Broadway Babe: Carol Burnett; Lena Horne; Angie & Burt, The Music Man
Our Broadway Babe, Randie Levine-Miller has some great nostalgic finds to share this week, including Carol Burnett, starring as “Calamity Jane” sixty years ago; an excellent documentary about Lena Horne; Angie Dickinson and Burt Bacharach, hosting the “Hollywood Palace” variety show; and a recently produced documentary about Composer/Lyricist, Meredith Willson, who gave us “The Music Man” and “The Unsinkable Molly Brown.”
“Lena Horne: In Her Own Voice”
This aired on PBS-TV’s American Masters series in 1996. It features commentary from Lena, Ossie Davis, Alan King, Liz Smith, and others, as well as clips from “Stormy Weather,” and her other films. Also shown, are her early TV appearances, and excerpts from her one woman Broadway show, which was awarded a special Tony. The first Black movie star, Lena Horne was an intelligent, talented woman who endured so much and inspired so many. She was an elegant, articulate beauty, with her own voice, literally and figuratively. A fascinating documentary of a woman who had true grit!
Burt and Angie at The Hollywood Palace
“The Hollywood Palace” was a fabulous Saturday night Variety Show that aired on ABC-TV, starring different hosts each week. In 1970, Burt Bacharach and Angie Dickinson, at the height of their careers, hosted, and were total delights. They were a classy and handsome couple. On the show that night, they sang Burt’s “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again” from his hit Broadway show, “Promises, Promises.” Other guests that night were Sam and Dave, as well as Dusty Springfield, singing several of her hit songs. A wonderful nostalgic program.
Calamity Jane with Carol Burnett
From 1963, comedy genius Carol Burnett stars, as “Calamity Jane” in her first CBS-TV Special. It is quite delightful, watching a young Carol do her thing, and making it all her own! This is Carol Burnett in her prime. Co-starring Art Lund, Catherine Damon, and Don Chastain, it has a great cast with great choreography by Ernest Flatt, who went on to work with Carol on her CBS-TV Variety series, as well as on Broadway. “Calamity Jane” was originally a movie, starring Doris Day. This TV musical by Sammy Fain and Paul Francis Webster was originally done by Dallas Summer Musicals. It was most unusual to take a summer stock production and then move it into a major networks studio! It was produced in black-and-white on November 12, 1963. Sidebar: one of the dancers in the show, is Young Texan, Sandy Duncan, who went on to achieve major stardom!! Enjoy.
“Meredith Willson: America’s Music Man”
This is a fascinating documentary, recently produced by Iowa’s PBS station and narrated by Sutton Foster. As American as American pie, composer/lyricist Meredith Willson, is nowhere near as famous as his contemporaries, but was just as accomplished. And this documentary really tells his story. He scored films for Chaplin and wrote songs performed by Sinatra and the Beatles! Willson is the songwriter who gave us the classic, “It’s Beginning To Look Alot Like Christmas.” He toured on the road with Gershwin. Toscanini and Sousa. Best known for his musicals, “The Music Man” and “The Unsinkable Molly Brown”, he also had a long career as a musician and composer. This documentary (with comments by Michael Feinstein and Susan Stroman) reveals the background of this prolific songwriter of the twentieth century and is worthwhile viewing.