Monday, May 28, 2012

Carole Cook: The SECOND Dolly from Hello, Dolly!


Photo courtesy: Carole Cook
Down a red staircase, laced with gold, comes the magnificent figure of Dolly, looking for all the world like Mae West in her heyday.
The second actress to descend the famed Harmonia Gardens stairs was also a Carol(e), this time with an E! In addition to “almost” sharing the same name as the original Broadway Dolly, she also shared something with the international Dolly, Mary Martin. They were both Texans. Carole hails from Abolene Texas.
Wiggling her way down the stairs on to a ramp, this Dolly poured her heart and soul into the number, from which Hello, Dolly! boisterously took its name.
This was a sequence that would galvanize Her Majesty's Theatre in Sydney, Australia night after night for nineteen weeks starting in March of 1965.
This Dolly was tremendous and the waiters…well, they could have danced all night.
Carole Cook led the Australian company of Hello, Dolly! playing Dolly to her fingertips, burstin’ with LIFE a fulfilling warm, natural cash register instincts.  After the time she did the show in Australia, she went to New Zealand for six months to do it there...in Auckland , Christ Church and Wellington...two months each city. 
Photo courtesy: Carole Cook
One of the most unforgettable scenes in musical comedy would probably be the moment when the curtains part atop the stairs of the Harmonia Gardens Restaurant and Dolly Gallagher Levi appears in her gloriously red dress with plumaged headdress... Dolly in Jerry Herman’s hit "Hello, Dolly!" Channing was the first, winning a TONY Award for her performance in 1964. Cook was the world’s second Dolly, having run almost as long in Sydney as Channing did on Broadway.

The role for this production was offered to Julie Wilson told me that she was pregnant at the time. Her husband told her that he would leave her if she left to do this production. With one son, and a baby on the way, she chose family over career.
Julie Wilson
After Julie turned the role down, a search like none since the search for Scarlett O’Hara took place. 
Over three continents, Australian producers JC Williamson Theatres LTD searched. At the advice of Michael Stewart and Jerry Herman, Carole Cook flew into New York to auditions for JC Williamson Theatres AND Mr. Merrick. Mike Stewart had written "Red Hot Mama” for Carole several years before when they were both hungry. He thought of her as Dolly and requested she fly in to audition. She did AND she got the part. With true Texas tenacity, Carole refused to let the odds discourage her-and with true Texas luck, it paid off.  The odds were definitely against her. They wanted a MAJOR NAME! 
She auditioned on a Sunday and got the part the following Tuesday.  She HAD played Dolly Levi previously in The Matchmaker in 1961 at the Dallas Theater Center and then she toured with the show. 

This bigger and brighter Dolly Levi would open in Sydney on March 26th, 1965 for nineteen weeks; then Melbourne for another nineteen weeks.
Lucille Ball as Carol Channing!
Carole is a red-headed, green-eyed American film and TV personality. It was Lucille Ball who suggested she take the professional name of Carole as a tribute to her own idol, Carole Lombard. Carole’s real name is Mildred Cook. She became one of Lucille Ball’s protégés, and did small parts.

Audiences knew of her through film roles such as Don Knotts' long suffering wife in The Incredible Mr. Limpet and she also appeared opposite Connie Stevens and Troy Donahue in Palm Springs Weekend.  
Audiences also knew of her because of her recurring role on Lucille Ball’s hit series, The Lucy Show. Lucille Ball discovered Carole and became her mentor and friend. As a matter of fact, Lucille Ball was Carole Cook’s matron of honor when she married her husband, Tom Troupe.  Carole told me, "when you have Lucille Ball as your matron of honor, NO BODY even knows you're there!"
Their best man was TCM’s Robert Osborne.  

Lucille Ball had formed a group of young performers to become the nucleus of her Desilu Stock company.
When Carole found out that her idol, Lucille Ball, was calling her to go out to Hollywood for a screen test, she originally thought it was a gag. Lucille Ball had called Carole to ask her if she would like to go to Hollywood and make a test after reading a review of Carole's from Annie Get Your Gun.
Carole remembers vividly her arrival in California. When she got to Lucy’s home in Beverly Hills, Lucy told her that the maid would take her luggage to the guest house.  Carole had seen movies where the maid would unpack someone’s suitcases and lay things out but this was really happening!   Carole told me, "When a performer is on the road, she is either traveling or rehearsing or acting. I carried the bags and unpacked myself because I was mortified at the thought of someone going through her personal items." 
THAT is how Carole got to Hollywood! Thank you, Lucille Ball!!

All of that was four years prior to Australia and Hello, Dolly!

