Was anyone fortunate enough to see Susan in "Mame" in Vegas? That must have been something.
One of our message board friends, Errol, had the priviledge of seeing Susan in Mame. He hasn't been on the board for a while. If you see this, Errol, check in, let us know how you are, and tell us about Mame!
Errol is the person who sent me the Mame program where I scanned and re-worked the above photo. I think at some point I'll re-type the info in the program that was about Susan. Most of it we all ready know, but it's still interesting to read.
Oh, I would have loved to have seen her in Mame. I bet there is a film of it somewhere (16mm, or perhaps, video tape?..I think they had video tape in the 60's?..)..anyway, wouldn't it be wonderful to find such a treasure!
Hi Ginger..and All Susan Fans. It is really funny that I should finally get over here, again and find this message..only a few days ago. I'll be happy to tell you about the Las Vegas...Cesar's Palace production of MAME, with our wonderful Susan.
Susan was talked into doing this show, shortly after she had appeared on THE JOEY BISHOP SHOW (that I was at backstage. See article on that, here on Ginger's wonderful site.) The couple that picked her up, that night after the BISHOP show are supposed to have been her very close friends. I know their names are in either MY FOOLISH MOUTH, or one of the other stories on here. Right now, I can't remember their names...only that the woman was a ..tch..to the bone!
Her husband was in the business and they are both on the tv Mysteies & Scandals Biography on Susan. Anyway
you could see how Susan sort of 'glowed' the night of the BISHOP SHOW, backstage. She was very happy and when she looked down that long hall, remembering something that really made her so full of life, I could tell that she was glad that she had done this 'bit' for VALLEY OF THE DOLLS, because it gave her a taste of what she still had in her blood...and once you have the 'actor bug'..it's bound to come back and make you want to try doing some more!
(I know this is long..sorry...but I haven't written for quite some time, because of illness, so bear with me and maybe even like what's in here) (lol)
This couple convinced Susan to do MAME at the new CESAR'S PALACE in Las Vegas. They told her it was a great vechicle for her...and that by doing the 'LIVE
VEGAS' show, she would have a good chance of landing the role in the film version, that they were starting to put into place, but hadn't cast the film yet.
I always felt that Susan had wanted to do live theater, but the right chance had never come along, until now...so she took a huge leap from film to stage...with two things in her favor..the stage version and on to the film version too.
HA!...I just remembered, the last time someone asked me to tell this story, I had said that my first impression of the great new CESAR'S PALACE was not what I had expected...For some reason, I keep on remembering those 'cold and even frosty PEAS that was in the dinner' Oh but that was a bad meal..but what a wonderful night!!!
I had read about the opening night, of the show, and how the papers had told the story of Susan 'freezing up' with stage fright, just before her first enterance and I prayed that she would have gotten over her stage fright by now. Well...no worry! She wasn't showing any fear this night!
Susan's first enterance is at the top of a spiral staircase. She was posed there with gold trumpet in one hand...the other hand placed on her hip and wearing a slinky floor-length shimmering gold gown with matching head piece..not really a hat, but more of a cross between a hat and a desert turban. She had her mouth to the trumpet...posed waiting for the trumpet sound, from the orchestra..but she did have to stay in that pose for awhile, because the huge audience went into a frenzy of applause, as they saw that beautiful goddess light up the stage, just by standing there.
The song was...IT'S TODAY...and Susan belted it out as she descended the staircase. The show had not really started...until her appearance, but once she was ON...the show lit up like a Christmas tree.
I loved her hangover scene in the bedroom, when young Patrick Dennis comes in to wake her up. He has this airplane that he has, swinging over her bed. Susan sits up in bed..only half awake..and when her bleary eyes focus in on the airplane circling above her head...she cries out.."BATS...OH, GOD...WE'VE GOT...BATS"
Mame's best friend, Vera Charles, was played to the hilt by BEATRICE ARTHUR, who had done the role on Broadway. They were wonderful working together and their duet...BUSOM BUDDIES...was a show stopper!
The gal playing Agnes Gooch, Mame's mousey secretary, was new to the business, but she sure did have a career ahead of her, because she would soon become..Hot-Lips Holahan on the long running tv series MASH...yep!...Agnes Gooch was played by LORETTA SWIT.
