Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Trip to Beverly Hills


April 2nd, 1973
I arrived at school early to practice my acting scene with my partner. While I was there I saw a posting on the bulletin board that tomorrow there will be singing auditions for Hello Dolly. I knew I must try out. The audition song must be a ballad.

Tonight I practiced my singing exercises. I decided I would sing “Say a Prayer for Me Tonight,” the song Julie said was originally written for her to sing in My Fair Lady.

While I was practicing, I had some trouble with the song, so I called Vivian up and asked her to play the tape she made of Julie singing the song. It was so nice to hear Julie talking over the telephone. It made her seem near. She seemed to sing the song so easily. It was interesting to hear her phrasing, something she did in a way I had not imagines. Listening to her, I almost felt like I was having a telephone singing lesson.
I do miss Julie. So many times I want to ask her questions and tell her what I’m doing. I’d like to ask her advice, but now she’s gone. I’m so scared about this audition. I’ve never auditioned for anything before and I’ve never sung for an audience either—except when I was nine and sat on a piano and sang like Shirley Temple.
                 
The next day, I went to ABC to apply for a job. It seemed sad that Julie was not there but I was glad to be back on the lot. Apparently, (from diary notes) I told them I wanted to act and the lady who interviewed me said I should go to a production company.  After my interview was over, I went back to practicing and then auditioned on the theatre department’s main stage. After that, I went to work and scrubbed the lady’s floor. I felt like Cinderella.

By the time I got back to my dorm, I was so exhausted I could barely eat dinner. Then I went straight to bed.

The following day, our professor Dr. Martin turned to me in the middle of acting class and said, “A couple of people went to the audition yesterday and to my shock, one was Michelle Russell. What that little mousey girl in my class…she must have said… “I’m going to do that” and she got up there like she knew what she was doing and did it. You two have a very good chance of being cast."

There was a dance audition after that, but sadly I didn’t make it into the show.

April 8th – Pablo Picasso died.

As the middle of the month arrived, as melancholy as I tended to be, I was counting my blessings:
So many dreams have come true. Once I dreamed of being a child in “The Sound of Music” and for a while, there I was under Julie’s watchful eye…
Most importantly, I can sing now. One day I’ll be able to sing for an audience. Remember when that seemed impossible dream? What do you do when dreams come true?

April 18th
When I was growing up, it had always been just me and my mother. We shared a lot. Even in high school we'd gone to see Katharine Hepburn in Coco, Sarah Miles in St. Joan and June Allyson in No, No Nannette, as well as some special films. However, since the birth of my little brothers, she’d had other responsibilities. I’d often begged her to come to see Julie because I wanted to share it with her, but with one two year-old child and a baby only a few months old, she was not going to leave home to sit in the studio with me.

with my oldest little brother,
John, a year later
Nevertheless, by April, with my brothers a bit older, she agreed to take a trip to Beverly Hills. We got up early that day, got the two babies packed in the car and headed for Beverly Hills. I really wanted to see Julie’s house again – in daylight. I’d only seen it in the middle of the night. Now that Julie was safely several thousand miles or more, I considered visiting her house a safe trip.

We didn’t have much trouble finding it. Somehow I remembered how to get there. As we drove up in front of the house, I looked at the driveway and saw some purple and yellow pansies. Seeing them, something struck me and I heard myself say, “Oh, Julie planted those,” and then, “I think I’m going to cry.”

Then I took a couple of photos from the window of the car, feeling very afraid that someone would come by, someone like the police patrol. A man came out of the house next door with a little dog and I saw him bend down, as if to pull a weed out of his garden. Little did I know he was an old movie star – Randolph Scott, I believe.

Julie and Blake Edwards' home in Beverly Hills during
the early 1970s
Finally, my mother insisted that I get out of the car and take a photo of the house. I didn’t want to, but she insisted, so finally I got out and walked to the edge of the drive and took a photo. The house looked so huge. “I bet they really ran around in there,” said my mother.

After that, we went over to Roxbury Drive. My mother had grown up on Roxbury Road in San Marino and told me that they were always getting deliveries for a house on Roxbury Drive in Beverly Hills. I wonder who lived there.

We parked in front of the Oscar Levant’s house. Levant, a famous pianist and wit died in June of 1972. I was reading his autobiography at the time and was deeply sad about his passing. My mother put my little brother, Michael, in his stroller, and we took a walk up and down Roxbury Drive, past Lucille Ball’s house and other. 

While we were there a tour bus went by. The driver was pointing out various houses and everyone stared at us, wondering if we were anyone famous. It was lovely to be in Beverly Hills. Everyone has such lovely flowers blooming. We saw one lady come home with her children. It’s a lovely place to live, not just a “starry” place as some people picture.

