JOE BLITMAN'S
FASHION & CELEBRITY DOLLS
2021 HOLIDAY ADVENT CALENDAR
DAY 3




16 Dartmouth Drive
Rancho Mirage, CA 92270
323-953-6490

 
joeblitman@aol.com





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CHARLES STROUSE
1928 -

  



There are many things you can say about composer Charles Strouse, but calling him an overnight success isn’t one of them. 

Before he and his frequent lyricist partner, Lee Adams, hit it big with “Bye Bye Birdie,”

    


and despite his classical music training,



Charles Strouse paid his dues over and over again:

as a pianist in strip clubs and assorted dives;

as a vocal coach -- (He once spent several hours with Ginger Rogers trying to discern what key she sang in; he finally concluded she had no discernible key);

and whatever else came along that would pay the rent.

One of those was writing the music for the surprise 1958 Top-10 hit “Born Too Late,” immortalized by The Poni-tails:





But before we get into all that, here are the 10 featured items from our website today -- one of which is a vinyl "Jackie" case made by Ponytail (no relation), the company that made many of the vintage Barbie cases.  Coincidence?  Hmmmmm.




WILD 'N WINTERY
(1971)
NRFB
$399.00


NATURAL HIGH LILITH
(NU.FACE)
(2021)
NRFB
$169.00


RUBY-RED SKIPPER
(RE-ROOTED)
(1964)
$62.00


CHILL CHASERS
(SKIPPER OUTFIT)
(1966)
Near Mint/Mint & Complete
$59.00

SOLD - SORRY


1988 HAPPY HOLIDAYS BARBIE
$25.00

SOLD - SORRY


DAY 'N NIGHT - BELT
(SEW-FREE)
(1965)
SHINY BLACK BELT
Near Mint
$20.00



BARBIE & HER MOD, MOD, MOD, MOD WORLD OF FASHION
(JOE'S MOD BARBIE BOOK)
$49.99



BILLIE JEAN KING
TENNIS LEGEND &
EQUAL RIGHTS ICON
(INSPIRING WOMEN SERIES)
(2020)
NRFB
$26.99




RALLY GEAR
(KEN OUTFIT)
(1969)
Excellent+/Near Mint & Complete
$59.00

SOLD - SORRY


JACKIE ROUND HATBOX CASE
(MADE BY PONYTAIL)
(1962)
$109.99

SOLD - SORRY


GIFT CERTIFICATES
IN ANY AMOUNT YOU WANT






The germ of “Bye Bye Birdie” was to do a show about teenagers, but the storyline didn’t gel until they injected current news into the plot -- the recent drafting of Elvis Presley into the army.   





Strouse and Adams had written a song for star Dick Van Dyke to sing in the second act that they were certain would stop the show.
 





Except it didn’t. 

The song was about to be cut when director Gower Champion’s wife, Marge, suggested they move the song up to the first act. 

They tried it that way one night and the song -- “Put On a Happy Face” -- went over like gangbusters and, indeed, stopped the show.





There was one other hit song in the show - “Lot of Livin’ to Do” -- which is best seen in the movie version.
 





 
(Watch Bobby Rydell’s feet keep up with Ann Margret’s!)




“Bye Bye Birdie” turned into an annuity for Strouse.  For the next several decades, it was THE most performed musical in high schools (that’s a lot of $$$$). 

Strouse and Adams won Tony Awards that year and went on to write a string of hit (and flop) musicals over the next decade. 

One of the hits was “Golden Boy,” starring Sammy Davis Jr., then at the high point in his long career. 



The deal Strouse/Adams made with Davis gave Davis final approval over all of the songs.  Unfortunately, it was like pulling teeth to get those approvals.

Strouse found himself flying all over the country to meet Davis in the middle of the night in hotel rooms, dressing rooms, etc. 

The low point was when the perennially-pudgy Strouse found himself wrapped in a towel in the steam room at The Sands Hotel in Las Vegas amidst the entire Rat Pack, with Sinatra poking him in what Frank disparagingly called Strouse's “rum tum tummy.”






The last hit musical for Strouse/Adams was the musicalization of “All About Eve.”  




“Applause” starred Lauren Bacall, and she and Strouse/Adams all won Tony Awards.  





No song emerged from that show to become a standard, but one year later, Strouse and Adams did provide a theme song for a sitcom that has become, in its own way, a standard:





Those Were the Days


Charles Strouse then moved on to work with a series of other lyricists. 

He struck platinum, gold, and silver with lyricist Martin Charnin on the long-gestating musical comedy “Annie.”  




It was (and still is) a gigantic hit, and it won Tonys for everyone. 




The show ran for 6 years, spawned two movies and a couple of TV specials (including one that aired last night), and, for little girls, it was the “Frozen” of its time. 




The big hit (which can make the hair rise up on the back of your head) is “Tomorrow.”
 
Tomorrow



Equally familiar is the anthem by Miss Hannigan and her brother, “Easy Street”:

Easy Street


What followed "Annie" was a long line of Broadway musicals that were spectacular failures, many running no more than a night or two. 

One such flop, written with Alan Jay Lerner, was called “Dance a Little Closer.” 



Broadway wags who loathed the show said it should have been titled “Close a Little Faster.” 

(But don’t blame Strouse for the failures.  Broadway shows are a collaborative effort, so there is always lots of blame to go around when things go wrong.)

And, seriously - “Bye Bye Birdie” and “Annie”?

Those are nice laurels to rest on

Near the end of his career, Charles Strouse wrote a refreshingly candid memoir about his many shows, his collaborators, and his family (wife and four kids). 

If you like show biz sagas, you’ll really enjoy this book titled, inevitably, “Put On a Happy Face.”




Tomorrow




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