Toni Tennille

Meet The Real Sam And Susie

Caroline St. Clair9 Comments

Hello everyone, this is Caroline, Toni's niece. I was the kid who sat in her lap on the 1976 Captain and Tennille Show Christmas special and asked Santa to bring me a parakeet. (Speaking of that, some of you have asked if did indeed get that parakeet? Well, of course I did. When you're six, declaring what you want for Christmas in front of a television audience of millions is a pretty sure bet you will actually get it.) 

But enough about me and the bird. I want to share the story of an entirely different type of species--from the order rodentia, to be specific--recently unearthed when I was in Arizona helping Toni sort through some boxes in preparation for her move to Florida. The storied pair emerged from a dusty box, wrapped in old, yellowed newspaper, fur brittle and flaking a bit in places but eyes still shining black, beady and eerily alive. These eyes fixed upon me through the murky darkness of the garage with a bemused expression as though I'd rudely interrupted an intimate moment. Upon closer inspection I realized that I was holding probably the oddest fan gift ever: Sam and Susie, the Stuffed Muskrats.


Sam and Susie are two real--and once very much alive--muskrats who have been stuffed and preserved with loving detail. They stand forever frozen in time posed up on their hind legs, holding hands--ahem--claws, a slightly macabre ode to the Captain and Tennille song "Muskrat Love." The muskrat on the left (I'm guessing from the demure expression that's Susie) has her head turned slightly away while the one on the right (definitely Sam; he has that smirk that men get when they want something but don't want to actually say it). Two thick, curling rat-like tails wind up from behind the creatures and frame the romantic tableau like quotation marks. An engraved brass plaque is centered between Sam and Susie's toes- um, claws - with the following inscription:

presented to

To hell with the Grammy award and gold records--as far as I was concerned this was a pop history treasure. Determined to hear the whole story from the recipient herself, I tucked the muskrats under my arm and went off to find my aunt. After she had overcome the shock of being reacquainted with this long-buried discovery,Toni sat down and told me the true tale of Sam and Susie:

"When Daryl and I began to appear on television we started to get a lot of gifts from fans: needlepoint pillows of our faces and our dogs, portraits, photo collages, and many other wonderful things. One day we received a huge box, light for its size, addressed to Captain and Tennille. Inside, carefully padded with tissue, was some kind of lumpy object. Out came Sam and Susie, the Stuffed Muskrats. Included in the box was a handwritten booklet describing in great detail how the fan, a professional taxidermist, had lovingly created Sam and Susie. Apparently the muskrats had been one year old, "in the prime of their life" as the fan described, when they became the unlucky subjects of arguably one of the silliest love songs ever recorded. 
Well, Daryl and I were overcome with mixed emotions about the gift. This sweet fan had spent a lot of time creating his version of Sam and Susie and we both appreciated the gesture. But at the same time we were both strict vegetarians, and being the recipients of these stuffed critters was a little unnerving. We didn't really want to display them in our home, but poor Sam and Susie had made the ultimate sacrifice in homage to "Muskrat Love" so I didn't feel right about throwing them away. For a while I kept them in one of our guest rooms, but every time I walked in the room I felt like Sam and Susie were looking at me and saying with their shiny, dead eyes, "YOU are the reason we became this...all for a stupid song!" Sam and Susie were wrapped back up and put into the closet and there they remained for over three decades.
Faced with a limited amount of space in the moving truck, I was ready to finally say bye-bye to Sam and Susie for good. Caroline flew back home with the muskrats tucked into her carry-on, nearly causing a TSA agent to faint when he looked in the bag during a security check.
Sam and Susie now reside at Caroline's house, modestly but respectfully displayed on a shelf in a back room, high enough to avoid assault from her six cats. They are alive again and, in their own stuffed little way, eternally in love."


Toni Tennille: A Memoir - coming soon!

