|Stepsisters, 1965: Prunella and Esmerelda|
Joy and Portia
We've had a few Double Headers in the past history of the Dance Party, but never one like this. Both clips feature the same song, sung by different performers. Not to worry, they both time out at less than a minute and a half, so no need to arrange a babysitter.
Our song comes from the Rodgers and Hammerstein catalogue, and features some wonderful character stars. First up, the only one of these terrific ladies with whom I have actually worked.
|Pat Carroll (and me), backstage at Volpone.|
Though I have since seen much of her previous work, I believe I first became aware of this hilarious dame in the very clip below. Along with Barbara Ruick, Pat delivered one of the few Rodgers and Hammerstein songs which is flagrantly comedic. These two ladies were not the first to sing this song, but they are the ones I most closely associate with it.
|Most of my castmates in Volpone recognized Pat from this|
vocal performance, but I considered her the definitive
Stepsister. I think of Pat every year on my birthday,
and here's why.
The 1965 version of Cinderella, starring Lesley Ann Warren, is the one my generation remembers most fondly, as it ran on TV annually for a full decade. It was almost 40 years later that I worked with Pat, and by then, she had won acclaim playing Mother Courage, Falstaff, and Gertrude Stein, as well as appearing on plentiful game shows, feature films, and the first season of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. But sometimes the first memory is the strongest, and my first recollection of Pat Carroll was here:
You can see what's coming, can't you? This 1965 TV production of Cinderella was a remake. The original piece was broadcast live in 1957, and I wrote about that historical broadcast here. The Stepsisters' Lament was handled on that date by two up-and-coming Broadway stars who would maintain careers for decades to come. And both of them were favorites of mine.
|Though never really absent, Alice Ghostley enjoyed a resurgence in her career as a recurring character on Designing Women. I wrote about her when she died, go here for that obit.|
|Alice was often compared to Paul Lynde, as they|
had similar delivery and facial expression. They
both launched their careers on Broadway in New
Faces of 1954, but no, they were not related.
Kaye Ballard first came to my attention when she costarred with Eve Arden in the 1967 TV sitcom The Mothers-In-Law. I wrote about this series a while ago, when the cast showed up on the Dance Party. When her sitcom hit the air, I had no idea Ballard was an established Broadway star, and of course had no idea that she, along with Alice Ghostley, were the first to introduce the Step-Sisters' Lament.
|Ballard hit the cover of Life in the early 50s,|
while enjoying a burgeoning Broadway career
which included Carnival, costarring Jerry Orbach.
And a puppet.
Here is that very first public performance of the song, sung live to many millions back in 1957. As you watch this version, take note that the later 1965 version has been expanded a bit, with another verse for Pat Carroll's character. Cinderella is now on Broadway, for the first time if you can believe it, in a drastically rewritten version. The Lament now being sung 8 times a week is delivered by only one of the step-sisters (and the ensemble chorus), in a dramatic departure from the originals. I haven't seen it, I doubt I will. Two versions of this lament are enough for me.