One day after our visit to Beverly Hills, my friend Alice called to tell me that there was a cover article on Julie in McCall’s. Mommy bought it for me and inside we found all kinds of photos of the house, including a photo of Julie getting into a car, right there in the front driveway.

© Michelle Russell

Coming Next:  Julie Andrews in Magazines 1972 – 1973

More on The Sound of Music and The Academy Awards of 1973


In my last blog, I spoke about The Sound of Music benefit, which celebrated the re-release of that picture in theaters all over the country. This benefit was also the public reunion of Julie Andrews and the young actors who played the Von Trapp children in the film. The year 1973 was approximately eight years after the film was made. A week after the benefit, to advertise the re-release of the film, portions of this event were televised, along with an interview Julie Andrews gave on the “Getting to Know You” set of The Julie Andrews Hour. At that time, I commented:

 They interviewed the “children.” Charmian Carr (Liesl) has a three year-old and another child coming in a few months. When the youngest girl, Kym Karath (Gretl) spoke, sometimes I could see the little girl she once was in her facial expression and her voice. She said she liked making the movie, singing “Do-Re-Me,” dancing and playing for three months in the Alps.

Then, they interviewed Julie. She seemed a bit nervous and uncomfortable being interviewed outside the planned acting of the show. She rested her head on her hand and stared off into space, her eyes moving as she thought about the answers to the questions. She seldom looked at the interviewer. When he asked her why she thought the movie was such a big success, she said she thought it had something to do with the fact that there were children in the film. She also thought it was because of the singing and that the film was surrounded by such a happy feeling. They didn’t know they would have such a big hit when they made the film, Julie explained.

Julie told the interviewer that for a while she had written to a couple of the girls, but then, suddenly things had changed and the correspondence dropped off. She said she was afraid to see how tall the littlest girl (Kym) would be now.  Finally, she commented that she was looking forward to seeing the movie again and hoped it would seem as good as it had when it came out.

Julie looked lovely, though her face seemed much thinner than when I last saw her. She did seem happy about The Sound of Music coming out again, but unsure as to whether she wanted to watch herself.  In the interview after the premiere, the “children” said the film seemed much better now than when they first saw it. They also said that they often had picnics and parties to get together.

I also learned that Julie’s new book will be out in September (1973). She said she likes to work when she’s not working. It’s good discipline for her every day.

March 27th was the date for the Academy Awards and most important to me, Liza Minnelli was up for an Oscar for her role as Sally Bowles in Cabaret. I also hoped I might see Julie Andrews on the show. 

That evening, a bunch of girls from International house piled into our small kitchen/ where there was a sofa, table and chairs and most importantly a little 12 inch black and white television on which we would watch the Academy Awards. Everyone was rooting for Liza, which was exciting for me as well. All my life I’d loved old stars and music, things many of my peers were not interested in, but almost everyone was interested in Liza and Cabaret.

After the ceremony began, at one point someone was reading cue cards with jokes. Apparently, there was a joke about Noel Coward and the star said, “I hope you won’t mind if I leave that out, because Noel Coward died yesterday.”

That was sad. My roommate Lynn had given me the news earlier in the day and I had to leave the room because I felt so sad and tearful. I couldn’t help remembering the show where Julie paid tribute to his music. He was born with “a talent to amuse” as he wrote in a song.

This was also the year that Marlon Brando won the Oscar for Best Actor. But instead of accepting the award, he sent a young Native American woman to refuse it. The audience booed as the woman read his statement, announcing that he wouldn’t accept the award because of the way the American Indian has been treated. The woman was ready to cry, but delivered the message anyway.

When it came time for Best Actress, they showed a short bio of each actress. For Liza, they began by showing her three year-old debut in The Good Old Summertime. Just as it was time for them to announce the winner, Liza, who was sitting between her father, director Vincente Minnelli, and her then fiancé, Desi Arnaz, Jr, smoothed the back of her hair, with a sort of nervous movement. Then, the announcement was made,

“And the winner is…..”

We all waited breathlessly until we heard, “… Liza Minnelli!”

I don’t know what happened, but suddenly I was aware that everyone in the room was screaming, clapping and jumping up and down. “She won!”

I was crying. Liza kissed her father and then went up to accept her award.  She thanked Bob Fosse and said, “I want to thank the Academy for giving this award to me.”

I had never really thought she would get it and now the room was filled with joy. We watched the end of the show as everyone, including Liza and Joel, got on stage and sang, “You Ought to Be in Pictures.” Then, suddenly, I saw Julie walk right into the camera. She stood in such a way that just the end of her gown showed on the television screen until the end of the show. I screamed and jumped up and down! What a night!

