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!

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