Sunday, February 17, 2019

That's so Chita!



 This is Chita on Random...
no way can I do justice to her performing achievements. 
So consider this an out-of-order,
image (not info) heavy tribute
to a great musical theatre star.

 Chita was born
Dolores Conchita Figueroa del Rivero
in Washington, D.C. in 1933.
At the age of 15, she auditioned (and was accepted)
to the School of American Ballet in NYC.
Then the old story...she went along to support a friend
who was auditioning for a spot in Call Me Madam.
Chita got the part. :)

 Now the randomness starts...
Above (and below on the right)
with Sammy Davis Jr. in Mr. Wonderful (1956).
(If you can believe the scuttlebutt,
Chita and Sammy had a romantic thing!
At least for the length of the show...)
 


 With Dick Van Dyke in 
Bye Bye Birdie (1960).
Chita would lose out on the movie role
to Janet Leigh.

 Gotta be a TV variety show,
late 50s or early 60s!

 As Anita in the Broadway production
of West Side Story (1957).
Rita Moreno was cast in the movie version.

 Sweet Charity!
Chita appeared in both the stage (1967)
and film (1969) versions.
Above with Paula Kelly and Shirley MacLaine.


 Rehearsing with Liza Minnelli in 
Kander and Ebb's The Rink (1984).




 With Gwen Verdon 
in Chicago 
(Chita would do 5 different productions of that musical,
from 1977 to 1999).



 In Jerry's Girls 
(a salute to the musicals of Jerry Herman)
in 1985,
with Dorothy Loudon and Leslie Uggams. 

 In Kiss Of The Spider Woman
(1992).

 With Tommy Tune (above).
In 2003, Chita performed in the revival of Nine,
directed by Tommy.


Chita was cast in Kander and Ebb's The Visit,
which began "life" in 2001,
with productions in Chicago, Virginia, an in-concert version,
and finally Broadway in 2015.


 Plus another score (or 7) of musicals,
movie and TV appearances by this talented lady!
Chita has been nominated 10 times for a Tony
(a record she shares with Julie Harris).
She's received 3 Tony Awards, one of them a 
Lifetime Achievement Award,
as well as a Presidential Medal Of Freedom
from President Obama in 2009.
 She is 86 years old.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Jean (Ya Gotta Have Heart) Stapleton

  Jeanne Murray of New York City was born in 1923.
Her father was a billboard salesman,
her mother a classical singer. 
She entered Hunter College, but exited "stage left" 
to study at the American Actors Company.
Summer stock (in Peaks Island, Maine) followed, 
as did a name change:
Jean thought "Stapleton", her mother's maiden name,
sounded more sophisticated than Murray.
 


Jean's first Broadway show was
The Summer House...
but before that she toured in the national company
of Harvey,
and understudied Shirley Booth in
Come Back, Little Sheba.
By 1955 she'd claimed the role of baseball fan
Sister Miller, in Damn Yankees
and played it both on stage and in the film
(above with Tab Hunter).

The same "double play" happened 
for Jean with Bells Are Ringing,
playing Sue of "Sue's Answer Phone",
in the musical AND the subsequent flick.
Above with Judy Holliday (Ella Peterson)
and below,
pre-dating Lily Tomlin's Ernestine!




A highlight from 1964...
Jean's appearance as Mrs. Strakosh 
in Funny Girl
(above with Babs and Syd Chaplin),
singing "Find Yourself A Man" and
"If A Girl Isn't Pretty"
with co-star Kay Medford. 
Jean would also appear in Juno (1959),
and Rhinocerous (1961),
but after Funny Girl,
television called!

After many television appearances in the early 60s
(Car 54, Dennis The Menace, Dr. Kildare, 
My Three Sons, and a ton of others!),
Jean was chosen for what would become her
signature role,
Edith Bunker on All In The Family.
Above with Rob Reiner, Sally Struthers, and
Carroll O'Connor.

Jean would stay with the show for 
8 years,
and garner 3 Emmys and 2 Golden Globes
for her portrayal.
Below with Bea Arthur 
(who played Edith's cousin, Maude, on the show)
and creator/director Norman Lear.




