Tony Clip 8: Carol Channing in Lorelei (1974)

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Carol Channing gleamed her way to stardom singing "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" in 1949's Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, but it was rhinestones all the way when she reprised her role as the gold-digging Lorelei Lee in the 1974 musical Lorelei. Channing remained a unique Broadway talent straight out of a Hirschfeld sketchbook, but the show—which combined new material reflecting Channing's age (then 51) with flashback sequences borrowed from the original—was roundly panned as a vulgar retread. This rare clip from the 1974 Tony Awards gives a sense of some of the problems involved. The song is called "Men," and it's essentially a misandropist version of Paul Lynde's "Kids" from Bye Bye Birdie. (Watch Channing try to pointedly phrase her way around some of the less distinguished rhymes of Betty Comden and Adolph Green's illustrious career.) Providing extra amusement are the number's bobbled beginning (0:40) and almost equally clumsy ending four minutes later—as good an example as any of a Broadway treasure nearly getting buried.—Adam Feldman


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