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CONTENTS FLOPS  

Mata Hari
Chu Chem
Colette
A Show Called "Kelly"
Café Crown
We Take the Town
First Impressions
(Who's Next In the Barrel?)
Sophie!

The Barrier
Ziegfeld Follies

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Mata Hari
(Upper photo, Marisa Mell, lower, Mata Hari)

Marissa Mell

  Mata Hari (1968) Book by Jerome Coopersmith, music by Edward Thomas, lyrics by Martin Charnin.
      A show that closes out-of-town never makes it into the Internet Broadway Data Base (IBDB) so to have been in it is like having an intense part of one's life erased. I asked dancer, Tony De Vecchi, what went wrong.
      "It was boring. Mata Hari was not interesting enough to be a main character. She went from the French to the Germans and all she did was get laid."
      Yet he greatly admired the show's star, Austrian actress, Marisa Mell. "She was a fabulous beauty and really talented."
     A chorus dancer has a worm's eye view of a musical, yet DeVecchi had put his finger on a basic flaw. Oscar-winning writer, William Goldman, saw Mata Hari in Washington and in The Season, A Candid Look at Broadway (Harcourt, 1969), reveals that the original central character was to have been LaFarge, played by Pernell Roberts, an amalgam of the villainous forces that conspired to send Mata Hari to her death.
      The legend of Mata Hari had inspired Martin Charnin six years earlier when every producer he spoke to saw it as camp. One suggested Martha Raye for the title role. But Jerome Coopersmith also had a serious view and indeed, behind the legend was Margaretha Zelle, a hapless Dutch dancer who, like hundreds of other young women of the time, danced naked in cabarets all over Europe, eking out a living while hoping to snare a rich sugar daddy.
Mata Hari       In addition to bad timing – French, German, and English lovers in the middle of World War I – Zelle was arguably not a spy at all until the French demanded she report back on what her German lovers talked about. Forced to spy by the very ones who executed her, she was a victim of conscienceless evil embodied by LaFarge, who beds Mata Hari before having her shot.
      William Goldman blames the fiasco on producer, David Merrick, who refused to fire Vincente Minnelli, an Academy Award-winning but faded movie director, who'd begun on Broadway in 1930 as a costume designer, then wrote and directed musicals and in 1940 went to Hollywood where his hits included Meet Me In St. Louis, and Gigi. He was wrong for Mata Hari.
      Wrote Goldman, "He had taken a deadly serious anti-war effort and directed it as if it were a Nelson Eddy – Jeanette MacDonald movie." He cites stinging lyrics by Martin Charnin about a young soldier who comes face to face with another from the opposing army, sees himself in the other – and kills him.
           He was me, Maman,
           he was me
           Just a boy, Maman,
           not a man
           Can I kill, Maman?
           yes I can.
      Martin Charnin had begun his Broadway career dacing the role of "Big Deal, A Jet," in West Side Story, then directed and wrote lyrics for a dozen shows including Annie. The above lyric, sung as a letter by a young soldier to his mother, touches greatness.— Stuart Hodes


Chu Chem "The First Chinese-Jewish Musical." Ritz Theater (now Walter Kerr Theater.) March 1989. A call from Albee Marre, director of Kismet, Milk & Honey, and Man of La Mancha asking if I would fix some choreography in his new musical which was Broadway-bound after almost three months downtown. He said they could schedule rehearsals around my work at NYU. For contractual reasons I could not be listed as choreographer but several times he said, "You'll be paid."
      I was there to fix the wedding dance and the dancers had a discouraged look when they showed it to me. It was a shambles so I started from scratch, working without forethought, letting moves and music and dancers carry it. In two hours it was "on its feet."
     "What R couldn't do in a month, you did in two hours!" one said enthusiastically.
      Marre came in for a look and had a one-word comment: "Elaborate," and I began to understand what Donald Saddler meant when he said that the most important thing to have in a Broadway musical was, "a good relationship with the director."
      In Milk and Honey, Marre would call Saddler to help him with songs he was supposed to stage himself. One day I watched Marre wrestle with a romantic ballad, missing what to me were obvious cues. When Tommy Rall sang to his departing love, "Turn around, and I'll be following you," the only possible move was for her to turn around. I whispered it to Saddler who nodded knowingly. Eventually he planted the idea in Marre's head, who then said, "Sweet," admiring what he thought was his own idea.
      If that is what it took to work with Marre I was not sure I had it. I executed all his changes making the dance less elaborate, also less like a wedding dance, not to mention a Chinese-Jewish wedding dance.
      Most mystifying, when the show moved into the Ritz, instead of expanding the staging to fill the space, he had the designer erect a tiny off-Broadway stage on the Ritz stage, which did not, however, lend it downtown intimacy, just made it look like you were seeing the show through the wrong end of a telescope.
      Chu Chem opened on Broadway and ran a few days. I was never paid.


