Liza Minnelli, Chita Rivera, Joel Grey, Alec Baldwin and more celebrating John Kander & Fred Ebb at the 1998 Kennedy Center Honors are some of the entertaining Holiday treats from Broadway Babe this Season.
By: Randie Levine Miller
December 18, 2022: Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the holidays, sit back, relax, and watch these gems that Broadway Babe, Randie Levine Miller has unearthed. They include the 1998 Kennedy Center Honors, featuring Liza Minnelli, Chita Rivera, Joel Grey, and more, a Johnny Ray Documentary, and scenes from the 1994 version of Showboat. Plus a added treat Liza Minnelli on the creative process with Kander and Ebb.
1998 Kennedy Center Honors
Nostalgic and totally terrific, from 1998,.”The Kennedy Center Honors” which aired on CBS-TV — this segment honors prolific songwriters, John Kander and Fred Ebb, one of the greatest and most honored Broadway songwriting team of the last half century. At that point, they were already responsible for “Cabaret”, “Chicago”, “Zorba”, “Flora The Red Menace”, “Kiss of the Spider Woman”, “Woman of the Year”, and the legendary song with the same title of the movie, “New York, New York”. Alec Baldwin hosts the segment with showstopping performances by Liza Minnelli, Chita Rivera, Bebe Neuwirth, Joel Grey and Alan Cumming.
Sidebar: Others honored that year were Andre Previn, Shirley Temple, Willie Nelson and Bill Cosby The Kennedy Center rescinded Cosby’s honor in 2018, after his sexual assault conviction!
“Oregon Experience: Johnnie Ray”
This aired on Oregon Public Television. It is a fascinating documentary of a dynamic Oregon born performer who was highly popular in the 1950s. In 1951, his performance of “Cry” was the number one hit in pop music and also rhythm and blues sales. He was hearing impaired after a devastating accident while on a Boy Scout trip but managed to overcome his disability miraculously. Tony Bennett called Johnnie Ray, “the father of rock ‘n roll.” He was openly bi-sexual in an era when it was against the law to be gay and was arrested several times on morals charges. However, Johnnie Ray carried on a very public affair with the newpaper columnist, and panelist on TV’s “What’s My Line,” Dorothy Kilgallen. Musically, he’s considered the link between Sinatra and Elvis, because he brought a rhythm and blues feeling to pop music. This brilliant documentary of a legend that most of us don’t really remember, is definitely worth viewing.
Press Reel of Showboat (1994)
A true classic musical, this is the press reel for the 1994 Harold Prince directed Broadway revival production of “Showboat” starring Rebecca Luker, Mark Jacoby, Elaine Stritch, Lonette McKee and John McMartin, with a great score by the legendary Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein. These are singing and dancing highlights that are so entertaining and delightful. It has some real showstopping performances. The show won 5 Tony Awards. This is a superlative cast with some superlative singers. Also attached at the end, are a few numbers from the national company starring Anita Gillette and Pat Harrington
The Creative Process with Liza Minnelli
From 1974, almost 50 years ago, a conversation on “The Creative Process” with a young, enthusiastic and innocent Liza Minnelli, John Kander and Fred Ebb – you can see their professional friendship and personal friendship blossoming. This video is absolutely fascinating to watch. These three were so perfectly matched. They share behind the scenes stories… and oh, the warmth and camaraderie between them is so awesome to view. It’s as though we’re flies on the wall! An absolute must-see for musical theater fans and a true treasure!