As it turned out, I later learned that Julie, who presented the director’s award, had trouble with this gown. It had a long white ruffled train (almost a bustle) which made it almost impossible for her to sit down during the show.

The next day when I went to my singing lesson with Mr. Loring, we spoke about Liza. He thought she was the best dressed woman there. Then, he told me, “You should have more authority in your attitude, as if to say: “You’re going to like me” rather than, “I hope you like me.” 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Story Behind the Story - Fans at The JAH

This blog will detail more information about what happened on the closed sets with people I have previously written about.


On April 14th, 1973 I’d attended a benefit showing of The Sound of Music with Julie
Andrews and the “children” from the film. Now The Julie Andrews Hour tapings were finished and soon Julie would be headed to the West Indies to make a new movie with Omar Shariff. It was over, but there were a few more episodes of the series to be aired.

A few days after the benefit, I went over to Hollywood Boulevard. Although I had planned on buying the musical recording of  Darling Lili, I changed my mind when I found the record for Thoroughly Modern Millie and got that instead.  In my diary I wrote:
          “Modern Millie brings back so many memories-- breakfast on the redwood                       picnic table and benches in North Hollywood1967, when Mommy and I were very poor...” That year, Thoroughly Modern Millie was on the radio at least three times a day.

Watching episodes of The Julie Andrews Hour, I had mixed feelings. Sometimes I felt sad, but then I was always glad to see Julie. About Episode 22, I said:

              “Julie had one beautiful solo about England. She looked so beautiful and sad. She made one feel the sadness and love for England during the war.”

Meanwhile, watching each of the last episodes, I commented on how thin and tired Julie looked. Watching the shows now, I don’t see this, but I suppose after spending so much time with her, I recognized it then. I also commented,

             “I feel sad that we couldn’t be there when she was working so hard. It always seemed as though she know that we cared…Something in her voice is so light; it has joy, as if there was never any sorrow in her life. This is her art.”

March 21
It’s now a week since the benefit. My cold is worse and the food here (at International House) is awful. It is ancient, not fit for dogs! My roommate Lynn and I ordered Chicken Delight. We were starving!

March 23rd
Fridays hurt.  As I leave school, all I can think of on Friday afternoons is how I used to leave school in such a hurry, my heart beating fast, rushing to the studio to see the show and to hear the sound of Julie’s singing. Fridays aren’t Fridays without her. It was a special treat – like a holiday; “a jolly holiday with Julie!”

On Saturday, March 24th, the next to the last episode was aired. I didn’t want to the show to end. The next day, Emma’s father, Tony Walton won a Tony Award for best Scenic Design on Broadway.

That same evening my friend Vivian called to let me know that Julie was giving up her U.S. residency for good. Poor Vivian was ready to cry. She told me the lady who handles Julie’s finances was the one who told her. I just couldn’t believe it.

The next day, I was back at school. After class I went to the library to do some research. While I was there, I tried to find a quote of Julie’s that I had seen once before. It said something like:

                “Never give up or stop working, no matter what anyone says.”

Now I kept thinking about Julie giving up her U.S. residency. Vivian’s words had hit me hard. “How can Julie give up and leave like that?” I wondered.

Later in that evening, I called Vivian to see if she was planning to go to the Academy Awards. If she was going to sit outside and wait to see Julie, I thought I might join her. She told me she wasn’t going, but, she was thinking of going to Julie’s house to see Jenny. “A bad idea,” I wrote in my diary, and I told her so. She had advised me not to try to speak to Julie at the benefit and now she was planning to go to her house!

After we hung up, I decided to call Kelly. When I saw her at the benefit, she’d mentioned something about what had happened at the studio in the weeks after we were put out. I wanted to find out more.

I reached Kelly on the first try. At first, we talked about The Sound of Music benefit. Kelly told me that after the black limo with Julie arrived, she’d gotten out and all the “children” from the film gathered around her. Then, Julie looked at the youngest girl, Kym, who by now was about fifteen, and said, “Who are you?”  

Inside the theater, Elizabeth had saved some seats up front for Kelly and Patty. Actually, the seats were only a few rows in front of Julie. Kelly told me that the children laughed throughout the film and Julie kept leaning forward, whispering things back and forth with them. Then, just before the end of the film, Julie got up and ran out. Patty followed her, and saw her get into the limo, which was waiting for her. Once she jumped into the car, the crowd, which had been waiting for her to come out, gathered around the car and just, as Kelly put it, “stared in at Julie like she was an animal.” It was odd to hear that, thinking of how much “normal” time we had spent with her.