Colette
By Larry Blank

Circa 1970. Could a show about the famed French writer, Colette, a Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor, creator of Gigi, Claudine, and Cheri, a rampaging genius whose love affairs, scandals, and mysteries matched any of her heroines, a show written by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt, starring Diana Rigg, could such a show be anything other than a rampaging hit? I'm afraid it could.
      I conducted. We opened in Seattle and closed in Denver, victim of multifarious missteps, perhaps the least of which was a feline actor named Beethoven who bit a chunk out of Diana Rigg's finger.
      A sad yet comic episode involved choreographer, Carl Jablonski, who was told that the famed English dancer, Sir Robert Helpmann, would join the cast a week after rehearsals began. One song lyric ran, "..that master of dance!" Anticipating bravura technique, Jablonski created a production number for the missing virtuoso, a place for "Sir Bobby" to make a spectacular leaping entrance, do ten pirouettes and land exactly there... creating patterns and tableaux into which "Sir Bobby" would fit, pulling scarves from a hat, and doing other magical tricks.
      Then one day, I look into the corner of the room and there is this very short, very old figure in a cape and black hat, chain smoking and coughing, endlessly and breathlessly, looking very much like the father of Zorro." Sir Bobby had arrived. "Master of dance," changed to "master of mime."
     The show closed yet lives on. A year later, re-titled Colette Collage, revised for an intimate setting, it played in a venue of Music Theatre Works and today can be staged by colleges and community theaters. Anyone interested can hear some of the songs, even buy the album at: http://www.mtishows.com/show_songs.asp?ID=000137


A Show Called "Kelly"
by Ron Stratton
(Based on the life of the first man to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge and live.)

     Kelly. February 6, 1965. Broadhurst Theater.
     It was about the love for this bridge, the experiences the characters have involving the bridge.
      Things were not going well in Boston. Rough financially. So something I only saw in movies happened. They had a big meeting and asked us to take a cut in salary. Ha! We all agreed (of course.) So amid all the "did you hear abouts?" we got back to NY. I think we opened on Saturday and closed on Monday.
      They didn't get in touch with everyone before they arrived for the show Monday, me too. So we show up at the theater, go in, the theater is dark. Only a work light in the middle of the stage. Others arrive in shock. We go to our dressing rooms to collect our tackle box make-up. I hear,
     "What?
      "Oh, no!"
      Tears and cries of disbelief!
      Someone says, "Everybody meet at Sardi's!"
      So we do, wandering over slowly, realizing we are out of work, recognizing familiar faces.
      After three martinis and whatever, sobbing, laughing, accepting what had happened, where we are, where we still want to be.
     "Goodnight! See you in class tomorrow!"


Café Crown, Martin Beck Theater, 1964. The leads included Theodore Bikel, Sam Levene, Tommy Rall, and Alan Alda, with solid players like Ted Thurston, Ann Marisse, Luigi Gasparinetti, Terry Violino, Patsy King, and Robert Avian who later did choreography for A Chorus Line. Choreographer, Ronald Field, asked me to assist (not assist-choreograph, just assist.) It had a month of previews, opened, and ran 3 performances. A 24-karat flop.
      It was taken from a play of the same name, in turn based on a real life restaurant, Café Royale, which had flourished from post-turn-of-the-century to 1953 on New York City's 2nd Avenue, corner 12th Street, near the Yiddish theaters that spawned greats like Molly Picon and Paul Muni. It attracted actors, writers, and intellectuals, to be dubbed "Sardi's with schnapps," by Frank Rich.
      In 1942, it inspired a play by Hy Kraft, directed by Elia Kazan, who allowed the impromptu spirit of the café to animate the actors, not objecting during its run at the Cort Theater when a young comic named Zero Mostel made unscripted appearances on stage. Revived by Joseph Papp in 1988, it drew nostalgic praise.
      It must have seemed a fine idea to make a musical from that tender moment in history. The mise en scène was a sidewalk, the action mostly talk, yet in the hands of a theater poet it might have soared. But except for Ronald Field, whose bright dances were drowned in sentimental monologs and weak jokes, the 1964 musical had no poet.
      Sam Levene, the most stage-savvy of actors, played a wise-cracking waiter. Opening night, a wrongly set platform made his first entrance a stumble onto the stage. Not breaking character he said, "When is Mayor LaGuardia going to fix this damn sidewalk?"
Stuart Hodes


