Monday, October 29, 2012

In-Between - A Letter

Studying for a Theatre Arts degree at Los Angeles City College, we had the choice of learning how to build sets or make costumes. I chose the costuming class and was not sorry for it.
 I had begun classes the second week of September. By October 6th, a week before my first visit to The Julie Andrews Hour, I had completed work on several costumes. On October 6th I wrote:

I have neglected saying that I enjoy sewing costumes. I am working on “The Man Who Came to Dinner.” Already, I have sewn a lavender satin lining in a fur coat. That took me four hours with help. I also sewed sequins on the front bodice of a blue satin gown. Today I put the hem in. That was hard.

June 1972 - High School Graduation

October 15th – I returned to Hollywood from West Covina. Got in late. My roommate Lynn had changed the room slightly. Now it has ghastly incense burning and horrid music.

October 16th – I began helping with dress rehearsal at the college for The Man Who Came to Dinner by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart. (Incidentally, Moss Hart was the director of My Fair Lady who worked with Julie Andrews on the role, turning into a great Eliza.) Many of the costumes I’m working with are the ones I made. I was so tired at school today, I almost fell asleep.

After class (I had a three hour break), I went downtown Hollywood and met my best friend from high school, Alice. She’s taking business classes there and travels every day from West Covina. We talked about things and I showed her my post card from Liza. I’m still on top of the world from attending The Julie Andrews Hour. I can’t wait to go back to ABC!

Tonight was the first dress rehearsal for the show. I have never seen so many naked girls in my life. They just don’t care. The main person I take care of is Janeen. She plays one of the leads, Maggie, Mr. Whiteside’s secretary. I have often watched her at T4 and thought how brightly she makes announcements. She is different in-person. She calls everyone “Babe” or “Baby.”  My job is to make sure all her costumes are in top shape and that she is dressed perfectly in time to make her calls onstage.

October 17 – Previews. The performance was better tonight. I like Janeen. She is very nice to me. as is the girl who plays Mrs. Stanley. Last night I got a ride home, but tonight I had to wait for the bus.

I am reading Guthrie McClinic’s book “Kit and Me” about Katherine Cornell. I was surprised to find how much we are alike. He describes his feelings about actors:

“I watched them as they went their separate ways with a positive ache. They were going away and my life would be emptier. Not one of them did I know and yet somehow they had come close to me… Blindly, somehow I felt that world, their world, was where I belonged.”

October 18th – Watching The Julie Andrews Show on television tonight did not seem nearly so good as seeing it in-person.

Every night now I like to sit by Janeen and watch her put her make-up on. She is the same, yet she changes as she puts her make-up on, and when she puts her wig on, the change is complete. Tonight, she remarked on how conscientious I am about her costumes, and she always says “thank you.” I have nothing else to do, but besides that I like taking care of her. I can’t act right now and I’m so lazy, I don’t want to. It takes a lot of one’s soul to act. I like to sit back and admire her. I really don’t like to admire myself. I’ve done it and it’s not that fun.

In the dressing room with my mother and Gypsy
Rose Lee when I was one. My mother was one of the
chorus girls who opened Gypsy Rose Lee's show.
In 1972, my mother was certainly not old. She'd just
had two babies, but, of course, being young I was
longing for glamour!
October 19 - Tonight was opening night. The girl who plays Lorraine got a huge basket of roses from one of her old boy friends. Others got flowers too.

I’m going to be sorry when the play is over. Tonight Janeen made me sit down with her while she put her makeup on and talked to me. Later she hugged me so hard and took my hand and thanked me for my help. I suppose all this reminds me of when I was little and watched Mommy making up for a show. How young and beautiful she was then. Remembering that tonight, I was in another time and place, one that is gone, and the memory brought tears to my eyes.

                                                ***

During this time I missed seeing Julie’s show. I was disappointed when I got back to the residence too late to watch it. But school had me constantly busy.  Even when I went home on the weekends, there were school projects to do, piano practice and working on my voice. I tried to sing from my diaphragm, as they say you should, but I had taken ballet lessons all my life and been taught to hold everything in (physically and emotionally). It was difficult for me to expand anything in the area of my ribs or diaphram.

