Thursday, November 1, 2012

Episode 8 – Guests Dan Dailey and Cass Elliot

The eighth episode of The Julie Andrews Hour was a nostalgic return to the era of musical comedy films with special guests Dan Dailey and Cass Elliot.

Dan Dailey in the early
days of his career.
Dan Dailey was a well-loved movie musical star who had appeared in such great hits as When Mother Wore Tights opposite Betty Grable, and There’s No Business Like Show Business in which he appeared with Ethel Merman, Donald O’Connor, Johnny Raye and Marilyn Monroe.

Cass Elliot, of course, had been a member of the famed group, The Mamas and the Papas.  Formed in 1965, Cass Elliot eventually left the group after being repeatedly insulted by John Phillips. The Mamas and the Papas, as of 2012, have sold nearly 40 million record albums. In 1972, Cass was working solo and had recorded two record albums for RCA, both of which were released that year. Her three guest spots on Julie’s show likely helped to publicize her new albums.

Dailey and Elliot's appearance together was likely meant to attract a wider audience to the show; one that included older folks who loved nostalgia and the younger set who preferred rock and roll.


The show began with uproarious applause as Julie Andrews introduced her guests. There was also a neat, two-story set onstage with twelve doors which the dancers opened and shut quickly, saying "Alright!" to everything that's about to take place. 

Julie and Dan then sat down for a brief talk about the old movies. Julie said she’d “have given anything to be in a musical” with Dan. From there, the pair hurried back to a new set where they reenacted a compendium of movie musical stories about a couple trying to get into show business in the old vaudeville days. Alice Ghostley and Cass Elliot joined Dan in a little Charleston, and Rich Little made an appearance as Groucho Marx. It’s a quick but interesting story which enables the cast to sing some great old songs. Julie tap dances and, in the end, she and Dan perform one of those old, sentimental, charming numbers, “You Were Meant for Me.” It’s the kind of song and dance that brings a smile to your face and makes you feel warm inside. On the night it was performed, the audience knew they were seeing something special and showed their appreciation by letting out a cheer. That says it all.

The opening vaudeville routine is contrasted beautifully by the next scene in which Julie Andrews sings a modern solo, “And I Love Him.” The song begins with Julie, dressed in a simple, white summer gown, standing half in shadow, half in light, as if she were standing in the moonlight.  

The 70s was a time of experimentation with the camera. Hollywood was looking for reality and extreme close-ups were often used. Bill Davis frequently directed the cameramen to come in close for Julie’s solos, sometimes focusing on her blue eyes. This kind of work brought an intimacy to audiences at home that had previously not existed. For part of this song, Julie is lit by a beautiful backlight, which, in the end, becomes a halo of light around her head. She sings this song beautifully, from her heart; the combination of her artistry and that of the lighting and camera work are quite stunning.


“Roommates” was a made-up sketch created by the writers about Julie Andrews and Alice Ghostley living as roommates in New York City during the early part of their careers. From time to time, there were new episodes of this story. Alice Ghostley is hilarious as the roommate who sits at home alone and never gets a date, while her perfect roommate, Julie, receives hundreds of phone calls, Broadway roles and can make a dress, create moose meat dip, speak hundreds of languages and learn a role all in a matter of minutes.  

In this particular sketch, an almost unrecognizable Rich Little plays Julie’s Indian date, Razmir, speaking a strange language in a high-pitched voice. When Julie and Rich start speaking this language together as Alice looks on, it’s hilarious. All three performers have great comic sense and great timing, making these a scene you can watch over and over and still laugh. The comic abilities of all three are amazing.

As Rich and Julie go on their date together, leaving Alice all by herself, the camera turns to a Cass Elliot, who is sitting in a window seat, looking out a rainy window. Cass sings “Alone Again, Naturally” with an honestly and simplicity that is striking. Her song is met with huge applause and whistles.


