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Why wasn't Channing in the HELLO, DOLLY movie?

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Since she won the TONY for the role on Broadway back in 1964, I would have expected she would have been in the movie. Instead, they chose Streisand. I find that very intriguing that Streisand lost the TONY to Channing in 1964 but then goes and takes Channing's role in the film of the musical that won her the award. Not to downplay Babs, because I think she's an amazing singer/actress...but the explanation interests me.

Anyone know the story behind that?
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Updated On: 7/10/05 at 05:13 PM
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Mainly because Streisand was a much bigger name at that point than Channing. She was an Oscar-winning movie star, a tv star and one of the top selling recording artists in the country. There was great interest in finding her another musical star vehicle as a follow up to Funny Girl, and Hello Dolly, one of the biggest stage hits of the decade, was an obvious choice (although Streisand was miscast -- she was WAY too young for the role).

Streisand got the role simply because she was a far more bankable name than Channing at the box office. Too bad, though.
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This si straight from the trivia section for the movie on imdb.com

Also considered for the role of Dolly was Elizabeth Taylor, who was passed on because she couldn't sing. Carol Channing was never considered for the role because it was felt, despite her Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress in the musical Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967), that she was both not attractive enough, physically, and too quirky to carry a film.
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Riiiiiiiiiight....... so they cast that stunning beauty Barbra Streisand in the role (Streisand was also extremely "quirky" in those days). Frankly, all things being relative, I think Channing was better looking than Streisand.

Don't believe IMDB. It was ALL about box office. Streisand was one of the hottest stars in the world at that time. Channing was "just" a stage actress and the studio wanted more box office insurance for that VERY expensive film.
"What a story........ everything but the bloodhounds snappin' at her rear end." -- Birdie [http://margochanning.broadwayworld.com/] "The Devil Be Hittin' Me" -- Whitney
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Oh. Well, that wasn't my opininion, just something from imdb.
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I've also heard that Streisand coveted the Dolly role because Carol Channing beat her for the 1964 Tony with that role.

The joke was that if SUBWAYS ARE FOR SLEEPING was ever made into a movie, Babs would have tried to get Phillys Neuman's Martha Vale role because she beat her for the Tony award in 1962.
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Margo is more on point.

Channing never had any semblence of a film carrier. (How many of you have actually seen "The First Traveling Saleslady" which co-starred Ginger Rogers?) After her second film ("Saleslady") it took 11 years before she was back on film and that was in the bit part of "Millie." I wouldn't doubt that if it hadn't been for HELLO, DOLLY she would not have been cast in "Millie."

So, regardless of her success on the stage, the studio was not about to gamble the film on Channing's oversize personality.



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Actually Margo, Streisand was announced for the DOLLY picture in 1967, before FUNNY GIRL even finished shooting, which made the decision even more controversial, because Channing was not overlooked for a film star but another film novice. (Streisand didn't win the Oscar until after DOLLY had finished filming. She was in the middle of shooting ON A CLEAR DAY by then).

FUNNY GIRL was actually over budget and over schedule. Ernest Lehman, the film's producer, briefly thought about recasting the film of HELLO DOLLY with Phyllis Newman or Ann-Margaret, should Streisand not be available.

But the truth is, the script for the film was written with a young Dolly in mind. It wasn't necessarily Streisand's fault that she was too young.

Updated On: 7/10/05 at 07:49 PM
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I tend to agree with Margo, that it had more to do with bankability, than anything else. However, who gets the last laugh? When you think "Dolly", which name comes immediately to mind? Channing or Streisand?
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Michael Stewart, the author of the libretto, told me that Streisand was his favorite DOLLY of all.


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In Channing's memoir, JUST LUCKY I GUESS, she talks about how That Streisand Woman backstabbed and betrayed Channing in order to get the film role.

In Arthur Laurents' memoir, ORIGINAL STORY, he talks about Streisand a great deal (He directed her in WHOLESALE and wrote THE WAY WE WERE for her). He says that Streisand realized what a terrible mistake it was for her to do the film and wanted to quit. She called Laurents and complained that she "had a tap dancer for a director".

Walter Matthau had no use for That Streisand Woman. He told her to her face that she had "all the talent of a butterfly's fart".

As it turned out, the film version of my favorite musical was quite horrible. It nearly bankrupted 20th Cetnury Fox. It is the reason I boycott movies to this day.
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and, of course, the ONLY time carol channing can ever remember being truly sick (she's a christian scientist) is when she was on a transatlantic flight from new york to london ...

"it's not that it was such a bad flight ... the other passengers seemed to enjoy it well enough ... but the movie they were showing was HELLO DOLLY with barbra streisand ..."
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Yes, I remember reading that Channing and Streisand were great friends until Streisand and her agent "conspired to rob me[Channing]of my baby!" (this is from Channing's difficult-to-read autobiography--an argument for the importance of ghostwriters and editors, IMO.)

