards.

While she was 16 and still in high school, an up and coming music genius, Phil Spector, heard her voice and fell in love with it. He retooled an epitaph written for his father, and tailoring it just for Connors’ golden voice, he turned it into a teenage ode. Connors performed the song as the lead singer of The Teddy Bears. She took “To Know Him Is To Love Him” to number one on the charts. As they say, the rest is history.

A 23-year-old singer by the name of Elvis Presley heard Connors singing that infamous song and became immediately smitten. He was so taken by it that he sent his aides to contact her. It didn’t take long before they were in love with each other. He was, in fact, her very first boyfriend, and she counts him among her life’s greatest loves. David Janssen and Robert Culp were the other two on her short list of true loves.

Her life got even more interesting when she wrote a sassy little number in 1964 called “Hey Little Cobra.” Performed by the Rip Chords, it became a huge hit and placed her in the distinct category of being the only female to ever write a hot rod song.

“Carroll Shelby said I gave his car more publicity with my song than anything he could have done,” she says, smiling. As a personal thank you, Shelby, the car’s maker, gave her a shiny new little Cobra to call her own.

When asked about her current age, Connors sits up straight, looks you dead in the eye and playfully shares, “I will quote Zsa Zsa, who always said, ‘Darling, if a woman will tell you her age, she will tell you anything!’”

True enough.

“Look,” she says, “I have never smoked, drank or done drugs. I’m an early riser and I work 25/8 doing what I love with laser beam clarity. I believe in hope, courage, going the distance and fighting yourself out of a tough spot. That’s why I relate so much to the Rocky story.”

Speaking of which….

Connors is widely known for co-writing the theme from “Rocky,” “Gonna Fly Now” with Bill Conti and Ayn Robbins. She giggles at the fact that every time Sylvester Stallone walks on a stage, their song is played. “It bought my Beverly Hills house,” she says, smiling broadly. It also plunged her into the world of film, since the music for the subsequent “Rocky” sequels is heard on all of the related soundtracks.

“One of my favorite songs is one I co-wrote with David Shire called “With You I’m Born Again.” I wrote it for Robert Culp to let him know how I felt about him and how I hoped he felt about me. He did,” Connors says, smiling warmly. The song was a smash hit. She closes her eyes and begins to sing “Come bring me your softness, comfort me through all the madness …”

She has also co-written the music and lyrics of such varied films as “Sophie’s Choice,” “The Earthling,” “Looking for Mr. Goodbar,” “Dressed to Kill,” “The Onion Field,” “Butterfly,” “Orca” and Walt Disney’s “The Rescuers” to name just a few. She has performed at the White House, state ceremonies and tribute dinners. The woman is everywhere.

While Connors’ walls are adorned with gold and platinum records along with countless photographs of her with celebrities, international dignitaries and United States presidents, she doesn’t define herself by her accolades. She is forever looking to the future, the next project and the next place she can be relevant. She is defined by her music and her beliefs. And both are above dispute.

Connors engages life in a big way and she has a hell of a lot of fun doing it. She writes, she sings and she invites you in. That’s exactly what she did when she met Michael Flint last year. Flint shared with her the story of his father, Mitchell Flint, who was one of the many aviators who helped to establish the state of Israel by helping to win the war against those who threatened to expunge it. So moved by this story, Connors embraced the making of “Angels in the Sky: The Birth of Israel,” a documentary about it, by writing the words and music for the documentary’s theme song. (It’s currently in production and doesn’t yet have a release date.)

The song speaks to the time when Israel declared her independence in May of 1948. It was then that six Arab armies descended upon Israel with thousands of troops and an air force replete with bombers and fighters. The intent was to prevent the Zionists’ efforts to create a homeland. In response to the invasion, 150 pilots came from around the world to meet the air and land challenge. Never in history had a human event called to action such a cross section of people from all over the world; Americans, Europeans, Africans, Jews, Christians, Holocaust survivors, mercenaries. This elite group of foreign volunteers left behind the comforts of home and risked their lives to secure a homeland for the persecuted Jewish people.

