Now Streaming: Betty White, Follies, Anything Goes, The Hit Parade
The Broadway Babe, Randie Levine-Miller, has some wonderful streaming entertainment to pass the time this weekend and avoid the freezing cold weather with some warm and wonderful upbeat things to watch. There’s a 1987 special, “This is Your Life: Betty White”, our favorite golden girl; a 1954 Hit Parade, Follies, and Anything Goes.
THIS IS YOUR LIFE: BETTY WHITE
This is so special and so timely….From 1987: “This Is Your Life: Betty White”..Host Ralph Edwards goes over to the studio where the “Golden Girls” are doing a photo shoot, and surprises Betty, bringing her over to the packed audience at the TIYL studio. The program includes video clips of Betty’s early days on television, including a clip of her singing. Those paying tribute to her include TV luminaries: Jack Paar, Gene Rayburn, Mark Goodson (producer/creator of “Password” and “Match Game” where Betty was a regular), Grant Tinker (head of NBC, as well as former husband of Mary Tyler Moore; he was head of Mary’s production company MTM).
And of course, Mary Tyler Moore pals appeared: Gavin McLeod, Valerie Harper, Cloris Leachman, Georgia Engel, Ed Asner and of course, Mary herself. It’s a truly touching tribute, that I think sister Tomatoes will love.
Sidebar: In 1987, I had the great pleasure to work with Gavin McLeod and his wife, Patty, publicizing their book, “Back On Course”, which was about the pressures of Hollywood life, and how their faith in God and each other brought them together again. My company at the time, Accent On Broadcasting, specialized in getting authors on talk shows throughout the U.S. I got to spend a few memorable days going from show to show with them in New York. We had the best time.. Gavin was so sweet and so humble. He recently died, at age 90. A true mensch! RIP
YOUR HIT PARADE
A real trip down memory lane… From 1954:The delightful weekly “Your Hit Parade”, starring Gisele Mackenzie, Snooky Lanson, Russell Arms, Polly Bergen, with Raymond Scott and the Hit Parade orchestra..
It was an incredibly elaborate production with costumes, sets, choreography… definitely, a forerunner to today’s music videos, a dinosaur age music video for each individual number performed. These shows were outstanding. Their commercials were live with singing and dancing numbers…
One of the sponsors, Richard Hudnut “Quick” Home Permanent is like watching a musical industrial show, from another time. Julia Meade (who went on to hosting her own talk show), was their spokeswoman. Lucky Strike cigarettes with its own theme music, was their other sponsor. (Golfer Sam Snead does the promotion of this sponsor). You have to see and hear a young and magnificently talented singer, Polly Bergen, sing “The High and the Mighty”, a major hit as both a movie and a song. I think Tomatoes will adore this fun retro-episode!
For Stephen Sondheim fans, and who amongst us Tomatoes doesn’t love at least some of his works? (“Gypsy”, “West Side Story”, “Company”, anyone?) Or his songs? This professionally shot video of “Follies” which was videoed for the National Theatre of London, is a first class production … It sold out in London and won the Olivier Award for Best Revival of a Musical. The incredible British cast stars: Imelda Staunton, Tracie Bennett, Janie Dee, Philip Quast, Peter Forbes and was directed by Dominic Cooke.
Sidebar: I’ve been a huge fan of “Follies” ever since I saw it in 1971 at the Winter Garden in NYC. I’ve seen 3 versions of it on Broadway and what an incredible score Sondheim wrote. A few years ago, I ran into Blythe Danner, who played Phyllis in the 2001 Broadway revival. She’s not known as a singer, but I thought she did an incredible job in the show. Of course, I said: “Please don’t tell me you’re not a singer. You’re an actress and you can do anything.” She was quite complimented. And then I said (this was 2 years ago), “you’re gorgeous and ageless and I can see you haven’t done anything to your face”, to which she replied: “I’ve done everything to my face!” And then she walked away quickly, as my mouth stayed open!
Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes” is a delicious sojourn to better times, and may I add, more traditional fun musicals with songs you can actually hum….This is a first class video that will reach U.S. movie screens in March… The delightfully delicious romp, “Anything Goes”, won its star, Sutton Foster, the Tony Award when she starred in it on Broadway in 2011…. In 2021, she reprised the role in London to great acclaim… (She was truly the toast of the town!); her co-star is Tony Award winning actor (also a 3 time Olivier Award winner) Robert Lindsay. The show was directed and choreographed by Kathleen Marshall who also directed the show on Broadway. Tomatoes, you’ll really enjoy this. Absolutely delightful from start to finish!