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01 April 2010

Ray Charles In Irving Berlin's 100th Birthday Salute (1988)

This TV show was directed by Walter C. Miller. The cast of stars was impressive: Tony Bennett, Ray Charles, Rosemary Clooney, Frank Sinatra, Billy Eckstine, a.o. The program was taped at Carnegie Hall on Berlin's actual birthday, 11 May 1988, and first aired by CBS on 27 May 1988. It won 2 Primetime Emmys.

The Paley Center has a full description of the show (and they mention Mark Hummel as the director):
Ray Charles.
Filmed before a live audience at Carnegie Hall, this tribute to composer Irving Berlin is hosted by Shirley MacLaine, who opens the program with the song Let Me Sing and I'm Happy. Walter Cronkite gives a brief overview of Berlin's career and introduces Nell Carter, Maureen McGovern, Michael Feinstein, and Jerry Orbach. McGovern and Orbach perform a medley of songs, including Simple Melody, A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody, Easter Parade, and The Song Is Ended. Feinstein sings and plays I Love a Piano and Carter sings Alexander's Ragtime Band. Violinist Isaac Stern gives a biographical overview of Berlin's life, accompanied by archival stills, film clips, and recordings of the young Berlin and some of the performers associated with his work, including Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Judy Garland, and Ethel Merman. Willie Nelson sings Blue Skies and Ray Charles performs How Deep Is the Ocean and What'll I Do. In a segment devoted to Berlin's Broadway career, Beatrice Arthur, Maryann Plunkett and Barry Bostwick perform a medley of the songs It's a Lovely Day Today, Hostess With the Mostes' on the Ball, You're Just in Love, They Say It's Wonderful, The Girl That I Marry, I Got the Sun in the Morning, I Got Lost in His Arms, and There's No Business Like Show Business. In a filmed sequence, choreographer Jerome Robbins reminisces about working with Berlin on Call Me Madam. In other highlights, Garrison Keillor illustrates Berlin's gift for poetry by reciting the lyrics to the song All Alone; Natalie Cole sings Supper Time; Frank Sinatra sings Always; Rosemary Clooney sings Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep and White Christmas. ASCAP president Morton Gould introduces a series of clips from some of the 18 films scored by Berlin, including The Jazz Singer (Al Jolson), Follow the Fleet and Top Hat (Astaire and Rogers), Easter Parade (Garland and Astaire), There's No Business Like Show Business (Marilyn Monroe), Blue Skies (Bing Crosby and Astaire), and White Christmas (Crosby and Rosemary Clooney). MacLaine introduces Tommy Tune, who performs a song-and dance routine to Puttin' On the Ritz. In a filmed segment, Bob Hope talks about Berlin's lesser known compositions and Madeline Kahn sings You'd Be Surprised. Diane Schuur, Billy Eckstine, and Joe Williams perform a medley of the songs Steppin' Out With My Baby, Marie, Cheek to Cheek, and Say It With Music and Tony Bennett sings Shakin' the Blues Away. Cronkite returns to talk about Berlin's show This Is the Army, and a clip of Berlin singing Oh, How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning in the film version is shown. The U.S. Army Chorus, the Boy Scouts of America, the Girl Scouts of America, and mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne perform God Bless America, and for the finale, the entire cast performs There's No Business Like Show Business.
NBC reported on the show on 11 May 1988. Synopsis: "Woman debark auto & spectators on street outside Carnegie Hall seen. [...] Ray Charles plays piano & sings If I Ever Lost You [i.e. from How Deep...]. B&W stills of composer Berlin at various ages seen. B&W clip of Alice Faye singing title song in Alexander's Ragtime Band. Sheet music for Alexander's Ragtime Band seen. Costumed Nell Carter performs Alexander's Ragtime Band. Panning shot of author Keillor; Natalie Cole; Madeline Kahn; Tommy Tune; Rosemary Clooney; Frank Sinatra; Leonard Bernstein; Shirley Maclaine; Walter Cronkite; Isaac Stern; Marilyn Horne; others; & the US Army Chorus; There's No Business Like Show Business seen." If I Ever Lost You can be identified with How Deep Is The Ocean (How High Is The Sky).  Source: NBC News Archives, ID T880512.

Finale without Ray...
The Dutch Beeld- & Geluid-Archief holds materials (document ID 36852), taped on 12 May 1988, from EBU's international news exchange service, described as: "Ray Charles + a choir of celebrities, amongst whom Shirley Maclaine, sing There's No Business Like Show Business; 1'02"."
Reuters released a show biz news clip on 12 May 1988, quoting how Shirley MacLaine explained to the black tie audience that "Happy Birthday was one of the few songs [Berlin] didn't write." On Reuters' archive website (click here) they offer a muted 22 second clip of Ray Charles performing. In clip #8 there's not a trace of Ray participating in the finale (update 5 February 2012: also see the photo at the left).

What'll I Do:
How Deep Is The Ocean (How High Is The Sky) + What'll I Do:

2 seconds of fame for one-time Raelette Renée Davis:

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