Sunday, February 27, 2011

Lauren Bacall & Larry Hagman in Applause (1973)

Obscurity factor: 9

Lauren Bacall made a big splash on Broadway in 1970 with Applause. It's the musical version of the Bette Davis classic All About Eve and it was a big enough hit to inspire this 1973 CBS Television special event. Also starring Larry Hagman (fresh off his success in I Dream of Jeannie) as Bill Sampson and Penny Fuller as Eve, the production lacks the luster of the Broadway success, but has some numbers that are great fun to watch and is noteworthy as the only taped record of Bacall's performance in the show.

Above: the Broadway cast album artwork

The story is a familiar one, established Broadway star Margot Channing (Bacall) takes little Eve Harrington (Fuller) under he wing. Eve charms all Margot's friends, but Margot begins to suspect that Eve is out to take her place. The musical numbers are full of great energy. My personal favorite is "But Alive" which is performed primarily in a gay bar - big news for 1973.
Bootleg copies of this have been passed around among friends and sold on for years now, but if you haven't been in the know it hasn't been available to you. Consider yourself in the know now. You can also find it uploaded in full to YouTube. Installment one is above.

Obscurity factor: 9 (only available on and YouTube)


  1. I have been looking for this for years! Have you ever seen an 80's film called "Independence Day" with Kathleen Quinlan, a very young Diane Wiest and Frances Sternhagen? It always makes me cry, but not in a sad way. I just saw that there is no place here to sign in. I am Bill Dorsett- we are facebook friends. I am a huge fan of yours in seattle

  2. I have very fond memories of watching this with my mother, who had seen it on Broadway.

    Trivia tidbit: costar Brandon Maggart, who plays playwright Buzz Richards, is the father of both Fiona Apple and cabaret singer Maude Maggart.

  3. That is a fun little tidbit, thanks!

  4. No, I have never seen Independence Day. I'll have to look for that one... Thanks for coming over to the blog. You can subscribe by clicking on the follow button, if you like.

  5. Actually, the 1973 broadcast of "Applause" (with the West End/London cast that retained Lauren Bacall, Penny Fuller and Robert Mandan from the original Broadway cast) is not Miss Bacall's only visual recording of the production for posterity. Bacall also performed the "Welcome to the Theatre" number from the show as the finale of the 24th Annual Tony Awards April 14, 1970 (while "Applause" was still playing on Broadway) at the Mark Hellinger Theatre, broadcast live on NBC. That Tony telecast is uploaded on You Tube as well, and includes the title number with Bonnie Franklin and the cast that was the opening number of that year's Awards' broadcast.

    Rumor has it these complete Tony Awards' broadcasts on You Tube are provided by a son of the Tonys' producer those early TV broadcasts of the legendary Awards show. And supposedly he also retains the rights to the 1973 "Applause" telecast, which may result in an eventual home video release of the production. Especially with Bacall's recent death, there may be a renewed interest in all her work from film, stage and television.

    Additionally, there are better quality online uploads of Franklin's Tony number, as well Bacall's "But Alive" segment from the 1973 telecast (without the time tracker) on You Tube; the former from a PBS "Broadway's Lost Treasures" broadcast, the latter from an actual member of the London cast who appears in the segment.

    There is also a possibility a full videotape of the Broadway production of "Applause" exists (for research purposes only) in the Billy Rose Theatre Division of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center in Manhattan. I was once told by an actor who also works at one of Broadway's souvenir shops that most modern era Broadway productions are preserved on film or videotape and stored at that Lincoln Center facility..

  6. Great information! Thanks. It would be fun to see a remastered release of this. The quality of all the bootleg copies is fuzzy at best. I've heard about the taped performances of modern Broadway shows up there. I was recently there researching photographs. I'd love to see if they have a copy of the Angela Lansbury version of Mame...