BIRTHDAY: March 28 GREW UP IN: Brooklyn, NY APPEARANCES: August 65 - September 65
SHELLEY BONISwas born and raised in Brooklyn, New York and as a teenager moved to California with her parents when her father became actor DANNY KAYE's manager.
Before she was old enough to work on teen dance shows or nightclubs, SHELLEY taught the latest dance moves at private parties. She probably had the most extensive teen dance show resume of any of the GAZZARRI ladies. After turning 18, she danced on the pilots for WAY OUT and Dick Clark'sWHERE THE ACTION IS. Dick Clark's people recruited her while she was dancing at Ciro's on Sunset Strip where the Byrds were performing. After coming off the road from a SHINDIG tour, producer ALBURTON hired her as a GAZZARRI DANCER.Her first appearance was on episode # 33.
After the departure of OSCAR WILLIAMS as HOLLYWOOD A GO-GO choreographer, SHELLEY was the first of the dancers to step into his position. SHELLEY is visible on many videos from the show and you can check her out on the Joey Paige performance of "Dream For Sale" and on the Bo Diddley "Let Me Pass" video. SHELLEY is easy to spot in the videos. She is the only GAZZARRI with the distinctively short hair.
Although SHELLEY doesn't appear on the classic Bobby Fuller 4 "I Fought the Law" HOLLYWOOD A GO-GO performance, she did have a close association with the band. She worked with them when they were the house band in a club called "The Cave" located in the Ambassador Hotel. The hotel also had a Las Vegas-style show room called "Coconut Grove" which featured big acts like Barbara Streisand and Johnny Mathis. Many of the Hollywood producers, agents, and managers would stop at "The Cave" before going to a "Grove" show and Bobby and Shelley got numerous bookings at Hollywood parties from this exposure. No doubt due to her father's close association with Danny Kaye, she did a featured television appearance with Bobby Fuller on the DANNY KAYE SHOW.
As interesting as her life was up until this point, it got more interesting in the late 1960's. SHELLEY was married to comedian Richard Pryor from 1967 to 1970. Their daughter, Rain Pryor, went on to be a regular on the ABC hit series HEAD OF THE CLASS and starred in the SHOWTIME series RUDEAWAKENING.Rain is also an author and the creator of the award-winning one-woman show based on her life, FRIED CHICKENAND LATKAS. SHELLEY danced for several more years. She then changed careers to work as a circus clown, becoming the first woman hired for that role at Circus Vargas. She also changed the spelling of her last name from Bonis to Bonus "because she just had to be different", as her daughter relates.
In the boldest career move of any of the GAZZARRI ladies, SHELLEY tells us in her own words why she made the transition from go-go dancer/flower child/social activist to professional astronomer: "... I was always fascinated with trying to understand what I was looking at, when I was looking up at the sky. At the urging of my mentor, the filmmaker Melvin Van Peebles, I went back to school and became an astronomer". Today she is highly respected in her field and working in southern California at the Mt. Wilson Observatory 60-inch telescope where she is currently the Session Director. She has earned numerous accolades as an astronomical historian and lecturer and has taught on the subject at UCLA.
In 1981 famed comet hunter, Carolyn Shoemaker, discovered an asteroid, subsequentally named 10028. Recently it was renamed "Bonus 10028" by the International Astronomical Union in honor of SHELLEY'S work in the field.
SHELLEY is the creator of the "Janet Planet Planetarium Show" and the "Blast Off with Space E. Tracy" show which are fun and fact filled productions for audiences of all ages about astronomy. You can find much more about her fascinating career by googling her name on the internet.
Both SHELLEY and producer AL BURTON left HOLLYWOOD A GO-GO in the autumn of 1965. AL then produced a TV pilot episode for a new musical variety/comedy show to be titled WAY OUT. HOLLYWOOD A GO-GO guest Joey Paige was slated to be the host and the Bees (from episode # 38) were to be the resident musical group. SHELLEY was to be one of the dancers. In the photo on the right you can see her with guest Ian Whitcomb. AL made full use of former guests from HOLLYWOOD AGO-GO. The show was scheduled to debut in April of 1966 but was never picked up by the networks at that time. Eventually the idea was used to create the famous LAUGH-IN, but by this time AL and all of the HOLLYWOOD A GO-GO associations with the show had moved on.
This photo of SHELLEY was taken in the 70's. Her hair is much longer than when she was a GAZZARRI DANCER.
SHELLEY appeared on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE in 1975 under her then ex-husband's name as SHELLEYPRYOR. Richard hosted this episode and one of his stipulations was that SHELLEY be allowed to appear. She did a solo skit about carousel horses.
SHELLEY BONUS in her current day "Janet Planet" persona. Her shows have proven to be highly popular and have won numerous awards.
The 2006 photo below shows her preparing for one of her stargazing shows.