When Julie saw the oldest boy, Nicholas Hammond, standing outside, she motioned for him to come and get in the car. He got in the front seat and they talked for a while. Then, the car drove off.

Kelly also told me that the boy who played Rolf was there, but no one recognized or spoke to him. Charmian Carr, who played Liesl, was also there. I was sorry I hadn’t seen or recognized any of them. I would have liked to meet them.

After that, we spoke about the studio. Kelly then told me how she and Patty were put out the last time. She admitted that they had gone back again after we were all put out and, according to her, they had “caused a lot of trouble.”

I’m not sure which show it was, perhaps one of the shows before we returned. Anyway, for this show, Kelly went in and sat on the far side of the camera, away from the producer’s station. She was sitting there quietly by herself, but Shari (Julie’s stand-in) recognized her and went over and said,  

“How did you get in?”

The truth was, Kelly had used a made-up name. Actually, it was the name of a lady who visited the studio earlier that day, and then had to leave. Kelly had spoken to her, and then used her name to get in. I'm not sure she told Shari that. Shari said to her,

“Let me go back and tell them (the pages). You can stay for the rest of this number.” (Julie was on stage at the time and they probably didn’t want any disruptions.)

 “No I’ll leave now,” Kelly told her.
“No, stay,” said Shari.

They argued back and forth about this for a few minutes.

“Don’t go now,” said Shari, but after she went back to talk to the pages, Kelly sneaked out.

Meanwhile, Patty had called Carol, Nick Vanoff’s secretary, and given her a fake name.

“I’m from Idaho and I really wanted to see the show. I have to leave tomorrow,” she told Carol.

So Carol left the name Patty had given her at the gate.

That day, Patty taped her teeth, changed her face with makeup and wore a wig. She also wore a different style of clothes than she usually wore. Kelly said that no one recognized Patty the whole time she was at the studio.

These events must have taken place for the shows in January, after we had been asked to leave for the first time. Then, there were two shows with audiences, the show with Angela Lansbury and Steve Lawrence, and the show with Sergio Franchi, Sandy Duncan the Muppets.

 The show following that was the show with Sammy Davis Jr. For that show, Kelly decided to do what Patty had done. She wore a wig and changed her clothes. Meanwhile, either Kelly wasn’t good at disguising herself or she made a mistake by sitting next to Elizabeth, bringing attention to herself. In any case, Shari recognized Kelly right away and went to tell Don Corvan, who I believe was one of the stage managers. He came down off the stage and walked right up to where Kelly was sitting.

“We have to ask you to leave.  You don’t belong here,” he said.

Kelly refused. Meanwhile, Julie was on stage, working.

Then, one of the studio officials told Kelly,
“If you’re not out of here in three minutes, we’ll have security guards take you out by bodily force.”

“I’m not leaving,” Kelly told them, so they sent Shari down to talk to her. When Shari came down, Kelly told me, she was really angry.

“Let’s go outside and talk,” she said. “You’re making a big scene and all these people are listening.”

I can only imagine how bad it was, recalling how it was the first time. I would not have wanted to go through that, but Kelly told them,

“They should hear what’s happening.” She seemed to feel she had a right to be there.

Finally, she agreed to go out. Once they were outside, Shari moved some big thing over so that they could sit down and talk. (She had been having trouble with her feet.)
“ABC doesn’t want you here, and if they say that, it doesn’t matter what anyone else wants,” Shari told her.

According to Kelly, Shari really bawled her out. It was a surprise to her as prior to this time, Shari had been very friendly with the girls. Now, she was mad. In response to Shari’s criticism of her, Kelly told her that Patty had gotten in, wearing a disguise, and since no one recognized her, she’d been able to stay. “I won’t leave no matter what,” she told Shari.

Finally, Shari turned to her and said,

“It’s no use. I can’t talk to you.”

Then, she got up and walked away.

Just about this time, Claire Priest (Julie’s fan mail secretary) and Marie (Julie’s personal secretary’s au pair girl with whom Kelly was friends) came out, so Kelly got up and left. That was the last time she was inside Studio C.

Patty went to the taping of the show with Harve Presnell, the next to the last show, with her friends. While they were sitting there, Shari came over and told her to leave. Then, it seems, she changed her mind and said they could stay as long as no one recognized her.

Around the time of the last show, Kelly and Patty went to the studio and waited for Julie to arrive. They actually were able to see her land in the helicopter. Then, as she came through the gate, they met her and gave her a card. “She said, ‘Thank you’ and gave us one of her looks,” Kelly told me. That was the last time they saw Julie on the studio lot.  
So now I knew why, even though I was not under age and had never caused a problem, I was never allowed back on the set.

