Happy Benjamin Franklin Day 2020
Once again, we here at Elisberg Industries celebrate the anniversary of Benjamin Franklin's birthday, This year, it's his 314th, born on January 17, 1706.
It's always struck me whimsically odd that there are two stage musicals where Franklin is at the forefront, so we do our celebrating with a menagerie of songs from those shows. The first is -- no, no 1776, but rather one all about him alone -- Ben Franklin in Paris, when he went to France to earn support and financing for the colonies in their War of Independence. The show opened in 1964 and starred Robert Preston, his first musical after The Music Man. The music and lyrics were by Sydney Michaels, and though it wasn't a hit, the show had a fair run of 215 performances.
It's not a particularly distinguished score, but happily there's a video of one of my two favorite numbers, complete with dialogue, that was performed on The Ed Sullivan Show. Here is "Half the Battle.
And this is my other favorite song from the show, "Look for Small Pleasures," sung by Preston with his co-star Ulla Sallert. The song actually had a bit of a life outside the show, with a few popular recordings.
Okay, and now we go to 1776, the Pulitzer Prize-winning and Tony Award Best Musical-winning show with a score by Sherman Edwards. Lots to choose from, but we're going to go with "The Egg," sung with Howard Da Silva as Franklin, along with William Daniels as John Adams, and Ken Howard as Thomas Jefferson.
And...oh, what the heck, it's not about Ben Franklin, but it's close enough in spirit. From Mary Poppins by the Sherman Brothers, here's "Let's Go Fly a Kite."
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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