Friday, March 22, 2013

Episode 22 with Guests Carol Lawrence and Steve Lawrence

On March 17th, 1973, the 22nd Episode of The Julie Andrews Hour aired on ABC.
1930s Set - Photo courtesty of Art Director,
Brian Bartholomew. Amazingly, most of the
show was performed on this set, including
the dances!
For this show, Julie’s old friend and former guest, Steve Lawrence, and Broadway star Carol Lawrence were the guests. Of course, Carol Lawrence, who was perhaps best known for her role as the first Maria in Broadway’s legendary show “West Side Story,” was also married to Julie’s former co-star, Robert Goulet.
The opening of the show revealed a sleek set, a curved platform by Brian Bartholomew. It is only later, as we learn the theme of the show that we realize this set actually says, “The 30s.”
Julie enters in fine spirits. Recently, the cast and crew of The Julie Andrews Hour had learned that the show had been cancelled by ABC. None of this, however, is evident in the star’s demeanor, and Julie wastes no time in telling us that this show will be celebrating the 1930s and to help her with this are her guests Carol Lawrence, Steve Lawrence, Alice Ghostly and Rich Little. Everyone enters, dressed beautifully, including Julie, who is wearing a gown woven with gold.
Now, without wasting a moment, the show is off to a flying start. An almost unrecognizable Rich Little appears on camera as a young Walter Cronkite. He will appear throughout the show, announcing each new year and informing us of some of the events which took place that year. Often, while he speaks, we are treated to newsreel footage and photos of these events.  
 Julie and Steve Lawrence perform the first musical number of the decade by singing Gershwin’s “Embraceable You.” The song has a great arrangement and which keeps us glued to the screen. It’s another great duet for a Julie Andrews’ Duets CD!
Glorious scene with Carol Lawrence and Garrett Lewis for
the dream segment of "Ten Cents a Dance."
Set and Photo courtesy of Art Director
Brian Bartholomew who won an Emmy for
his work on the show.
This musical number is followed by a superb one starring Carol Lawrence. In it, the lovely Miss Lawrence is stuck in a lowdown dive, singing “Ten Cents a Dance,” with a bunch of rough guys. Then, as she muses over hear dream man, we see her transformed into a golden girl, being waltzed and spun through the air by her dream man in the person of the handsome, wonderful Garrett Lewis.
The set by Brian Bartholomew glistens and, through the work of the camera, forms a glittering kaleidoscope effect. The dance is beautifully choreographed by Tony Charmoli, the direction by Bill Davis, camera work and editing, and brilliant performance—both singing and dancing—by Miss Lawrence, all makes for a glorious musical number. This is one of those moments on The Julie Andrews Hour where it is amazing to realize it came together in a few days, rather than the weeks it would take to create on film or on Broadway.
The year 1931 brings some comedy with the recreation of a film series that was born that year—Charlie Chan.  In the scene, Steve Lawrence plays Charlie Chan and Rich Little plays Number One Son. Their solving a murder scene includes a maid, chauffer, gardener, cook and butler and it’s quite funny.
The year 1932 introduces us to radio debut of crooner Bing Crosby, ablely played by Steve Lawrence. Following Steve, we discover Julie, in a lovely 1930s dress, singing “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You.” Standing on a moving turntable stage, she is surrounded by four trombone players. The scene is quite striking.
Steve Lawrence, singing “Eydie Was a Lady,” appears next.  The set is made up of nine high-backed armchairs, oddly spaced, facing away from the camera. Steve and the Tony Charmoli Dancers sing and dance the song around these chairs. At the end, all the fellows sit in their chars. When Steve peeks around the corner of his high-backed chair, we also see that a woman’s legs hanging over the side!
1933 Introduces us to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the new president of the United States and his theme. In an old, rarely seen newsreel, he asks his little daughter to announce that theme, “Happy Days Are Here Again!”
Carol Lawrence and Julie Andrews sing “Heatwave” for us, barefoot and dressed as tropical gals with bandanas on their heads.
When we reach 1934, we learn that this year was the birth year for Walt Disney’s Donald Duck. It was also the birth year for one of the world’s favorite comic strip girls, Little Orphan Annie. Alice Ghostly plays the role to a “T,” singing the song, “Little Orphan Annie.” She is really cute in the role. A wonderful Annie!
We also learn about Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with Rich Little taking us through the transformation, first  as a sort of Richard Burton Dr. Jekyll and then as Ed Sullivan transforming into Jack Parr and then into Richard Nixon. We can hear a great deal of laughter in the studio as Little performs this scene and, indeed, he is the master of his craft here.
The year 1934 is rounded out in a lovely way as Julie and Carol, seated in a vintage car, wearing old fashioned hats, sing “You Ought to Be in Pictures” to their driver, Rich Little. Rich, of course, proceeds to portray a variety of personalities, from Clark Gable to Cary Grant.
The next year, 1935, is introduced with a rare film clip of W.C. Fields showing off his muscles and his ability to hang by his nose (obviously a fake).
In a wild and funny take on this year, Julie, Carol and Steve seated onstage before the band. Rich Little plays a radio Master of Ceremonies who is conducting a sort of talent contest. Each person is called up to perform and only gets a few seconds to sing. As the show goes on, their time decreases, so they all end up running up, only to be replaced by the next person after a few notes. At one point, Julie does a tap dance, while Rich holding the long, old-fashioned mic on a pole down to the ground to catch her taps. When Steve Lawrence runs up for his few seconds of song, in order to sing in the mic, which Rich still has down on the floor, Steve lies on the floor. It’s a clever move and you have to see it to catch the full humor of the moment.