Toni Tennille13 Comments

JUST GOT THE WORD TODAY THAT MY MEMOIR is now available for pre-order on Amazon!!! This just knocks my socks off. I have written many songs, and a couple of pretty big hits, but I have never written a book. I wrote the memoir with my niece, Caroline Tennille St. Clair. If you saw our Christmas special from 1976, you saw her as a six year old sitting on my lap as I sang Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas to her! She is a fine writer, and I simply could not and WOULD not have written this book without her. We have been working on it for a year and a half. Here is the scoop.....Caroline and I sent our final edit to the publisher, Rowman Littlefield, last week. We are now gathering the photos we want to include. I will be recording the audio book for Amazon's Audible Audio soon after the manuscript is finalized. Caroline and I are both very proud of the book, and I really think readers will enjoy it. Frankly, it was often hard to write.....there are a lot of funny and humorous episodes and stories, but I also had to go to some dark and difficult places in my memory too. My sisters Louisa, Melissa and Jane helped so much when I was trying to dredge up details of the past. Anyhow..although it IS available for pre-order, you won't get it until April even if you DO order it. But...just could be the FIRST person to order TONI TENNILLE - A MEMOIR!!!***

***Well....maybe not the FIRST anymore.  Looks like quite a few of my friends have already pre-ordered it!!!!

Until next time remember...Keep a Song of Joy Inside Your Heart!

Coming Home

Toni Tennille21 Comments
One of the many beautiful lakes near my house...they are teeming with turtles, fish and birds!

One of the many beautiful lakes near my house...they are teeming with turtles, fish and birds!

Smoky chasing lizards among the ferns

Smoky chasing lizards among the ferns

Hello everyone!! I know it has been a long time since I last posted on this blog, but I have been in the midst of a HUGE life change.  

Most of you know I was born and raised in the deep south...Alabama to be specific....but when my family moved to California in 1959, I followed them there after finishing my sophomore year at Auburn University.  THAT was a huge change, and sent my life off in directions I would never have imagined.  I ended up spending 50 years in the west, living in California, northern Nevada and finally in Arizona. And what a life it has been so far!

I truly thought I would spend the rest of my days in Arizona, but there was a restlessness and longing in my soul that kept trying to tell me something wasn't quite right. I didn't realize it, but the south was calling me home.  When, out of the blue,  my sister, Jane, called me from Florida where she has lived for over 30 years, and asked me if I would consider relocating to Florida so we could spend our "golden years" together, the light went on in my head!  I was supposed to go back to the south. I knew it was the right thing for me to do.

I wasted no time. I put my Arizona house on the market, and with Jane's help, started searching for new home in Florida.  Through sheer doggedness and optimism and LUCK, we found the perfect...and I do mean PERFECT... house for me. It is in a lovely neighborhood just 2 miles from Jane and my brother in law!  We can walk to each other's houses.  I call it The Yellow House. It is smallish...but so charming, with four peaked gables. The sunny yellow color is trimmed in white. The house tucked away from the street and is surrounded by old oak trees draped with Spanish Moss.  With 2/3 of an acre fenced for the dogs, there is plenty of room for my beloved Australian Shepherds to run, play and chase lizards and squirrels.

It took four and a half days to drive here from Prescott, Arizona with my three dogs and a dear friend to help with the driving and the dog wrangling, but we actually loved the trip.  And when I arrived here, I fell into the warm embrace of my "east coast" family. Thank God for them....they have made this transition as easy as it could possibly be.

Everything here could NOT be more different from my life in Arizona, and I will have more to tell you about that later. In the meantime, my niece, Caroline (who lives just a 30 minute drive away), and I have been putting finishing touches on my upcoming memoir, due out in the spring.  At the behest of my publisher, I have begun TWEETING, if you can believe it!!!  Caroline has been helping me figure out how to do it. If you tweet, please follow me on Twitter! (I'm @ToniTennille) We are also working on a Facebook page, THE REAL TONI TENNILLE (there are other Toni Tennilles on Facebook that aren't me).  We should have it ready to go soon, and I will let you know when it is up.  

And for those of you who have been wondering about Daryl, let me just say that I chat with him by phone every couple of weeks. It is funny, but the divorce seems to have been better for him as well as for me. He sounds stronger and more positive on the phone. I am happy for him.

When the memoir is published, and you read my story, I think you will understand why things turned out the way they did.

Until next time...."Keep a Song of Joy Inside Your Heart".