Nostalgic finds from Broadway Babe include Leonard Bernstein, Anything Goes, Damn Yankees and Elaine Stritch.
January 8, 2024: Broadway Babe, Randie Levine-Miller has some great nostalgic finds to share for the New Year. Leonard Bernstein and his wife, Felicia interviewed on Person to Person; Ethel Merman and Frank Sinatra co-starring in “Anything Goes”; Broadway’s hit musical “Damn Yankees” produced for television; and Elaine Stritch being Elaine Stritch! All great viewing, especially on a cold winter day.
An Interview with Leonard and Felicia Bernstein
OMG, a totally delightful interview with Leonard and Felicia Bernstein that aired on CBS-TV in 1955 with host, the legendary Edward R. Murrow on his very popular “Person to Person” TV show. He’s in the studio and the Bernsteins are in their magnificent apartment, showing it to Ed and the TV viewing audience with both of them smoking! You see that the two of them have such great affection for each other and he is so adoring of her. This is one of the only interviews ever done with both Bernstein and his wife, Felicia, and you really get a sense of what she was like. A highlight of this interview is the two of them playing duo pianos, a Bach piano concerto. They actually had three pianos in their home! This is a must see for Bernstein fans, especially after seeing the highly popular biographical film, “Maestro”.
From 1954, a very abridged TV version of Cole Porter’s hit musical, “Anything Goes”, starring Ethel Merman and Frank Sinatra along with Bert Lahr and Sheree North, was presented on NBC’s “Colgate Comedy Hour”. Merman was in her prime and looked great and svelte-like and her co-star, Frank Sinatra, was so in tune with her. All of the Cole Porter songs are here and it’s one of his best scores, but the script was totally decimated, as far as I’m concerned — but it doesn’t matter because it is so entertaining! This TV production was interestingly produced by composer Jule Styne and top Broadway producer, Leland Hayward. It’s “de-licious, it’s de-lightful, it’s de-lovely!”
A true find! Broadcast on NBC’s General Electric Theatre in 1967, this is the TV adaptation of the hit Broadway musical, “Damn Yankees” starring Lee Remick, Phil Silvers, and Jerry Lanning. It has an incredible supporting cast, including: Linda Lavin, Fran Allison (Kukla, Fran and Ollie!), Bob Dishy, Jim Backus, and Ray Middleton with Joe Garagiola, introducing the show. It has a wonderful score by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross and is directed by Kirk Browning and choreographed by Ernest Flatt. with a book by George Abbott and Douglas Wallop. Noted songs include “Heart”; “A Little Brains, A Little Talent”; “Whatever Lola Wants”. This was a big Broadway hit in the 1950s starring Gwen Verdon. Lee Remick is quite good as Lola… Truly, a trip down memory lane!
Elaine Stritch on Life, Sex, and Death
The Last word, a 2014 New York Times video with highlights of her life and times with several excellent video clips of her performing at Cafe Carlyle and in candid conversation. Her honesty and outrageousness set her apart from everyone else. For example, she shares that she lost her virginity when she was 30, and at one point, turned Marlon Brando down! When someone asked her “do you think people are frightened of you?” she replied, “yes”. And when asked why, she said: “because I’m frightening!” What a talent and she was, indeed, the real deal!