Carol Channing

On Tour

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Just over 14 years separated the openings of Carol Channing's two starring roles in successful Broadway musicals: 1949's Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and 1964's Hello, Dolly! In between, she did a couple of less successful shows, some plays, a couple of films, and television. But her most notable activity was the development of a nightclub act that she toured with around the country. George Burns, who knew something about writing for ditzy comediennes, wrote special material; Charles Gaynor, who had written Lend an Ear, the 1948 Broadway revue that put her on the map, wrote some songs; and she threw in "Little Girl From Little Rock," "Bye Bye Baby," and "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Vanguard Records recorded the act and released it on the 1961 album Carol Channing, of which 51 West Records' 1979 On Tour is a reissue. The recording quality is hardly pristine; Channing doesn't seem to have changed her act any to accommodate the microphones. But her effervescent charm comes through fine. She impersonates Sophie Tucker and Tallulah Bankhead, and good-naturedly makes fun of Judy Garland and Zsa Zsa Gabor. Gaynor's songs are novelties of no great distinction, and the best parts consist of Channing just being her bubbly self, chatting about her hairdo or the performing life. In 1961, this act was formalized into a Broadway revue called Show Girl that ran for 100 performances and led to a cast album on Roulette Records, so there were two competing versions of this material in stores at the same time.

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