We Take the Town, 1961. Any show that loses money is a flop whether a muddle like Kelly or a work of art like Candide. We Take the Town opened in New Haven and closed in Philadelphia, that special breed of flop that never makes it to Broadway. But it went to its doom still bearing a potential for greatness, adding a sting of tragedy. 
     Dancer/writer/director, Donald Driver, after seeing its New Haven premiere, said, "For the first fifteen minutes, I was sure I was seeing a great moment in theater history."
      Depicting the rise and fall of famed Mexican revolutionary, Emeliano Zapata, the show's stirring potential lay in the universality of the hero's apocalyptic vision, his doomed quest, and the great luck to have Robert Preston playing the role. The mostly male cast included superb actors like Mike Kellin, dances by Donald Saddler, and a troupe of dancers and singers who made the West Side Story toughies look like boy scouts.
           I was Saddler's assistant and rehearsals began with a whoop. But trouble began in an early production meeting with composer Harold Karr, writers, Matt Dubey and Helen Deutsch, director, Alex Segal, and choreographer, Donald Saddler.
      Dubey, cradling his script like a newborn, was critical of direction and choreography, pointing out a scene of jubilation after a Zapata victory. He'd written, (as I remember): "an old man is singing off key, dancing out of step and off the music," and complained that nothing resembling his words had been staged.. I'd taken his words as a sort of poetry but he'd meant them literally and expected to see someone "singing off key, dancing out of step and off the music." After several more references to "the script," Alex Segal yanked it out of his arms. "This is a script, not the fucking Bible!" and hurled it across the room.
      In New Haven, a huge set piece lay in the alley. Revolving, it was to have supplied a landscape passing by the windows of the train Zapata had commandeered, but it had been designed for a much larger stage. Worse, the show had run over two hours on opening night, although this is not uncommon. It happened to Paint Your Wagon in Philadelphia. Next day, Allen J. Lerner spoke to the cast. "We can fix it quickly or we can fix it creatively. We want to fix it creatively and creatively takes time so we're staying in Philadelphia for another four weeks." Changes were made each day, the results tested each night and when the show got to Broadway it was ready.
      Alex Segal, a video and movie director used to working quickly and leaving scenes on the cutting room floor, slashed fifteen minutes the first day, fifteen more the next, opening a great gaping hole he was unable to patch – the Titanic after the iceberg. Ignoring the problem in Philadelphia, he spent an entire rehearsal on a minor scene between Preston and Kathleen Widdoes, which to him must have seemed like the cinematic "two-shot" he could handle instead of the huge foundering musical he could not. After one long night of fruitless discussion, I heard him mumble, "And I thought, what could be so hard about directing a Broadway musical?"
   And still it might have been saved. The final nail in the show's coffin was Zapata's last number. Defeated, confused, self-pitying, it presented him as an ignoramus who couldn't understand why the printer of the bogus money he'd ordered, refused to accept any of it in payment. The curtain came down on a man unworthy of having his story sung.
      Unless they're operas, musicals with tragic endings are tough. So why not take a clue from opera? Zapata's defeat is history, but what if Preston's last number had been a great paean to his dreams (on the order of Rose's Turn in Gypsy), growing into a triumphant exaltation of his love for Mexico and kinship with all human dreams?
       We Take the Town was a flop yet a magnificent flop. Stephen Sondheim lists one of its songs, "Silverware," among those he wishes he'd written himself!—Stuart Hodes


First Impressions
(Who's Next In the Barrel?)

