Sunday, September 22, 2019

Eddie Lives!

Eddie Hodges was the very first Winthrop Paroo
in the very first production of The Music Man,
in which he got to sing "Gary, Indiana"
(there he is above, lateral lisping with Robert Preston, on Broadway;
Ron Howard would take over for the movie version.)
Eddie was born Samuel Hodges in 1947,
in Hattiesburg, Mississippi,
but moved with his family to NYC in 1952,
where he began scooping up roles.
He made his professional debut with The Music Man in 1957.

In 1959, Eddie made his film debut with Frank Sinatra
in A Hole In The Head,
singing another great song,
"High Hopes."

In 1960,
he played opposite ex-boxer Archie Moore
in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,
also starring Tony Randall, Andy Devine, and Buster Keaton.

A young Eddie (in a great sweater vest!)
with astronaut John Glenn.

As a teenager,
Eddie appeared in smaller roles in the films
Advise and Consent, Summer Magic (below with Hayley Mills)
and The Happiest Millionaire,
guested on several television shows
 (The Dick Van Dyke Show, Bonanza, Gunsmoke),
and he began recording!
In 1961, he had a hit with "I'm Going To Knock On Your Door".
He later wrote songs with various collaborators
and established his own music publishing company.

Flash forward to today:
Eddie now lives back in his home state of Mississippi,
having retired from his most recent career
as a mental health counselor.
He is presently 72 years old. 

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Jump on the Band Wagon!

 The Band Wagon
opened in June of 1931,
directed by George S. Kaufman,
music by Howard Dietz and Arthur Schwartz (below),
and starring Adele and Frederick Austerlitz,
better known as Adele and Fred Astaire.

 Band Wagon was a well-reviewed revue!
Somebody somewhere called it
 "arguably the greatest of the 'little' revues of the 1930s".
The cast:
Tilly Losch, Fred and Adele, Frank Morgan, and Helen Broderick.

 Adele, Fred, Tilly, Frank, and Helen (above),
and "Hoops" (yes, that was the name of one of the show's songs!),
with Adele and Fred, below.
Perhaps this song was shelved for the one
Arthur and Howard wrote for the movie:

 Fred and Adele began their "act" in Vaudeville,
when Adele was 9 years old and Fred, 6!
They danced on 2 wooden wedding cakes,
dressed as bride and groom.
Twelve years later, they debuted in their first Broadway show,
Over The Top,
in which they were reviewed as "one of the prettiest features of the show".
They would perform together for 27 years.
Adele was the outgoing one, Fred the worrier.
(Adele's nickname for her brother was Moaning Minnie!)
Adele would  leave show business
just one year after The Band Wagon
and marry Lord Charles Cavendish. 
She was 36 when she retired,
and was never persuaded to return to the stage,
even when Lord Cavendish passed away and 
she returned to live in the states.

 In 1953,
the movie version of The Band Wagon was released.
Now it had a book! 
And even more songs by Arthur and Howard.
It starred (above) Oscar Levant, Cyd Charisse, Jack Buchanan,
Fred, and Nanette Fabray.

 They kept "I Love Luisa" from the original staged "Wagon",
but kicked "Sweet Music" (below, with Nanette and Oscar)
off the jetty.
Fred was 54 now (32 for the Broadway musical),
and unlike Funny Face (28 for the staged version, 58 for the movie)
he was almost a plausible leading man opposite Cyd.

 From The Will Roger's Follies,
which opened in 1991,
starring Keith Carradine (surrounded above) 
and Dee Hoty...
music Cy Coleman, lyrics Comden and Green.

 Best Musical of 1991,
plus Tony Awards for direction and choreography (Tommy Tune),
score, costumes and lighting.

 Above, a photo from Playbill of "our leads."
(Trivia: I remember Chock Full Of Nuts coffee shops in NYC!
Great date nut bread/cream cheese sandwiches!)

 Dee, above, who would star in another Cy Coleman show
just one year later...City Of Angels.

 What a line up for The Boy Friend,
a Sandy Wilson show
(a send up of the musicals of the 20s and 30s)
imported from the West End.
When it opened on Broadway in 1954,
Julie Andrews (her debut) played Polly.
That's she above on the right,
along with Millicent Martin, Stella Claire, and (I believe) Ann Wakefield.

 Julie received a Theatre World Award 
for her debut,
but had to leave the production 3 months early
to begin rehearsals for My Fair Lady.

 The show inspired a 1971 Ken Russell movie
starring Twiggy and Glenda Jackson!