October 23rd  - When I came back to the dorm from West Covina I found some tickets for The Julie Andrews Hour waiting for me! The only thing is, since I was working backstage on The Man Who Came to Dinner there is no way I can go, so I gave the tickets to another girl in my residence. She was thrilled.
                                                         ***
October 24th – 26
The second week of the show, I had to usher a few nights. Later, I heard that the girl who was taking care of Janeen left the dressing room during the show, and wasn’t there when Janeen needed her. I heard Janeen ended up getting very nervous and screaming!

One of the guys who works with the costumes keeps flirting with me. A couple of nights he tried to grab my hand. Tonight I learned that he’d put some marijuana in the  cookies he made for a party. Well, that is the end of that!

October 27 – Today I got up early, got dressed and put on my makeup with plans to go to ABC, but it wasn’t my day.

First, I missed the bus, and had to walk all the way there. I was a little nervous as the area surrounding the studio didn’t look great to me. Arriving at the studio, I walked right through the gate, acting like I knew where I was going. I walked over to Stage E where The Julie Andrews Hour is taped. When I got there, there was a big sign on the door saying, “CLOSED SET – Absolutely No One but Crew Allowed,” so I turned around and left sadly.

On my way out, I stopped at the ticket office. The lady at the window said, “Julie Andrews will be going on a one week vacation next week.” I cried inside as I walked back to my dorm. I had been longing so much to be there.

When I got back to my room at International House, I sat down and wrote a letter to Julie Andrews. I asked her if I could be allowed to come to the tapings of the show during the daytime as I am afraid to walk back to my dorm at night. I could barely get those words down on the paper, they just seemed too bold. I told her how much I had learned from her and how I had been there eight hours.  Then, while I was at it, I wrote to the studio and asked for more tickets. After that, I wrote a letter to my old acting teacher, whom I have a terrible crush on. I mailed all three letters that afternoon. Then, I went to bed. It had been too much for me.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Costume Designer Jack Bear

The art of theater and performance is a collaborative art. Everyone depends on someone else to complete the work. There’s make-up and hair, costumes and sets, writers, musicans and arrangers. I had hoped to cover more information in this blog, but gathering information forty years after the fact sometimes takes a bit more time than one might think. Today I feel very fortunate to be writing about the man who created the very beautiful, sleek and unique costumes on The Julie Andrews Hour - Jack Bear. 

                                                                ***

Jack Bear, costume designer for The Julie Andrews Hour, was an Academy Award nominated designer. He was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. Later, he would say no one could get his name right, declaring that “Bear” was a name of Danish-German origin.

When he was seven, his parents moved the family to Cleveland, Ohio, where, after graduating from high school, he attended Ohio State University and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree. Always interested in the art of painting, initially Bear planned to be an artist, but after graduation, he moved to California, and attended the Chouinard Art Institute where he majored in fashion design.

For a short time, Mr. Bear had a shop on La Cienega Boulevard in Los Angeles. He closed the shop, however, after being offered a staff costume design position at NBC. During his ten or more years at NBC, he worked on shows like Hallmark Hall of Fame and Matinee Theater, among others, designing for stars like opera singer Dorothy Kirsten and Eva and Zsa Zsa Gabor. Designer Ret Turner, who also worked at NBC during this time, recalls that Bear was “a lovely man and a hard worker."

After his time at NBC, Jack Bear moved to Paramount Pictures, where he worked under costume designer, Walt Hoffman. While working on The Great Race (1965), Jack Bear became acquainted with Blake Edwards. Two years later, Edwards would hire him to design costumes for his film, Gunn, an adaptation of his popular 1950s television series, Peter Gunn.

In 1966, Jack Bear designed costumes for the film, What Did You Do in the War Daddy? Following his work on Gunn, he also created costumes for the films, The Odd Couple and The Party in 1968.

In 1969, Blake Edwards hired Jack Bear to design costumes for Darling Lili. Designer Donald Brooks had already created Julie Andrews’ costumes, and a designer for the balance was needed. In total, Jack Bear designed over 400 costumes for Darling Lili, including those worn by Rock Hudson. Together, he and Donald Brooks received an Academy Award nomination for their costume design work on the film.

As a result of his work in film and television, Jack Bear enjoyed a fine reputation. He designed costumes for the Pasadena Playhouse’s production of Romeo and Juliet. He was also asked to design clothing for Lucille Ball for some of her television specials.

