Broadway Babe’s Picks: South Pacific, Polly Bergen and More
Our Broadway Babe, Randie Levine-Miller did some online excavating and came up with some nostalgic gems: An incredible Barbra Streisand special from 1967; Mary Martin and Ezio Pinza, singing songs from the original “South Pacific”; The Polly Bergen Show, with a young Johnny Carson doing comedy; a Tony Awards special with CBS’s Dennis Cunningham from 42 years ago.
Wow! I don’t know how I found this great treasure of the American theater… A legendary Broadway musical dinosaur from 1949, “Rodgers and Hammerstein‘s ‘South Pacific’, starring Mary Martin and Ezio Pinza… These are a few scenes from the show, though I’m not sure where it aired, as I think this was before Ed Sullivan began presenting excerpts from Broadway shows… No matter, this is a true treat in black and white heaven!
“Barbra Streisand – A Happening in Central Park”
This is from 1967, and was a true New York happening! This show, which aired on CBS-TV, with musical direction by the great Mort Lindsay (who was also MD for Judy Garland and “The Merv Griffin Show”) feels as today in 2023, as it did in 1967 (56 years ago!). The live audience was estimated at 135,000. The concert was presented as a gift to New York. And indeed, it was.
What also makes this video totally terrific is that at the very beginning, we have Barbra Streisand of today introducing it, sharing background of how the special came to be. She shares some wonderful background stories and anecdotes and is totally charming. Remember, this was the beginning of her legendary career. This is a must-see special for Streisand fans.
1981 Tony Special
From 1981, Backstage with Tony – 1981 Tony Awards Special. Channel 2 New York’s Dennis Cunningham (remember him?) did a special about the Tony Awards. It has clips and interviews with Angela Lansbury, Isabelle Stevenson, David Merrick, Elizabeth Taylor, Kevin Kline, Chita Rivera, Hal Prince and Joe Papp, as well as “42nd Street”, ‘Sugar Babies” etc. 1981 was a very good theater season.
Polly Bergen with Johnny Carson
From 1958, “The Polly Bergen Show” which aired on NBC-TV has the beautiful Polly, whose voice was absolutely incredible at that time, hosting and singing. The executive producer of her show was Irving Mansfield, husband of Jacqueline Susann). Her special guest that night was a young Johnny Carson doing comedy and doing some great impersonations. This was somewhat of a preview of what was to come for him a few years later. Polly’s show was presented by Max Factor, and she does live commercials in the middle of her show. She was an excellent spokeswoman for their products. And wow, could she sing!
Randie Levine Miller is Director of Special Events for The Three Tomatoes, and co-produces and hosts the annual Tomatoes Got Talent show. Known around NYC as a modern day “hostess with the mostess, she has performed in and hosted benefits for the Actors Fund, the Actors Temple, Multiple Sclerosis, and Prostate Cancer Research. Randie’s performance venues have included: The Triad, The Metropolitan Room, the Laurie Beechman Theater, and the Friars Club. For many years, she was special events director for the Drama Desk Awards. Randie also had a successful 30-year career as a public relations consultant and handled several major health and medical technology clients.