Kelly also told me that she found out around this same time Shari, Don Corvan and someone else began questioning Elizabeth as well.

“Who are these girls? Where are they from? What are their names? What are their 
addresses?” they asked.

Elizabeth lied and told them that she had only spoken to the girls at the studio; she said she didn’t know anything about them, or “us,” as Kelly put it. 

Sensitive as I was to other people’s opinions, this made me extremely nervous. I wanted to be liked, I wanted to work in Hollywood, to be seen as talented and worthwhile. The behavior of these girls and the anger they had stirred up at ABC was not something I wanted any part of. This would be the last time I ever spoke to Kelly.

“Oh! Don’t be silly. You’re not blacklisted,” my mother said when I told her my fears. But I wasn’t so sure. For a long time, I walked around feeling I had a black mark against me.

(c) Michelle Russell

To request that The Julie Andrews Hour be released on DVD, please contact:  dan.gopal@itv.com    at ITV and let your voices heard!
Be sure to ask for the release of the music on CD as well!
Photos appearing here are for entertainment purposes only!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Episode 24 - The Final Show with Henry Mancini



Please make your voices heard!
Write ITV and request that
The Julie Andrews Hour be released on DVD.
Contact:  dan.gopal@itv.com
Don’t forget to ask that the music be released on CD!

The final episode of The Julie Andrews Hour, which aired on March 31st, 1973 was met with great anticipation and sorrow by fans who loved seeing Julie on their television every week. It had been a great adventure. Now it was over.

The show opened with a wide, seemingly vacant set, expect for the grand piano at the back of the stage. Julie stood next to it, wrapped in what appeared to be a grand cloak, ruffled about the neck and wrists, a style popular at the time.

Then, “Whistling in the Dark,” a song Henry Mancini wrote the film, Darling Lili, is heard and Julie begins to sing. The camera follows her as she walks through light and shadow. This is one of Julie Andrews’ finest performances, a melding of grand music, beautiful singing and subtle emotions which pass across her face, wrapping the audience into the experience.

At one point, Julie opens her cloak and we see that it is really a lightly made wrap under which she is wearing a sparkling bronze body-suit. Loosening the cloak, she waltzes to the soaring music. It is perfection.

Now the lights come up, revealing that a full orchestra is onstage. At the close of the number, the musicians are all on their feet, applauding. A true tribute.
Julie and Henry Mancini
Julie introduces us to Henry Mancini, by 1972 (as Julie tells us) winner of three Academy Awards and twenty Grammy Awards. Quite amazing. On entering, Henry, who seems to have a dry sense of humor, announces that he has been practicing his jokes and bird calls for the show.

Meanwhile, Julie asks if he recognizes one of the trumpet players in the orchestra, saying he looked slightly familiar. The camera turns to the orchestra and we see, it’s the Pink Panther sitting there.

After that, Julie, who has lost her clock and is now dressed only in her bronze halter pant suit, tries to track the Pink Panther down. Soon he has multiplied to four Pink Panthers, and a dance with comic moves follows. At one point, the Panthers indicate that Julie should jump in their arms. When she tries, they all vanish!

Following the Pink Panther segment, Julie comes to the piano where Henry Mancini is conducting a group of singers. She joins them, with no background music other than the chorus, to sing “The Days of Wine and Roses.” Needless to say, it’s lovely.
Then, we see Henry Mancini seated at the piano, half in dark, half in light. Julie appears, dressed in a trench coat, holding a gun. This is the Peter Gunn segment, no doubt a tribute to Blake Edwards as well as Mancini.

At one point, Julie tells Henry she’s looking for Blake Edwards. When he tells her that Blake is married to Julie Andrews, she says, “Mary Poppins? Oh, well, whatever turns him on.”

In the midst of all this, Julie shoots Henry and he falls on the piano, apparently dead. Then a chase begins, to find the killer backed by the music from Peter Gunn. Excitement and suspense are fill the scene as the dancers appear in spots of light. There is running and movement throughout the entire studio, including the audience area. Julie, in a trenchcoat is on the trail and at one point a woman passes clues in an envelope to her, taking it from her dress. Later, she has clues hidden in her garter. 

In the end, Julie arrives at a door, thinking she will find what she’s looking for. Behind the door is a man with his back to us. It turns out to be Nelson Riddle. He is the one who shot Mancini because, he says, Mancini was moving in on his orchestra.  The two men then join together for a short duet, Nelson on his trombone and Mancini on his piccolo. Julie joins them, vocalizing, and together they create another famous piece of music (Elephant Walk?)

