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Fox Run's Evelyn Noveck Gives Rare, Behind-the-Scenes Glimpse Into Motown

April 15, 2013

NOVI, MI (April 16, 2013) -- Perhaps no one is more pleased about the opening of "Motown: The Musical" on Broadway than Fox Run retirement community resident Evelyn Noveck. Her late husband, Harold, was a friend of Motown founder Berry Gordy for 32 years and also Gordy's tax attorney. As a result, Evelyn attended high-profile Motown parties with Harold. Her anecdotal stories today give a rare, behind-the-scenes glimpse into Hitsville USA -- The Sound of Young America.
Gordy often held parties at his home on Boston Boulevard in Detroit. His spacious, luxury home had a swimming pool and a one-lane bowling alley. "It was beautiful," Evelyn said, "and Berry made everyone feel welcome. He made us feel like we were his family." At the parties she met many of Motown's superstars, in particular Smokey Robinson and Diana Ross.
 She remembers a party when Diana Ross arrived late. 'Diana was an extremely attractive woman who always dressed modestly at the parties," said Evelyn, who was married to Harold for 54 years prior to his death in 1998. Ross was humble even though she knew she was a huge star, according to Evelyn. "Diana often said my husband was her 'favorite man.' I always had good vibes about her."
"Smokey was a true gentleman," she said. " He made me feel as if I were worthy of conversation. I admired him and liked him a lot."
Evelyn's fondest memories are of Gordy. "Berry sent Christmas gifts each year to everyone ever associated with Motown and the gifts always had Teddy Bears included," she said. " I still have three of the Teddy Bears." Gordy always made sure the gifts she and her husband received were kosher out of his respect for their Jewish faith and tradition.
"Berry was an extremely generous man and he was also a genius," she said. " He had a unique way of recognizing a person's musical talent and he knew how to get the most out of that person."
Gordy once bought a condo in Los Angeles that he eventually sold. He told Evelyn he never would have bought the condo in the first place if Harold had been there to advise him against doing so. "Berry was only kidding when he said that, but it made me feel good to hear it anyway," she said.
When Gordy moved Motown from Detroit to Los Angeles Evelyn's husband was a key part of the business discussions. Her husband traveled once-a-month to Los Angeles from his and Evelyn's West Bloomfield home to work on Motown matters. "Berry and Harold would talk on the phone until well past midnight," Evelyn said. "Berry seemed to forget about the West Coast time difference."
Evelyn attended Gordy's wedding to his third wife held in Santa Barbara, California, on a waterfront estate "It was a fairy tale wedding -- so beautiful," she said. "I'm glad he gave up getting married again after the third time," she said -- just like a loving, caring family member might say.
For many years Evelyn had dinner with Gordy during her visits to California. When she attended parties at Gordy's California home she always brought a gift for him. "Berry liked art, so I always gave him an art book," said Evelyn. "He really enjoyed our mutual love of art."
Evelyn donated her and her husband's Motown memorabilia, photographs and papers to the Motown Museum in Detroit. She still keeps in touch with Edna Anderson, who has been Gordy's longstanding associate. And she still listens to the music.
"I love Motown," said Evelyn, who has lived at Fox Run for the past eight years. " I'm proud of my connection with Motown. They worked very hard and deserve everything they got. I have wonderful memories."