Bonnie, do you know why this happened to you? Because God made you too beautiful, he made you too smart, he gave you too much talent. He had to give you something so that you would know that you are not perfect.
I was 15 years old in a bed at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles when my stepfather, Lou Sher, whispered those words in my ear. Since that day, more than 40 years ago, I’ve challenged this imperfection, diagnosed as type one (T1) diabetes, as much as it has challenged me.
I was born a military brat in the windy city of Chicago, IL and educated throughout the United States and in Europe. At a young age, my parents, Colonel Raymond Isenson and Gloria Hirsch, divorced. My mother would remarry again before finding Louis K. Sher, the man who encouraged me to use my T1 diabetes as a sword. Gloria and Lou became a power couple in the entertainment industry, on stage and screen, from New York City to Hollywood. They used their influence for type one diabetes awareness and research on behalf of children who would one day discover that they, too, were not perfect. It should come as no surprise that the apple does not fall far from the tree. Early on, I knew showbiz was my calling and T1 diabetes, one of my causes.
I entered showbiz as one of the von Trapp children in the touring company of The Sound of Music, made my television debut as a teen on The Barbara McNair Show and continued to work on several television shows including a role opposite Billy Crystal on Soap. I starred opposite of legendary Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Famer, LaVern Baker in High Tea, the acclaimed off-Broadway musical and in Arch Oboler’s recently re-released 3-D cult film Domo Arigato. For many years, I had the good fortune to be the protégé of the late Sammy Davis, Jr., working with him in Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe and on national tours.
My recording career began under the wings of songwriting pair, the late Jack Keller (Venus in Blue Jeans, Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool) and the late Bob Russell (Crazy He Calls Me, Don’t Get Around Much Anymore). Russell wrote two songs for me, Facade and It’ll Break Your Heart. Both songs were recorded and featured in motion pictures.
I continue to perform throughout the United States and across the pond with some of the finest musicians on this planet, including Musical Director Mario Sprouse on piano, Tim Emmons on bass, Jon Stuart on drums and Grammy Award-winner Wayne Cobham on trumpet. Many of these shows recapture the moments in my life and serve as benefit performances for diabetes research.
In addition to pursuing my passions as a singer, actress, recording artist, business owner and clinical hypnotherapist, I’ve worked for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation as a spokesperson and served on the Board of Directors of Calvary Hospital Golf & Tennis Classic Benefit for their cancer hospice. I was also the Program Director for Hearts & Voices, a volunteer organization that provided musical entertainment for AIDS patients in seven New York City hospitals.
My friends at Divabetic, a national nonprofit diabetes awareness organization, remind me that every diva has an entourage. I am honored and blessed to have a caring team of medical professionals and family: a handsome son, a wonderful daughter-in-law, two beautiful grandchildren and a dog named Sammy.
The stage is my sanctuary and type one diabetes is the backdrop for my fierce and fearless mission to make life worth living for this diva and others in need. If you’re a fellow T1D, friend or fan, send a message or drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear from you!