Variety: January 22nd, 1965:  
Carole Cook Doing 'Dolly' Down Under
Fred Herbert leaves for Australia this weekend to direct the first foreign production of "Hello, Dolly!" to open in Sydney Mar. 27 at Her Majesty's Theatre.
Down Under edition of the Broadway smash will be presented by J. C. Williamson. Carole Cook, an American, will do the Carol Channlng role.
When Carole opened in Dolly! at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Sydney on March 25th, 1965, the top ticket price was $6.00 and they broke box office records! Newspapers heralded this production as one of the best to reach Sydney stages in years. She would spend the next 16 months in Australia, both Sydney and Melbourne.
Variety: April 8th, 1965
DOLLY' OFF TO SMASH
START DOWN UNDER
Sydney, April 8.

"Hello, Dolly" got away to a smash start at Her Majesty's, Sydney, for J.C. Williamson Ltd. at $6 top. Critics gave the show rave reviews and hinted it might run at least two years at this house. American stars Carole Cooke, Jack Goode and Bill Mullikin scored major hits with patrons
and the press. Fred Herbert directed, with Betty Pounder handling the choreography. Understood Williamson layed out a production figure of $130,000 on "Dolly."




"A PERFORMANCE OF HEROIC ENERGY AND AUDACITY!                                                                                                                                                                                                 Dolly has the asset essential to success in
the gaudy, knowing, attention-compelling personality of Carole Cook. With the red-hair and man-eating smile
of a beautiful fox, she took charge of the evening as greedily as the authors undoubtedly intended!"
—MORNING HERALD, Sydney (March 1965)
Carole was joined  in this company by Jack Goode as Horace Vandergelder. When they opened, they would spend the next two years as Dolly Levi. 
“CAROLE COOK IS A GLOWING CANDELABRA OF
ALMOST FEROCIOUSLY OUTGOING GOOD SPIRITS!
A magical kaleidoscope of colours... memorable,
exciting, extravagantly exuberant. Her speaking voice is an orchestra in itself... she exploits wholesome
sexuality. You won't see a star performance twinkling
more positively than hers!"
-CHEF STCHUECM PRESS, Nmo Zealand (Mm 1966)

with Jack C. Goode





"THEY JUST WENT MAD OVER THIS DOLLY!
The ovation from a stamping, shouting, standing
crowd was testimony that never before in the history
of Auckland show business had anyone so completely
and triumphantly captured an audience as Carole
Cook. Unforgettable... a magnificent piece of
barnstorming, the zany zest of which swept the
audience before her all the way!"
-AUCKLAND STAR, New Zealand (Feb. 1966)
"A STUNNING RED-HAIRED BEAUTY!
The second actress in the world to play the musical
Dolly, she deservedly brought the house to its feet."
—THE AUSTRALIAN, Sydney (April 1965)


Thank you Carole Cook for the gifts you gave and continue to give to the world!
Dining with Tom Troupe and Carole Cook






With grateful XOXOXs ,

I want this to be a definitive account of Hello, Dolly!  If any of you reading this have appeared in any production of Hello, Dolly!, I'm interested in speaking with you! Did you work on any of these productions of Dolly personally? Do you have any pics? If you have anything to add or share, please contact me at Richard@RichardSkipper.com.

NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED.  FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY!

THURSDAY NIGHT!!!!!
May 31
7:30pm
CHICO'S HOUSE OF JAZZ, 631 Lake Ave., Asbury Park, NJ 07712
RICHARD SKIPPER: AT LAST!
ReVision Theatre and the City of Asbury Park couldn't have a better summer kickoff! After introducing ReVision Theatre to the great City of Asbury Park 5 years ago, Richard Skipper returns in "Richard Skipper: At Last". Richard is the perfect start to the musical summer of 2012 in Asbury Park. For more information visit www.revisiontheatre.org or call us at 732-455-3059. To purchase $15.00 General Admission tickets please visit http://revisiontheatre.tix.com.
This show is not to be missed! Musical Direction by: Rich Siegel



Please do what YOU can to be more aware that words and actions DO HURT...but they can also heal and help!    
                 
Tomorrow's blog will be..Judy Norton as Dolly Levi!


Thank you, to all the mentioned in this blog!



  
Here's to an INCREDIBLE tomorrow for ALL...with NO challenges!






TILL TOMORROW...HERE'S TO AN ARTS FILLED DAY
Richard Skipper, Richard@RichardSkipper.com                            

This Blog is dedicated to ALL THE DOLLYS and ANYONE who has EVER had a connection with ANY of them on ANY Level!









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