THEATRICAL THROWBACK THURSDAY: Carol Channing & GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES
Today we continue our new spotlight series on the best clips from the Golden Age of Broadway and beyond with a focus on the legendary Carol Channing and the spunky and sexy Jule Styne musical GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES.
A Little Girl From Little Rock
Few performers, if any, are as inextricably linked with a major role as Carol Channing - and she has two, not one. While Jerry Herman's HELLO, DOLLY! may be her most celebrated and well-known character, Channing's first huge hit musical boasted perhaps her most beloved song of them all - the instantly-addictive "Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend", as originally heard in the Jule Styne/Leo Robin 1949 musical hit GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES. Boasting a hilarious book by Joseph Fields and Anita Loos, and some bawdy and amusing lyrics by Leo Robin to match Styne's characteristically tuneful and boisterous score, GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES features some sensational song sequences besides the breakout hit, yet it is that song that will seemingly live on in perpetuity - its appearances in movie musical MOULIN ROUGE! as sung by Nicole Kidman (mashed-up with Madonna's "Material Girl" no less) as well as a recent Glee homage provide further fodder for having faith in that sentiment; as does the recent smash hit Encores! production of the musical starring Megan Hilty.
In 1953, Channing appeared on THE BUICK BERLE SHOW and participated in a skit which managed to incorporate not only "Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend" but also another standout showstopper from the stupendous Styne score, "A Little Girl From Little Rock", in a delightful mini-medley. Thanks to the magic of YouTube, we can all now travel back more than half a century to witness musical theatre history in the making and sample some of Channing's quirky, caustic charm as copiously evident in this delightful clip.
Additionally, Channing herself generously contributed a touching and vivid video opener to BroadwayWorld's spectacular Jule Styne concert this weekend, EVERYTHING'S COMING UP BROADWAYWORLD.COM: A JULE STYNE TRIBUTE, candidly recalling the first time she heard the song and proving that even at 93 "some rocks don't lose their shape," indeed. Nevertheless, Alice Ripley can now pride herself on having introduced the song to a whole new generation, in a whole new way - which will be available for all to experience on the CD and DVD when they are released in a few months!
First, though, travel back to 1953 and witness Carol Channing stopping the show with a GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES medley on live TV as only she can do - and still does to this very day.
As a special bonus, Carol Channing teams with Jule Styne himself for a reprise of "A Little Girl From Little Rock" on a 1980s TV special.
What would we do without Carol Channing? As this delectable vintage clip shows, she is Broadway royalty of the highest order and possessor of one of Broadway's most adored breakthrough hits via "Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend". Huzzah!
From This Author Pat Cerasaro