                                                      ***

After a break, Julie and Henry Mancini are seated on the “Getting to Know You” set, having tea and speaking about Mancini’s family. He has twin girls who are now grown and a son. One of his daughters had written him a note in a card, which he then wrote music for and which became “Sometimes,” a song recorded by the Carpenters. Julie loves the song asks to sing it. It is a song of gratitude to those we love and with Henry Mancini playing and Julie singing, it is a special moment.

When Henry Mancini compliments Julie on her television series, he says that her work is always so “perfect.”  In response, Julie asks him not to call her perfect. Somehow, she comments, that word is always used about her, but she is far from perfect. She thinks the reason this work is used about her may be because of Mary Poppins’ “practically perfect in every way.” To prove how imperfect she is, she says they have some clips which will show all her mistakes, and we get to see some of these delightful bloopers.

There is also a very beautiful song included on this show. Julie tells us it was recorded some time ago but never seemed to fit in any show, so they are putting it on this show. It’s called “Once Upon a Time,” and in this lovely song, we also get to see Julie standing beneath the dazzling crystal tree.

When the cameras once again return to Julie and Henry on the set, Mancini comments that there are some people waiting to see her. The people are the eight male Tony Charmoli Dancers and Julie says she wants to see them as well because there’s something she’s been wanting to do for a long time.

When the dancers enter dancing to “This Guy’s In Love with You,” the camera pulls back to show Julie standing downstage, back to us, watching them. She says she wants to introduce the guys who have been dancers, singers and friends on the show. Performer Ken Berry later commented on Julie’s desire to introduce the dancers, saying that it was so kind of her because dancers work so hard and get very little in return, other than the joy of their art.

Julie introduced each dancer as they sang a phrase from “This Guy…” to her. They are introduced in this order:

Joe Kyle, Jerry Trent, Wayne Dugger, Walter Stratton, Gary Crabbe, Gary Menteer, Tom Anthony and Garrett Lewis.

This is the last time the dancers appear on the show. From here, we turn to a conversation between Julie and Henry about the importance of music in film; how it brings out the drama, comedy or whatever is in a scene. To illustrate this, they perform a scene from Gaslight (or what appears to be). For the first run-thru of this scene, Julie enters as a distraught wife, hearing things and fearing she is going mad, or that her husband is trying to drive her mad. The scene takes place in the late 1800s, and Julie and Henry are wearing period costume on a period set. Mancini is not a bad actor and looks like cold and forbidding at the beginning of the scene. The intensity of the music adds to the suspense.

For the second run-thru of the scene, there is rinky-dink piano playing in the background. There is also a laugh track, but the music alone is enough to make you laugh. Julie and Henry Mancini’s reactions only heighten the comic effect. When Mancini goes to take a drink of wine, attempting to ignore his wife’s (Julie) worry that he is driving her insane, he can’t help laughing. The director have left this uncut and it’s funny to watch his laughs.

Julie plays along. Standing at the back of the set, unable to see the laugh we do on camera, but obviously aware he’s loosing it, Julie asks, “Are you alright?” which makes it even funnier.

At the end, Mancini, attempting to push Julie out the window, falls out himself, only on the second time around, when she calls his name he answers. Going to the phone, she orders sandwiches and asks the restaurant to call the police (rather than calling herself) as there’s been an accident. What makes it even funnier is the fact that the old fashioned phone she’s talking on is not screwed tightly together and keeps falling apart, however, Julie, pro that she is, moves the parts around and just keeps going!

***

For the final segment of the show, we are back on the stage with a full orchestra. Henry Mancini is seated at the piano, and in the background we see Julie seated with the orchestra.  Mancini plays “A Time for Us” from Romeo and Juliet. Then, playing a phrase from Whistling in the Dark, he launches into Charade. Julie stands in the back among the musicians and sings, Charade, Sweetheart Tree and Dear Heart. Then, walking to the piano, she and Mancini conclude this wonderful musical performance with his most famous song, “Moon River.”

After this grand performance, there is no sentimentality about the ending of the series; in fact, no word is mentioned that this is the final show. After a break, Julie concludes the show with a few bars of her song, “Time is My Friend” while Henry Mancini does bird calls, making Julie laugh. Then, she says, “Goodnight,” and the two turn and walk to the back where Nelson Riddle is standing. The three can be seen, through the credits, talking and, at one point, Julie appears to be demonstrating a bird call of her own.

Thus ends this grand series

© Michelle Russell

Special Note: Unfortunately, due to computer problems I have not been able to do much including uploading photos. Some photos may be added later.

Note: Although this is the last episode of the series, there is more story to tell, so please check in again!

Photos appearing here are for entertainment purposes only!

