Showing posts with label Tallulah Bankhead. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tallulah Bankhead. Show all posts

Saturday, January 31, 2015

January 31: Happy Birthday, Tallulah Bankhead

January 31: Happy Birthday, Tallulah Bankhead


Darlings, Tallulah Bankhead was a hilarious star of stage and screen and the host of NBC's The Big Show from 1950-1951. The ostentatious Alabaman introduced each week's lineup of spectacular stars (Ethel Merman, Fred Allen, Groucho Marx, Martin and Lewis, Rosemary Clooney, you name 'em) and jousted with them in witty exchanges.

The ambitious and extravagant extravaganza was hosted in the 3,000-seat Center Theatre. Each show opened with the theme song  "A Hand Full of Stars," Bankhead's monologue, and then the wide array of guest stars singing, dancing, or performing sketches in an ensemble.

The indomitable Tallulah, who, legend claims, smoked about a hundred and fifty cigarettes a day in rehearsals, was sometimes a bit thorny with guests. It was mostly all in good fun, but sometimes a bit uncomfortable. For example, Jose Ferrer showed reluctance at being called, by Bankhead, the day's best stage actor, Tallulah quickly shot back that he was right, he probably wasn't.

You may remember Bankhead's roles in such films as "The Trap," "My Sin," "Faithless," "Lifeboat," and "A Royal Scandal." And did you remember that she also played Black Widow in two 1967 episodes of the TV series "Batman"?

Sunday, May 18, 2014

May 18: Meredith Willson Musical Revue

Meredith Willson was a band leader and conductor who then became a radio star and host of his own show. Meredith Willson's Musical Revue aired from 1935 to '53. The road to this distinction passed through work in the trenches. Willson served as the musical director for Tallulah Bankhead's "The Big Show." He also gained some notability as a songwriter, the author of "It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas," and the Beatles hit "Till There Was You."

His was an All-American story, one of a smalltown boy who would travel to New York City wanting to break into show business. Meredith Willson was born in Mason City, Iowa in 1902. Though far from the lights of the big city, he did have a musical environment. His mom taught music lessons, and a childhood friend of his joined him for flute duets. Later, he would use this environment as the inspiration for Music Man.

His style became dubbed "Chiffon Swing." Today we celebrate his 1902 birth.