Class: 1952Inducted: 2021
Writer, singer, actress, producer, director, elementary school teacher. Marlyn Morris Michaels has worn many hats in her eight decades. She was born in her parents’ wood-frame home on Monroe Avenue in Asbury Park in 1934. The first tune she belted out was a cry from the laundry basket in which they placed her upon delivery.
Performing came naturally to Marlyn. Her mother, Betty, had been a singer and dancer before meeting her father, Nat, a pitchman who got his start selling various wares on the city’s boardwalk. He later became one of the country’s largest manufacturers of kitchen gadgets and one of the first to sell them on television. Marlyn was one of his star demonstrators, appearing on “American Bandstand” regularly during a break from college. Being in front of an audience was nothing new to her.
From her days singing in assemblies at Bangs Avenue School to time spent on stage at Asbury Park High, Marlyn discovered that the performing arts were one of the great equalizers and unifiers. The arts brought people from diverse backgrounds and walks of life together and allowed them to share their talents and experiences.
After receiving her degree in education from New York University, Marlyn began her teaching career in Long Branch. While working at West End School, she staged an original adaptation of “The Bremen Town Musicians,” which, she wrote, produced and directed. She’d found her calling.
For over half a century, Marlyn was one of the most recognized children’s theater impresarios in New Jersey while continuing her role as a teacher in the Ocean Township School System and later at The Hillel School of the Shore Area; simultaneously working as a tutor, vocal and acting coach, sales demonstrator, and part-time reporter for The Asbury Park Press, where she covered local government.
Generations of kids throughout Monmouth County got their chance to shine on stage through Marlyn’s productions, which were staged at Ocean Township’s Summer Showcase Musical Theater, which she co-founded, the JCC of the Jersey Shore and the Axelrod Performing Arts Center, where she is currently a board member. Many of the young performers she trained eventually went on to become professional actors, singers and dancers in regional theater, on Broadway, in television and film. And many, at one time or another, have acknowledged her as being their inspiration and biggest fan. One of the great pleasures she takes to this day, is running into former students and performers, some with children and grandchildren of their own who credit their introduction to the arts to Marlyn.
Now retired from producing and promoting her shows, Marlyn still enjoys attending theater and concerts, as well as sharing good times with her sons and their families.