In his spare time, Mr. Bear bought homes, redesigned them and sold them. According to one studio biography of the period, he was also a member of the Board of Directors for the Costume Designer’s Guild from 1967-1968. 
In 1972, Jack Bear happily accepted the job of costume designer for The Julie Andrews Hour. His designs for the show were simple and elegant, with a look that was both modern for the time and classic. Mr. Bear often repeated aspects of the designs he had created which were flattering to Julie, recreating them in new fabrics, patterns and colors. Ret Turner recalls that Bear “liked soft colors—blues and greens.” Some of his loveliest designers for Julie were in various shades of blue.

Lovely blue gown designed
by Jack Bear

Working on The Julie Andrews Hour, Mr. Bear also designed the clothing worn by Rich Little, Alice Ghostley and the dancers. According to director Bill Davis, in addition, he gave approval (if he did not design) for clothing worn by the guest stars.

In the tradition of old Hollywood, Jack Bear's costumes were made to move beautifully for the dance numbers. The number of costumes and the amount of work going into them each week – as with everything else in the show—was phenomenal. The costume room backstage was kept busy with whirring sewing machines and steam pressers. Everything had to be perfect.

When Jack Bear passed away in 2007, he still held in his possession a number of the gowns he had designed for Miss Andrews, as well as fabric swatches from the show. Some of these costumes had been lent to Western Costumes to be rented out. In 2011, Julien’s Auctions sold a number of  gowns and other items from the show.

 For further information, please visit the link below. Catalogs for this auction may still be available.



Many thanks to The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ librarian for her help in finding information on designer Jack Bear’s history. Should anyone have further information or corrections, please contact me.

Coming Next: - In Between - My time between shows and how I came to be on the closed sets. Interestingly, this blog begins with making costumes!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Episode 7 Guests Diahann Carroll and Phyllis Diller

It’s football season and Episode 7 begins with the Julie Andrews team of thirteen players. Rich Little, playing sportscaster Howard Cossell, makes an announcement, introducing No. 16, Diahann Carroll, No. 21, Julie Andrews and No. 31, Phyllis Diller. Phyllis doesn’t do much that isn’t funny. At the closing of the first scene, she ends up onstage alone, hanging from the ceiling in a harness.

This is a diverse show, and guest stars Diahann Carroll and Phyllis Diller were women who broke barriers, each in their own way.

                                                                   ***

Diahann Carroll has always been known for her beauty and elegance. Her career took off during the Civil Rights movement. As a person of color, with great dignity and talent, Ms. Carroll broke stereotypes about her race.
  
She was born July 17, 1935 in the Bronx, New York and grew up in Harlem.  Although she intended to major in sociology, after winning the top prize on the television show, Chance of a Lifetime, her life took a new path. Why Was I Born? was her winning song, followed by four weeks of wins. As a result of her success in the television contests, she received engagements at Manhattan’s CafĂ© Society and The Latin Quarter.

Diahann Carroll made her film debut with Carmen Jones in 1954. Following the film, she won a Broadway role in House of Flowers, and in 1959, appeared in the film version of Porgy and Bess as Clara. Around this same time, she made a guest appearance on Blake Edwards’ television series, Peter Gunn. She was the first African-American women to win a Tony Award, when in 1962, she won best actress in a musical for her portrayal of Barbara Woodward in the Samuel A. Taylor and Richard Rodgers musical, No Strings.

Diahann Carroll was also the first African-American woman to have her own television series, Julia. The show was on the air in 1968. During this period, Ms. Carroll kept busy with appearances on all of the major talk shows, as well as an appearance on The Judy Garland Show. Today, Diahann Carroll performs in concert and on USA’s series, “White Collar.” 
                                                   ***

Phyllis Diller was born Phyllis Ada Driver in Lima, Ohio on July 17th, 1917. During her early adult life, she was a wife, mother and advertising copyrighter. She also studied piano many years, but by the 1950s decided to pursue a career as a comedienne. In 1955, she appeared as a stand-up comic for the first time. Her appearance at The Purple Onion lasted 87 weeks!  From there, her fame and act grew. Bob Hope invited Phyllis to appear with him on a special. Over the years, she appeared in twenty-three Bob Hope specials, and co-starred with him in three films.

At a time when most women were trying to look beautiful, women related to Phyllis with her combination of glamour and reality. Sometimes she appeared wearing finery and jewels along with curlers or messy hair. When she spoke  irreverently of her husband, “Fang,” she sent audiences into gales of laughter. People could not get enough of her.

In 1969, Phyllis Diller appeared in the musical Hello Dolly!--a show which almost every major female star of the time appeared in.  It should also be noted that between 1971 and 1981, Diller appeared playing piano with over 100 symphony orchestras. Of course, her performances were punctuated with humor.