Susan pulled out all the stops in this, her one and only stage performance. She showed her acting ability...going from light, saucey comedy, to very tender moments...like the touching "IF HE WALKED INTO MY LIFE TODAY"...remembering her younger Patrick, who has now grown into a handsome young man who has passed the time for all the adventures he had shared with his dear Auntie Mame. It was a wonderful version of the song, sung by both Susan and the grown up Patrick...on opposite sides of the stage...in their own dreams of the past. What a beautiful memory that was! I'll never forget it!
I had gained more courage by this time..and not feeling like I would be speechless (or say the wrong thing) if I were to have another chance meeting her.
So...me, my girlfriend and another guy moved to the backstage area. They told me I would probally not get to see her...but I was bound to TRY AGAIN...
ALAS...my friends were right. I went to the backstage elevator where a guard was stationed. I asked him if he would call up to Miss Hayward's dressingroom and tell her that 'some friends' from the JOEY BISHOP SHOW were here and just wanted to come up and say...HELLO...He called and spoke to her.
I waited...beaming...because now I was ready to apologize to her and tell her what I had 'meant' to tell her...the night backstage at the BISHOP SHOW.
The guard smiled, after getting off the phone and said..."Miss Hayward said she would love to see you again...BUT..she would have to 'begg off' tonight, since the show is very strenious and she is just exhausted tonight. She asked me to tell you, she is very sorry and would have liked to have seen us."
I didn't feel bad about this...I was still floating on Cloud 9..because I had just seen my dreamgirl knock 'em dead...live...on stage.
We left the Palace...with fond memories that would be with us...for the rest of our lives. I am so grateful that I was able to see her do this show.
Of course..as far as the movie...There were 7 in consideration to play MAME. BARBARA STRIESAND, SHIRLEY MAC LAINE, ANN MILLER, JANE RUSSELL, ROSALIND RUSSELL..and the original Broadway MAME..ANGELA LANSBURY...and SUSAN. Out of these choices, only R. RUSSELL, MILLER, J. RUSSELL, LANSBURY and SUSAN had done the role. But of course, NONE of the choices got to do the role.
LUCY..LUCILLE BALL..also wanted a COMBACK and she was bound and determined that this role would only be done on film...BY HER...Therefore, she bought her way into the role. Her Agnes Gooch was given to MADELINE KAHN, but as the filming progressed, she could see that KAHN would be upstaging her, with her great comic timing and presence...sooo, since LUCY had bOUGHT the show, she could also replace whomever she wanted to...therefore, MADELINE KAHN was fired from the film.
I do NOT like the film version. It's the worst of any production on or off stage that I've ever seen.
Lucy was wrong for the role..adding her roller skating through the Dept Store. It might have played 'funny' in the 1940's and 50's..but was a big flop for this film.
Well....that's my story of a night to always remember
when SUSAN HAYWARD took on VEGAS/BROADWAY..and left another mark of her radiant beauty and talent for those of us who were lucky enough to be there.
Love to All of You...Errol
Errol, thank you so much for sharing your experience of seeing Mame. It gave me chills and I felt like I was in the audience. Oh, but I wish I could have seen her in Mame. Isn't there some film representation out there somewhere, and can't SOMEONE somewhere in this universe post it on YOUTUBE! Do you hear me, WORLD?
I really believe there must be a film of this somewhere!
Susan would have been so perfect for the film version of "Mame". I agree with you, Errol, regarding Lucille Ball. I LOVE Lucy but she was not right for the role of Mame. It was a disappointment.
It's too bad that you didn't get to see Susan on the night of Mame, especially after you had a sort of klutzy experience at the Bishop Show. (I wouldn't have been able to open my mouth at all if I had met her.. LOL)...It's understandable that she would have been exhausted after the performance that night. It's seems the show pretty much exhausted her overall, and she had to bow out early. You were so fortunate to get to see one of the few performances that she gave of Mame.
Thanks again, Errol!
Thanks for that great story. I'm so envious. I wish I could have been there. YOu are one lucky guy.
Thanks again for sharing.
It's so nice to hear from you! And what makes it even more wonderful is the rundown of Susan's "Mame" appearance that you were fortunate to see.
I did not know that Lucille Ball fired Madeline Kahn, who I believe was a comedic genius. So sad that she died too young, too.
Let us hear from you again, soon.