Why Gary has a soft spot for RP
FUNFARE - Ricky Lo () - October 28, 2005 - 12:00am
Back in 1967 when he first performed in Manila with The Playboys, Gary Lewis left his heart when he fell in love at first sight with Jinky Suzara whom he married in the US after a nine-month courtship consisting mostly of long-distance calls. It was a fairy-tale romance that, sob and sigh, did not end happily ever after. It captured the heart and imagination of the romantic while it lasted – for four years.

Gary met Jinky through her sister Gemma who did movies in the late ’60s, with Tirso Cruz III among her leading men.

I did a little research and this was how The Manila Times printed the "scoop" on Jan. 26, 1967, from a dispatch by Associated Press:

Rock ‘n Roll singer Gary Lewis, son of comedian Jerry Lewis, is planning to wed a Filipina he met in Manila, his parents announced.

The girl is Sara Jane (Jinky) Suzara, 22, daughter of Captain and Mrs. Andres Suzara of Manila. Her father is chief pilot of Manila Harbor and president of the Philippine Islands Pilot Association.

"We have been waiting to announce it because we wanted to give the girl’s family the opportunity to announce it first," said Mrs. Patti Lewis.

Gary, the eldest of the comic’s six sons, was drafted into the army Dec. 28. He had to give up a singing career with his group, Gary Lewis and The Playboys, which earned him $250,000 a year. His private pay is $90.60 a month.

Gary was at Ford Ord, California, undergoing eight weeks of basic training, when a Manila newspaper printed the rumor of his pending marriage. It said the wedding will take place March 5 in Los Angeles.

A spokesman for the Lewis family said he could not confirm the date and place of the wedding.

"That depends upon when the army decides to send Gary," he said.

Anyway, Gary and Jinky did get married in L.A., not on March 5 as reported but that same month. Their marriage lasted only more than four years, ending in 1970.

Since 1967, Gary has performed in the Philippines thrice (the last was in 1997 in Cebu). He and The Playboys are back for shows tonight at the Araneta Coliseum, tomorrow night (Oct. 29) at the Manila Hotel and on Saturday (Oct. 30) at the Clark Expo in Pampanga.

During a group interview after the presscon held at the Manila Hotel the other day, Gary happily announced that his and Jinky’s only daughter, Sara, 37, has two children. He said he keeps in touch with Jinky, who lives in the US, and with Jinky’s folks everytime he is in Manila.

Manila brings back beautiful memories for Gary who remembers eating balut and not liking it. "Jinky didn’t cook Filipino food for me, so I never got used to eating it," said Gary whose favorite Filipino phrases are Magandang gabi sa inyong lahat and iniibig kita.

Gary is 60 and continues to play the same beautiful music he used to do way back when, along the same musical tradition as his enduring hits like Save Your Heart For Me, Let Me Tell Your Fortune, Green Grass, Sure Gonna Miss Her, Everybody Loves a Clown, Sealed With a Kiss and many others which are included with his new songs in the repertoire of his current Manila concert series.

"I plan to be in this business until I’m 80," said Gary who never ventured into acting lest people compare him with his dad who is a comedy icon. "Dad is 80 and doing well," continued Gary.

He goes to the gym three times a week, walks fast three miles a day and does upper/lower body stretching. He weighs 160 lbs. and stands six feet tall.

"I can eat anything, like chocolate cake seven times a week, but I never gain weight," added Gary.

The death of his uncle seven years ago was, according to Gary, an eye-opener.

"I realized how fragile life is. I started taking care of myself; I want to live longer. Life is wonderful," he said.

In the same breath, he admitted always feeling good about coming back to the Philippines.

After all, didn’t he first fall in love in these islands?

(Note: For ticket inquiries, call 911-5555 or The Manila Hotel at 527-0011. Ticket prices for the Araneta Coliseum show are P2,200, P1,800, P1,400, P1,000, P500 and P200; for the Manila Hotel show, P3,500 each, dinner and show; and for the Pampanga show, P1,200, P800, P500 and P200.)
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E-mail reactions at rickylo@philstar.net.ph

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