When I began working on this book/blog, I hoped I might be able to get a comment from Phyllis Diller about her appearance on The Julie Andrews Hour. After a long and fruitful career, she passed away on August 20, 2012. She gave the world a lot of wonderful laughs.

                                                 ***

After the opening sequence, all three ladies talk about men and dancing. They agree that the envy of everyone at the dances they attended when young was the girl singer. The scene shifts to memories of the Big Band era. Nelson Riddle’s band is onstage and Julie, Diahann and Phyllis appear, dressed in pale turquoise, ruffles of chiffon.

Diahann Carroll seems to take the lead with many solos during this segment and it’s not to be regretted. She sings “Sunday Kind of Love” with great beauty, and Peggy Lee’s “Why Don’t You Do Right” with just the right touch. Phyllis Diller gets her turn as a band singer, singing “Murder, He Says” and “A Tisket-a-Taket,” the former being her best number. Julie sings “Sentimental Journey” and “Willow Weep for Me.” In-between these solos, the three ladies make a trio and sing some of the best remembered hits, like Bei Mir Bist Due Schoen” and “Dream.” Then, with a bit of technology, the camera suddenly pulls back and we see the three ladies walk onto the stage in their street clothes, while behind them, we see the girls still performing in their gowns.

Since Phyllis Diller is not really a singer, we get the treat of seeing her perform with Rich Little. Although one thinks of Little as solely an impersonator, he is a fine actor, acting, of course, as whatever star he chooses to play. In one scene, he plays Cary Grant, opposite Phyllis as Bette Davis.  

The most enjoyable and lengthy scene between the pair --possibly the high point of the show—is one in which Rich Little plays Jack Benny and Phyllis  plays his long time girlfriend. They have met in a restaurant because they’ve decided to break up and now they are going to settle up. Benny, known for his stinginess, insists that Phyllis return every gift he ever gave her, even if it means removing her dress. Not to be outdone, Phyllis demands the same of him. Little and Diller are at the top of their game in this sketch and it’s a pleasure to watch them.

During this series of sketches, Julie Andrews performs a fine scene as Mata Hari, the famed spy, who has been caught and is about to be shot. Rich Little plays the officer who is in charge of her. Her cool demeanor and style in this scene are excellent.

Perhaps the one flaw of this show, besides the rather odd combination of personalities, is the fact that the creators attempt to pack so much into one show.

Follow Your Sign pays tribute to  persons born under the sign of Taurus. They include Liberace, Orson Welles, Henry Fonda, Shakespeare and Burt Bacharach, which gives the ladies a chance to sing some fine songs: “What the World Needs Now” and “This Girl’s In Love with You.” In a surprise ending, Phyllis, Julie and Diahann pay tribute to Barbra Streisand with a rendition of “Don’t Rain on My Parade.”

Along with the sketches of Rich Little and Phyllis Diller, another fine segment is the one where Julie Andrews and Diahann Carroll pay tribute to women songwriters. These include Dorothy Fields, Carolyn Lee, Betty Comden and Joni Mitchell.

Once again, all too soon, this show, which aired October 25th, 1972, is over. At the conclusion of Episode 7, the television announcer lets us know that there will be complete Election Coverage next week. Yes, forty years ago was an election year as well!

Coming next: In-Between – What happened between my first visit to Stage E and being allowed to attend a closed set taping. That will be in two parts.
See you soon!

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Writers

It takes a great deal of talent to make a show. From time to time, this blog will pay tribute to some of the fascinating people who helped to make The Julie Andrews Hour the show that it was.

Today's blog is devoted to the writers:

John Aylesworth (l) with actor
Lorne Greene

Born on August 18th, 1928 in Toronto, Canada, John Bansley Aylesworth left high school before graduation and went to work as an advertising writer. It was during this early period that he met Frank Peppiatt, a writer he would continue to work with throughout his career.

As quoted in Wikepedia, Aylesworth’s wife later recalled that John and Frank “were total cutups in the agency.” Because of this reputation, the two men were invited to come to work for the Canadian Broadcasting Company, where they wrote sketches for a late night variety program called After Hours. The Big Revue, was another show they wrote for during this time. They also appeared on it as performers. While working for the CBC, John Alylesworth created a game show on current events and history called Front Page Challenge. This show ran from 1957 to 1995, an amazing period of time!
    