With Art Carney in rehearsal for
You Can't Take It With You,
made for CBS in 1979.

As Eleanor Roosevelt,
in a TV movie called
"Eleanor: First Lady Of The World"
in 1982. 
Throughout the 1980s and 90s,
Jean appeared in many television shows,
made for TV movies, as well as feature films,
regional theatre, and even operatic adventures!

In 1977 President Jimmy Carter appointed Jean to the 
National Commission on the Observance of International Women’s Year, 
which included Bella Abzug, Maya Angelou, Betty Ford, Coretta Scott King, Gloria Steinem, and 36 others. 
 She also served as the 
Chair of the Women’s Research & Education Institute
for several years. 

In 1991, I had the pleasure of seeing Jean in a 
one-woman, off-Broadway show with 2 acts:
First act...the "Italian Lesson" written and performed originally by 
Ruth Draper,
and Second act...a Julia Child musical, "Bon Appetit."
A Mel Gussow quote here from the NYTimes:
"She mimics Miss Childs's distinctive voice 
as she rolls up her sleeves and dives into her "battle plan" 
(or is it "batter plan"?). 
A general of the kitchen, she mimes the marshaling of her pots, pans 
and cornstarch
 and suggests that anyone following her instructions 
should have "a self-cleaning kitchen like mine."

Jean passed away at the age of 90,
in 2013,
in her hometown of NY, NY.
Co-star Sally Struthers said of her,
  "she was just a walking, living angel".

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Playlist For Sunday, February 17, 2019: Boys, Girls, Mufflers, and Mucklucks

We're in the depths of it now. The Ides Of February, and that damn groundhog lied his furry little pants off! Even if he wasn't wearing any. Never trust pant-less rodents with unspellabbabble names. Just never trust rodents.



So we're locked in the Gulag probably for another month or so. But beware, I am back on the roads, flexing this new hip twixt brake and GO pedal! Gettin' cocky. Back to the gym, as well, tho no hard bike climbs up Kendall's mountains. That will have to wait for...well, whenever that damn buck-toothed pest says I can. When it's spring-tra-lah! Meanwhile, I'm happy to be moving and (almost) grooving to the Song Of Norway.

Speaking of songs, 2 On The Aisle has a theme and a 1/2 this Sunday. Maybe I should call it that: 2 1/2 on the Aisle. Because you need that extra half a seat for your winter paraphernalia, right? Mufflers, hats, overcoats, mucklucks. You surely don't want to SIT on all that stuff through Hamilton!!?!?!? Or even a flop. I mean, if you had to, you'd surely hate whatever you witnessed. It'd be lumpy and hot and get in the way of your standing ovations...Okay, so for the winter months, 2 1/2 on the Aisle!!!  (My seat saving just got a lot more difficult to arrange with the usher.)

But back to the theme: Boys and Girls. Kinda like the bathrooms in your old middle school. But Broadway (and a smidge of Hollywood) so it'll smell better and have different acoustics. Should be fun. Me And My Girl. A Boy Like That. He Vas My Boyfriend. Thank Heaven for 'em. Well, you get the drift. (Hah! Snow reference! Jesus.)



So hope you can listen in. Hunker down with your muffler and your furry pants and raise a muckluck to Broadway. These ides too (2?) shall pass.



