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Amazing Women of the Suncoast: Izzy Hunter

ENGLEWOOD, Fla. -- Izzy Hunter traveled the globe, singing with greats in the entertainment business: Lena Horne, Harry Belafonte, and scores of others. Now she runs an antique store in Englewood.

Inside Englewood Antiques, you'll find an amazing woman: Isolde “Izzy” Hunter. She was born in Brooklyn in 1938, and her mother gave her up. "I went to a foster home in New York for 4 years. It started out temporary, but it ended up 4 years. But then she had me come back."

Izzy was a talented singer. She won a scholarship to Boston University. After college, she headed to New York City to try her hand at acting. “I was in several Broadway shows, off-Broadway shows, Dom DeLuise at Martinique."

She was a street performer in Greenwich Village. "I prerecorded 18 songs and sang with a tape recorder." After which she passed a basket.

"I decided to go for an interview with Harry Belafonte, and that was my first professional job."

They toured the world. "We traveled from Paris, Amsterdam, we went back to the states and Caesar’s Palace, the Greek Theatre, and it was wonderful."

Then, while performing in Palm Beach, she got a shock. "I couldn't get the zippers up any more, and I didn't know what was happening. I was 45 and I went to the doctor. I wasn't supposed to have children, and I was pregnant."

She left Palm Beach to work in the Poconos, but the music business had dried up.

She was desperate.

"I sold off all my New York City antiques, and put stuff in Sotheby’s to pay the mortgage. And while I was doing this, I noticed other people at flea markets, so I began selling stuff at flea markets."

She took along her young son, and they became quite good at it. In 2000 he talked her into moving to Englewood and opening this shop with a couple of partners. "We have military, we have clocks, we have stage jewelry, we have a line of porcelain glass."

And her life lesson? "Don't be afraid to take risks, and the other thing: be grateful for your blessing."

Izzy's son won scholarships to the University of Florida and the University of Florida Law School, and he's now an attorney with the FCC. They're still very close and she's glad she gave up her music career, which would have required her to travel, to take care of her son.