Upbeat Dancers Remember #1: DIANNE RINI

May 3, 2012

(For our history of the Upbeat TV Show click HERE.)

During the long run of the now classic Upbeat TV Show that aired from 1964 –  1971 in Cleveland, OH on WEWS TV, in addition to the amazing bands and
performers who appeared, one popular fixture of the show were the now famed Upbeat Dancers. As far as television rock ‘n roll shows that aired the
performers instead of records, the Upbeat Dancers were the first on that
type of show and if you believed all the people who watched it in the area
where I lived and went to school, the Upbeat Dancers left the Shindig,
Hullabaloo & Where The Action Is! dancers in the dust.

Throughout the years the Upbeat Dancers were basically a choreographed
troupe but they were hip to all the new dances and moves, they were
professional, talented and trendsetters. My older sister and her friends
would often buy clothes and get new hair-styles based on what they saw the
Upbeat Dancers girls wearing.

Due to the immediate and popular reaction to the recent entry we did on the
Upbeat show and a number of people emailing and asking the proverbial
“Whatever happened to.. The Upbeat Dancers?” questions we decided to try and make contact with some former Upbeat Dancers and ask them to retrospectively take a look back to their days on the show and share their thoughts and memories and inform people where their lives have gone since then.

Over the years Upbeat Dancers included Constance Gibson, Jean Hagedorn,
Linda Mulcahey, Arline Burks, Jacquelyn Carson, John Magill, Mary Lynn
Curnayn, Arlee Gibson, Michael Ray, Linda Mulcahy, Kim Havrilla, Arline
Burks, Mary Lynn Curnayn, Jacquelyn “Jackie” Carson, Peggy Miller and the
talented Dianne Rini, who was gracious enough to answer some questions about her two years on the Upbeat Show.

Dianne Rini was born and raised in Cleveland, OH and attended high school in Lyndhurst, OH and joined the show as a 16-year-old during it’s last two
years on the air (August 1969 – August 1971) and she obviously was born with
a tremendous artistic ability and talent.

“It was an open audition at Channel 5,” responded Dianne when asked how she
was selected to be an Upbeat Dancer. “I was 16 years old, just started High
School and this was my dream to dance on the UpBeat Show. I was so happy
when I got the call that I made it on the show.   Mary Lynne and I made it
at the same time and we would go to rehearsals together during the week and
the taping of the shows on Saturdays.”

The Dancers didn’t just show up on Saturdays for the taping of the show. “We
rehearsed two evenings per week and taped the show on Saturdays,”  informed Dianne.

Dianne was quizzed on working with the producer and host. “He was nice,”
commented Dianne when asked about producer Herman Spero. “Didn’t really know him.” And host Don Webster? “He was nice and loved what he was doing.”

Other special memories Dianne has is working with the renowned dance
choreographer Hank Nystrom, who served in that capacity on the Upbeat show from 1968 – 1971. “I have wonderful memories of Hank!” proclaimed Dianne. “Great teacher, great dancer- great choreographer- funny and just a great man.”

The Upbeat Dancers also became celebrities themselves. “Yes, we were
recognized and the audience would ask us all for our autographs and I was
known at my high school as the girl that dances on TV.  It was awesome!”

It was brought to Dianne’s attention that the vibe that came through from
the Upbeat Dancers was a friendly on and the audience assumed that the
Dancers were all the best of friends. “There was a great camaraderie amongst
us,” confirmed Dianne. “We had a lot of fun during rehearsals and taping the
show and meeting all the musical guest.  We all got along. I was one of the
youngest of the group. Everyone was really kind and I just remember laughing a lot.”

And of course, there was that endless procession of famous rock stars and
bands that came through the studio weekly to do the show. “I was just in awe
with all the amazing guests on there and we were dancing with them,”
recalled Dianne. “It was so cool. I know who they were but I have to really
go back in my mind to remember them.  I look back on it all and we were
amongst the best musicians of the 70’s.  The greatest musicians that ever

There have been reunions of the Upbeat Dancers, primarily when the Upbeat TV Show was honored by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2005 but unfortunately, Dianne was unaware of it at the time. “They were looking for me, but no one knew where I was till Mary Lynn happened to come across my cousin and then I was contacted,” explained Dianne. “But I wasn’t able to fly to Cleveland for it.  I live in California.”