      First Impressions, 1959.(Photo: Polly Bergen and Stuart Hodes.) Based on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, the show set out to capture the mannered world of 19th Century upper class England. Director, Abe Burrows, although a Guys and Dolls kind of guy, had produced a debonair script and might have made it happen with any producer but Jule Styne. Styne, of High Button Shoes, Pal Joey, and later, Gypsy, may have wanted to produce a classy show just to show that he could, except he couldn't. The first time the orchestra played the overture, it sounded like Mozart, to the delight of everyone but Styne who demanded a re-orchestration that came back like a denatured version of one of his own shows.
Polly Bergen and Stuart Hodes       The cast was headed by Farley Granger, Polly Bergen, and Hermione Gingold, their characters nicely etched, their songs better than pleasant. But Styne kept demanding changes that gradually turned a silk purse into a sow's ear.
      The dances were a disaster. I say it with sorrow because I was assistant to choreographer, Jonathan Lucas. A crises came during rehearsal of the tavern scene in which Lucas had asked for a giant barrel in which a female dancer would hang on with her hands, both feet strapped in, the barrel rolled, exposing petticoats and pantaloons. As dance assistant, I tried it out, but when upside down the foot straps let go and I fell head first into the wooden bracing. Nursing a cut scalp, I looked up to see that Lucas had installed dancer, Wendy Nickerson, and before I could stop him, rolled the barrel, the foot straps failed again and she fell, smashing her nose. Astonishingly, Lucas wanted to try a third dancer, others whispering "Who's next in the barrel?" when Burrows appeared.
     "Let's not kill any more dancers today," he said.  The barrel was tossed out and not long after so was Lucas.
      Likely hoping for genuine English-bred support, Burrows invited a cast member, Christopher Hewett (First Impressions' own Oscar Wilde) to sit in on production meetings. The character I played became "Lieutenant Rockingham," named after a gay bar in London. It may have given a snicker to a well-traveled few but was lost on the rest.
      One evening, Hewett and half a dozen of the cast were dining in one of Boston's Chinese restaurants, served by a beautiful and charismatic young Asian woman who became the subject of  catty speculation: "How big a tip are we expected to give for all that charm?... She knows we're theater folk and she's auditioning... ." Etc.
      I piped up, "You know what they say about Chinese women?"
     "No, what do they say," said Hewitt flatly, expecting, perhaps, the old punch line.
     "An hour later you're horny."
      One eyebrow lifted. "Did you just make that up?"
      In out-of-town tryouts, people are fired late in the day so they can disappear into the night. One morning, Herbert Ross showed up. He improved things but refused to allow his name in the program. Over lunch I told him I'd been offered a summer choreography job but didn't want to leave First Impressions.
     "What makes you think First Impressions will be still be running?"
      I signed the contract and did not have to give notice.

      Farley Granger, in his newly-published autobiography, Include Me Out (St. Martin's Press, 2007), devotes eight pages to First Impressions. I'm fascinated by his take on the barrel debacle.

During rehearsals at Variety Arts Studios in New York, one of the most daunting challenges was to try to concentrate on rehearsing the scenes with the sounds of barrels crashing and injured dancers screaming coming from the studio above us. Many a brave young male dancer had been taken to the hospital with broken bones while rehearsing this mayhem. (page 195)

     Farley's sympathetic impressions notwithstanding, only one brave male dancer had crashed out of the barrel, me, emerging with a cut on the scalp that required two Band-Aids. Wendy Nickerson, braver and a bit foolhardy, followed me into the barrel, also exiting head first, getting a solid whack on the nose. Woozy, she told me that when she'd been little, her dad used to tell her she had a perfect nose.
      "You'll always be gorgeous," I said, trying to reassure her.
      Off to a doctor, she returned to rehearsal that day, nose taped, and when the tape came off I was able to say, honestly, "It's still perfect."
      Granger's book also reveals his flimsy regard for co-star, Polly Bergen, and the mutual lack of admiration between Bergen and Hermione Gingold. If you hanker for such revelations, Include Me Out is a must read.—
Stuart Hodes


Sophie! Wintergarden Theater, 1963. Would-be producers, Len Bedsoe and Hal Grossman, were convinced that a musical based on the life of Sophie Tucker, the original Red Hot Mama, was a good idea. And it was. But no idea is so good it can fly without talent
      Actually, there was talent. Donald Saddler made snappy dances and Steve Allen wrote nice songs, one of which, "I Love You Today," edged onto the charts. The show's gypsies were great (aren't they always?) and Libby Staiger, who'd been Dolores Gray's standby in Destry Rides Again, played the title role. Although she was more bony than zaftig, she had a voice that could punch holes in beer cans. Whether she could deliver a laugh line isn't known because the show had none. Talent had been needed long before any of the above had arrived.
Sofie Tucker       Sophie Tucker had personality, wit, and made people laugh with songs like, "Nobody Loves a Fat Girl, But Oh How a Fat Girl Can Love." Her real life had real drama. She began by singing to customers in her father's restaurant. But when she left for show business, her Russian Jewish parents considered her a fallen woman. To get her first job in burlesque, she had to sing in black face but one day her makeup kit "disappeared," so she went on as herself and "panicked the house," as vaudevillians put it. A foray into the Ziegfeld Follies was cut short when female headliners complained that she got too much applause. Eventually came success in vaudeville, Hollywood, on the radio, and triumph in her own nightclub act. After conquering Europe she returned to scandalize the U.S.A. by appearing in the first pants suit ever seen, later adopted by Marlene Dietrich. None of this livened up the
book of Sophie! (Photo: Sofie Tucker.)
  
