Saturday, October 22, 2016

Celebrating Chasing Rainbows: The Road to Oz: From Hollywood to Goodspeed

Dorothy: Oh, will you help me? Can you help me?
Glinda: You don't need to be helped any longer. You've always had the power to go back to Kansas.
Dorothy: I have?
Scarecrow: Then why didn't you tell her before?
Glinda: She wouldn't have believed me. She had to learn it for herself.
Scarecrow: What have you learned, Dorothy?
Dorothy: Well, I—I think that it, that it wasn't enough just to want to see Uncle Henry and Auntie Em — and it's that — if I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own backyard. Because if it isn't there, I never really lost it to begin with!
Is that right?
Glinda: That's all it is!
Scarecrow: But that's so easy! I should've thought of it for you -
Tin Man: I should have felt it in my heart -

Glinda: No, she had to find it out for herself. Now those magic slippers will take you home in two seconds!
Dorothy: Oh! Toto too? Glinda: Toto too.
Dorothy: Now?
Glinda: Whenever you wish.
Glinda: Then close your eyes and tap your heels together three times. And think to yourself, 'There's no place like home'.

Happy Saturday, October 22nd, 2016!
On a level of 1 to 10, where is your passion for life and your work today? For me, it would be an eleven! I love what I do. I love meeting with, being with, and celebrating artists and art!
As I grow roots deeper and deeper into the areas I'm most passionate about, my energy grows.  I'm not like this 100% of the time. I need down time

and alone time. So many people in the last couple days have privately told me how much ENERGY I have. There are days I don't have energy.  My career path got derailed about five years ago. I have had to completely rethink and redirect the course of my life. I feel that I am finally following the call for my  life and am living in what is my "sweet spot" - the center of my being - I believe my passion is finally begin to really  shine through.
I'm an extrovert and so you'll see a lot of activity from me.
Now, where we are...
October 22 is the 296th day of the year. There are 70 days remaining until the end of the year. 
There are 9 days to Halloween (and my show! See below). There are 16 days till the election. 180 days till Bette Midler's opening night in Hello, Dolly!  
Speaking of Bette, on Monday night, I went to see her interview Carole Bayer Sager at the 92nd Street Y. It was in celebration of Carole's new memoir, They're Playing Our Song.

During the interview, Bette asked Carole if there was a song that she wishes that she had written. 
Carole said there were two, Imagine by John Lennon and Over the Rainbow
I was listening to Sonya Hensley singing this iconic song earlier today. It reminded me that a film and a song that was written 77 years ago is just as relevant today. Both have been a major part of my life and not a day goes by that one or the other pops up in my life. Earlier this month, I was lucky enough to see Chasing Rainbows: The Road to Oz at the Goodspeed Opera House. I have done several interviews with some of the creative personal
Today's blog is a celebration of The Wizard of Oz, Over the Rainbow, Judy Garland, the Ruby Slippers and how they have always been least in my life. Add Chasing Rainbows to that mix. This is one show that I am going to follow closely.  
The Wizard of Oz, which had been a critical but only a modest financial success during its theatrical run, was chosen to be the first Hollywood film to be shown uncut in one evening on an entire television network rather than just a network affiliate.
Its first telecast took place November 3, 1956 on Ford Star Jubilee. It was the last program in the CBS anthology series, which had already been canceled. The network paid MGM $225,000 for the rights to televise the film and to re-broadcast it if the telecast was a success. (Source: The Wizard of Oz on Television).

About five minutes into the film, Dorothy sings the song after failing to get her aunt and uncle to listen to her relate an unpleasant incident involving her dog, Toto, and the town spinster, Miss Gulch. Dorothy's Aunt Em tells her to "find yourself a place where you won't get into any trouble". This prompts Dorothy to walk off by herself, musing to Toto, "'Some place where there isn't any trouble.'
"Someplace where there isn't any trouble…Do you suppose there is such a place, Toto?" -Dorothy
Do you suppose there is such a place, Toto?

Add caption
There must be. It's not a place you can get to by a boat, or a train. It's far, far away. Behind the moon, beyond the rain...", at which point she begins singing.

