Friday, November 22, 2013
Remarkable 1960s Live Shari Lewis Christmas Specials
In the early sixties Shari Lewis and her troupe produced some wonderful musical Christmas shows, broadcast live! Fortunately they were preserved on film and we can enjoy them today, I discovered them on DVD.
Particularly entertaining are the 1960 and 1961 productions. Shari's singing is melodic and lovely, the perfect pitch for the holidays. The tunes, a mix of original and classic carols, are delightful and instantly hum-able. The hostess has a way of making each melody her own with a sparkling presence lighting up the tiny black and white screens across New York.
Shari's ability to bring her many puppet personas to life is amazing to behold, jumping effortlessly from one character to another in rapid succession. She even sings in three distinct voices and makes it believable. What a remarkable entertainer.
In the 1960 half-hour holiday program Shari and her friend Jump Pup the dancing canine (actually Jackie Warner in a dog suit) trim the Christmas tree with jolly musical accompaniment before joining Lamb Chop, Hush Puppy and Charlie Horse on a shopping trip. When Lamb Chop and Charlie join Shari for 'Jingle Bells' it's pure magic.
In the 1961 celebration Shari and her pals prepare to go caroling but Charlie hasn't caught the Christmas spirit. Tony Award nominee Ronald Radd as Mr. Goodfellow joins Shari to perform a thoroughly delightful original tune, 'How Can I Be A Santa Claus?' - it's a real showstopper, a tune I'm going to want to hear every Christmastime from now on.
Produced on a tiny 1960's daytime TV budget meant everything was dependent on Shari's ability to bring her fanciful characterizations to life... and she more than rises to the task, glittering like a monochromatic jewel atop the tree.
These shows aren't on You Tube but they and another 1963 Christmas broadcast are available on DVD.
Here's a clip from the same era.
More CHRISTMAS PAST at TVparty!