Clockwise: The Tony Award, Bernadette Peters, Ted Ross, and Rita Moreno.
While thinking about the telecast for the latest Tony Awards last night, I decided to look back 40 years to the 1975 Tony Award show, and some of the incredible work celebrated. I will begin with a performer I love, who was nominated but did not win in 1975. Bernadette Peters was nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Musical for her work in 'Mack and Mabel'. She played opposite Robert Preston, playing real life Hollywood lovers Mack Senett and Mabel Normond. The show featured music and lyrics by Jerry Herman, and I still love hearing some of the music today. In this clip, Bernadette sings "Time Heals Everything" from 'Mack and Mabel'.
Rita Moreno sings her big number from 'The Ritz'. She won the Tony for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play, performing a song also sung by the winner of the Best Performance by an Actress in a Musical, Angela Lansbury. Ms. Lansbury played Mama Rose in a revival of 'Gypsy'. Moreno played Googie Gomez, a performer in a gay bathhouse in Manhattan. The place gets invaded by some mobsters, and, of course, hilarity ensues. This is Rita singing "Everything's Coming Up Roses" in the film version of the Broadway hit, 'The Ritz'.
The musical that earned many of the trophies in 1975 was the new look at an old favorite. With music and lyrics by Charlie Smalls and book by William F. Brown, 'The Wiz' told the story of 'The Wizard of Oz' in a more modern, urban setting. The Broadway show was such a success, it was soon also made into a film. One of the actors who made both the Broadway and film versions of the show was Ted Ross, who played the role of the Cowardly Lion. In fact, Ross was named Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical at the 1975 Tony Awards. I found this clip of him playing the role with Diana Ross, the late Michael Jackson, and Nipsey Russel in the film version. This is Ted Ross singing "I'm A Mean Old Lion" from 'The Wiz'.
Have a great week!