Whatever the true backstory, I'm going to fly against received wisdom. Streisand is the only source of interest in the "Hello, Dolly" movie. She's charming, funny, and sings beautifully. The action around her is staggeringly overproduced, overstaged, and oversold, with almost every performer misused (Tommy Tune, Michael Crawford). The "too young" argument is like the charge levelled at Liza Minelli in "Cabaret" (it was said she sang too well for a woman who was supposed to be a second-rate bar singer). It's a technicality that doesn't matter to audiences, only to bitchy theatre queens.
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The film is not horrible in the least and is actually quite an achievement. Whatever one thinks of La Streisand's performance, you cannot deny her star power, humor, charm, and seductiveness. The production and costuming design are simply phenomenal and among the best of their era. The orchestrations manage to make Herman's serviceable score sound thrilling and the musical staging serves the material well. It's only flaw was to have appeared in a time of adolescent rebellion and juvenile tastes at the box office. Judging from its continual appearance on cable TV, the film has a wide and receptive audience and I suspect its reputation will only grow in stature in the years to come.

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Remarkable singing voice, especially in Parade Passes By ... but miscast. Movie itself overproduced, which revealed the weak writing in the original Broadway version. The show is not that good -- all the character tensions from Matchmaker were reduced by Champion to 2-3 minute scenes between production numbers which were beautifully staged but extraneous ... the show was never that strong, just a beautiful staging ... so the movie revealed the basic weaknesses in the material when miscast and overproduced ... perhaps Carol's zany style would have hidden the problems more, but the production values were entirely too elaborate and worked agains the story of a POOR WIDOW's attempts to matchmake for herself ... this was all lost on Broadway, further lost in Hollywood .. the title song was simply vulgar in the movie, excessive and out of proportion for the character and the situation ... Barbara played Barbra .. but isn't that all she CAN play?
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I saw a Broadway revival of HELLO DOLLY in the 1980s.
I didn't like Carol Channing much and I didn't love the show.
I like the movie quite a lot.
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Channing says, "The movie had great scenery. It had lots and lots of scenery and cosumes. [but when it came to Streisand] a barrel of laughs she ain't. Didn't she know that the show was a COMEDY?"
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I think Streisand is actually pretty funny in DOLLY, and Im not much of a fan. And whether she was too young for it at the time seems to matter less, because in hindsight, Streisand looked basically the same when she was 40.

I don't think many people watching the film today say, "Oh my God she looks 27."
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I thought Streisand was very funny as well. Her comic timing was definitely on in the film. Yes the movie is over the top, over-produced, and over blown, but the musical isn't that great either. I maybe in the minority, but I can't listen to Channing's recording of Hello Dolly. I actually think she lacked emotion in it, but maybe Channing needs to be seen as Dolly rather than heard. I actually enjoy Pearl Bailey's take on Hello Dolly a lot.
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Can you imagine just how bad it would have been with Ann Margaret?

Didn't Lucille Ball desparately want to do the movie of Dolly and tried to acquire the rights? As I recall when she was overlooked for Dolly she set out after Mame. Wasn't that a joy too?
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Lucille Ball is an amazing actress and was, in fact, a joy in MAME.
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I love Lucille Ball, but she was indeed horrible in Mame.
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Actually, Streisand hadn't won the Oscar yet for Funny Girl when she was cast in Dolly. She won the award during the filming of On A Clear Day You Can See Forever.
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Not having Channing in the Dolly movie was as bad as not using Dorothy Lyman (spelling?) in the Annie movie....
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I saw both Dolly & Mame as a kid, in the movie theatre. I was blown away by both. It was only later, when I saw the shows done on stage, with actresses who were more suited for their roles that I realized how lacking the films were.

I guess if we had a time machine, we could go back and put Lucy in Dolly and Barbra in Mame and see how that would work.
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This wasn't one of my favorite films up until this year. I re-watched it with my Mom and Dad because they went to see it when it originally played theatres in 1968/69 (?) and my mother asked me to get it for her on DVD.

On second viewing I enjoyed it quite alot. I love the opening number "Just Leave Everything To Me" which I understand was written especially for Streisand by Jerry Herman himself.

The addition of Louis Armstrong to the show's title number was an inspired idea. Love seeing that bit where he and Barbra trade off lines and she scats.

Production values are high and a bit overblown but then name me one musical from the 1960's that wasn't.

Streisand's age never came into question for me when watching the film.

The dance sequences were great, "Put On Your Sunday Clothes" was a stand out for me. It kind of reminded me of the "Atchinson, Topeka and the Santa Fe" number from "The Harvey Girls" towards the end.

Love "Before the Parade Passes By" especially that last chorus where she hits that last high note on "by".

I didn't really care for Michael Crawford's singing in this film. He bordered on annoying the sh!t out of me every time he opened his mouth. I found Marianne McAndrew bland and a bit of a waste. On the other hand Danny Lockin and E.J. Peaker were well matched but they were given very little to do.

Walter Matthau was funny but only when he wasn't opening his mouth to sing (if that's what you want to call it).

Overall I like it. It's not the greatest but it's entertaining and it has a catchy score.

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