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Playlist For Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019: When You're Far Away From New York Town...

Another Sunday, another bit o' Broadway...what fresh hell this week, Kim?

Well, being at such a distance from the actual street and the very real center of theatrical entertainment (in the world) is a challenge. Upstate NY doesn't much inspire daily hat-and-cane cavorting, or springing into a wing, or bursting into a ballad, now does it? (Exception: Curly, gettin' all hot and bothered by that "beautiful morning") But USUALLY you hear roosters crowing and smell the odoriferous cabbage in the fields, and you don't automatically think footlights and playbills and post-theatre reviews at Sardi's. You sort of think, "man, am I out of touch or WHAT!" What's going on down there? What's edgy and new and opening (and closing, for that matter) on the Great White Way (which will henceforth be referred to as the GWW)? How often must I admit that I HAVE NO CLUE!

 This rooster 
that Rooster

So I often reach back, really really far back (good for that twisty shoulder stretch, I guess) to past Broadway greatness, or goofiness as the case may be. I grab the Best Ofs, or the flops, or the eccentricities that  weren't fully recorded, or foist cheesy themes on you. And that's how I fill in my lack of knowledge of the NEW. I mean I try to keep up (pant pant). Or maybe, in truth, I'm just too lazy to monthly commute (to the GWW! Hah! So much easier!) for a "fix". But that's why you'll hear Inside the U.S.A. (1948) with Beatrice Lillie and not Moulin Rouge (2019) with ???. So Kill Me.

Speaking of Inside U.S.A., interesting story: I found it online, yup...supposedly the real 1948 production with Bea Lillie and Jack Haley. BUT (and isn't there always a BUT) it contained like 9 songs from the score, tho not all done by the original performers, then 5 repeats with OTHER performers, like Perry Como? Like Pearl Bailey? And then 9 more from The Band Wagon, the staged version, (which is great, cuz I had none of that...Fred and ADELE!!) and the movie (which I already had). Very weird. Of course both revues were written by Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz, so you could tie them together there, but come on! It's says on the cover, "Inside U.S.A., the new musical revue" (new, get it?) and then in very tiny print at the bottom "plus selections from The Band Wagon"..harrumph.

Be well. Sing Happy. Listen to the rooster. Wake up and smell the crops. The GWW remains (if buried, if diluted) in my blood. :)

Sing Happy (Liza Minnelli, Flora The Red Menace)
Gary, Indiana (Eddie Hodges, The Music Man)
Come, Oh Come To Pittsburgh! (Beatrice Lillie, Inside U.S.A.)
Blue Grass (Pearl Bailey, Inside U.S.A.)
When It's Sweet Pea Time In Georgia (Mike Craver, Ensemble, Radio Gals)
Two Heads (Andrew Durand, Evan Harrington, The Robber Bridegroom)
The Pricklepear Bloom (Leslie Kritzer, The Robber Bridegroom)
Rosamund's Dream (Ahna O'Reilly, Steven Pasquale, The Robber Bridegroom)
Nothin' Up (Ahna O'Reilly, The Robber Bridegroom)
I'm Nobody's Baby (Judy Garland, Andy Hardy Meets Debutante)
Nobody Makes A Pass At Me (Barbra Streisand, Pins And Needles)
Nobody Does It Like Me (Michele Lee, Seesaw)
I Ain't Got Nobody (Ann-Margret)
Sweet Music (Fred Astaire, Adele Astaire, The Band Wagon)
Sweet Music (Nanette Fabray, Oscar Levant, The Band Wagon)
I Love Luisa (Fred Astaire, The Band Wagon)
I Love Luisa (Fred Astaire, Oscar Levant, Nanette Fabray, The Band Wagon)
Nobody (Corey Cott, Laura Osnes, Ensemble, Bandstand)
No Man Left For Me (Dee Hoty, The Will Roger's Follies)
Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out (Leslie Odom, Jr.)
Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens (Ensemble, Five Guys Named Moe)
I'm Nobody's Baby (Ruth Etting)
The Happy Time (Robert Goulet, David Wayne, The Happy Time)
I Want To Be Happy (Jack Gilford, Susan Watson, No, No, Nanette)
Happy To Keep His Dinner Warm (Bonnie Scott, How To Succeed In
      Business Without Really Trying)
H-A-P-P-Y / We'll Raise A Glass Together (David Jackson, Danny Strayhorn,
      Michael Jeter, Brent Barrett, Grand Hotel)
Make Someone Happy (John Reardon, Do Re Mi)
Glad To Be Unhappy (Kay Coulter, Joshua Shelley, On Your Toes)
I Could Be Happy With You (John Hewar, Julie Andrews, The Boy Friend)
Hip To Be Happy (Ann Hampton-Callaway, Liz Callaway, Blues In The Night)
I Promise You A Happy Ending (Robert Preston, Mack & Mabel)
Sing Happy (Audra McDonald, Sing Happy)
Get Happy (Judy Garland, Summer Stock)
Happy Days Are Here Again (Barbra Streisand)

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Diahann Carroll on Random!

