The Name's LaGuardia, B-O-S-L-E-Y
A few weeks ago, I posted a couple of videos here and here from the Encore! revival last year of Fiorello! I thought this would be a terrific follow-up. I've actually posted part of it previously, but it turns out that that segment was part of a much longer piece, and this is the whole thing.
It's largely a tribute to the original Broadway musical of Fiorello!, done on the old Kraft Music Hall with Perry Como, in November, 1961. It features the then-unknown Tom Bosley who came to fame starring as LaGuardia in Bock and Harnick's musical. And for this surprisingly long sequence, he and Como talk about Fiorello as Bosley makes himself up for the role, there's then a bizarrely long montage of newsreel footage of LaGuardia, to help explain who he was, Bosley sings a song from the show, and then (in the clip I'd previously posted) he appears as "sort of" Fiorello in a comedy sketch, imagining what LaGuardia would be like today -- which ends with another song from the show!
(Fun too is that the sketch includes the Kraft Players, among them Paul Lynde and Kaye Ballard. Making this all the more odd, though, assuming the November, 1961, date is correct, is that Lynde's big break came in Bye Bye Birdie which opened the previous year. And Ballard's came with the musical Carnival which opened seven months before this appearance. But there they are on the Kraft Music Hall doing sketch comedy.)
What even more odd about this -- beyond the time spent on the show and having a long film clip section -- is that I think Fiorello! had closed by this time. But Bosley did take the show on the road, so maybe it was done in conjunction with that. Regardless, it's a rare joy to have.
4/17/2014 01:09:27 pm
I think that your confusion about Lynde and Ballard appearing with the Kraft Players after their big breaks can be answered with a simple phrase: "Never turn down a paying gig."
4/17/2014 02:59:57 pm
Yes, that's, in part, my assumption. But -- there's also a theory in show business that you don't take a step backwards because people will think you're slipping and that's the best you can get. And also, when you're appearing in a musical eight performances a week (as I assume Ballard was), it's tough to be a regular in a TV show that rehearses most every day. Not impossible, but tough. Maybe she'd left the show by then, though it was only seven months.
5/6/2019 02:09:20 pm
Augh! This is killing me -- just came across the post and of course the video is down (it is five years later, after all).
5/6/2019 10:51:39 pm
Sharyn, thanks for your note, and I'm sorry about the "Augh!' part. Hopefully this will help salve things at least a touch. But a few years ago, I did one of my periodic "Elisberg International Film Festivals, and it was for "Fiorello!" I tracked down the best videos I could of productions of the show to give as complete a telling of the story as I could (include a few unexpected treats), and over about two weeks, I posted them here online.
10/6/2019 08:08:06 pm
I've been reading a book by Patricia Wilson (the original "Marie") and she includes an interesting observation. PBS (and arts specialty channels) frequently air retrospectives of classic Broadway shows, but Fiorello! isn't mentioned as often as other musicals from that era, even ones that didn't get as much recognition at the time. Wilson notes that the film clips used in such programming mostly are taken from The Ed Sullivan Show on CBS. One of the things that Sullivan did was to invite the casts of hit Broadway shows to perform entire scenes, dialogue as well as musical numbers. Because the show was so popular, there's a better chance that recorded material has survived into the present (compared with regional variety shows on smaller stations, which may have merged or gone extinct in the meantime).
10/6/2019 09:45:38 pm
Lisa, thanks for the tale. Definitely a shame for the historical archives. Interestingly, I included a video of Howard DaSilva and "cronies" singing that very same song decades later on an HBO special and included it in my "festival" of the show. No doubt you saw it.
10/7/2019 01:17:37 pm
I shared that Da Silva clip with my adopted brother, who's adored 1776 for decades and is in awe of him. That HBO show was from 1980 -- if anything, he's even better as a now-aging political dealmaker who's pretty much seen everything -- except for a once-in-a-lifetime character like LaGuardia!
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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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