Carol Lawrence sings a great few bars of “I Feel A Song Coming On,” a hit song of the 1930s which Judy Garland later revived in the 1960s. Steve Lawrence and Julie Andrews also sing a wonderful duet with Begin the Beguine. Nelson Riddle is conducting the band in the background, and the sound is great!
The introduction of 1936 brings some interesting information. It was this year that Life magazine first appear on the news stands. This was also the year that Edward the VIII of England abdicated the throne. Along with that, entertainment introduced the Jitterbug, and big bands, including Benny Goodman.
The scene opens with a lot of dancers doing the Jitterbug. When the dancers part, they reveal Carol Lawrence dancing with a male dancer who proceeds to lift her up over his head, swing her between his legs. While the pair appear to be having a good time, it’s interesting to realize just how rough this dance is. At one point, two fellows swing Miss Lawrence between them, then over one of the men’s shoulders, and around to the floor, where she lands on her knees. It’s quite a spectacular move.
From there, the group moves on to the Lambath Walk, an English dance of the period. This dance includes all the stars of the show: Julie, Carol, Steve, Rich Little and Alice Ghostley. It’s quite lively, and Julie throws herself into with extra zest.
From there, the cast move on to the Dipsey Doodle, which includes some neat moves and a line dance, which is just as energetic as the latter. It’s also as if we’ve happened in on a great a great party. Comparing these dances to the dances of today, it’s clear that the people of the 30s did a whole lot more jumping, skipping, intricate stepping and flying through the air than people do now. They must have been in really great shape!
For the year 1937, we find Julie, dressed in a simple plaid dress, leaning against a piano, watching Steve, with a hat on his head, working away at writing a song. It’s soon clear that this pair is none other than Andy Hardy and Betsy Booth, two characters originally played by none other than Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland.
In this scene, Julie and Steve capture that wonderful, wistful innocence of love. While Steve -Andy works away at the piano, Julie, as Betsy, gives suggestions as to which words might better fit the notes, and we soon recognize it as the song, “I Like New York in June.” Meanwhile, after all her help, the rather insensitive Andy tells Betsy, “Stop bothering me. I’ve got to write this song.” It’s funny, but touching as we know how, despite his ego, Betsy loves him. With that, Julie/Betsy quietly begins to sing “Where or When.” This scene only serves to remind us of what a superb actress Julie Andrews really is.
With 1938, Rich Little introduces us to Orson Welles and the fact that Mr. Welles once, for a few hours, set the states in a tizzy by convincing his radio listeners that the Martians had indeed landed in America.
1938 was also the year that The Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America was founded. In the next scene, Alice Ghostley, Carol Lawrence and Julie Andrews along with Steve Lawrence, appear as part of a Barbershop Quartet. All are dressed in suits with straw boaters and sporting mustaches. The singing is obviously dubbed with male voices, Julie’s being the lowest and Steve’s being the highest. This number, although silly, and with a good laugh track, remains extremely funny. It’s difficult not to laugh when Julie appears to sing the deep, low notes and Steve the high! Alice Ghostley and Carol Lawrence elicit laughs as well.
The year 1939 was one of great films and great books. This year, The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck won the Pulitzer Prize. To close out the 1930s decade, the most famous scene from the film is portrayed. Alice Ghostley plays Mama with great depth and Rich Little, plays Henry Fonda as Jedd.  It’s a beautiful, classic moment recreated from a great film.
Following this scene of great seriousness, Julie Andrews appears and tells us that in September of 1939, the war began in England. As the camera pulls back, we see that she is standing before a large British flag. She proceeds to sing “There’ll Always Be an England.” This song, sung with great love and feeling, is among the finest moments in the series.
After a commercial, Episode 22 returns to find Julie, Steve and Carol, wearing contemporary, casual clothing. Speaking of all the wonderful songs from the 30s that they didn’t get to sing, Julie suggests that they fill the time left with these songs. The medley that follows is wonderful, relaxed and fun. Steve goes from one woman to the other for a while, until finally, he and Carol Lawrence, singing a love song, get lost in each other. Julie, finding herself out, finally hauls off and hits Steve. In a comic bit, he seems quite surprised and holds his arm as if she’s really hit him a little too hard. (Maybe she had!)
The show closes with the cast singing, “Goodnight, Sweetheart.” Steve calls out, “Goodnight, Eydie,” followed by Carol saying, “Goodnight, Bobby” and, finally, Julie saying, “Goodnight, Blake.”
It’s a sweet and happy ending.
(c) Michelle Russell

To learn more about Broadway star Carol Lawrence, please visit:

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1 comment:

  1. Oh, I would LOVE to see this episode someday. It should have won an Emmy. What a great concept, and so imaginatively executed. As I was reading along I was thinking, "Oh, I hope 1939 is a tribute to the Wizard of Oz," but I was MUCH happier to find that a tribute to Judy AND Mickey was featured instead. Michelle, thank you for continuing to carry all of us back into time with you!!