TOTO (November 17, 1933 – September 1, 1945) was a female Cairn Terrier performer who appeared in 16 different movies, most famously  in The Wizard of Oz
Her real name was Terry. It was her only credited role, though she was credited not as Terry but as Toto. Terry was owned and trained by Carl Spitz.I got the inspiration for today's blog when I went to post my interview earlier this week on John Fricke's Facebook page. Major OZ News announced this week! 

I will write more about that at the end of this blog.

The blog I am referring to was based on my interview with Michael Wartella who is currently appearing as Mickey Rooney in the amazing Chasing Rainbows: The Road to Oz at the Goodspeed Opera House  starring Ruby Rakos as Judy Garland through November 27th. If you are a fan of Judy Garland and The Wizard of Oz, you have to see this production.
Chasing Rainbows: The Road to Oz?
New Oz items for all
What does Marc Acito’s unexplained (yet temporary) paralysis at age four and his mother’s subsequent car crash have to do with the new musical?  Well, everything.Read MORE

Anyone who knew me growing up knows of my love for The Wizard of Oz
I have written about it from time to time over the years. I am a product of the 60s and 70s AND television viewing which was a major part of my formative years growing up. This was a time where we had to wait a full year for the next annual showing. There were no VHS tapes or DVDs. We patiently waited. 

TV Guide: October 2, 1965 - Don Adams and Barbara Feldon of "Get Smart!"
I remember in our TV Guides at the time, there was a yellow page in the back.
It was a column by Army Archerd.
Jane Withers, Shirley Temple, Terry in Bright Eyes

It was usually there that I would find out when the next TV showing would take place and I would IMPATIENTLY waited. I would count down the days and the night would be built around that. We had to eat supper before it began.
We had to be home. 
People pledging lots of green to restore Dorothy's ruby red slippers 
There were a couple of years where I saw
Used by permission: Alex Ross Art
it at my paternal
On October 22nd, 1939 (off the heels of The Wizard of Oz), you could see Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland in movie theatres in Babes in Arms
grandparents (they had a color TV before us!) and once at my Uncle Gilbert and Aunt Christine's. They had a color TV and when it started in black and white, my Aunt Christine was trying to adjust the color no matter how many times I told her it was supposed to be in black and white!

By the time Dorothy arrived in Oz, the colors were far from what the original screen makers had intended.
When I was seventeen, it was scheduled to be shown but because of a state Basketball game, it was preempted! I called Channel 13 (our CBS affiliate) and complained! All was saved when a high school buddy, Doug Bell, told me that they were able to pick up an affiliate at their home to show it!  So all was saved. Shortly after I moved to New York, it would be shown in the revival houses. I would go with friends to enjoy it.
Today, I celebrate how this film has become an integral part of lives and continues to do so.
It was first shown in theatres in 1939, then re-released nationwide in 1949 and 1955. It was first telecast on television on Saturday, November 3, 1956
The film was shown as the last installment of the CBS anthology series Ford Star Jubilee. 
Since that telecast, it has been shown respectively by CBS, NBC, the WB Network, and several of Ted Turner's national cable channels, but never simply by a local affiliate. From 1959 to 1991 it was an annual tradition on American commercial network television. 
During these years, and for several afterwards, it was always shown as a television special.
My earliest recollection of watching had Danny Kaye hosting the telecast with an opening and lead ins to the film from commercial breaks. 
Mr. Kaye's hosting segments were pre-taped against a recreation of the Yellow Brick Road and The Emerald City at CBS Television City in Los Angeles on January 13, 1964 for a Sunday January 26, 1964 screening. Danny Kaye's hosting segments were repeated until 1967. (Source: TVParty)
Over the Rainbow became Judy Garland's signature song. It has since been recorded by many
Danny Kaye would reassure viewers not to panic when the film began in black-and-white rather than in color, and he would encourage young viewers not to be afraid of the roaring MGM lion at the beginning of the film. No directors or writers were credited for the hosting sequences, just as none are credited for hosting segments prior to films on Turner Classic Movies.