    Act I: Young Sophie in her kitchen dreaming of fame - leaving home - footloose in the Big City - auditioning - rejected - first success - meeting the love-of-her-life, played by Art Lund. The real Sophie had had three marriages but no love-of-her-life. (It's in her autobiography, Some of These Days, and became part of her act.) Yet formula musicals need love stories so book writer, Phillip Pruneau, invented one. The problem was not that it was invented, but that it rang phony. And when hunky Art Lund sang, "I Love You Today," to Libi Staiger, it was phony to everybody, including Art Lund and Libi Staiger.
      During rehearsals Steve Allen was seldom seen but he showed up at the Cincinnati tryouts and when asked what the show needed, said, "More jokes." What it needed was a book with the panache of Sophie's real life lines:
     "I've been rich and I've been poor; believe me, hon, rich is better."
     "From birth to age eighteen, a girl needs good parents. From eighteen to thirty-five she needs good looks. From thirty-five to fifty-five, she needs a good personality. From fifty-five on, she needs good cash."
    Sophie's signature songs, "Some of These Days,""After You've Gone," and "My Yiddishe Mama," were far superior to those in Sophie!, and "I'm Living Alone," in which she poked fun at her own three marriages, later sung by Liza Minelli, brought the audience to its feet.
   I'm a one-ticket gal, free as the breeze, I go where I like, I do as I please
   When I lock up my apartment, I've got all the keys. I'm living alone and I like it.
   If I wanna play gin, I stay up and I play gin. I come home when I want to and when I walk in
   There's no bum growling, "Where the hell have you been?" I'm living alone and I like it.
   No man buys my dresses or pays for my minks. If I get a new hat trimmed with posies and pinks
   There's no husband yelling take it off it stinks. I buy it, I wear it and I like it.
   There isn't going to be a fourth Mr. Ex, and damned if I'm paying more alimony checks,
   I got a nice little boyfriend when I want some sex, but I'm living alone, yes living alone, and I like it.
      Near the end of rehearsals, show doctor, Jack Sydow, squeezed in "Some of These Days" but it was too little, too late. Sophie! opened on Broadway and ran one week. Stuart Hodes

The Barrier. NYC, Broadhurst Theater, 1950. (Photo: Muriel Rahn in Carmen Jones, 1944)Muriel Rahn    A modern opera based on The Mulatto, a play by Langston Hughes, The Barrier told of a white plantation owner, his black mistress, and their son in the Deep South. With promising tryouts at Columbia University and in Washington DC, it must have seemed logical to pump it up with stars and put it on Broadway.
      Choreographer, Doris Humphrey, offered me an understudy that included a tiny speaking part, "Assistant to the Undertaker," my Broadway debut. I'd watched Humphrey's rehearsals when we were both at Connecticut College. Once a star in the groundbreaking Denishawn troupe but no longer dancing, she was still lithe, charismatic, and beautiful.
      Muriel Rahn as the mistress, had electrified Broadway as Carmen Jones. Lawrence Tibbett, a star of the Met, may have hoped that The Barrier would do for him what South Pacific had done for Ezio Pinza. His voice rattled the rafters on some days, but he couldn't utter a peep on others. Other singers said he drank. Muriel Rahn was always in superb voice. I understudied Marc Breaux who had a dance interlude as the young plantation owner remembering his rapturous days of early love.
     Our "out-of-town" tryout was Brooklyn, two weeks in an old vaudeville house long converted to movies. Time-worn and shabby, with the movie screen hauled out of sight, stage mopped, dressing rooms cleaned, it sprang back to life like an old diva with one last chance to sing.
      Composer, Jan Meyrowitz, hovered edgily around rehearsals. One day, talking with producer, Michael Myerberg, he loudly erupted, "You want Blitzstein? Get Blitzstein!"
      "We don't want Blitzstein we want Meyrowitz," soothed Myerberg. I wish he'd gotten Blitzstein.
     NY Times critic, Brooks Atkinson, called the music "over civilized" and "over intellectualized." Another critic hated everything and said the only lively moment was provided by two grim undertakers. That was me and Jesse Jacobs as a pair of bigoted, superstitious yokels. Jacobs was short and plump so maybe we reminded people of Laurel and Hardy. Anyway, we got the only laughs.
      As soon as the curtain came down, closing notice went up. All we had was two shows the next day, Saturday. When I showed up for the matinee, before going backstage, I spent a few minutes in the Broadhurst lobby, looking at the still photos and thinking, "Right now, Broadway is mine!" — Stuart Hodes


