Little Bits of History


Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 16, 2013
Hello, Dolly!

Hello, Dolly!

January 16, 1964: Jerry Herman’s Broadway musical hit opens. Hello, Dolly! was produced by David Merrick with his second choice, Gower Champion serving as director and choreographer. The title role was written for Ethel Merman but both she and Mary Martin turned it down. Instead, Carol Channing took the part of Mrs. Dolly Gallagher Levi with Jo Anne Worley (Laugh-In) as her standby for the role.

David Burns, Charles Nelson Riley, Eileen Brennan, and Alice Playten were supporting cast members. The play opened on Broadway to rave reviews after major rewrites from off-Broadway trials. The play ran for nearly seven years with an astounding 2,844 performances given. Only 15 other original Broadway shows’ runs have had more performances – so far.

The story line for the musical revolves around Dolly’s matchmaking schemes. She manages to match all the supporting actors into surprising couples much to Horace’s dismay. He is finally convinced that he needs Dolly in his life at which point she isn’t so sure she needs him. The musical is divided into two acts with seven major production numbers in the first act, and another nine, included the memorable Hello, Dolly! number, in the second act.

At the 1964 Tony Awards, Hello, Dolly! set a record that lasted for 37 years. Even though it was running against the stiff competition of Funny Girl starring Barbra Streisand, Dolly! managed to be nominated for 11 awards and won 10 of them including Best Musical, Best Composer, and Best Actress. This record stood until 2001 when The Producers took 12 Tonys. Hello, Dolly! didn’t stop with a hit Broadway production, but was also made into a movie in 1969 which ironically starred Barbra Streisand. The movie was as well received as the play and was nominated for 7 Academy Awards (Oscars).

Horace: Eighty percent of the people in the world are fools and the rest of us are in danger of contamination.

Dolly Levi: As my late husband, Ephraim Levi, used to say, ‘If you have to live from hand-to-mouth, you’d better be ambidextrous.’

Cornelius Hackl: I’ve lost everything: my job, my future, everything people think is important, but I don’t care – because even if I have to dig ditches for the rest of my life, I shall be a ditch-digger who once had a wonderful day.

Ambrose Kemper: If you’re going to spend the whole evening acting like a scared rabbit, maybe I’d better order some lettuce. – all from Hello, Dolly!

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: Carol Channing was born in Seattle, Washington in 1921 however the family moved to California shortly after she was born. She began her acting career just before her 20th birthday. She made her way to Broadway with Let’s Face It! where she was an understudy for Eve Arden (who would later play Dolly). She gained recognition for her portrayal of Lorelei Lee in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. However, it was her role as Dolly for which she came to national attention. She also worked outside New York and made several movies. She was married four times and has one son.

Also on this day: Prohibition – In 1919, the Eighteenth Amendment was ratified.
Grote Mandrenke – In 1362, a storm tide in the North Sea flood the German city, Rungholt.
Hablo Espanol  – In 1492, a dictionary was first written.

Tagged with: , ,