Frank Peppiatt was born in Canada on March 19th, 1927. He was educated at Lawrence Park Collegiate and The University of Toronto.  It was while working at the MacLaren Company that he formed a friendship with John Aylesworth. Both men had the attitude that life didn’t have to be dull, so, with their great sense of humor, they had fun at work.

Although they spent some of their time performing on television, in late 1957, both decided to discontinue their work as performers and concentrate strictly on writing. Around this time, Frank and John went their separate ways. Frank Peppiatt traveled to the New York where he found a job writing for Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme.

In the fall of 1958, Peppiatt was hired as a writer for The Steve Allen Show. At that point, John Aylesworth moved to New York and joined him working for Allen. After Aylesworth and Peppiatt took a job writing for The Andy Williams Show, the two men went on to write for many important shows: The Bing Crosby Special, with Perry Como as a guest, The Judy Garland Show, Kraft Music Hall and Your Hit Parade. They also wrote for some of the top comedians and celebrities in the business: Herb Albert, Jack Benny, Jonathan Winters, Phyllis Diller, Rock Hudson, Dinah Shore and Groucho Marx. In the future, they won the Peabody Award for Frank Sinatra, A Man and His Music.

After seeing the country banter between Charlie Weaver and Jonathan Winters on The Jonathan Winters show, Aylesworth and Peppiatt came up with the idea for Hee Haw. While working with Steve Allen, they had likely already met Nick Vanoff and Bill Harbach. With Hee Haw, they connected with Nick Vanoff again and met director Bill Davis. All this led to their being hired to work on The Julie Andrews Hour.

During the years, from time to time, the two men went their separate wasy as far as work was concerned. Frank Peppiatt returned to his acting roots with several appearances as Admiral Frank Borkman on Petticoat Junction.

In 1973, John Aylesworth and Frank Peppiatt would receive and Emmy nomination for their work on The Julie Andrews Hour.

  
Of course, with all the shows, guests and co-stars, it took more than two men to write all the material. Aylesworth and Peppiatt brought six other writers onboard to work with them. Here is a little about these writers.


Jay Burton, a comedy writer, was born in New York City in 1916. He got his start after writing three pages of one liners and submitting them to Bob Hope.  Hope hired him as his youngest writer. In the following years, Burton wrote for Milton Berle, The Dinah Shore Show, The Hollywood Palace, The Perry Como Show, The Dean Martin Show and others.

George Bloom, another Canadian, came to work on The Julie Andrews Hour after working on The Hollywood Palace (1966 – 1969) and The New Dick Van Dyke Show (1971). He would go on to write scores of shows and film scripts.

(These two writers may have come to the show through Bill Harbach, who, with Nick Vanoff, produced The Hollywood Palace.)


Bob Ellison on the right
 Bob Ellison was a screenwriter and, eventually, a television producer. At the time of The Julie Andrews Hour, two years earlier he had written the script for Another Evening with Burt Bacharach. After the show, he went on to write for the Mary Tyler Moore series.

Hal Goodman was born on May 9th, 1915 in New York City. He wrote for The Jackie Gleason Show in the 1950s, The Red Skelton Show, and along with more dramatic series, The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson.  Immediately preceding the time he worked on The Julie Andrews Hour, he wrote for The Jerry Lewis Show (1968) and The Carol Burnett Show (1970).
Larry Klein began his career in the 1950s, writing for The Red Skelton Show, Playhouse 90 and The Frank Sinatra Show.  During the 1960s, Klein wrote for Harry’s Girls, Invitation to a Gunfighter, The Jerry Lewis Show and The Carol Burnett Show. His last job before going to work on The Julie Andrews Hour was Flip starring comedian Flip Wilson. In the 1980s, Larry Klein went on to write for The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. IMDb states that since the 1960s, Larry Klein had a long time friendship and business association with Dick Clark.

Lila Garrett – Lila was born Lila Paris in Brooklyn, New York on November 21st, 1925. After a number of smaller jobs, which included Beatle Bailey, Krazy Kat, Snuffy Smith and Barney Google, Lila went to work writing for the very popular, My Favorite Martian. That year, 1965, she also wrote for The Smothers Brothers, My Mother the Car, and had the distinction of writing an episode for The Lucy Show. Other shows she worked on during this period were The Adams Family, Get Smart and Petticoat Junction, where she may have met Frank Peppiatt. The late 60s and early 70s included The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, Love American Style, The Nanny and The Professor, My World and Welcome to It, The Barefoot Executive and Bewitched.