Ziegfeld Follies. 1956. NYC.
Jack Cole Ziegfeld Follies (Photo: Jack Cole in white shirt. Rear left, Stuart Hodes)
      I arrived at 9:15 AM to see Matt Maddox already in a sweat doing his warm-up. At 10 dance captain, George Martin, beckoned us onto the floor. "Learn this, please." At 11, in our 5-minute break, Jack Cole showed up. He took the top off the battered upright, then the front panel, knelt under the key-board and pulled off another piece. He liked his music loud.
      Then he huddled with the pianist, Maddox, and Carole Haney as Haney sang softly from sheet music. A chorus dancer edged by, listened, then rushed back. "‘The night the line broke loose!' It's a chorus number!" We tried to imagine what he'd do with us when the chorus line broke loose and took over. What a great idea for the greatest choreographer on Broadway!
       But she'd heard wrong. It was "The Night the Lion Broke Loose." Maddox played a circus Lion and we were clowns armed with brooms trying to catch him. Even a genius couldn't do much with such a dim idea.
      Ten minutes into the lunch break the Equity deputy whispered to George Martin who whispered to Cole.
     "All right! All right! Send them to lunch! My God, I don't want them hating me the first day!
     " Next morning Cole greeted me with, "High Stu. How's the legs?" I was startled that he knew my name. I'd been in Kismet but only as a replacement. Cole's moves were tricky, and afraid of missing something, every dancer echoed every move he made. Dance Magazine sent a photographer who took a picture of Cole with his hand on his brow. He was just wiping away a few beads of sweat but when his hand flew up, so did every hand.
      Producers, Kollmar and Gardiner, must have felt they couldn't miss with the name, Ziegfeld Follies. All of the 25 or so since 1907 had stuck to the formula, show girls, comedy, show girls, songs, showgirls, dances. And most made money. Cole's grand waltz pulsed like a sea anemone and the Spanish number was ominous in front of castle walls despite showgirls draped on parapets and popping out of doors. .Even the pathetic Lion dance to a nothing song, had surprising hi-jinks.
      But the skits were grisly; Tallulla is in a giant bed surrounded by lovers. She is dying. (Isn't that a gas?) Her lawyer explains that each lover will inherit according to the length of his penis. After the muscled giant gets fifty cents and the leprechaun a million dollars, the "joke" is dead, but the skit staggers on until Julie Newmar, dressed like a French maid crosses the stage carrying a lit candelabra, to what point no one could fathom.
      At a photo call, Tallulla cursed out the producers and PR guys then turned to a line of dancers and stage-whispered: "Don't let me upset you, dahlings. These jackals must be kept on a short leash." Despite hopeless material, Tallulla did Tallula with pizzazz.
      We were her fans, of course, but she couldn't save Ziegfeld Follies. Closing notice went up on a Saturday and on Sunday my wife visited. We had lunch in the Automat.
      I said, "I have a surprise for you, we're closing."
       She replied, "I have a surprise for you, I'm pregnant."
       As our train plunged through the tunnel toward Penn Station, comic, Davie Burns, walked through the car full of dancers and singers shouting: "Next stop, New York City! All affairs over!" I now have the distinction of having been in the only edition of Ziegfeld Follies not to make it to Broadway.
      A year later, another Ziegfeld Follies went into production starring Beatrice Lily. Choreographer, Frank Wagner, wouldn't even look at dancers from Tallulla's show who he likely considered some kind of hex. When it opened, I felt impelled to see it, like you can feel impelled to pick off a scab and make yourself bleed.
      It had two laughs: one was Bea Lily's parody of My Fair Lady, "I had a bawth last night," the other when she flung her long pearl rope to one side and it spiraled down her body like a hula hoop and ended on the floor in a circle out of which she daintily stepped.
       That Follies was also a flop but at least it opened in New York City at the Wintergarden Theater and ran three-and-a-half months.— Stuart Hodes

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