"HULLABALOO": SIX DEGREES OF CITY ISLAND?
To celebrate the upcoming hullabaloo over the City Island premiere, enjoy the above photo of Vince Rizzo, smoking and reading while posed underneath a skylight. What's he doing? Why? Come to the festival and find out. Or simply WAIT ANOTHER YEAR until the film has run its release pattern and wound up on DVD. (Or, disastrously, wait until somebody shoots a crappy version of it from the back of the theater at Tribeca and posts it on-line...)
And now back to more pressing matters...namely my latest music/tv/media infatuation, the long-vanished but not forgotten television variety show "Hullabaloo". I was pleased to notice that a number of readers responded quite positively to my previous HB clip--the absurd version of "Help", sung (?) by Jerry Lewis and his oldest son Gary Lewis. Why did this show elude my attention for all these years? Obsessively, I've collected what information I could about it and have come up with the following mini-history. But first, let's get in the mood with a specialty number from the Hullabaloo Dancers—a team of four men and six women. Dig the first two mentioned: Michael (or "Mike" as he's referred to here) Bennett and Donna McKechnie who, of course, went on to revolutionize Broadway a mere ten years later with "A Chorus Line". Bennett also directed Katherine Hepburn in "Coco" and later brought us the stunning "Dreamgirls"--which I went to see at least three or four times in the early eighties. (Odd haberdashirial note: at some point during the "Dreamgirls" run, I saw Bennett walking down Fifth Avenue, wearing a full length mink coat). Also mentioned is Patrick Adiarte who went on to star as Ho-Jon in the television series M*A*S*H. Another female dancer, model/actress Lada Edmund Jr. was best known as the caged "go-go girl" dancer in the "Hullabaloo A-Go-Go" segment near the closing sequence of the show. Dig the chicks at 3:05 (or thereabouts) doing that gnarly knee-dance. Ouch...
"Hullabaloo" ran on NBC from January 12, 1965 through August 29, 1966, originally as a one-hour broadcast, airing from 8:30 - 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday. There was no regular host--different hosts presided each week, among whom were Sammy Davis Jr., Petula Clark, Paul Anka, Jack Jones, and Frankie Avalon. The level of talent the show attracted makes it must-see collecting for students of popular culture--Dionne Warwick, The Rolling Stones, Sonny and Cher, the Supremes, Herman's Hermits, The Animals, and Marianne Faithfull were all featured. Apparently the show was bi-coastal, being taped in New York at NBC's Studio 8-H as well as in Burbank, California (the Jerry and Gary Lewis episodes were LA based--I like to think because of Jerry's demands that he not be forced to fly east for this one-off leg-up sop favor to his son...).
Sadly, though the show was in color, the tapes of the broadcasts were destroyed in a fit of housecleaning. Though a few seem to exist in color, the remaining evidence of "Hullabaloo's" existence comes from black and white kinescopes. Oh, well. The material is still here and was recently collected on a two-DVD set which, I understand, is already a rarity. Nonetheless, thanks to youtube, here's another clip--the Animals singing one of my favorite mid-sixties psychedelic/garage tunes, "It's My Life". Dig the girls with the disembodied heads, peering out of the set from behind the band.
Oh: how does "Hullabaloo" connect itself to "City Island"? Simple. The music director was the great Peter Matz...father of City Island's producer (and my dear friend) Zachary Matz. Let's call that the third degree of seperation. The sixth would be the following inane coincidence; at the time Peter Matz was working on "Hullabaloo", he and his young family lived at 2 West 67th Street, off of Central Park West, in NYC. And I (barely verbal yet) lived across the street at 1 West 67th, a fact that neither Zach nor I were aware of until we met thirty years later in Los Angeles.
Posted by Raymond De Felitta at 5:53 PM