So many of us have been profoundly impacted by the contributions that the wonderful Les Michaels made to the cabaret and music industries in both Palm Springs and Los Angeles over the years. With his unexpected passing in November, we could think of no greater way to honor him than to apply for and secure a star for him on the Palm Springs Walk of the Stars, so that his passion, his work, his love of cabaret and music will be memorialized forever.
We hope you will contribute to our campaign to help make this dream happen. We will be producing several fundraising events, as well. Anything raised OVER the amount of securing Les' Star and its related expenses and fees, will be donated to Les' partner, Rick, to help with medical expenses and/or donated to a charity of Les' choice. If his star is not approved, we will refund all donations.
Thank you for considering a donation and we will keep you posted with updates. Please feel free to share this campaign so that we can honor Les and his life's work in this special way. If you have questions, please feel free to contact us.
Below is Les' obituary, written by Cabaret Producer Clifford Bell, that is to appear in the national CabaretScenes magazine, to which Les was a long-time correspondent.
Remembering Les Michaels
Cabaret Scenes Magazine
February 21, 1951 - November 3, 2022
It is the end of an era. Very sadly, Les Michaels, who served as the Palm Springs correspondent for Cabaret Scenes for many years, passed very unexpectedly, after he suffered a heart attack and endured a lengthy aftermath in a coma. For anyone who had stepped in front of a microphone in a cabaret venue in Southern California, Les was the ultimate host, producer, presenter, promoter, and cheerleader. In the West Coast cabaret community, there was no taller tree than Les. First in Los Angeles, and then later in Palm Springs, he was a one-man entertainment industry. He single-handedly created a fellowship uniting singers, musicians, press, venues, and audiences.
Is there a street where we can dim the lights? Is there a flag that we can put at half-mast? There are few people in this business we call “show” that have done more for cabaret, or more specifically, for the simple love of singing. Les created platforms for people to present their art—their one-person shows, their cabaret acts, their evenings and afternoons of song. He created the opportunity for so many people who shared the joy of singing, whether it was something they pursued professionally or just because they loved to do it. He was dedicated to offering the open mic experience and would always be finding new venues to champion it.
Les began his first career as a musical theater performer in San Francisco where he appeared in regional productions of How to Succeed in Business…, No, No, Nanette, Applause, Bye Bye Birdie, Sweet Charity, and Company, to name a few. He later moved to Los Angeles, where he soon stopped pursuing performing opportunities and instead found a satisfying creative outlet working for a major advertising agency. He thrived there for 20 years until he felt the call to get back to a life that included singing.
The turning point happened in 2000 when Les noticed a baby grand piano in the window in a restaurant on Vermont Avenue in Los Feliz. After years of noticing the lack of venues and opportunities for other singers, he was inspired to approach the management and ask them to give him a chance to introduce their audiences to live performances by talented local singers and pianists. His first show, Open Mic Mondays with Ron Snyder at the piano, was an immediate hit. For more than seven years, Open Mic attracted the movers and shakers of the singing community in Los Angeles. He attracted big stars like Michael Feinstein, Eric McCormack, Tim Curry, Freda Payne, and (a surprising regular) Keifer Sutherland, as well as up-and-coming talent from far and wide, including a pre-American Idol Katharine McPhee.
Following the success of Open Mic Mondays, Les spread his wings and became one of the most prolific producers of live entertainment from Los Angeles to Palm Springs with various theme shows, variety acts, and showcases. In recent years, he had established himself as the beloved impresario of the Palm Springs entertainment scene. The crown jewel of his decades in show business was the annual Sunday Cabaret Series that he presented at the Arthur Newman Theater in The Joslyn Center in Palm Desert. Over the last 13 years, he had booked seven months of weekly shows showcasing performances from the best of local artists as well as name performers from New York and Los Angeles. He was also always developing new open mics, offering a microphone and a spotlight to anyone who loved to sing. His concept of the open mic experience was that it was a show, where YOU could be the star! Audiences loved Les. Venue owners loved Les. And performers loved Les.
Les Michaels produced his shows under the name Life Is a Cabaret! and he lived by the words of that song – “Start by admitting from cradle to tomb, it isn't that long a stay! Life is a cabaret ol’ chum and I love a cabaret!”
He was one of a kind and he will be deeply missed.