Having always been respectful of her Jewish identity and knowing her mother’s family had been annihilated by Hitler, Connors understands the importance of her faith, as well as the cost of it. But it wasn’t until a personal pilgrimage to Israel in 1983, when she visited the Western Wall, that she emerged with a different life perspective.

“I was grieving terribly for the loss of my father,” she remembers. “I asked for a sign. The experience was all very emotional, and my life has not been the same since. I walked away a changed person, a giver. I had a powerful realization of what it is to be a Jew.”

A tremendous advocate of the Wounded Warriors Trust, last July she took to the sea in the Florida Keys to help raise awareness for this important cause by diving as the Statue of Liberty, complete with red, white and blue torch, and saluting the Wounded Warriors banner. Last June, the Kennedy Center invited her to conduct its 117 piece orchestra and sing “America the Beautiful” at a benefit event for the Wounded Warriors Trust. Of her visits with the wounded warriors themselves, Connors says, “I’ve met so many. They are so young, so gentle. I was so profoundly devastated for them. Seeing the tragedy of war breaks your heart. It broke mine. They deal with their sadness and live their courage every day.”

Connors lives her own life very much in the present. She is an avid diver and loves diving with her best friend, Barbi Benton. Both she and Benton have been honored by President George W. Bush and for their efforts in saving the reefs with Jean-Michel Cousteau. Both Benton and Connors have been gifted with their own mermaid dolls, a testament to their adventurous side. Her diving goes hand in hand with her unabashed love of dolphins, and, if you ask her, she may gift you with her impression of their voice. It will render you speechless. Only Connors can make a dolphin call sound adorable!

This is a woman who walks her talk, something she is profoundly passionate about. She freely shares what she calls “Carolisms,” her own creed by which she lives.

“One of my favorites and most lived is, ‘If you want to be a success in what you do, you must always follow through,’” Connors says.

She further shares with a pensive voice, “If you don’t eat it, sleep it, think it, drink it, need it… forget it.” Her belief that you must always keep yourself involved in life goes hand in hand with her philosophy that if you stay relevant, you will stay young and alive. She is, of course, right on all counts.

Connors chose to never marry and consequently has never had any children. She grins as she explains, “The brass ring only comes around so many times. If you don’t grab it, someone else will! I refused the white picket fence, the kids and the wedding band, and I’ve never regretted it.”

Instead, her life has been filled with wonderful people and grand adventures, and it has always been shared with her Abyssinian cats. And of course, there is the music.

Currently Connors is focusing on promoting a new movie in which she performs, and for which she wrote the lyrics and music, “True Bromance,” a hilarious romp of a film with which she says she’s thrilled to be associated. She continues to work tirelessly for the Wounded Warriors Trust and is a very active supporter of the “Angels in the Sky” documentary.

Neither she nor her voice have aged a bit; both beautiful, both strong and both a gift to the world.

• Tammy Bleck is the author of the book “Single Past 50 Now What?” and the ever popular “View From a (Non)Jew.” She is a renowned speaker, coach and columnist. You can read more of her writings and contact her at

For more information about “Angels in the Sky” visit


73 thoughts on “To Know, Know, Know Her is to Love, Love, Love Her

  1. I love this article on Carol Connors.
    It is a wonderful article.
    Carol is a very sweet and generous soul a huge talent an inspired creator.
    She is a positive force in a world of chaos.She has broken through a largely at the time male dominated
    area and done it with flying colors.
    She is always up beat always sees the good in things and refreshing in this day and age of cynicism.
    She has written beautiful melodies and tender and sensitive words that have touched the hearts of million of people.
    I thank you for this article.
    I would like to read more about her.
    Stephen John Kalinich
    Poet and Lyricist for the Beach boys and many others.

    1. Stephen, I agree with you completely, Carol Connors is all that…and more. Thank you for contributing your thoughts. It is clear to see that she has a fan in you. I have no doubt that she is most appreciative….as am I.

