I was just watching a 'reunion' of the RHODA cast members on a talk show from 1984, and the host asked Walker what was coming up for her in the immediate future. She said she was going to Broadway to star in new musical. (She also mentioned, of course, that Broadway is where she got her start and did 17 shows on Broadway before joining the cast of RHODA in 1974). Does anyone know which show she was referring to in this reunion? I'm guessing it would have debuted in 1984-85 season, as this show was taped in early Spring 1984. Did anyone ever see Walker in any of the 17 (or 18 including this one) shows she did? She was such a wonderful talent.
Whatever it was, it never made it. Her last Broadway credit is 1968.
As I recall, she was going to appear in a revue with a title like "Nancy Walker:Back on the Town." It sounded like it had possibilities. She surely had the Broadway cred of a Stritch, Cook, or either of the Beas. But it did not materialize. I'm still waiting for Zooey Deschanel as Loretta Lynn. These things happen.
Thanks so much for the information. I was curious as to what role she was offered, thinking she may have been stereotyped as the 'Jewish mother'. I do remember reading an article years ago where it said she had auditioned for the role of Fanny Brice in 'Funny Girl', and was one of the finalists (along with Streisand). However, she ended up losing the role because of her diminutive height (4' 11", and she looked 'lost' among the other cast members.
David10086 said: "I do remember reading an article years agowhere itsaid she had auditioned for the role of Fanny Brice in 'Funny Girl', and was one of the finalists (along with Streisand). However, she ended up losing the role because of her diminutive height (4' 11", and she looked 'lost' among the other cast members." Well, that got me to wondering (and Googling). Streisand is 5' 5", and Miss Brice was a towering 5' 6".Here's the "Little Woman" dancing with Rock Hudson.
Highland Guy said: "David10086 said: "I do remember reading an article years agowhere itsaid she had auditioned for the role of Fanny Brice in 'Funny Girl', and was one of the finalists (along with Streisand). However, she ended up losing the role because of her diminutive height (4' 11", and she looked 'lost' among the other cast members."Well, that got me to wondering (and Googling). Streisand is 5' 5", and Miss Brice was a towering 5' 6".Here's the "Little Woman" dancing with Rock Hudson.
Since FUNNY GIRL was originally written with Mary Martin in mind, the fact that Nancy Walker and Carol Burnett were ever in contention suggests the show was originally intended to emphasize Brice as a comic. The end result--a little comedy and a lot of ballads--suggests just how much the final show was tailored to Streisand's abilities (and rightfully so). But the fact that they replaced Streisand, when her contract was up, with the brilliant comic and fabulous singer, but gentile, Mimi Hines suggests the creatives never gave up on the idea of playing up the "FUNNY" in FUNNY GIRL.
While it's not a musical, I'm wondering if she was ever considered as a replacement for Estelle Getty in "Torch Song Trilogy". Barbara Barrie played the role for a month in 1983, and Chevi Colton is also listed as a replacement, but I think Estelle played the part for the majority of the 3 year run.
One of my first Broadway shows was DO RE MI, where Walker supported Phil Silvers, along with Nancy Dussault, David Burns and the dreamy John Reardon. Walker only had a few big numbers, the best of which was the Comden/Green/Styne "Adventure," where she literally stopped the show as she recounted her bumpy marriage to Silvers. And if you haven't, listen to Walker on the studio recording, made 15 years later with much of the original cast (Comden, Green, Cris Alexander), of ON THE TOWN, the landmark show that introduced all of them (and Bernstein and Robbins too) to the Broadway world.
Oh wow! Now I want to listen to her cast recording of 'On the Town' and 'Do Re Mi' (if that one exists) ! I wonder if she would have made a good / decent / great 'Mama Rose' in GYPSY, either the 1974 or 1989 revivals? Not to open the revivals, but to replace Angela Lansbury or Tyne Daly.
You can get both OBCRs from iTunes.To my ear, she doesn't have the pipes to play Madame Rose, but I don't doubt she would have acted the hell out of the part.
Thanks for the info! Yes, I'm wondering if she could have sang the score of GYPSY, but I think she would have been one of the most dynamic actresses ever to step into the role.
When Nancy made her film debut in "Best Foot Forward" (stealing the movie with her comic timing and super singing and dancing skills), she was compared to Patsy Kelly, another short, rather dumpy looking comic actress who was ending her film career that year (not returning for another 17 years), and had been the comic darling of the 1930's in a string of screwball comedies and musicals. Patsy had a difficult time finding acting work, but did some stock, apparently playing Hildy in "On the Town", which of course Nancy originated. Nancy was gaining quite a bit of success in 1971 on multiple TV series when Patsy returned to the stage and basically stole "No No Nanette" from Ruby Keeler ("Ruby, eat your heart out!", she would murmur to her old friend while doing her soft shoe dance in "Take a Little One Step" to thunderous audience applause!) and later getting similar acclaim for "Irene". Both were extremely talented and funny ladies that proved, like Elaine Stritch said, you didn't have to look like Elizabeth Taylor to get the guy, or in their case, the standing ovations. Apparently, Nancy's version of "I'm Still Here!" at a Sondheim benefit (released on record) is said to be one of the best versions of that song ever, probably only topped (or equaled) by Ann Miller's at Paper Mill and perhaps by Polly Bergen in the 2001 revival. Nancy didn't do the number of movies that Patsy did, but every filmed moment she has is brilliant. "Mary, you're like a daughter to me", she says at Rhoda's wedding, "So shut up."
Just this very morning, I happened to be listening to Sondheim: A Musical Tribute on my morning jog. (You know, the 1973 concert tribute Burt Shevelove staged on the LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC set.) Sure enough, here was Nancy Walker's bang-up version of "I'm Still Here". Not word perfect (she slipped up on the line "Sorry, I thought you were hooz-is..." but absolutely nailed the arc of the song from rueful to triumphant. Wish just once I could have seen her live.
Wow - so much great info on Walker! Thank you all for the memories...I'm going to do some extensive research on what's available by her (lucky for me I work in a library - so no excuse!).
Be sure to check out the NYPL and Museum of the City of New York photo archives. They alternate with pictures of various live performances. There are a lot of pictures of her from her many musicals such as "Barefoot Boy With Cheek", "Look Ma, I'm Dancin'", "Along Fifth Avenue" and "Copper & Brass", among others. She performed her big song from "Look Ma I'm Dancin'" on "The Ed Sullivan Show" as well as "Come Up to My Place" for a navy newsreel from "On the Town". A lot of these photos and video footage was long hidden before the web came along, so there is treasure trove of great stuff out there for her and many other "golden age" artists.
Thanks so much for the suggestion! I will definitely be looking into this!
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