THEATRICAL THROWBACK THURSDAY: Eli Wallach & Cast Of LUV Show Game Faces
Today, in honor of the passing of legendary stage and screen star Eli Wallach we shine a light on a delightful vintage clip from way back in 1965 showcasing the Broadway and Hollywood star laughing it up and putting on his best game face on a classic TV game show.
Murray Schisgal's LUV was the runaway comedic hit of the 1964-1965 season, winning multiple Tony Awards and receiving copious praise from critics and audiences. While the caustic comedy was heralded for the wunderkind director at the helm, Mike Nichols - hot off the smash hit BAREFOOT IN THE PARK and soon to re-team with playwright Neil Simon on THE ODD COUPLE soon thereafter; while also winning a Best Direction Tony Award for his work on LUV - it was the combustible chemistry of the three original leads that contributed considerably to the massive success and buzz-worthy nature of the original production.
Opening on November 11, 1964, the original Broadway production of LUV ran for more than two years - transferring a total of three times over the course of its 900+ performance run, opening first at the Booth Theatre and then to the Broadhurst and the Helen Hayes after that - and proved to be one of the few major hits of the season. The original cast featured Eli Wallach alongside wife and fellow thespian Anne Jackson as well as up-and-coming star Alan Arkin. Of note, the original trio were eventually replaced during the run by notables Barbara Bel Geddes, Larry Blyden and Gene Wilder, among others.
In 1965, the main threesome appeared on popular nighttime game show WHAT'S MY LINE? to promote their appearance in the hit play and introduce the property to a national audience, with the unusual arrangement of three secret matches a curiosity for the popular game show at the time, featuring the able actors nearly stumping the smart and savvy panel of celebrity interrogators in the process. Nevertheless, stalwart WHAT'S MY LINE? panelist Arlene Francis eventually gets the hint and exacts her correct citation of the secret guests before time has run out.
"They are all marvelous in this show," Francis relates of LUV. Additionally, Francis relates of Wallach's then-recent participation in a special Damon Runyon-penned charity performance, as well, followed by Wallach relating an amusing anecdote pertaining to his daughter with Jackson.
Go back to 1965 and witness Eli Wallach and the cast of LUV on WHAT'S MY LINE? below.
So, what is your absolute favorite Eli Wallach performance to date, whether onstage or on screen? Furthermore, what aspect of his affable, committed delivery in so very many roles will you miss most? When an iconic actor of the Golden Age passes away, it is always a prime time to revisit when Broadway was at its very, very best - as clearly it was when LUV premiered nearly 50 years ago.
Photo Credits: NYPL