In 1972, while working on The Julie Andrews Hour, Lila Garret also worked on The Sandy Duncan Show (Sandy was also a guest on Julie’s show). Eventually, she went on to Maude, All in the Family, Barney Miller and The Nanny, among many other shows and films. As listed on IMDb Ms. Garret is also an actress, director and producer. Today she hosts the radio program, Connect the Dots.

                                                  ****

 As is clear, these writers with their vast experience were able to create some very funny sketches and lines. Of course, now and then, the performers came up with their own lines!
                                                ****

If anyone has further information on these writers or information on other persons involved with the show, please contact me: catsong2@netzero.net

Coming next - Episode 7 - with co-stars Diahann Carroll and Phyllis Diller!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Episode 6 with Guest Star Steve Lawrence

Note: Recently it came to my attention that the air dates found on one site did not match the air dates listed in my diary. In the meantime I discovered a museum listing  which listed dates match my personal dates, so in the future, I wll be using these. Episode 4 on which Don Rickles was the guest was first shown on October 18th.


from the authors 1972 collection
 On Julie Andrews’ next show, Episode 6, she was joined by singer, Steve Lawrence, along with co-stars Alice Ghostley and Rich Little. Lawrence has a fine voice and a sense of humor that easily matches Julie’s, which makes the show a lot of fun. The show aired for the first time on October 11th, 1972.
Episode 5 opens with Julie and Steve singing the title song from the 1970 Broadway musical, Applause. Behind them is a varying backdrop of applauding people. At the end of the song, there are several shots of the audience from various angles, confirming that a good portion of the show was taped before a live audience. For those reading this complete series of blogs on The Julie Andrews Hour, if you are able to see this clip, it should give you a good idea of the space where the show was taped.
Following Applause, Julie Andrews and Steve Lawrence are joined by Alice Ghostley and Rich Little for a rousing verson of “Hi-Diddle-Dee-Dee An Actor’s Life for Me." The song, set in a costume room, gives the performers a chance to play other roles.   Julie Andrews and Steve Lawrence sing “Indian Love Call.” Wearing a feather in her hair, Indian beads around her neck, and a mini suede dress with moccasin boots, Julie looks quite mod. In fact, wearing this get-up she’d probably have fit in well with some of the hippies on the streets of Hollywood.

While the pair sing beautifully together, Steve Lawrence knows how to add that light touch of humor, making the songs slighty off-center and funny. In another musical number during this portion of the show, Julie is drinking from a big mug while she sings. She and Steve play it for laughs. Looking at the big hooped skirt she is wearing for this number, Steve says, “I think orchestra’s in there.” The audience finds this hilarious. Throughout the show we can see that Julie and Steve understand one another’s style and are comfortable working together.
As Ms. Andrews intimates during some of her later shows, while working on Broadway in the 1950s and 60s, she met many fellow performers. Quite a few of the people who appeared on The Julie Andrews Hour were persons she became friends with during that time.
                                                      ****
Steve Lawrence, born Sidney Liebowitz on July 8, 1935, grew up in Brooklyn, New York. Since his father was a cantor, he was exposed to music and singing from a very early age. In the 1950s, he was drafted into the army and became the official soloist for the United States Army Band. Steve Lawrence had numerous hit recordings during the 1950s and 60s, including “Go Away Little Girl,” “Pretty Blue Eyes” and “Footsteps.” One connection he had to producers Bill Harbach and Nick Vanoff was that he worked on the Steve Allen show before it became the Tonight Show. While working on the show, he met and sang with his future wife, Eydie Gorme. The pair became a singing duo and were married in 1957. 

                                                    **** 
During the Hi-Didddle-Dee-Dee skit, Rich Little plays Clark Gable’s Rhett Butler to Alice Ghostley’s Scarlett O’Hara, and George Burns to Alice’s Gracie. Then, in one of the most charming routines, Rich and Julie impersonate Laurel and Hardy. With make-up and costume, as well as his great talent, Rich Little is transformed into Hardy and Julie is the soft-voiced, gentle Laurel. Her portrayal of Laurel is quite touching and a sharp contrast to all her other work. I

In addition to Laurel and Hardy, Rich and Julie also played
Groucho and Harpo.

Julie in the glamourous halter dress
From the Ruth and Vannie
Shaufelberger Collection.

