The Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) and Associates of the Vietnam Veterans of America (AVVA) are proud to welcome Lezlie Dalton, Deborah McFarland and Barbara Sanders Joiner as our special guests at the Vietnam Veterans of America 2021 National Convention in Greensboro, North Carolina.
The three women, former members of the Golddiggers singing and dancing group best known for their appearances on the Dean Martin TV Show, will receive the VVA President’s Award for Entertaining the Troops at the Saturday night Awards Banquet.
Lezlie Lake Dalton graduated high school in Boston, and moved immediately to California to attend the famed Pasadena Playhouse. Her first acting job was with a touring company that played colleges. Her first TV appearance was on “Star Trek,” where she turned an Enterprise crew member into a Styrofoam cube. She then joined “Dean Martin’s Golddiggers,” did the summer replacement TV show with Frank Sinatra, Jr., and subsequently toured the entire country with the troupe. As a Golddigger, Lezlie joined the Bob Hope Vietnam Christmas tour of 1968. She traveled to Vietnam with Hope again in 1971, this time as a Hollywood Deb Star. She later toured with the Ray Charles Singers in Las Vegas and Tahoe, sang and danced as The Nurse in the L.A. premiere of The Who’s rock opera “Tommy,” and did a stint as the KNBC Weather Girl, before turning to acting full time.
Lezlie has appeared in a dozen Off-Broadway plays—her favorite, playing opposite Estelle Parsons. Lezlie has played regional theatres from Maine to California, including a grand tour with Leslie Caron. Her television career includes guest star and featured appearances on numerous series opposite stars such as Jack Palance, Robert Wagner, Eddie Albert and others. She was chosen for leading roles in several TV pilots, and she has played leading roles on “Guiding Light,” “Young and Restless,” and “Search for Tomorrow.” Currently, she is studying “with a fine teacher” (who teaches Shakespeare at Yale), with the goal of performing the Bard’s plays “anywhere and everywhere I can.”
Soon after graduating from high school Deborah McFarland started modeling, primarily photo shoots with famous photographers for advertising, trade shows, and magazine covers. She learned about auditions for the Golddiggers early in 1968 from one of the photographers. It was the first show biz audition she had done, and was hired as one of the original Golddiggers for the summer replacement Frank Sinatra, Jr., TV show.
After the shows were filmed she performed with the group at shows in Las Vegas and elsewhere and joined the 1968 Bob Hope USO Christmas Show. It was her first time outside the country, and a memorable experience; as was the 1969 Hope show in Vietnam. Deborah left the group after the 1969 tour intending to stay home with her toddler son, but later joined the Gene Kelly production "30 Girls, Count 'em 30!" playing Las Vegas for an eight-week run. After several other similar gigs, she did retire from professional entertainment industry to raise her son, although she did some small theater and a few shows at a community college in Northern California. Today she is an in-demand teacher of knitting.
Barbara Sanders Joiner, a ballet dancer who worked on Broadway, went to Vietnam with Bob Hope with the Golddiggers in 1969 as part of his Around the World Christmas Tour. After performing at the White House and doing shows at U.S. military bases in Berlin, Turkey, and on the U.S.S. Saratoga, the troupe headed to Southeast Asia. They entertained the troops in Thailand and Vietnam, including at Cu Chi, Chu Lai, Da Nang, Lai Khe, and aboard the U.S.S. Ranger.
Later in her career she performed as a singer and dancer on The Andy Williams Show, The Tom Jones Show, and Laugh In, and in many TV specials and commercials. She also toured with Shirley Jones and Jack Cassidy, and appeared in movies such as Pennies from Heaven, In God We Trust, and The Sting II. Today Barbara lives in Atlanta where she is very involved with Atlanta Ballet, serving as Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees.