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From Broadway to Hollywood

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I remember seeing Michael J. Pollard dining at Hamburg Haven, a burger joint on East 53rd Street in NYC in 1968.

Swithin, Thanks for sharing that info about Michael J. Pollard and I believe the burger joint was called "Hamburger Heaven" on East 53rd Street in NYC.

 

Swithin, the thread is yours.

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This great Hollywood character actress began her career on Broadway early in the last century. Her triumphs, often working for a famous pioneering producing company, included the lead in the original Broadway production of a Chekhov play and in the original production of a Eugene O'Neill play. She also appeared in the original productions of two plays which were later turned into Rodgers & Hammerstein musicals. 

 

Once she got to Hollywood, she appearing in numerous major supporting roles. In the 1930s, she appeared in two screen musicals, in one, a crotchety wife; in the other, a sweet elderly woman who died, asleep, while the star was singing to her.

 

Who is this great actress? What were the major Chekhov and O'Neill plays; and the two plays which were later turned into R&H musicals? What was the famous producing company in whose productions she appeared about 42 times?

 

And what were the two Hollywood musicals I referred two?

 

 

 

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Swithin,

 

In answer to your post, the great actress is Helen Westley. Miss Westley was an original board member of "The Theatre Guild" which is the famous producing company in which she appeared in numerous productions such as Major Barbara, Pygmalion, Caesar and Cleopatra and so many others.

 

Miss Westley starred in Chekhov's Peer Gynt and Eugene O'Neill's Strange Interlude. The two original plays  were Green Grow The Lilacs and Liliom which became the Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals Oklahoma and Carousel, respectively.

 

The two Hollywood musicals Miss Westley appeared in were Roberta in 1935 and Show Boat in 1936, both starring Irene Dunne.

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Swithin,

 

In answer to your post, the great actress is Helen Westley. Miss Westley was an original board member of "The Theatre Guild" which is the famous producing company in which she appeared in numerous productions such as Major Barbara, Pygmalion, Caesar and Cleopatra and so many others.

 

Miss Westley starred in Chekhov's Peer Gynt and Eugene O'Neill's Strange Interlude. The two original plays  were Green Grow The Lilacs and Liliom which became the Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals Oklahoma and Carousel, respectively.

 

The two Hollywood musicals Miss Westley appeared in were Roberta in 1935 and Show Boat in 1936, both starring Irene Dunne.

 

You are correct, Marsha, apart from your mention of Peer Gynt, which is by Ibsen and was the first revival of that play. The original Broadway production of a Chekhov play I was thinking of was The Seagull, in which Ms. Westley played Mme. Arkadina.  

 

Helen Westley was from an old Brooklyn family. In fact, her birth name -- Helen Remsen Meserole Mannay -- features the names of two Brooklyn streets (Remsen and Meserole) named for her ancestors.

 

Your thread!

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You are correct, Marsha, apart from your mention of Peer Gynt, which is by Ibsen and was the first revival of that play. The original Broadway production of a Chekhov play I was thinking of was The Seagull, in which Ms. Westley played Mme. Arkadina.  

 

Helen Westley was from an old Brooklyn family. In fact, her birth name -- Helen Remsen Meserole Mannay -- features the names of two Brooklyn streets (Remsen and Meserole) named for her ancestors.

 

Your thread!

Swithin, I appreciate your info that Peer Gynt was written by Henrik Ibsen and I especially appreciate the additional background info regarding Helen Westley's Brooklyn family background and the influence her birth name had in choosing her stage name. Being Brooklyn born and bred I'm very familiar with Remsen and Meserole Streets, so this info really fascinated me and brought back some of my own Brooklyn memories.

 

This actress started as a dancer and member of the chorus on Broadway and went on to perform in several Broadway shows, some choreographed by a well known movie dancer and choreographer. Three of the shows starred major legends of TV and Film. She joined a well known improvisation theatre group and toured the country later appearing in sketches on Playboy After Dark.

She broke into television on an episode of a soap opera called The Doctors.

 

After moving to Los Angeles and while performing in theatre, in 1970 she was spotted by a casting agent who called her in to audition for a role on a new TV series, a role for which she will forever be remembered.  She co-starred on this iconic TV series for five seasons and then starred in a spin-off series named for her character and starred in this series for an additional 5 seasons. From 1970 through 1978 she won four Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe Award for her portrayal of this iconic TV character. In 2000 she united with the leading lady of the original landmark TV series for a TV movie bringing both their characters together again.

 

In 2005 - 2006 she portrayed an internationally known prime minister in the US National tour of a one-woman drama, a film of this production was released in 2007. She also played the part of a very famous actress in the world premiere stage production at the Pasadena Playhouse from June 27 to August 3, 2008. She participated and was voted off during the 17th season of the TV series "Dancing With The Stars" in 2013.

 

She is a member of the Screen Actors Guild and ran for president in the 2001 election, losing to Melissa Gilbert, and has served on the Hollywood Board of Directors of SAG.

 

Please name this actress. Please name at least one of the Broadway musicals and one of its legendary leading performers in which this actress was a dancer and member of the chorus. Name the choreographer of these Broadway musicals and at least one movie in which he performed or choreographed. Finally name the iconic role portrayed by this actress and the two TV series on which she did so.

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Swithin, I appreciate your info that Peer Gynt was written by Henrik Ibsen and I especially appreciate the additional background info regarding Helen Westley's Brooklyn family background and the influence her birth name had in choosing her stage name. Being Brooklyn born and bred I'm very familiar with Remsen and Meserole Streets, so this info really fascinated me and brought back some of my own Brooklyn memories.

 

This actress started as a dancer and member of the chorus on Broadway and went on to perform in several Broadway shows, some choreographed by a well known movie dancer and choreographer. Three of the shows starred major legends of TV and Film. She joined a well known improvisation theatre group and toured the country later appearing in sketches on Playboy After Dark.

She broke into television on an episode of a soap opera called The Doctors.

 

After moving to Los Angeles and while performing in theatre, in 1970 she was spotted by a casting agent who called her in to audition for a role on a new TV series, a role for which she will forever be remembered.  She co-starred on this iconic TV series for five seasons and then starred in a spin-off series named for her character and starred in this series for an additional 5 seasons. From 1970 through 1978 she won four Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe Award for her portrayal of this iconic TV character. In 2000 she united with the leading lady of the original landmark TV series for a TV movie bringing both their characters together again.

 

In 2005 - 2006 she portrayed an internationally known prime minister in the US National tour of a one-woman drama, a film of this production was released in 2007. She also played the part of a very famous actress in the world premiere stage production at the Pasadena Playhouse from June 27 to August 3, 2008. She participated and was voted off during the 17th season of the TV series "Dancing With The Stars" in 2013.

 

She is a member of the Screen Actors Guild and ran for president in the 2001 election, losing to Melissa Gilbert, and has served on the Hollywood Board of Directors of SAG.

 

Please name this actress. Please name at least one of the Broadway musicals and one of its legendary leading performers in which this actress was a dancer and member of the chorus. Name the choreographer of these Broadway musicals and at least one movie in which he performed or choreographed. Finally name the iconic role portrayed by this actress and the two TV series on which she did so.

 

Marsha, I was just listening to some of the great score of Wildcat the other day, which starred Lucille Ball and was directed/choreographed by Michael Kidd (who acted in a few movies, including It's Always Fair Weather). Valerie Harper, who won so many awards for her wonderful portrayal of Rhoda on television, was a dancer in the Wildcat company. She was also in Subways Are for Sleeping (directed and choreographed by Mr. Kidd) and Take Me Along, which starred Jackie Gleason.  Three musicals with great scores!

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Marsha, I was just listening to some of the great score of Wildcat the other day, which starred Lucille Ball and was directed/choreographed by Michael Kidd (who acted in a few movies, including It's Always Fair Weather). Valerie Harper, who won so many awards for her wonderful portrayal of Rhoda, was a dancer in the Wildcat company. She was also in Subways Are for Sleeping (directed and choreographed by Mr. Kidd) and Take Me Along, which starred Jackie Gleason. 

Swithin, Great job. "Wildcat" was the 4th Broadway musical I saw and Lucille Ball was wonderful in the part of "Wildy". Both Valerie Harper and Hal Linden were in the chorus. Valerie Harper had also been cast as a dancer and member of the chorus in "Destry Rides Again" starring Andy Griffith and Dolores Gray, which was my first Broadway show, choreographed by the great Michael Kidd, however, she was ill and could not stay with the show when it opened on Broadway. And when we think of Valerie Harper, the iconic character of Rhoda Morgenstern will forever be linked to her.

 

Great job. It's your turn.

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Swithin, Great job. "Wildcat" was the 4th Broadway musical I saw and Lucille Ball was wonderful in the part of "Wildy". Both Valerie Harper and Hal Linden were in the chorus. Valerie Harper had also been cast as a dancer and member of the chorus in "Destry Rides Again" starring Andy Griffith and Dolores Gray, which was my first Broadway show, choreographed by the great Michael Kidd, however, she was ill and could not stay with the show when it opened on Broadway. And when we think of Valerie Harper, the iconic character of Rhoda Morgenstern will forever be linked to her.

 

Great job. It's your turn.

 

Wow, you started going to the theater a little before I did. My first show -- I was a teen -- was A Funny Thing... late in the run, with Dick Shawn; followed that summer of 1964 by Funny Girl and 110 in the Shade. I love the score of Destry, particularly "I Say Hello." I have Adriana Marcovicci's recording of that on her exquisite What Is Love CD.

 

Open thread.

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