For the “Follow Your Sign” segment of the show, honoring persons born under the astrological sign Libra, Steve Lawrence joins Julie, who is dressed a glamourous, black, halter gown. Lying on a sofa, Rich Little pays homage to Truman Capote. He plays Capote with great seriousness,  and has the audience laughing. To celebrate John Lennon, Julie and Steve sing two songs in counterpoint – Michelle and Here, There and Everywhere. It is quite lovely.
There’s a fine dance from No, No Nanette with Julie and her eight fellows, followed, at last, by a solo from Julie.  Standing beneath the crystal tree in a lovely gown, she sings, Falling in Love with Love. Recently, when speaking to a man who worked on the show he mused over what had happened to that tree. “It cost a fortune,” he said, “and it was hell to move.”

Julie under the crystal tree. This photo from the
Ruth and Vannie Shaufelberger collection was
taken off the television. It lacks the brilliance of the,
original, but gives you an idea of the scene.


The view of Julie Andrews singing in the darkness beneath this tree is stunning. Bill Davis has varied the shots between total darkness lit only by the tree and a green backlight. As shown in the “Julie” documentary, the creators and music directors of this show seemed intent on having Julie sing in a lower key, perhaps hoping she would sound more pop than concert or Broadway. Of course, with her five octave range, this was not a problem for her, though it her higher notes are the most brilliant. At times, the song does seem low, but in a stunning turn of events, the arrangement has her ascend to a higher  during the last portion of the song. What she does here is not easy and it is a stupendous ending to this beautiful song.
In the second half of Episode Five a duet of songs that did NOT win an Oscar is sung by Julie and Steve. There are some pretty popular songs here, including “Pennies from Heaven,” “The Trolley Song” and “Happiness is Just a Thing Called Joe.” During the first part of this sequence, the presentation of some of these songs, which only consists of a phrase, seems a bit pedantic, but that changes with the final song. When Julie and Steve sing “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life,” it’s goose bump time. There are some songs on The Julie Andrew Hour series which should be put on a recording for the world to enjoy. This is one of them!

The last section of the show is devoted to a musical sketch which takes place in Europe during WWII. Rich Little plays an English actor (whose name escapes me), as a British officer who is dating Julie. Alice Ghostley is a barmaid who is really a German spy and Julie is that chipper, young singer whom everyone in the pub loves. Steve Lawrence plays an American pilot who is there to help win the war and is much loved by all the girls.
The skit is clever and funny, but the performances put by all four actors, as well as the dancers, who also play bit parts, is brilliant. Director Bill Davis and choreographer Tony Charmoli have arranged a lot of activity in the pub’s small set and it’s something you want to watch again to catch all the bits. At times, one forgets that one is watching a television skit and imagines that it could be a full blown film. Julie Andrews is beautiful and charming, and really throws caution to the wind, playing a role beyond being herself. It’s quite amazing. You can see the force of energy she must have put in her stage roles. She knows what it takes to put a character over on the footlights and make a performance great. Rich Little is so stuffed beneath his clothing and so into his role, that we forget he is Rich. It is the same with everyone. The direction on this skit, the songs, dances… everything makes it shine. You can hear how much the audience loves it when the cast sings “Roll Out the Barrel.” On a special note, I recently found out that  producer Nick Vanoff also appears in this sketch--as the accordion player!

From the author's 1972 collection

The show closes with sincere smiles of joy from Julie and Steve. In a move not repeated by anyone (that I know of), Steve Laurence asks Julie if he can join her in singing her closing theme song, “Time is My Friend.”
It was a lovely night.


Coming soon: More about the cast and crew AND A week in the life of The Julie Andrews Hour - what it took to put on a show!

Friday, October 12, 2012

October 13th - My First Visit to The Julie Andrews Hour

Friday, October 13th, 1972 changed my mind about Fridays on the 13th being bad luck; it was one of the luckiest days of my life. Until now, I have been writing about The Julie Andrews Hour from the point of view of an outsider. Forty years ago, however, I was not watching Julie on television; I was watching her  at work in-person. This would be the beginning of many changes in my life.
LACC Theatre Arts Building
Only one month earlier, I had left home for the first time. I was living in a dormitory on Sunset Boulevard and attending Los Angeles City College’s Theatre Arts program.... Sometimes I found the classes at LACC too technical. But hidden away in my bureau drawer was something that would bring me one step closer to fulfilling my dreams. I had a ticket to The Julie Andrews Hour!