The “Look to the Stars” segment follows. Capricorn is the astrological sign of the day and tributes are paid to those who were born under the “sign of the goat.” Julie, Dan and Cass all take part in honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., Carl Sandburg, and Rudyard Kipling, among others. Rich Little plays Richard Nixon (also a Capricorn) and then, as Nixon, begins to sing “Minnie the Moocher” in tribute to Cab Calloway. It’s a very funny number. Cass Elliot takes over the song, dancing with The Tony Charmoli Dancers. Although Cass was quite overweight at the time, she’s a fine dancer and sings the old songs great. Cass Elliot, who lost the Broadway role of Miss Marlmelstein in I Can Get It for You Wholesale to Barbra Streisand, proves here that she could have been a great musical comedy performer.

Two ladies Dan Dailey mentions who were born under the sign of Capricorn are Ava Gardner and Marlene Dietrich. At the mention of Dietrich, Julie walks to a chair, puts one foot up on it and gives a fine portrayal of Dietrich singing “Falling in Love Again.”

Then, in one of the finest performances he ever gave on the show, Rich Little portrays Humphrey Bogart in a scene from “The Caine Mutiny Court Martial.” It is truly an amazing performance, proving that Little’s ability is not just one of impersonating a voice, but a talent to become that person on a very deep level. At the end of the scene, the camera turns to Julie and we see that she is truly moved by what Rich Little has achieved here.

It has been said that The Julie Andrews Hour was one that included so many great songs and routines it’s rather overwhelming. This show exemplifies that as the cast pays tribute to Jule Styne. Dan Dailey sings and dances “All I Need Now Is the Girl” from Gypsy and Julie Andrews performs a simple yet intricate “Bye, Bye Baby” from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes with the eight Tony Charmoli Dancers. Once again, Charmoli has created a stylish and clever dance number, great for the television screen, and one which makes the show shine.


In one of the darkest scenes of the entire series, Julie Andrews and Dan Dailey portray two vaudevillians who are about to perform their last show. At one time they had dreams of a great future onstage, and a lovely home and children. The reality is that they have failed. He is an alcoholic and she is bitter, making plans to leave him after the show is over. Both actors dig deep for this scene and the acting is excellent, with the actors putting their clown make-up on as the scene progresses.


The final setup is a repeat of the set the previous week, when Julie and Diahann Carroll sang together, with Nelson Riddle’s orchestra on the stage. This time it’s Julie and Cass Elliot singing. Julie is wearing a beautiful one-shoulder coral print gown, looking dressed to appear on any concert stage. Cass is wearing a lovely deep blue gown. The singers announce that they will be performing a medley of Simon and Garfunkel songs.
Cass and Julie singing that
memorable Simon and Garfunkel duet.

Ordinarily when one thinks of Julie Andrews or of Cass Elliot, one does not think of the two singers together, or even that their style or voices might go well together, but Julie and Cass are great together and the difference between them only adds to the excitement of their performance.

Cass was used to singing “four-part male-female harmony.” Being accustomed to holding her own against three singers, she is a little bold in her manner of singing. She takes the low voice and is not intimated by Julie’s beauty or vocal ability. She knows her music and she wants to connect and take care of the other performer, in this case, Julie.

There is a point in the song where the two women are singing “Da-dee-dee-dee, Da-dee-dee-dee” as the entrance into “Mrs. Robinson.” At this point, the two ladies really let loose. They are having a great time singing together, and we have a great time watching them. The voices of The Dick Williams Singers join Julie and Cass with "Scarborough Fair," and the music here is rich with intricate harmonies. It’s a beautiful piece.

As mentioned in the past, there are songs on The Julie Andrews Hour which should be released on CD for the world to enjoy. This duet with Julie Andrews and Cass Elliott is one of those surprising, beautiful and perfect pieces of music that belong out in the world. It really seems a crime that it’s not. It belongs on a list of the top ten, if not one of the top five, for a Julie Andrews Duets CD. Is there anyone listening who can make this happen?!

As usual, the show concludes with Dan, Cass, Alice and Rich onstage as Julie  sings the closing notes of her theme song, “Time Is My Friend.” Episode 8 is a lovely, warm show. It’s like going home at Thanksgiving to a familiar place filled with love and laughter, and when it’s all over, you are so glad you were there.

Next: In–Between – PART 2 – A Reply

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