  2. Ms. TAMMY BLECK has captured Award Winning Singer & Songwriter CAROL CONNORS in the truest light of her endless talents and her compassion for Israel and ALL mankind. I love this article and highly recommend it to all her fans, and those who will be her fans after reading this enlightening portrait.

    Michael Phelps
    DAVID JANSSEN-MY FUGITIVE (With Ellie Janssen)
    DAVID JANSSEN-Our Conversations (Coming Soon)
    The Execution of Justice (Hardcover & E-Book)
    The Jockey’s Justice (E-Book)

    1. Michael, thank you for your kind words. I am beyond appreciative. But, we both know that I had the most wonderful of subjects to write about. It was, I assure you, my pleasure. It’s great that the San Diego Jewish Journal takes the time and the interest to showcase one of their own for their contributions, talent and unfailing ability to give back. I was happy to be a part of it. Thank you for posting!

  3. Fabulous article. Very interesting reading. How else would we know about such people? Especially those who like Abyssinian cats. My Aby – long gone – Ababa – is unforgettable.

    Thank you Tammy.

    1. Joan, you’re welcome! You’re so right…how else would we know about such people if not for the good people at the SD Jewish Journal?! I must confess that until I met Carol I didn’t have a clue what an Abyssinian cat was. I was and am duly impressed! Her cat (like his owner) are very rare breeds. Thanks so much for contributing to this forum! We are happy you enjoyed the read.

  4. A very well-written, informative and fascinating article on a woman I wasn’t
    even aware of. Certainly knew of the Teddy Bears and Rocky’s “Gonna Fly Now,” but I knew nothing of her personal history. Nicely done, professional piece.

    1. Mel, The best part of my job is that I sometimes am given the opportunity to bring wonderful people to the forefront of our everyday lives. Awesome! Connors is a talent and a humanitarian worth knowing about. If it weren’t for publications such as the San Diego Jewish Journal, so much would go undiscovered. Kudos to them and Bravo for us!

  5. What a great read! I really enjoyed learning about Carol Connors. This writer definitely has a wonderful way with words.

  6. Great article. I of course knew of Carol’s work but did NOT know of her involvement with the ROCKY theme (also among my favorite series of films), nor her involvement with Israel. My wife is from Israel and we live there (here) presently. I am greatly anticipating the release of Angels in the Sky.

    Thank you for this information!

    1. Ryan, So happy to have you as a reader! I always welcome an opportunity to help a star shine a little brighter. It was a privilege and an honor to cover a story that so needed to be told. Thank you for taking the time to post. Warm greetings to you and your wife … and to Israel as well!

  7. Florida has been my home for the last ten years so I was introduced to your Jewish Journal for the first time by singer-songwriter Carol Connors. I was very impressed and thoroughly enjoyed reading the story written by Tammy Bleck. I met Carol a few years ago when she visited Florida. She is a beautiful woman inside and out. I learned some interesting things about Carol for which I thank Tammy Bleck. I intend to look into more of her work as I like the way she writes!!

    1. Marggi, Thanks so much for the good review! I have written many an article but rarely have I had more fun or been so interested. I agree with you, Carol is a gem, inside and out. I invite you to visit my blog; I’d love to have you as a reader! Lovely for Carol to have a friend such as yourself. Blessings to both of you!

  8. Miss Black certainly succeeds in bringing Carol Connors to life in her very well written article. I didn’t know much about her before, but this article makes one want to know more about her.

  9. What a terrific and interesting piece about a name I’ve heard all my life and a person I knew nothing about. I appreciate getting a glance into Carol’s life and career. think I have to go along with the title of the article now.

    1. Eileen, so happy you enjoyed the read. It’s always fun to discover the jewels that live among us and give us so much to smile about. It’s wonderful having a publication like the San Diego Jewish Journal to bring us up front and personal with the great people around us. Great having you here!

