Monday, August 10, 2020


Julie and I are always looking for her "lost" TV shows.

Over the years, many have turned up, and (copyright permitting) some clips have been shared on YouTube. One item that may not exist anymore is from "ALL-STAR REVUE."

The early variety show struggled along for several seasons, never as successful as "The Colgate Comedy Hour" or the later "Show of Shows," both existing today thanks to kinescopes (16mm camera to TV screen) made as the live shows aired.

It was expensive to make kinescopes, but some stars were egomaniacs and some fans were archivists and we thank them for taking the time and spending the money! 

UNFORTUNATELY, few were intent on preserving "ALL-STAR REVUE," which was originally titled "FOUR STAR REVUE" after the four alternating hosts. By the third season, Ed Wynn was burned out, Danny Thomas was gone, and the two main hosts were Tallulah Bankhead alternating with George Jessel.

George hosted seven episodes. Tallulah hosted six. Turning up to host one show: Rosalind Russell, Perry Como, the Ritz Brothers, Olsen and Johnson, Bob Hope, Ben Blue and Dennis Day. Several second bananas turned up quite a few times, including Ben Blue. 

Mr. Blue was a slim, sad-faced guy who some thought of as a junior Buster Keaton. THIS guy:

He usually wasn't smiling, and neither was Julie Newmar after her scene with him.

Ben Blue hosted on March 28th 1953, but Julie recalls that George Jessel was the star of the episode that featured her in an uncredited comic dance number. It was April 18th 1953, the last show for the season, and the last appearance for Julie because "I had to be taped up after Ben Blue got his arms around me!"

Rib-tickler Ben turned out to be a rib-cracker. While hoisting Julie in the air for a comical dance moment, he accidentally did some serious damage to a few of her ribs. She completed her scene of course, but perhaps after that, she thought of her co-star as Ben Black And Blue.

Ben Blue did a lot of comical dance numbers when he guested on the "ALL-STAR REVUE," usually with a statuesque woman much taller than he. More desperate than amusing now, at the time, audiences howled at his wobbly-legged dancing and his gawping at the unattainable he was trying to impress. 

Viewers were tolerant in that naive age, and laughed at mime acts that involved dense dopes tripping over their feet, constantly dropping their hats or gloves, or repeatedly getting an arm caught in a coat sleeve. It was a slower-paced time when people didn't yell "GET ON WITH IT!" Those were the days when Mr. Hulot could take a holiday and people were impressed. 

While Keaton's comedy was witty and well-timed, vaudevillians like Ben Blue were obvious and goofy. His segments on "All Star Revue" didn't vary much as he performed the same schtick over and over. The tall blonde you see above could've had the same fate as Julie. Who knows, maybe instead of a broken rib she ended up with a stomped toe.

The two sequences above were from the February 14th 1953 episode hosted by Perry Como — one of only a half-dozen surviving episodes of the series. 

Still lost are scenes that somebody should've been recording off the flickery TV screen: a sketch featuring Martha Raye, Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre...Tallulah doing a dramatic monologue as Nurse Edith Cavell and getting laughs with a Scarlett O'Hara parody on "Gone With the Wind..." young Johnny Carson in a doctor sketch...arias from Rise Stevens and "I'm Gonna Live Till I Die" from Connie many other magic moments.

What we know about the missing episodes of "All Star Revue" comes mainly from the weekly reviews in the trade newspaper Variety. IMDB doesn't even list Julie's "All Star Revue" show because, like the two women above, most of the extras were "uncredited," and not mentioned by name in Variety reviews.

At the time, Julie was doing uncredited scenes in movies (including "The I Don't Care Girl" "Band Wagon" and "Farmer Takes a Wife" all released in 1953).  

It's long odds and a tall order that somebody will discover a kinescope of the show featuring short Ben and his tall dance partner Julie. Do we have hope? Hope, yes. When Bob hosted the show, he had the money and the ego to demand that somebody kinescope it for him. Also surviving, a shows hosted by Danny Thomas, The Ritz Brothers and Olsen and Johnson.

Fortunately Julie's first sitcom guest spot was on "The Phil Silvers Show," and it was filmed. Fans love that one, and she was the hit of the episode, and did get billing: Julie Newmeyer.


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