Marilu Henner survives by reinventing herself 

Marilu Henner enthusiastically sums up the secret to her longevity: “The key to your life is how well you deal with Plan B.” The actress-singer-dancer-author-health advocate admits to having plenty of those.

“‘Taxi’ was a Plan B,’” she says of the popular 1970s TV show that launched her celebrity. “My whole health career — that totally changed my life and that was a Plan B.”

In any case, Henner gets an A for all the B’s. She also wins points for inventiveness, which should be evident in her one-woman show debuting at the Rrazz Room this week.

The autobiographical outing finds Henner crooning well-known songs from a number of genres and sharing bon mots about her colorful life. She happens to have a wildly superior memory, which comes in handy in her show.

“I love the immediate feedback from the audience,” she says of performing live. “I love the partnership, how the audience becomes this partner you’re dancing with in a way. This is only the fifth time I’d be doing the show, so it’s kind of like my virgin tour.”

It also might be the first time audiences hear more about her colorful upbringing. Her mother ran a dance studio in the garage and oversaw a beauty shop nestled in the kitchen of the family’s Chicago home. Her uncle — who lived upstairs and had 10 cats, two dogs, two birds, a skunk, 150 fish and a boyfriend named Charles — ran a cat hospital from the roof.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. It’s best to savor these and other gems in a person.

“I’m somebody that really likes to work,” Henner says of her seemingly endless passion and energy. “The process, for me, is so exciting. And I don’t mind adjusting to something new. I think if you’re very resistant to new things — if you’re afraid and want to stay where you are — you never grow, you never take in new opportunities. You never make adjustments. I am always reinventing myself.”

About performing live in The City, she says, “I can’t believe I’ve never performed here that much. This is a big deal for me. San Francisco is the most perfect city in the U.S. It’s the best of everything and everyone.

“But the show, for me, is also a fear of the unknown. I’ve done so many other things in my career and this is a whole other thing for me. I’m excited.”


Marilu Henner

Where: Rrazz Room, Hotel Nikko, 222 Mason St., S.F.
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday
Tickets: $40
Contact: (800) 380-3095,

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