Boys And Girls Like You And Me (Judy Garland, Meet Me In St. Louis)
Me And My Girl (Robert Lindsay, Emma Thompson, Me And My Girl)
Beautiful Girl (Jimmy Thompson, Singin' In The Rain)
If A Girl Isn't Pretty (Jean Stapleton, Kay Medford, Funny Girl)
Smile, Girls (Patti LuPone, Gypsy)
The Boys In The Backroom (Marlene Dietrich, Destry Rides Again)
A Boy Like That/I Have A Love (Patti LuPone, Don't Monkey With Broadway)
Golden Boy (Paula Wayne, Golden Boy)
One Of The Boys (Lauren Bacall, Woman Of The Year)
Mr. Monotony (Debbie Shapiro, Jerome Robbins' Broadway)
It's A Bore (Howard McGillin, Corey Cott, Gigi)
Monotonous (Eartha Kitt, New Faces Of 1952)
Little Girls (Dorothy Loudon, Annie)
Thank Heaven For Little Girls (Maurice Chevalier, Gigi)
It's The Girl (The Boswell Sisters)
Real Live Girl (Ensemble, Little Me)
The King Of Broadway (Nathan Lane, The Producers)
Haben Sie Gehort Das Deutsche Band? (Brad Oscar, The Producers)
Where Did We Go Right? (Nathan Lane, Mathew Broderick, The Producers)
A Healthy, Normal, American Boy (Dick Van Dyke, Chita Rivera, Bye Bye Birdie)
One Boy (Susan Watson, Bye Bye Birdie)
Boy For Sale (Willoughby Goddard, Oliver!)
Mad About The Boy (Christine Ebersole, Christine Ebersole Sings Noel Coward)
Deep Beneath The City/Not There Yet (Company, In Transit)
Saturday Night Obsession (Erin Mackey, In Transit)
A Little Friendly Advice (Moya Angela, In Transit)
A Certain Girl (David Wayne, Robert Goulet, Michael Rupert, The Happy Time)
I'm Not That Girl (Idina Menzel, Wicked)
I Met A Girl (Sydney Chaplin, Bells Are Ringing)
My Best Girl (Frankie Michaels, Angela Lansbury, Mame)
The Boy From...(Millicent Martin, Side By Side By Sondheim)
All I Need Now Is The Boy (Carol Burnett, Let Me Entertain You)
He Vas My Boyfriend (Andrea Martin, Young Frankenstein)

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Breakin' Hearts!

 Time for some vintage Valentines...
like Ann Miller!
 
 Cyd Charisse, trapped in a candy box.

 Deanna Durbin


 Debbie Reynolds...

 When a Whitman's Sampler
was the Godiva of Chocolates...
Elizabeth Taylor!

 A young Marilyn Monroe

 Audrey Hepburn


 Fred Astaire and Marjorie Reynolds


  Rita Hayworth


 Kim Novack
in Pal Joey

 Shirley Temple watering a very "hearty" plant. 
Good job, Shirl!



Thursday, February 7, 2019

A Heart of Gold

Virginia Martin, born in 1927,
hailed from Tennessee.
Her Broadway debut was in the original 1949 production 
of South Pacific (as part of the ensemble).
She was in the chorus for Ankles Aweigh and The Pajama Game,
and in 1958 understudied the leading lady 
(Vivian Blaine)
in Say, Darling...
but her big break came in
1961
when she was cast as Hedy La Rue in
How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying.
 



Above, Virginia in pirate garb to play 
The Treasure Girl
with Rudy Vallee and Robert Morse.

On Sunday we'll hear Rudy and Virginia 
duet with "Love From A Heart Of Gold."




A year later,
Virginia was cast as Belle Poitrine (the younger)
in Little Me
which starred Sid Caesar (in multiple roles)
and had the music of 
Cy Coleman (below with Virginia)
and Carolyn Leigh. 
 

Virginia earned a Tony nomination for her work
in this show.
In fact, the show received 10 nominations in all,
including Best Musical,
but the only one to walk away with a win was 
Bob Fosse for choreography.
Above, recording the cast album with 
Nancy Andrews (who played the older version of Belle)
and below with Sid.


In 1965, Virginia did an episode of Bewitched
called "It's Magic", above,
where she played Roxie Ames (not Hart!),
an attention-seeking magician's assistant.
Samantha sends her to
magician's assistant hell, I guess.


But VM was reincarnated (with a new hairdo!)
just episodes later to become Mrs. Leach, 
who along with hubby Charlie played by Robert Strauss 
(below, with Virginia and Elizabeth Montgomery),
were nosy neighbors (what other kind are there?)
of Samantha and Darrin.


Virginia also made a few appearances on Jack Paar,
The Tonight Show
episodes of The Phil Silvers Show and 
something called Tallahassee 7000
with Walter Mathau.
But that's it. 
Whatever she did after 1965 is a mystery.
She passed away in her native Chattanooga at the age of 81.