57 years ago, The Sound of Music sang its way into viewers’ hearts on March 2, 1965. Oscar Hammerstein II and Richard Rodgers were the composers of these timeless classics that have been inspiring people for generations. Due to the film’s artistic achievements it won five Academy Awards and peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with its 29-track soundtrack. At the time the film was released, many artists took to The Ed Sullivan Show stage bringing The Sound of Music soundtrack into the homes of Sullivan viewers all around the country. Even Julie Andrews, the star of the motion picture, made a few appearances on the show. As we honor the film’s 57th anniversary, we’d like to pay homage to some of the many Sound of Music performances from the show.
On November 22, 1970, The Ed Sullivan Show hit the road and made its way to Los Angeles, California to host their show from the iconic 17,500 seat amphitheater, The Hollywood Bowl. This show was a tribute to Rodgers & Hammerstein, where they gathered an impressive cast to make it a memorable night. The Hollywood Bowl cast included “Mama” Cass Elliot, Johnny Mathis, The Lennon Sisters, Minnie Pearl, Jeannie C. Riley and many more. The group performed several Broadway songs, some of which included Oklahoma and You’ll Never Walk Alone. The night ended with a Sound of Music medley which included My Favorite Things, Climb Ev’ry Mountain, Do-Re-Mi and The Sound of Music. This was a historic night, not just for the show but for the sold out audience at the Hollywood Bowl that got to enjoy every minute of it.
On July 31, 1960, Jane Morgan made one of her 24 appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show. Ms. Morgan sang a medley which included The Sound of Music, My Favorite Things and Climb Ev’ry Mountain. After she finished singing, Sullivan joined her on stage and could barely be heard since the crowd’s reaction was so clamorous. In true Sullivan fashion he invited Ms. Morgan to give the audience what they clammered for – a reprise of The Sound of Music.
On December 1, 1968, Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass made their second appearance on the show. The band played an instrumental version of My Favorite Things and The Christmas Song surrounded by a Christmas Wonderland on stage. Following the performance, Sullivan told Herb Alpert,“Anytime you’re around our area or show, I’m going to turn it over to you!” Years later in an interview, Albert was asked about The Ed Sullivan Show and reflected, “We finally got our big break when Ed Sullivan put us on his show.” Alpert’s rendition of My Favorite Things is the only version to ever appear on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at No. 45.
On November 6, 1966, the multi-talented Kim Sisters sang, performed and harmonized a beautiful medley from The Sound of Music. The medley included The Sound of Music, My Favorite Things and Climb Ev’ry Mountain. The performance started off with each member playing a mandolin before switching to flutes and ending with a xylophone. This medley provided the Kim Sisters an opportunity to showcase their versatile talents. It’s no surprise that these sisters appeared a total of 25 times on the show and were a crowd favorite.
On December 4, 1966, The Supremes performed a medley of their hit records including Stop! In The Name of Love, Come See About Me, You Can’t Hurry Love along with one of their favorite tour songs, My Favorite Things. The group performed this song during a special Christmas episode surrounded on set with towers of presents. The Supremes stole the show and left the crowd wanting more. In 1965, The Supremes released their 7th studio album “Merry Christmas” and My Favorite Things was one of the many hits included. This song was never intended to be associated with Christmas, but many artists began singing it during the holiday season and including it in their Christmas albums.
On September 24, 1967, Brady Bunch star Florence Henderson appeared for the fifth time on The Ed Sullivan Show. She performed My Favorite Things, Climb Ev’ry Mountain, Do-Re-Mi and The Sound of Music. Henderson was no stranger to these songs – she starred as Maria in the first national tour of The Sound of Music in 1961. She returned to play Maria during the 1962 tour and again reprised her role in 1968 and 1978. Other major Broadway shows that Henderson performed on were Oklahoma, Wish You Were Here and Fanny.
On June 21, 1964, Sally Ann Howes performed Do-Re-Mi with the help of some children from the Lexington School for the Deaf. Howes took the lead on the song while cuing the children to sing using both hand and facial gestures. It was a beautiful rendition of the song with the children making it all the more special. Following this performance, Howes went on to have a phenomenal stage, acting and singing career. In 1968, she starred alongside Dick Van Dyke in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and acted in more than 30 different stage shows around the world. She also played Maria in four separate Sound of Music productions across the U.S.
On November 4, 1962, The Ed Sullivan Show hosted its Sunday night special from world renowned Carnegie Hall. This show was dedicated to the extraordinary Richard Rodgers and his remarkable body of work. To commemorate one of his spectacular scores, Nancy Dussault and The Sound of Music kids sang Do-Re-Mi. This television performance was special since the talent on stage was part of the original cast from The Sound of Music Broadway production performing the stage play live from the Lunt-Fontanne Theater. Dussault was the fourth “Maria” to perform the role in the original production.
On September 25, 1960, Dick Roman born Ricardo Sebastian De Giacomo, made his second out of three appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show. He performed Wagon Wheel and The Sound of Music. Roman started his entertainment career at an early age by starring in his first professional stage production at the age of nine. Both his acting and singing skills came to the attention of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II who were working on “I Remember Mama” for Broadway at the time. Roman was invited to audition and was cast in both the Broadway production and its later tour.
On December 20, 1964, Jack Jones performed on a special Christmas themed episode of The Ed Sullivan Show. He performed My Christmas Waltz and My Favorite Things. The same year, Jones released his highly anticipated Christmas album “The Jack Jones Christmas Album,” becoming among the first of many artists to include the song on a Christmas album, despite its lyrics making no mention of the holiday. By December 1965, the Rodgers & Hammerstein composition was featured on holiday LPs by The Supremes, Andy Williams and Eddie Fisher.
These are just some of the many performers that brought the beauty of this soundtrack to the Ed Sullivan stage. Some other artists that performed these beloved songs were Eddie Fisher, Woody Herman, Opera star Risë Stevens, The Sound of Music Ensemble and the University of Miami Glee Club. Like many great movies and Broadway shows, The Sound of Music has a definite intangible magic that makes it special. One can admire the great direction, the chemistry between the actors, the incredible music and beautiful settings. It’s all of these things, and more – the love of music, of freedom and the human spirit and of family. In the 57 years since it’s release, The Sound of Music has come to symbolize everything that was great about the Broadway musical while serenading audiences all around the world.