Danny Kaye's wraparound segment was shown between 1964 and 1968 until the film went to NBC.
His remarks would lead directly into the actual film, beginning with all of its original 1939 opening credits (which are shown against a background of moving clouds), including the MGM Leo the Lion logo, the name of the film, the cast list, and the film's principal technical staff, exactly as MGM had created them, with the film's main title music heard.
At the end of the movie, the film's closing credits, as created by MGM, would not be shown, and the
Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland photo bombed by Fred Astaire
"The End" title card that directly follows Dorothy's closing line was never seen on television during these early CBS showings.
Interesting side note. The year I was born, 1961, when CBS said that color telecasts had to be paid for by their sponsors. Those sponsoring The Wizard of Oz declined to do so, and the film was shown in black-and-white that year.
Partly because commercial time during programs increased beginning in the late 1960s, the idea of regularly having hosts to introduce the film was dropped when The
Wizard of Oz went to NBC in 1968, where no "wraparound" sequence was shown. The presentation consisted only of the film itself, with its original opening and closing credits, and no special NBC-created credits or hosting segments. The famous NBC peacock would be shown immediately prior to the beginning of the film, with announcer Mel Brandt saying that "the first 22 minutes of this program [i.e. the Kansas and tornado sequences] will be shown in black-and-white", a not quite accurate statement, since the final three minutes of the film also took place did The 1970 showingopened with veteran actor Gregory Peck in memory of Judy Garland who had passed on the preceding summer. Oz producer Mervyn LeRoy, directed Peck's segment marking his first TV work), although this segment consisted of only a few brief remarks, while the opening hosting segments on CBS had gone on for about three minutes or so. The NBC Oz telecasts began the tradition of the film's annual showings during the Easter and Passover seasons of the year as opposed to the winter showings on CBS.

paying tribute to the recently deceased Judy Garland (a segment directed by  in Kansas, and were at that time also shown in black-and-white, rather than in the sepia tone in which they originally had been made (the sepia was not restored to the Kansas and tornado scenes until 1989 - the film's 50th anniversary).

Judy Garland with Roger Edens
However, one NBC telecast
It would remain at NBC until 1976. After its 1976 return to CBS, the film was hosted on that network only once more, in a filmed segment featuring Angela Lansbury in 1990, but the CBS "wraparound" opening and closing credits were not - and have never been - revived, although, during those years, a blue card featuring a painting of a rainbow and the title The Wizard of Oz was shown on the screen while the night's pre-empted programs or programs to be shown at regular time and the sponsors were being announced, and immediately before and after commercial breaks.
In the 1980s clips from the film shown on a red background with title was shown at the start, while a still of Emerald City with title was used during commercials. Angela Lansbury also narrated a documentary about the making of the film, originally entitled The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: 50 Years of Magic and years later retitled The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: The Making of a Movie Classic. Emmy Award for his work.
It was first shown immediately after the movie's 1990 telecast, and is included as a supplement on all the DVD releases beginning with the 1999 DVD release. Jack Haley, Jr., the documentary's director, was nominated for an
On June 3, 2007, Tom Kenny, the voice of SpongeBob SquarePants, hosted a telecast of the film on Turner Classic Movies, as part of Essentials, Jr., a special summer series of family movies.
And now,  The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., which for almost 40 years has housed one of the iconic pairs of ruby red slippers Judy Garland wore as Dorothy in The
Very much a part of our public consciousness
Wizard of Oz
, has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the restoration of the shoes — to the tune of $300,000.
The project seems to be working: As of this writing, the Kickstarter has raised $205,000 so far, with 27 days to go.

On this date in 1942, Annette Funicello was born.  A proposed live-action feature Rainbow Road to Oz was to have starred some of the Mouseketeers, including Darlene Gillespie as Dorothy and Funicello as Ozma. Preview segments from the film aired on September 11, 1957, on Disneyland's fourth anniversary show. By then,  The Wizard of Oz had already been shown on CBS Television for the first time.
"That was her sister--the Wicked Witch of the East. This is the Wicked Witch of the West. And she's worse than the other one was." -Glinda
Theories on why Rainbow Road to Oz was abandoned include Disney's failure to develop a satisfactory script, and
Judy Garland immortalized her hand and foot prints at Grauman's Chinese Theatre October 10, 1939
the popularity of the MGM film on television. Disney ultimately replaced this film project with a new adaptation of Babes in Toyland (1961), which starred Funicello as "Mary Contrary".

