Wednesday, July 16, 2014

What's My Wednesdays #10: Hello, Dollys!

There may not be much mystery to this week's dual Mystery Challengers, and we've already seen one appearance by birthday girl Ginger Rogers, but there's so much richness in this clip that I couldn't resist.

It's 1965 (July 25, to be precise), and one measure of what a different world it was is that it's national news that a Broadway role is turning over.  Of course, in this case the role is Dolly Levi, and the transition is from the immortal originator of the lead in Hello, Dolly!, Miss Carol Channing, to Miss Rogers.  Ginger came down the staircase at the Harmonia Gardens over a thousand times on Broadway and on tour; Channing totaled at least five times that (I'm not entirely convinced she might not give it one final whirl, even now).  When Channing, as noted here, headed out on her tour, she headed the third of three casts making their way around the country - also playing Dolly at the time were Mary Martin and Betty Grable.

Meanwhile, back in What's My Line? business, it's a busy, busy week.  It's Mike Douglas's debut, we get a primo terrible pun from Bennett, and big theatrical news for Miss Francis.  I really think I'd rather see Arlene headline Mrs. Dally Has a Lover in its pre-Broadway tryout up in Holyoke than brave Ginger's Dolly (I think the non-Carol Dolly I'd most long to have seen is Merman, although I bet both Martin and Ann Miller were big fun).  By the time it hit the Great White Way in September, its title had been trimmed to Mrs. Dally, but that didn't help much, as the show closed in 53 performances.  There's been one revival, for Judith Ivey back in 1988, and from that review it sounds like an odd choice for an Arlene Francis vehicle, as she would have played a frustrated lower-middle-class New York housewife with an unexpected past (as a trombone player!) and a teenage paramour.

All that and the very startling idea of John Daly as host of the Miss Universe pageant!  It's enough to make you overlook how very much the Ginger of 1965 isn't the Ginger of 1936, but we've mourned that before, and after all Carol, birthday or not birthday, carries the day quite nicely.


  1. The only non-Carol "Dolly" I would have loved to have seen was the revival in London in 1984 starring none other than Danny La Rue! Jx

  2. Ginger in full on grand lady mode is a bit wearisome. Her original sparkle calcified into a glacial imperiousness which was quite brittle. I wonder how that translated on stage.

    I've seen that train wreck of a co-starrer, The First Traveling Saleslady, they made. Yikes! Even stranger than the movie though was seeing Carol and Clint Eastwood paired as a romantic couple. Talk about your mind bending mismatches.

    So many have played Dolly there had to be many fun ones even if Carol would be hard to beat. Jo Ann Worley seems to have the proper bigness for the role, Phyllis Diller would have been trippy, Betty Grable warm and fun, Eve Arden droll and the Merm inimitable.

  3. Leave Ginger ALOOOOOOOOONE!!! I'm sure Lela told her to act that way.

  4. Ann Miller was heaven as Dolly Levi. Especially when she sang "So Long, Dearie," and yanked her skirt off to tap danced Horace out of her life.

    And esteemed Muscato, as you are a fan of Arlene Francis...