  10. Dear Tammy, what a very interesting and entertaining article. I had forgotten so many things regarding this woman, but as I read, memories kept flooding through my body. I remember dancing every Friday night at the local gym to, To Know Him Is To Love Him, and I am also a big supporter of the Wounded Warriors Project. Also, as you know, after the loss of my wonderful husband, I have turned to music to help fill the void in my life. Reading your article, you gave me strength, that if you believe in your faith and lasting friendships, you can “conquer” the world! You are such a wonderful “story teller” that, as always, you have a way of drawing the reader into almost thinking that you know the person you are writing about, or of a situation that you write about, you come away with saying, Wow, that is so true, I just wish I could put into words like Tammy does. Thanks for a great article. Pamela

    1. Pamela, I am so pleased that you enjoyed reading about this incredible lady. She is an inspiration to us all. If I could bottle her energy, well, let’s just say it would be like winning the Lotto. Thank you so much for your support and kind review. I love that it brought back memories and yet inspired your spirit. Awesome! Thanks for sharing!

  11. Great uplifting article. There are so many ways to live, but loving to live is a great blessing. Each of us can do with more on how we can love each day god gives us.

    1. Rick, you are so right about loving and living being the greatest things that we can do for ourselves and others. Ms. Connors walks that talk big time. I’m so pleased the article spoke to you this way. Uplifting is a good thing to be!

    1. C. Graham, it’s beyond wonderful when we know we are bringing someone to your attention that you never knew about, especially when that someone is Carol Connors. Her achievements, kindness and boundless energy inspires us all. I am happy to have made the introduction.

    1. Liz, you’re welcome, and thank you for the lovely review. Isn’t it wonderful that we still have good solid publications that will take the time and energy to highlight the positive people in our lives? Kudos to the SD Jewish Journal for that! Glad you enjoyed the read, we are so happy you stopped in!

  12. A beautifully written story about someone I had forgotten about. Now, through your writing, you have drawn me in once again and I feel like I know her even more that when she performed “To Know Him is to Love Him.”

    Her warmth, creativity, talent and character have blossomed in your presentation of her story!

    1. Jeffrey, I think I would classify Carol Connors as one of those people that are hard to forget once meeting them. I’m honored to have re-introduced you to her. I very much agree with your comments and am grateful that you stopped in to share them here with us.

  13. Thank you Tammy, for a very interesting and well-written article! I did not recognize the name, but as I read the article realized that of course I knew of Carol Connors work. I enjoyed this article and hope to read more by Ms. Bleck!

  14. WOW! Great article! So well written that I now feel I know Ms. Connors personally. Thank you, Tammy, for sharing this heartwarming portrayal of a great lady!

    1. Lorrie, the pleasure was all mine! I’m so pleased that you got to know Ms. Connors. She is a gift to us all and a great lady indeed! Thank you for the read and the kind review!

  15. Thank you for this article on Carol Connors! While I didn’t immediately recognize the name, as I read the article I of course knew that I was familiar with her work. I love the way Ms. Bleck writes, and hope to see more from her in the future!

  16. Thank you for this wonderful article on Carol Connors! While I didn’t immediately recognize her name, as I read further of course I knew I was familiar with her work. Ms. Bleck has a wonderful way of writing and I hope to be able to read more such articles from her in the future!

    1. Maureen, we are beyond pleased to have been able to present Ms. Connors to the world … again. Her talent is equaled by her goodness and humor. It’s a win-win for all of us. I am so very happy you enjoyed the read and thank you for stopping by to say so.

    1. Doug, you are most welcome! Interesting articles can only come from interesting people. And Carol Connors certainly qualifies for that! So happy you stopped in for the read!

    1. Christi, you’ve got that right, Carol is a testament to good living indeed! Thanks so much for the kind review. My palette was vivid because my subject was marvelous. Thanks for the read and stopping in to voice your appreciation. It is much appreciated.

  17. Through the many wonderful years that I have been friends with Carol, I have read many articles about her. Yours is the best! Carol and I go back to the beginning of time. We were riding around in her Cobra, that Carroll Shelby gave her after writing the hit song, “Hey Little Cobra”. We have had many exciting travels, stories and memories. One such event involved, Cota de Casa, a golf cart and an event for the papers! She is a loyal friend and senstive to the feelings of others. That is why she is such an exceptional song writer. She truly cares about people. Carol never stops amazing me with her new ideas, talents and energy. I am so very proud of her! She was there for me every step of the way recently and has been for many years. She is a dear friend.