Mary Wickes also passed on this date. What was her Wizard of Oz connection?  Prodded on by the encouragement of stage legend Ina Claire whom she met doing summer theater, Mary transported herself to New York where she quickly earned a walk-on part in the Broadway play "The Farmer Takes a Wife" starring Henry Fonda in 1934. In the show she also understudied The Wizard of Oz (1939)'s "Wicked Witch" Margaret Hamilton, and earned excellent reviews when she went on in the part. Plain and hawkish in looks while noticeably tall and gawky in build, Mary was certainly smart enough to see that comedy would become her career path and she enjoyed showing off in roles playing much older than she was. New York stage work continued to pour in, and she garnered roles in "Spring Dance" (1936), "Stage Door" (1936), "Hitch Your Wagon" (1937), "Father Malachy's Miracle (1937) and, in an unusual bit of casting, Orson Welles' Mercury Theatre production of "Danton's Death." All the while she kept fine-tuning her acting craft in summer stock.

Here is a memory from my friend Maya Amis: That moment when Dorothy opens the door and looks out into brightly colored Oz distills wonder, as does Judy's rendition of the classic line, "Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas any more." It wasn't until I was an adult that I knew that the film changed from sepia to color at that point. It still blows me away. This directorial choice reflects perfectly the opening paragraphs of the book, in which
On this date October 22, 1949 ... an article in the British publication PICTUREGOER promoting the release of IN THE GOOD OLD SUMMERTIME. 
the word "grey" appears around ten times. Here is a song I really like on this subject! Dumb Dumb Dorothy - Three Weird Sisters

Today this scene would be easy to do digitally; colors are changed all over the frame in modern films. But there's no magic there. And in 1939 a bit of stage magic was needed.
The magic continues at Goodspeed!
Here's to the future artists to be created! I'm looking forward to the future chapter of Chasing Rainbow: The Road to Oz on Broadway!

Chasing Rainbows


An awkward girl with a golden voice blossoms into Judy Garland in the inspirational new musical about the bumpy road to "Oz." The future superstar's complicated childhood comes alive with heartbreak, hope and the music that made her famous. "I Can't Give You Anything But Love," "You Made Me Love You" and "Over the Rainbow" sweeten the story of Judy striving to hold onto her family. A love letter to gifted underdogs who reach high—and how the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true. Order Tix HERE.

Again, Pay attention to what is going on around you. I urge you to READ, RE-READ, and TAKE NOTES! Some history should not be repeated.

As you can see, we have a LOT to be proud of. We also have a lot to be concerned about. 
Let's all agree to celebrate that pride in each other! 
Please send your suggestions for future blogs to

Thank you, to all mentioned in this blog for the gifts you have given to the world and continue to give!

With grateful XOXOXs from YOUR pro-active friend,

Check out my site celebrating the legacy of Call on Dolly: From Carol to Bette!


Please do what YOU can to be more aware that words and actions DO HURT...but they can also heal and help!   

9 Days till Halloween! I Hope you can celebrate with us! with US! Richard Skipper
"I'd turn back if I were you…" -Lion
Celebrates: A Talk/Variety Show encouraging us to celebrate each and every day and the hidden gems therein. PLEASE CELEBRATE WITH us Halloween, October 31st. AND SAVE THE DATE...Richard Skipper Celebrates...Halloween throughout history! Did you know Dale Evans , Ethel Waters, Barbara Bel Geddes (Vertigo) , Dan Rather, AND Michael Landon (I was a Teenage Werewolf) were all born on October 31st? The cast includes Leanne Borghesi, Kelley Karel as Hillary Clinton, Laurie Krauz, Marta Sanders, Deborah
Stone AND a Mystery Guest. With musical direction by Bryon Sommers and Jeff Carney on bass. The Triad at 8PM Come dressed as your favorite celebrity and win a fabulous prize! Contact for more info. You never know who you might see there and what might happen. Show at 8PM/Doors open at 7:30.
9 Days till Halloween! Who will be our Mystery Guest! Join us at The Triad at 8PM and find out!
Tickets are $30.00 plus a two drink minimum. 
Reservations a MUST! Call 888 596-1027 to purchase tickets or YOU can also do it on THEIR website. A portion of the proceeds will benefit The Actors Fund. CHECK OUT OUR PROMO:

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