FLORENZ CROSSLEYTeacherFlorenz Crossley's childhood was, literally, the...




Florenz Crossley's childhood was, literally, the stuff movies are made of.

Visiting MGM studios. Lunching at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Attending school with Nancy Sinatra.

Then again, what else could it have been with actress Billie Burke for a grandmother and Broadway impresario Florenz Ziegfeld Jr. for a grandfather?

Ms. Crossley remembers it all fondly, even more so now with the musical "Ziegfeld: A Night at the Follies" opening at the Mechanic Theatre Tuesday. The lavish sets and costumes all serve as reminders of a time that belonged to the master showman.

"My grandfather always had to have the best," the 51-year-old Baltimorean recalls.

For her grandmother, who played the good witch in "The Wizard of Oz," the best was often found in acting. More than 30 years ago, she gave this advice to her granddaughter: "Work is one of our richest gifts. Through it, we find love and happiness."

Ms. Crossley's own happiness has come in marrying an Episcopal minister, raising two children and being a kindergarten teacher.

Although she's spent the last 10 years entertaining children in her classes at Park School, she never once considered an acting career. "I'm too shy," she says.

COLOR PHOTO Call it the three lives of Naomi DuRant.

By day, she's a gospel announcer and program director at WBGR-AM. At night, she becomes a Morgan State University student. And in between, she's the pastor of New Refuge Deliverance Church in East Baltimore.

Although it may sound exhausting, Ms. DuRant considers it exhilarating -- each facet of her life contributing to her service to .. God.

"I was raised in church by my grandmother and I always felt a strong calling to religion and the Bible," says the 52-year-old, who began preaching more than 35 years ago. "The only thing I wanted to do was to be a peacemaker."

She's also made use of the radio in her mission. A former secretary at WWIN-AM, she so impressed her boss that he put her on the air. "He told me I had a queenlike attitude on the phone. I took it graciously, but I never will forget that," says Ms. DuRant, a mother of five who lives in Pikesville.

Nine years ago, she joined WBGR-AM radio and has since created call-in programs for children and inmates. To better serve listeners and parishioners, she recently returned to school to learn more about black theology.

With little free time, she's discovered a great -- and efficient -- way to unwind. "For relaxation," she says, "I study for midterms."

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