                                                         ***
After my classes that morning, I returned to my room and got dressed in my nicest clothes.  I was so nervous all day. Finally, at four o’clock, I went out and caught the bus on Sunset for ABC Studio.

The Julie Andrews Hour was taped at ABC's Prospect Studios in Hollywood. I lived on Sunset about three blocks west of Vermont Avenue. On Vermont, there is (even now) a small strip-mall which runs up to the next street, Hollywood Boulevard. Just across from the strip mall, peeking out onto Vermont is a little street called Prospect Avenue. The bus I caught took me almost all the way to the studio.

                                                          ***

The Prospect Studio has a long and interesting history. It opened in 1915 as The Vitagraph Studio, a silent picture studio where many famous films were made. There were two daylight studios and many film sets. The studio was sold to Warner Brothers in 1925 and continuing on through the 1930s and 40s; Warner Brothers used it as a back lot to shoot scenes in large water tanks and on ships. In 1948, the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) bought the lot and held it until 1996 when ABC became part of The Walt Disney Company. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, the stages there hosted a number well-known performers and shows, including Tom Jones, Let’s Make a Deal and the KABC Channel 7 News. In 2002, many changes were made to the lot, including the addition of two large buildings.

The ABC Studio on Prospect lies in the Silver Lake District of Los Angeles, a residential area. In 1972, that area seemed a bit uncertain to me as to whether it was a good or not good neighborhood.

                                                           ****


Photo taken Oct 2012. I believe the large building
to the right was not there then. In addition,
as I recall the gate was a little more rustic,
perhaps with some flowers.
My heart pounded as I enter the studio gate for the first time. Passing by the security guard, I was directed to a large group of people who already waiting in line to get into the studio where The Julie Andrews Hour was being taped. It was a little before five when I arrived and the California afternoon sun was very warm.

After what seemed a long wait—a half-an-hour or more-- we were directed to a large patio area, surrounded on two sides by walls and laid with red tiles. There were flowers growing around the edges of the walls, and white stone benches to sit on.  Once again, it seemed we waited a long time here. Meanwhile, we saw a lot of activity going on. There were men coming in and out of a door marked “Do Not Enter.” At one point, costumes were being brought in for the show, which was very exciting. Then, the director or producer came out and apologized, saying it would be a little while longer before the show began, but they had extra rehearsing to do.

A short time later, some people came out and began setting up tables with food and large canisters for tea. I laughed to myself, thinking, “Oh, we’re going to have a party.” A few minutes later, one of the pages announced that the drinks and food were for us, saying, “Compliments of Miss Andrews!” Boy was I surprised.

Finally, when it was getting dark, the pages came out and asked us to get in line....


Dan Dailey around the time
he appeared on the show.

Mama Cass Elliot
She stopped using the "Mama"
around this time.

After everyone was seated, the announcer Dick Tufeld came out to welcome us and speak to us about the show. Then he turned the mic over to Rich Little. After telling some jokes, he in turn turned the mic over to Band Leader Nelson Riddle, who, I might also add, was the Musical Director for The Judy Garland Show and has worked with some of the greatest singers in the business. Riddle talked to the audience for a while, then, Rich introduced the guest stars for the show: Cass Elliot of The Mamas and Papas and musical film actor Dan Dailey.


Dan Dailey in the 1940s
                                                            ***
Dan Dailey was really old Hollywood. Born in New York City on December 14th, 1915, Dailey would have been fifty-six at the time of his appearance on The Julie Andrews Hour. He had begun his career in vaudeville and made a hit on Broadway in 1937 in the musical Babes in Arms. During the 1940s and  50s, Dan Daily was a huge hit in films starring opposite such stars as Eleanor Powell, Betty Grable and Ethel Merman. In 1948, he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in the film When My Baby Smiles at Me. 

                                                          ***


.. I felt the air move above my head and then, there she was, Julie Andrews standing above me. "Hello," she said, looking at me. I could not speak....


I stayed until they finished at 12:30. It was then I realized I had been sitting there for eight hours, and it was heaven!\

This blog has been abbreviated due to re-writing for a new book on this subject.
Note:  All photos are for entertainment purposes only.

If you would like to see The Julie Andrews Hour put out on DVD, along with  a Duets CD of Julie and her guests (and maybe others as well), please send a respectful e-mail to requesting this to:     dan.gopal@itv.com