The Week of the Last Episode March 1973


The first week of March 1973, beginning with March 5th, was a busy week for Julie Andrews. She would be taping the last episode of her television series, The Julie Andrews Hour. Doubtless, this was a time of mixed emotions. Since August of 1972, Julie had worked incredibly hard on the show, so a break would be great. But knowing that the show had been cancelled was sad. The cast and the crew, who were now like a family; would go their separate ways.

Monday and Tuesday that week were busy with learning the material for the show. Then, on Wednesday morning at 9:30am, Julie headed to Western Costume to try on and fit a costume or two for the special bits in Episode 24.

Henry Mancini would be the only guest on the final show. Besides his reputation as a brilliant composer and musician, Mancini was also a family friend. He had first worked with Julie’s husband, Blake Edwards, on the 1950s television series, Peter Gunn. Mancini had also written the songs for Julie and Blake’s first picture together, Darling Lili. Working with the talented and easy-going Henry Mancini would make the week all that much more pleasurable.

At 11am that Wednesday, Julie arrived at the recording study, ready to clean up some of the musical work with Priborski and Ian Frasier. Also present for this rehearsal were Henry Mancini and the eight Tony Charmoli dancers.

At noon, the entire cast had a run-thru of the show. Then after a break, at three, they began the musical pre-recording work in Studio B of RCA at 6363 Sunset Boulevard.
Thursday, March 8th was an equally busy day.  Julie Andrews was on the set and ready to run through the blocking with the dancers at 10 am. They were scheduled to work on the Pink Panther dance for an hour and a half. Then, at 11:30 Julie and Henry worked on the “suspense scene,” At 1:00, they had an hour lunch break.

The afternoon was busy with work on the Peter Gunn segment, followed by what was called “the Tea Party Spot.” After that, Julie rehearsed her song, her final dance with “her guys,” The Tony Charmoli Dancers. The music was to be “This Guy’s in Love with You.”  They were scheduled to quit at 6pm, but likely worked at least a bit later. The show itself was not going to be overloaded with bits. It was simple but rich with Mancini’s music.

By 10am the next day—Friday, March 9th-- Julie was back on the set with the dancers. The schedule was much like the day before, ending at 6:30pm. It seems likely the finished on time. Though an audience was not scheduled, that evening Julie was giving a big party for more than 300 people.
And then it was over.

© Michelle Russell

To request that The Julie Andrews Hour be released on DVD, please contact:  dan.gopal@itv.com    at ITV and let your voices heard!
Be sure to ask for the release of the music on CD as well!

Photos appearing here are for entertainment purposes only!

Cubby O'Brien - Drummer


One member of Nelson Riddle’s orchestra, though he didn’t start out that way, was drummer Cubby O’Brien.  O’Brien was a former Mouseketeer and by 1972, working with some name people. He began working on The Julie Andrews Hour as a rehearsal drummer.

Born in Burbank, California in 1946, Cubby’s given name was Carl Patrick O’Brien. As a baby, his mother thought he looked like a little bear cub and began calling him “Cubby.” The name stuck.

Cubby’s father, “Hack” O’Brien was a well-known drummer, who worked with some of the era’s great Big Bands.  All three O’Brien boys, of which Cubby was the youngest, were interested were interested in music.  Cubby began taking music lessons at the age of five. As a youngster, he performed with Roger Babcock Dixieland Band, sometimes appearing at charity events. At one of these events, a staffer for Walt Disney staffers saw him, and recommended him to Mr. Disney. As a result, Walt Disney personally asked nine year-old Cubby O’Brien to audition for The Mickey Mouse Club. (Walt Disney selected each member of the show himself.)  Cubby was among the first Mousekateers, appearing on the show from 1955 – 1958.

By 1972, Cubby O’Brien was a professional drummer. As he explains it, in those days there was a lot of work for musicians. He played for The Carpenters, among others and filled in wherever he could. When The Julie Andrews Hour went into production, he was hired to work as the rehearsal drummer for the dancers. He’d play during the week at dance rehearsals, drumming the beat of the music. On the weekends, he often traveled to Vegas to work with the Carpenters as well as other singers.

In addition, as Cubby explained it, although the music was always pre-recorded for the show, during the taping, usually one or more musician was there to play live. Eventually, he began to fill in on this work as well, and finally stepped in, playing with the band.
Cubby says he was thrilled to work with Nelson Riddle, a legend even then. And working with Julie Andrews was always a great pleasure.

Today Cubby O’Brien continues to work with singers, often backing Bernadette Peter.

More on Cubby later. You may find his site on the web.


© Michelle Russell

To request that The Julie Andrews Hour be released on DVD, please contact:  dan.gopal@itv.com    at ITV and let your voices heard!
Be sure to ask for the release of the music on CD as well!

Photos appearing here are for entertainment purposes only!