Diahann Carroll was born in the Bronx,
raised in Harlem,
attended Music and Art High School...and
by 15, was modeling for Ebony Magazine.
After a stint at NYU (majoring in Sociology),
it was on to cabaret singing,
thanks to winning a TV talent contest, "Chance Of A Lifetime,"
which brought Diahann $1,000 and plenty of exposure.

No Strings,
with music and lyrics by Richard Rodgers,
brought Diahann a Tony Award,
the first one ever given to a black actress (1962).
Above with another Richard,
this one her co-star in that show,
Richard Kiley.
Below, other 1962 winners:
Robert Morse (How To Succeed),
Margaret Leighton (Night Of The Iguana),
and Paul Scofield (A Man For All Seasons).

DC at age 19,

In 1961,
Diahann appeared in the film, Paris Blues,
with Sidney Poitier (above), Paul Newman, and Joanne Woodward.
And below,
another flick from the same year
(she stayed busy!!!),
Goodbye Again,
with Anthony Perkins,
Ingrid Bergman, and Yves Montand.

I remember Diahann from appearances on 
Merv and Mike and Ed,
and also from Julia, the 1968-71 television series (above).
Doesn't seem so ground-breaking now,
but back in the day,
a black woman NOT in the role of a domestic was
a little jaw-dropping.
Diahann won a Golden Globe for her work
 and was nominated for an Emmy.

Diahann's had a few husbands!
Above with Hubby #4,
Vic Damone.

The Dynasty Years!
Above, as Dominique Deveraux,
with side kick Billy Dee Williams.

Diahann's list of television appearances, films, voice over work, 
recordings and stage experiences
is a loooong one!
(She was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 2011, btw.)
She is also a breast cancer survivor and an activist.
She is presently 84 years old!

Friday, September 13, 2019

Sunday Stew!

Inside U.S.A. was a revue done in 1948,
with songs by Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz.
One reviewer called it the "least enjoyable Bea Lillie show in a long time,"
tho she did get to sing the sublimely funny
"Come, Oh Come To Pittsburgh."
Two hits came out of the show:
"Haunted Heart" and "Rhode Island Is Famous For You."
Along with Jack Haley 
(above, in younger days...he was 50 when he did USA) 
and Beatrice Lillie,
the show starred Jack Cassidy and Carl Reiner (!).

Couldn't resist this reunion photo of
Ray Bolger and Jack,
years after their OZ-zy experience,
and below, Jack Haley Jr. who married Liza Minnelli
(the Tin Man's son marrying Dorothy's daughter!)
in 1974.
They divorced in 1979.

In our ballad section this Sunday,
we'll hear Lotte Lenya with a Kurt Weill song 
from Knickerbocker Holiday,
"September Song",
in which it was sung (in the original production)
by Walter Huston, who played Peter Stuyvesant.
Love this portrait (below) of Lotte by 
Paul Bolasni, 
which is part of The Smithsonian's collection.

On hand for the recording of "Mack The Knife"
with Satch and the band, 1956,
and below with Kurt, her first husband.

Sheryl Lee Ralph,
was one of the original Dream Girls back in 1981,
her break thru role (she played Deena, and received a Tony nom),
In 2002 she jumped into 
Thoroughly Modern Millie as Muzzy Van Hossmere.
Below, Sheryl (at right) with Gavin Creel and Sutton Foster.

Sheryl's done a ton of TV and film work,
along with appearing on stage in
Wicked, Applause, and The First Wives Club.
I feel a special connection with Sheryl:
Dream Girls posters were allllll over NYC when I moved there...
AND she is just 1 year younger than I am.
And man, she still looks great!

Liza's done many versions of 
"New York, New York"...
like the one above from the movie 
she did (of the same name) with Robert DeNiro,
back in 1977.
I'm choosing the rendition from her 1995 Paris concert
that she did with Charles Aznavour (below).
Charles passed away just last year,
but Liza is going strong at 73!