A New Documentary Shows How Gloria Gaynor Survived Hitting Rock Bottom

Photo: Getty Images North America

Gloria Gaynor sold millions of records as a pop star in the 1970s, but none of her songs stood as tall as “I Will Survive,” the disco-era smash hit of female empowerment that still resonates as an anthem today. Yet, the song’s title would resonate for Gaynor on a different level many years later, as she bounced back from a messy divorce at age 65, reinvented herself as a gospel singer, and reclaimed her career success. A new film, “Gloria Gaynor: I Will Survive,” documents how she survived life’s peaks and valleys; Gaynor appeared on 710 WOR’s Len Berman and Michael Riedel in the Morning program to discuss her life and career, starting with her record label’s decision to record the song that catapulted her to stardom.

“It was brought to me by the producers that I had been sent to record [it] with another song,” Gaynor recounted for Berman and Riedel. “When I heard the lyrics, I said, what are you, stupid? You’re going to put this on the B-side?... Everybody’s going to relate to this song, whatever they’re going through, and they’re hoping that they will survive. They said well, that’s the deal we made with the record company. I said, you know what, if it’s left to me, it won’t stay on the B-side.”

In her mid-60’s, Gaynor divorced her husband of 25 years, who doubled as her manager. That was when her life hit rock-bottom. “That meant that, not only was my personal life, my marriage in jeopardy, but my career. I had no idea how to manage myself… and so I was pretty ignorant how to navigate the entertainment industry. Well, I decided to go to college because one of the things that I wanted to do and wasn’t able to do during my career was support or start a foundation that would help young fathers, because I was raised without a father… so I went to school for psychology.”

“Gloria Gaynor: I Will Survive” hits theatres nationwide for only one day, “Galentine’s Day,” Tuesday, February 13th. Check local movie theatre listings for availability and times.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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