Thursday, October 4, 2012

Episode 4 - Guest Don Rickles

On October 4th, 1972, ABC aired the 4th episode of The Julie Andrews Hour. It was an episode mainly dedicated to comedy with guest stars Don Rickles, Alice Ghostley and Rich Little. On the closing, Julie thanked them all as guest, naming Alice Ghostley first, followed by Don Rickles and Rich Little.

The show opened with Julie singing one of the hits of her Broadway show, My Fair Lady. “On the Street Where You Live” was not a song she had sung in the show, but she sang it beautifully, interspersed by comments from “people on the street” (probably actors). After the song, Don Rickles expressed what a lot of the viewers probably felt when he asked how she could have all those people interrupting her song.

This episode of The Julie Andrews Hour seems to move along quickly and has a greater sense of informality than many. After the opening where Julie, Alice, Don and Rich joke and laugh, Rich Little portrays a series of singers with Julie joining in and singing with him. The impressions, each in costume, include Tom Jones, Gene Kelly, Glen Campbell, Perry Como, Johnny Cash, Anthony Newly and Maurice Chevalier.  For the grand finale of this set, Rich appears as Carol Channing, singing “Hello Dolly”. The Tony Charmoli Dancers and Julie join him onstage. As she often does when around Rich, Julie cracks up during this set of songs.
This rather frenetic set of songs is followed by a lovely scene with Julie seated under a crystal tree singing “My Ship.” The scene is simple and elegant.

With Don Rickles onboard for this show, the writers came up with some very unique sketches. The first one is based on Noel Coward’s Private Lives where four people who have each loved one of the others has gone on to be married to someone else, but by chance meet one another. In this case, Julie is married to Don Rickles, who runs a restaurant, but she is simply not able to fulfill his wishes in how she helps to run the business. 

On the other hand, Alice Ghostley is married to Rich Little who portrays an elegant James Mason. She is also not at home in her role as wife to him. Then, in an alley, they meet once again and love is in bloom. In addition a rather heavy-set couple is brought into the mix. This scene was apparently filmed before a live audience because by the end, with Don Rickles’ non-scripted quips, everyone is laughing very hard, including Don Rickles and the cast onstage. It also appears that the audience has witnessed some things not included as some of his lines refer to things that may have happened in a prior take. In any case, it is great fun.

This show contains one very unique piece: Don Rickles and Alice Ghostley in a musical scene taken from Fiddler on the Roof, singing the song, “Do You Love Me?” In the scene, Ghostley wakes her husband, Rickles, to ask him if he loves her. There is not a laugh in this scene. It is wonderfully performed, leading one to think the Rickles could have easily become a Broadway musical comedy star, which is quite a surprise.
In her “Getting to Know You” segment, Julie Andrews has a conversation with Don Rickles which tells a lot about who he really is and his choices for how he portrays himself in the business. It is funny, sincere and revealing.

Another sketch follows with Rickles in which he plays a court jester, telling jokes to and about Napoleon, Queen Elizabeth I, Abraham Lincoln, William Shakespeare, Ben Franklin and others. These persons from the past are played by The Tony Charmoli dancers, as mentioned before, all actors and singers as well as dancers. A few character people are brought in as well.

Episode 4 also introduces a section on astrology for the first time. In the show, Julie makes a little speech about “believers” and “non-believers,” stating that it is all in fun. Although astrology was quite popular during this time, the creators of the show were quite aware that many members of the viewing audience would consider the astrology section rather pagan or against their beliefs. The astrology part of the show, on this particular show it was dedicated to Pisces, gave the creators of the show a chance to have Julie sing a mix of classical, traditional and modern music. On this show, she concluded with George Harrison and “My Sweet Lord,” with segued into Handel’s Messiah and the “Hallelujah" chorus. There were many singers onstage during this part. They form a circle around Julie. This number was also apparently taped with an audience because at the conclusion there is huge applause, which continues for a long time. It is really quite thrilling.

Julie concludes the show with her song, “Time Is My Friend,” promising us she will be back again very soon.

Coming Next: In preparation for my first visit to ABC and The Julie Andrews Hour, I will be writing about my life.  Since I will be your guide into the past, there are a few things I need to tell you!

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