Nelson Riddle - Musical Director


When pulling together the talent for The Julie Andrews Hour, each member of the creative team was chosen with great care. All were people who understood how to bring the best to a production. Thus, it is not surprising that Nelson Riddle was chosen as orchestra leader/musical director for The Julie Andrews Hour.

For nearly twenty years, Nelson Riddle had been considered one of the greatest talents in pop music. He worked with all the top singers, including Sinatra and Peggy Lee, and the albums he arranged for them were tremendous hits. Nine years earlier, Nelson Riddle was musical director for The Judy Garland Show, which though it only lasted one season, is still highly regarded today. So in hiring Nelson Riddle, the producers knew they were getting the best of the best.

Nelson Riddle’s story began in Oradell, New Jersey on June 1, 1921. He grew up in Ridgewood, New Jersey and as a result of his father’s interest in music, began taking piano lessons at the age of eight. By high school, he was studying trombone. This fact is interesting in relation to a musical arrangement of “Getting Sentimental Over You,” which Julie Andrews performed on the 23rd episode.  For that song, Riddle wrote an arrangement solely for trombones. With Julie standing center stage, she sang with four trombone layers surrounding her. The number is quite lovely.

During Nelson Riddle’s late teens and early 20s, he played trombone in various dance bands. He also wrote arrangements for these bands, finally being hired by the Charlie Spivak Orchestra. Meanwhile, Riddle joined the Merchant Marines. Serving in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, he was able to continue working with the Charlie Spivak Orchestra and study orchestration. After completing two years in the Merchant Marines, he joined the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, only to be drafted into the U.S. Army. He only served a few months before World War II ended and was released the following year.

After being released from the Army, Nelson Riddle went out to Hollywood where he soon found a job at Capital Records. Working under composer Les Baxter, Riddle was asked to arrange a new song which was going to be recorded by singer Nat King Cole. The song was “Mona Lisa.” When Nat King Cole learned that Nelson, not Les Baxter, had been the one to arrange “Mona Lisa,” he asked him to write more arrangements for him. By 1953, he was working with Frank Sinatra. As a result, Sinatra’s career, which was in a slump, went on to a new high.

During the following years, Nelson Riddle worked with many other great singers, including Ella Fitzgerald, Dean Martin, Peggy Lee, Johnny Mathis, Rosemary Clooney and Keeley Smith. He also wrote and arranged television theme songs, such as the theme for Batman. A year after The Julie Andrews Hour ended, Riddle won an Academy Award for his score for the film, The Great Gatsby.

Persons on The Julie Andrews Hour found Nelson Riddle easy to work with. As stated in the interview with Ian Fraser, Riddle had his own system of working. Every Monday he’d have lunch with the arrangers, discuss the week and farm out the work.
“He looked like a shoe salesman,” said choral director Dick Williams, about Nelson’s easy going manner and informal way. Everyone involved with the music felt lucky to be working with him.

About The Julie Andrews Hour, Nelson Riddle did not have great praise for the show, saying “I’m not saying it was the best show, but they spent a lot of time, a lot of money. I think it’s laudable.”

Meanwhile, Riddle was used to working with pop and jazz singers. Although Julie Andrews had many big hits during the 1960s, including songs from The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, Thoroughly Modern Millie and Star!, she could hardly be considered a pop singer. In the documentary made by Blake Edwards, “Julie,” it appears that Nelson Riddle asked Julie to sing her greatest hit, “The Sound of Music,” in a lower key. Perhaps this was true generally, and it was done with the hope that a lower key would make her appear less operatic or classical. While Julie could sing pretty much in any key asked for, part of her uniqueness was the brilliance of her upper tones and her ability therein, but she herself said that she hoped to try many different things with this show, and she did. Much of Nelson Riddle’s work with Julie is quite stunning and should be released as a musical recording.

In the years following The Julie Andrews Hour, Nelson Riddle’s fame and success lessened to a certain degree. Music was changing and he did not like rock and roll. Then in 1982, he was approached by Linda Ronstandt via her manager. Although he didn’t know much about her, his daughter convinced him to go ahead and work on an album with her. Ronstadt wanted to perform jazz standards. As a result of their work-- three albums total-- the albums the created together sold over seven million copies and earned Nelson Riddle two Grammy Awards. 
Sadly, Nelson Riddle passed away on October 6, 1985, less than twelve years after the last episode of The Julie Andrews Hour.

© Michelle Russell

To request that The Julie Andrews Hour be released on DVD, please contact:  dan.gopal@itv.com    at ITV and let your voices heard!
Be sure to ask for the release of the music on CD as well!

Photos appearing here are for entertainment purposes only!

Thank you!