The most fascinating by-product of the success of Disney/Pixar’s epic cartoon WALL-E has been renewed interest in that most curious of Hollywood musical spectaculars Hello Dolly.
The cartoon’s loveable little robot hero discovers a video cassette of the late-60’s flop supreme while collecting detritus on a debris-filled, human-free Earth, and becomes especially taken with the “Put On Your Sunday Clothes” number
I’ve always had a morbid fondess for the film version of Hello Dolly. Starring an insanely miscast yet nonetheless overwhelming Barbra Streisand it arrived at the trail end of a series of late-60’s musicals churned out in the belief that the genre would always produce a Sound of Music blockbuster. Star!, Paint Your Wagon, and Camelot — all pricey disasters — proved otherwise. Hello Dolly was a special case in that the studio powers-that-were passed on the woman who made it Broadway success, Carol Channing, in favor of a new gay show queen obsession, La Streisand. Adapted from a play by Thornton Wilder with a book by Michael Stewart and music and lyrics by Jerry Herman, the whole thing couldn’t be gayer if it tried.
And it did!
For as you can see from the above clip it offers the movie debut of the Beyond Fabulous Tommy Tune. It is also the very last work signed by its “Line Producer” — the immortal Roger Edens.
You can find a thrilling, laugh-out-loud hilarious account of its making in The Studio — a priceless book about a year in the life of 20th Century Fox by John Gregory Dunne. My favorite bit is when producer Ernest Lehman reminded an enraged Walter Matthau — whose Babs-antipathy had by then reached volcanic proportions — that the film wasn’t entitled Hello, Walter.
And that in turn leads to someone truly overlooked in all of this,
the other featured player in the “Put On Your Sunday Clothes” number Danny Lockin
As his IMBD bio notes —
“Danny played the role of ‘Barnaby’ in travelling companies of Hello, Dolly before Gene Kelly signed him for the motion picture. Following his appearance in the motion picture, he went on to broadway and played Barnaby in David Merricks production starring Ethel Merman. He was born in Hawaii, and raised in Omaha, Nebraska. Danny started dancing professionally at the age of eight – an exceptional dancer. Danny also appeared in West Side Story in New York, and in other shows such as The Sound of Music, The Music Man and Take Me Along. Danny appeared in the motion picture Gypsy (1962) as Gerry. He soon played the role of Barnaby in touring companies of Dolly, and before long, Gene Kelly paid special attention to his audition for Barnaby in December 1967. Following the motion picture Hello, Dolly, Danny returned to Broadway to play Barnaby opposite Ethel Merman. Soon after, he recorded his first record album. Danny also followed the tradition by teaching dancing. A wonderfully multi-talented man.”
And then under “Trivia” —
“Danny Lockin lived in Orange County, California and worked at his mother’s dance studio for several years after his appearance in “Hello Dolly” with Streisand. On August 21, 1977, he competed on “The Gong Show” and tied for first place. After the taping of that show in Los Angeles, he drove toward his home in Anaheim, but ended up at a bar in Garden Grove instead. He was later found murdered in a nearby apartment of Charles Hopkins who had stabbed him to death. Police found a “torture diary” under Hopkins’ bed and prosecutors tried to pursue the death penalty using the pictures in the diary as evidence that Lockin’s death was planned. However, Hopkins’ trial was postponed because of a car accident, and in that time (lucky for Hopkins) the California Supreme Court ruled that such evidence found AFTER the initial crime scene investigation was NOT admissible. Without the diary to show premeditation, Hopkins was only found guilty of manslaughter and was sentenced to only four years in prison. Critics said justice hadn’t been served, as Lockin was stabbed more than 100 times.”
Needless to say “Hate Crime” statutes (so disliked by Patient Less Than Zero) didn’t exist at this time either. And so stabbing a man 100 times just gets a wrist-slapping, cause after all — nudge-nudge, wink-wing, say-no-more.
There’s a world outside of Yonkers
Way out there beyond this hick town, Barnaby
There’s a slick town, Barnaby
Full of shine and full of sparkle
Close your eyes and see it glisten, Barnaby
Put on your Sunday clothes,
There’s lots of world out there
Get out the brillantine and dime cigars
We’re gonna find adventure in the evening air
Girls in white in a perfumed night
where the lights are bright as the stars!
Put on your Sunday clothes, we’re gonna ride through town
In one of those new horsedrawn open cars
We’ll see the shows at Delmonicos and we’ll close the town in a whirl
And we won’t come
And we won’t come
And we won’t come until we’ve kissed a girl!”