“I did see Mary Lynn in Cleveland after their get together and then last
year Jeannie, who lives in California too, contacted me and we will get
together soon.  Now everyone is reconnecting with Arlene’s Facebook page.
It is so wonderful.  It was another life.  I am coming to Cleveland to visit
relatives in July and might be able to hook up with some of them there.”

So how does it feel to know the Upbeat Show was honored by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2005?  “Wonderful! I didn’t know till now. That might have
been the reunion that I couldn’t make it too.”

Dianne did have one special memory that she fondly remembers. “We did a show at Music Hall the last year before we went off the air. It was so amazing
dancing on that stage. I have never felt that feeling again. The whole stage
ignited with all this energy and excitement that each of us dancers exuded
on that stage.”

“The audience loved it – my parents loved it –and it was a very special
moment for me.  I was an Upbeat Dancer the last two years before it went off
the air and so grateful – at 16 years old – to have actually lived one of my
dreams at that time.  How cool is that?  Great time, great memories, great
people, lots of laughs, lots of fun and creative, plus, rehearsals, taping
the show, just dancing on the Upbeat Show on TV! It just doesn’t get any
better, at that time.”

“It was one of the most exciting times in my life.  So much fun! I was so
blessed to be a part of it all, working with everyone that were a part of
this amazing journey. ‘Hey, let’s go with the Upbeat Show!’ Loved it!”

NOTE: Today, the multi-talented Dianne Rini lives in Venice, California and is a Certified Advanced Clear Light Healer in addition to being a visual artist.  Below is her biography from her website,  ABSTRACT ARTISTRY

Dianne Rini today!


Dianne Rini was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. She moved to California
in 1982 where she began her journey as a visual artist. Soon after moving
west she created her earliest series of pen and ink drawings, “A Diary
Without Words”. This would become an eleven year study of the intersection
between Rini’s visual and emotional worlds. The series foreshadowed her
dedication to the visual arts and formed the foundation for her future work.
As a self-taught artist Rini’s disciplined approach to “A Diary Without
Words” forced her to hone her artistic abilities. The meticulous and
monochromatic compositions in pen and ink both were an exercise in design
and balance.

From 1991 to 1995 Rini lived in Paris and immersed herself in the French
language and culture. Just as her move to California inspired to create the
series of drawings, her time in Paris invigorated her need for visual
evolution. She began studying different mediums and incorporating them onto the canvas. Her success with charcoal, pigment, pastel, and acrylic is
evident in the skillful works that followed.

Dianne Rini paints a philosophy of gratitude and reverence. She recognizes
divine in the mundane and translates her joy for living into her diverse
paintings and drawings.

2003 Group Exhibition, The Red Room, Venice
Solo Exhibition, French Market Cafe, Venice
Group Exhibition, Malibu Art Association, Desert Cove, Malibu
2001 Solo Exhibition, The Loft Exhibit, BGH Gallery, Santa Monica
Group Exhibition, Prototype Gallery, Los Angeles
Solo Exhibition,”Dan Les Yeux de Juliette”,David Aden Gallery Venice

For more information on Dianne Rini and her art and photography visit her

For more information on Dianne Rini’s work as a Certified Advanced Clear Light Healer visit her website: CLEAR LIGHT HEALING

(c)2012 Doc Lehman/Bangagong!

One comment

  1. so fun remembering the show, and seeing it through the eyes of one of the “stars”. yes, we all wanted to be there, and as a young girl, tried to emulate those beautiful and cool girls. thanks for sharing and especially for doing the needed research and follow-up with an Upbeat dancer. just wonderful memories!!! Upbeat was northeast Ohio’s own American Bandstand.

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