    1. Sandy, how truly blessed you both are for your mutual friendships! It didn’t take long for me to understand what kind of person Carol is. I agree with you wholeheartedly. And I happen to know that she is as big a fan of yours, as you are of her. It is one of God’s gracious gifts to us when we have friends that share our lives, our miseries and our triumphs. Blessings to your both. Thank you for your kind comment regarding this article. Coming from you … well, it’s simply wonderful.

  18. A wonderful article, Tammy, and I remember that song oh so well…and the Teddy Bears…my goodness, what memories. Thank you for a glimpse into Carol’s life.

    1. Carole, isn’t it marvelous visiting our old memories only to discover they are every bit as bright today as they were then? Awesome! I am very happy to have been able to bring you a glimpse into this wonderful woman’s life, loves and music. Thank you so much for stopping by.

    1. Ted, the pleasure was all mine! I can’t argue with you … Carol Connors is indeed an incredible human being and an astounding talent. We are very happy that you enjoyed the read and appreciate you stopping in to share your thoughts.

    1. Hi Joyce, thanks so much for your enthusiastic comment! Coming from a dear friend of Carol’s, I’d say it means a lot. Your words “fantastic”, “superb” and “super” are right on when describing this amazing woman. It was my pleasure to meet her and an honor to write about her life. I am thrilled you enjoyed the read and thank you for taking the time to say so.

    1. Adrian, it was quite a story because it is quite a life! So very happy you found the read entertaining. Learning more about the people that make a difference in our lives is what the SDJJ is all about. Happy to have you here!

  19. Tammy,
    I look forward to reading more of your work. Great job telling a fascinating story.
    This fabulous article truly captures the essence of this talented and inspiring woman.
    She is a force of nature , Carol Connors, her words and music !!!
    She is a delightful part of all of our lives !!!!!!!

    1. Patricia, thanks ever so much for the kudos! Carol is absolutely a force of nature in all the right ways. The opportunity was a gift to me, as was meeting and knowing her. I call them as I see them. I am grateful to the SDJJ for the chance to showcase this amazing talent and beautiful human being. That’s the truth! Thanks for the read and for the comment. We so appreciate hearing from you.

  20. Cc is all the things and more.She is the star of stars.…promotes her star friends into her true world of giving back to humanity throjgh her magic of vokce and words and swims with dolphans and and and.HOLLYWOOD GIVE HER A STAR!

    1. Sen, I remember my mother telling me that in order to have a good friend I had to be one first. Carol Connors lives this to the hilt. I know that she is the first to compliment, commend and yell from the rooftops the talents and accomplishment of her friends. A pretty awesome trait these days. It comes from a pretty awesome lady. Yes, she has a star in Hollywood. But it doesn’t shine nearly as bright as she does. Thanks for the read and for the comment. We so appreciate hearing from you.

  21. I really enjoyed the article! A great portrait of an incredible lady. Carol has taught me alot over the years and I treasure her friendship!

    1. Msstroh, We are so glad you enjoyed the read! Good people doing good things deserve good coverage. It’s what the San Diego Jewish Journal is all about. Good friends are hard to find; how wonderful for you both to have found each other. Blessings to you both!

  22. There are not enough words in the English language to describe how much I admire and look up to Carol Connors. She is a true American icon in our world of music and lyrics, and the world is a better place because of the words and music Carol creates. I am honored to be associated with her.
    Mitch Schecter- The Rip Chords/Independent Producer

    1. Mitch, What a wonderful testament! The two of you go back years. We could all use a friend like Carol. The beauty she brings into the world through her music, lyrics and energy is astonishingly beautiful. The SDJJ was thrilled to be able to focus a light on such a talent. As we all know, it’s not the raw talent that really counts … it’s what you do with it. And she does plenty! Thank you, Mitch for sharing your story. We are so happy to have you here.

