This is a fun ongoing assignment. Find people in the area that you know had very different past careers before they moved to the Vail Valley. My first subject was my wife, Barbara Bingham, of course, who in her past life was the Panda Keeper for the National Zoo in Washington, D.C.
Not only did she have a write up in People Magazine and videotaped the first live Panda birth at the zoo, her claim to fame was a full show on Mr. Rogers which was their most popular segment. Barbara currently lugs my camera equipment around & generally makes my photos look better.
Our next subject was Brenda Himmelfarb. Brenda is currently a freelance writer in our small Colorado town of Vail and cofounder of the Vail Breast Cancer Awareness Group. But some would say her past is much more interesting…
In the 1970’s, Brenda traveled with tennis champion Chris Evert and World Team Tennis. She was invited to do the public relations for World Team Tennis who had recently signed Evert. At the U.S. Open in NYC she dressed up in pigtails and a Teddy Tinling tennis dress to look like Tracey Austin, and ran up & down hallways in the hotel knocking on players door and asking if they wanted to “have a knock up”- what Australians called for going out & hitting tennis balls.
After her stint in the tennis world, Brenda went on to work for a PR & marketing agency in Los Angeles and worked in motion picture & television public relations.
C. J. Tenner seems like a rough & tough guy that has seen a few things in his day. That’s because he has.
Back in the day, C.J. would hang out at The House of Music in West Orange, New Jersey. He soon became friends with the people who recorded the likes of Barbara Streisand, George Benson, Meat Loaf, Pat Beneath among others. C.J. hooked up one of his friends to eventually become the drummer for a new band, Bon Jovi. Since C.J.’s sister owned a travel agency in Manhattan, it was just the next progression for C.J. to set up travel arrangements for the band and before you know it, he was the guy that got things done.
After that stint he became a nightclub promoter at the China Club, where the likes of musicians from Billy Joel, Spyro Gyra, Noel Redding from Jimi Hendrix, Little Feat & Chaka Khan would jam.
But what puts C.J. on the map is his generosity that enabled Bon Jovi to fly to Japan for a tour where their song Runway broke big.
C.J. & his wife Jessica own a restaurant delivery service in Vail called A La Car and also produce the Vail & Telluride Dining Guides.
Everyone knows the first hotel & restaurant in Vail Village as “Pepi’s” started by Olympic Skier Pepi Gramshammer, but dig deeper and the real story is about Pepi’s wife Sheika Gramshammer.
in the 1950’s Sheika launched out by moving from France to Las Vegas for a job as a showgirl in the La Nouvelle Eye, a Paris inspired show with eye popping costumes and cancan style dancing. Keep in mind, Las Vegas at that time had a population of about 45,000 and a log cabin as the airport terminal.
A native born Austrian, Sheika was introduced to modeling by a Swiss designer and her career took off, modeling in Germany, Rome and Paris. It was in Paris she was invited to join the dancing troupe in Las Vegas.
After Vegas, Sheika moved to Los Angeles where she worked in a few small pictures. She then moved to New York to model for Evan-Picone and then on a vacation trip to Aspen, Colorado where she met her future husband, Pepi.
Sheika, Pepi and their two daughters run Gastof Granshammer (hotel) and Pepi’s Restaurant in the heart of Vail Village.