Artists - Camelot



Artist Biography

In her autobiography, “Home: A Memoir of My Early Years,” Julie Andrews recalls: “It so happened that My Fair Lady was celebrating its fifth anniversary, and Ed Sullivan decided to devote a full hour of his famed television show to Lerner and Loewe. Richard (Burton) and I appeared in it, and after several songs from their other shows were performed, a seventeen-minute excerpt from Camelot closed the televised evening. This coincided with the new changes that had just gone into the show, and there was palpable electricity that night. The following morning there was a line of people outside the theater and around the block queuing for tickets. Sales skyrocketed and Camelot was, at last, a big hit.”

The musical followed the popular legend of King Arthur’s rise to power, the creation of the Knights of the Round Table and the battle to save Camelot and was inspired by Terence Hanbury White’s book “The Once and Future King”. A favorite of President John F. Kennedy, Camelot served as a kind of theme for his administration. Today the early 1960s – The Kennedy Years – are often referred to as the “Camelot Era.” In an interview with Jackie Kennedy, she revealed that the title tune from Camelot was the president’s favorite song and he often played the show’s soundtrack before going to bed.

The Camelot portion of the Lerner & Loewe Sullivan episode brought several of the show’s most memorable songs to the American audience. Richard Burton and Julie Andrews commanded the stage, dressed in costumes as King Arthur and Guinevere, singing the title song. Burton offered King Arthur’s monologue about his championing of the royal throne and then together they performed a reprise of “Camelot.” On the Sullivan show that was followed by Alan Jay Lerner playing the piano and Fritz Loewe singing their composition, “How to Handle a Woman” another song from Camelot. The Sullivan showcase of Camelot continued with a stellar performance of “If Ever I Would Leave You” by Robert Goulet and then Burton and Andrews singing and dancing to “What Do The Simple Folk Do?” This Broadway musical on The Ed Sullivan Show is the only footage that captured the musical’s original cast.

When the film of “Camelot” was produced in 1967, actor Richard Harris appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show to promote it. He performed the title song in a medieval costume. The film adaption was directed by Joshua Logan and along with Harris, starred Vanessa Redgrave and Franco Nero.

The original production won 5 Tony Awards in 1961. The musical has spawned three Broadway revivals. As a Broadway show most memorably tied to the 1960s, “Camelot” on The Ed Sullivan Show was a match fit for a king.

Over the years Ed Sullivan created a Broadway musical archive that has preserved countless live performances for posterity. His show presented performances from approximately 400 performances from Broadway shows, which were filmed during the so-called golden age of Broadway. For one brief, shining moment, there was a place known as Camelot, and fortunately for all of us, we can still return to that place thanks to the gift of film and tape and Ed Sullivan’s foresight.

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The Best of Broadway Musicals – Original Cast Performances from The Ed Sullivan Show

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