  23. Dear Tammy, Thank you for taking out time to share your colorful account of an exceptional woman. She has used her God given gifts well. “What God gives us is God’s gift to us and what we become is our gift to God”. Carol we love you, Carmelita & Jerry Pittman

    1. Carmelita and Jerry, you are most welcome! Interviewing Carol and writing what I knew was my great pleasure. I’m thrilled you appreciated the telling of the story. I absolutely LOVE the quote you shared; “What God gives us is God’s gift to us, and what we become is our gift to God”. And let us say Amen! Thank you both for sharing your kindness and sincerity!

  24. What a wonderful story. I think someone should write a movie about Carol Connors
    I know my life has been magical since I met her.
    Carol touched my life in many ways, one of the most profound was the song she wrote for me and my son after he crossed over.

    She is someone I think about every time I see a dolphin or a mermaid.

    I am inspired by her life story to reach for my dreams.

    Blessing, Selina

    1. Selina, your comment is so well put and you’ve provided us with such a touching and wonderful sharing. Thank you for that. Inspiration, thoughtfulness and kindness are seemingly in short supply these days. It is people like Carol Connors who live these qualities daily with such ease, that give us hope and inspire us to do what our heart knows we are capable of. Thank you for the read and for your very personal glimpse of Carol Connors. We are thrilled to have you here!

  25. Wow Tammy! you sure captured our beautiful friend CC… what a GREAT article about a GREAT LADY… I feel very blessed to call Carol my “Friend for Life!”… she is all you have said and so much more! Imagine that… I first met Carol when she was one of my Celebrity guests in Key Largo for a Fishing tournament… she was the STAR of the whole weekend and made the event so much MORE! She graced us with amazing performances… and was fun to just jam at the piano bar… she is a friend of the Keys – she has Dolphin friends in the Keys… and we all love when CC comes to Florida so we can share so many more stories… she is definitely a book and a movie.. in fact we call her “MOVIE STAR…MOVIE STAR…” Thank you for writing such a beautiful article on such a beautiful lady… inside and out!

    1. Hi Laura, thanks for the kudos! Capturing the “true” Carol Connors was an honor and a pleasure. How wonderful for you both to have each other’s friendship. I found Carol’s spirit, kind heart and immense talent to be the perfect storm of goodness and positive energy. The world could use a lot more of that. I know that she LOVES Florida, her friends there and of course, the dolphins. There are many layers to Carol, and we are privileged spectators to the beauty that unfolds. I’m thrilled that you enjoyed the article; coming from someone who has been her friend for years, your compliment is graciously accepted. Thanks so much for stopping in and voicing your approval.

  26. Great article about a talented lady. Only a small handful of women have been nominated for Academy Awards, Golden Globes, Emmys, and Grammy. Oh, CC: having a white picket fence isn’t bad –I just painted mine.

    1. Colonel Jason, you are right on all counts. That kind of talent doesn’t come around often. Aren’t we lucky that the talent is just the half of it? The personality, heart, humor and compassion make Carol an endearing American icon. I agree with you, white picket fences are not so bad, but for some I guess they are just a bit too confining. We are so happy that you stopped in for the read and to share your thoughts with us. Thanks for that!

  27. Kudos to Ms. Bleck for writing such an interesting, warm and engaging piece about a woman with all of the same wonderful qualities and more. I look forward to reading many more stories like this by this talented author.

  28. What an interesting and wonderful person! I’ve known the name Carol Connors for years but never realized the depth of her talent and commitment to life. Kudos to Tammy Bleck for writing such an engaging article. I look forward to reading much more from this very talented author.

    1. Hi Lee, I think a lot of people knew the name and the achievements of Carol Connors, but few knew the lady, and what a grand lady she is! It was our pleasure bringing her to you. I appreciate your kind review of the article and do hope to bring you more interesting reading in the pages of the SDJJ. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, we are thrilled to have you here!

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