Now Streaming: Legacy of Funny Girl, 4 Girls 4, Bob Hope, Rodgers and Hart
Our Broadway Babe has some wonderful finds today that will keep you entertained for free. The back story of how Funny Girl came to be will answers your questions; a wonderful episode from the Mike Douglas Show featuring show biz songstress legends, Rosemary Clooney, Helen O’Connell, Rose Marie and Margaret Whiting, who starred in “4 Girls 4”; Bob Hope’s 85th birthday salute, and The Rodgers and Hart Story. Several hours of outstanding entertainment.
“Fanny and Barbra and the Legacy of ‘Funny Girl”
This is a very detailed (as in, it fills in the blanks of questions many of us have had) and insightful video. It’s all about the back story of how “Funny Girl” came to be.
There’s lots of information (with film clips) about the real Fanny Brice and Nick Arnstein, who was the love of her life. He was a charmer and a crook who did time at Sing Sing. The gangster, Arnold Rothstein, posted bail for Nick; and Fanny funded his business ventures which all went belly-up, plus he cheated on her.
David Merrick was originally co-producing the Broadway musical, “Funny Girl”, but backed out and producer Ray Stark, who was married to Fanny’s daughter, was it’s sole producer. Before signing Streisand who became a breakout star after stopping the show in “I Can Get It For You Wholesale”, they asked Edye Gorme (who would only do it if her husband, Steve Lawrence co-starred with her), Carol Burnett (yes, indeed!) and Anne Bancroft (who felt she could never reach those high notes). And there was lots of synergy between Fanny and Barbra, as you’ll see.
Don’t miss this incredible video!
4 Girls 4
What a delicious find this is: From the Mike Douglas Show,1979…. show biz songstress legends, Rosemary Clooney, Helen O’Connell, Rose Marie and Margaret Whiting, who starred in “4 Girls 4” which they toured with for 8 years. Each “girl” presented a mini concert of their hits and then joining together for the finale.
They were a show biz phenomenon and Mike Douglas was THE show (other than Merv Griffin) to feature some of the greats! They’re interviewed together and they all sing… songs from the Great American Songbook!
Sidebar: Margaret Whiting was a friend and also my PR client, when she starred on Broadway in “Dream”, in 1997, a Johnny Mercer tribute musical. She was truly a great lady, and was the only client I’ve ever known to pay in advance, before I sent her an invoice! She was at my wedding party in 1990, along with her husband, writer, director and former gay porno movie star, Jack Wrangler, and told me one night over dinner at Patsy’s, that this was the very best relationship in her life. After getting to know Jack, I could understand why.
Happy Birthday, Bob: 50 Stars Salute Your 50 Years With NBC
This is a rare find…“Happy Birthday, Bob: 50 Stars Salute Your 50 Years With NBC”, is a 3-hour special that aired in 1988, with commercials. The program stands as a document to show business history. This star-studded show also had a star studded audience, and it’s easy to spot them.
The legendary Sammy Davis, Jr. opens the show with a showstopper song. There’s lots of archive footage of Bob Hope, singing and dancing in films, etc… On the show he’s seen dancing with Ginger Rogers. Other highlights are performances by Jack Jones, Leslie Uggams, Dinah Shore, Diahann Carroll, Donald O’Connor, Brooke Shields, Dorothy Lamour, Bernadette Peters, Nancy Reagan. And, 2 gorgeous legends performing together— Angie Dickinson and Phyllis Diller (yes, you read that right). Phyllis Diller looks absolutely amazing in this show. And of course, Bob’s friends: George Buns, Milton Berle and Danny Thomas appear. Lucille Ball, who died the following year, performs her last big number, “Comedy Ain’t No Joke”, written for her by Cy Coleman, and James Lipton (yes, him!). Lipton also executive produced this most memorable special.
Sidebar: Many people are not aware of the fact that comedian/actor Danny Thomas (who died in 1979) had a lifelong dedication to fundraising for charity. This philanthropist was the founder of St. Jude’s Research Hospital, in Memphis, TN, a leading center in pediatric medicine with a focus on pediatric cancer where these young patients are treated absolutely free. He was an authentic and hard working humanitarian, and his daughter, Marlo, has followed in his footsteps! It has become one of my favorite charities to support, as do many of my friends and colleagues.
“The Rodgers and Hart Story: Thou Swell, Thou Witty”
This an outstanding documentary (along with delightful performances) about Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, narrated by Jonathan Pryce which features rare archive footage, as well as concert performances by Rebecca Luker, Christine Ebersole and Jane Krakowski, with Rob Fisher and the Coffee Club Orchestra.
The program was co-produced by BBC-TV and WNET in 1999…and is a wonderful retrospective of the lives and work of Larry Hart and Richard Rodgers. Their songs from a century ago still hold up today and are very much a part of the Great American Songbook.
Sidebar: I knew the incredibly talented Rebecca Luker who was truly beautiful in all possible ways… her voice, her inner and outer beauty, her spirit, her personality and her kindness. She was married to Tony award winning actor (and authentic mensch) Danny Burstein. She fought hard during her battle with ALS, as scientists continue to come up with a treatment/cure. She went public with her illness and the two of them enlisted friends and colleagues to help fundraise for new treatments. Anyone lucky enough to meet Rebecca had to be touched by this brave, uplifting and mult-talented woman who had true grit! RIP