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Carol Channing discusses her career

BROADCAST: May. 11, 1959 | DURATION: 00:30:35

Synopsis

Carol Channing discusses the following with Studs Terkel: her early career; her growth as actor/comedian; her approach to her work; her performance in "Lorelei" as Lorelei; her performance in "Wonderful Town" as Ruth; the job of the understudy; and breaking performance barriers and type casting.

Transcript

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Studs Terkel When the phrase a nightclub act is heard immediately a stereotype comes to mind. A nightclub act: someone a, a cute little girl singing a gay song or a comic, a stand-up comic with jokes that are to some extent weary. They're some fresh, some new but a nightclub act as such seems to fit in a framework. Yet, we're fortunate to have in Chicago a performer who fits in no framework. She is her unique self. Carol Channing, who is now at the Empire Room performing every night.

Carol Channing That's right, Studs. Oh, what a nice introduction, thank you

Studs Terkel Y'know what- It's, it's an introduction that I'm trying to sequin to fit you, because you fall in no one pattern. You sing. There's a sparkle to you. There's a, an overall intelligence to you, and this comes through to the audience.

Carol Channing Oh is it- Really? An intelligence? That's a first time anyone ever accused me of that.

Studs Terkel [laughs]

Carol Channing [laughs] Oh, that's wonderful--

Studs Terkel If we could, if we could find out something about you- something very simple. What makes Carol Channing tick, y'see? And that this is sort of a ram- we can make this out of a rambling autobiography in a way--

Carol Channing [laughs]

Studs Terkel About you and theater and entertainment generally.

Carol Channing Oh, that's a hard thing to do for a performer. The day you get perspective on yourself is the day the act is lousy, you know [laughs].

Studs Terkel Would you, would you mind talking about that? You say the day you get perspective on yourself is the day the act is lo- you really feel that? You feel l- a lot of your stuff should be unconscious or subconscious?

Carol Channing Well I imagine complete re- perspective- As soon as I think I've got it- All I know is my own experience, it's probably different with everybody. But as soon as I think, "Ah! There's the answer," I find out on the next show doing that is self-conscious. It- you know then that's your joke, and it's no longer funny.

Studs Terkel You mean the element of improvisation is gone. Maybe?

Carol Channing No, it's- let me see now, what would the element be? It's just the direct- Well, here's the character, and now you're going to do this kind of a number with this kind of a person singing it. And this kind of a person is saying this to these people, and the moment you get your mind off that this little jumping across each little pebble and stand back and say, "But look how I'm doing it." The moment you say, "Look how I'm doing it," the joke is gone.

Studs Terkel In other words--

Carol Channing I don't know why, but there's no laugh all of

Studs Terkel Well this, this explains why your act seems so fresh all the time. You yourself, honestly now, you yourself get a kick out of what you're doing each night.

Carol Channing Yes. It's also frightening, too, Studs, because the audience tells you sooner than any one human being that you're off the track, you know. [laughs]--

Studs Terkel How can you sense that?

Carol Channing They don't laugh.

Studs Terkel And-

Carol Channing Where did the laugh go? You- it was a big boff last night. What did you do tonight that was wrong? It has to be wrong, because they laughed last night. You know?

Studs Terkel Well, do you sense what happened or did- do you take sort of inventory after, after that happens?

Carol Channing Oh, yes, we discuss it after every show. If someone comes in the dressing room all of a sudden after the show, we don't even hear them. Everybody the drummer, Sammy Goldstein; the musical director, Robert Hunter; and Jane, the keeper of the diamonds; and Charles Lowe, who produces the act. He's my husband, too. Well, we- right away we go [zip sound] just like magnets after each show. It sounds silly, but we get together right after the show and say well, alright, let's move Homesick along a little faster. We went a little too slow on the bridge, that's what did it. It bogged down the whole pace of the act. Or we decide, let's pick up little Prue as we go into the verse, because- or, or it's too fast. It's, it's going ahead of them.

Studs Terkel So there's a question here of continuous observation of the act without you yourself being objective while you're onstage.

Carol Channing Yes, without thinking--

Studs Terkel Yeah--

Carol Channing All you can do is think of what am I saying? Who am I? What is this character saying, and are- is the audience hearing her? Is she going too fast or too slow for them? Or too high or too low or too fat or too thin or something,

Studs Terkel This is very interesting. You actually- this is your little Stanislavski here,

Carol Channing see? [laughs]

Studs Terkel What am I saying? Who am I? Yeah, you- question of identifying what you're doing.

Carol Channing I guess so, Studs. I don't know- I imagine everybody does it. I don't know. I think pe- I think actors do, but they- If they say to you, "Oh, we're just having a ball out there. It's just a romp." Well, they're skipping over a couple of things, I think. [laughs]

Studs Terkel What about yourself? I came across this old record. I told you about, before we

Carol Channing Yes, Studs.

Studs Terkel You were in Marc Blitzstein's No For an Answer.

Carol Channing That's right. That was my very first professional job.

Studs Terkel Dimples Fraught. Now this, this was a- I suppose, you describe that as a folk opera.

Carol Channing Yeah. Oh, that- [laughs] that was just Charlie--

Studs Terkel It's alright--

Carol Channing A folk opera. I guess

Studs Terkel so-- I

Carol Channing Would you, Studs?

Studs Terkel Well, I don't know. I'm just- it's Blitzstein, he himself is unique in his way as you are in yours.

Carol Channing Isn't he marvelous? He- yes, he's in that off Broadway thing, that's been playing and playing and playing that he did.

Studs Terkel Threepenny--

Carol Channing Yes--

Studs Terkel Opera, his adaptation. What about you yourself? We immediately think of you, of course, most people do as Lorelei Lee, of course. Well, this in itself was a remarkable bit of casting, wasn't it? Originally.

Carol Channing Yes, isn't it peculiar? It, it was odd. Actually, Oliver Smith who produced- who co-produced Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and Anita Loos, who wrote it, came to Lend an Ear, a little review that Charlie Gaynor wrote. And there was- You remember it. I- you- Studs, you remember everything--

Studs Terkel [laughs]

Carol Channing It's the darndest thing, because very few people can think far- as far back as No For an Answer for heavens- And you have a record of that. You know, I was 18-years-old then, would you believe it?

Studs Terkel What, you are quite young now.

Carol Channing No, but I mean you can tell by my voice. We all started out sopranos, you know, and then we just slowly

Studs Terkel ga- Today,

Carol Channing 'Cause I heard Sophie- I heard Sophie Tucker when she was 18. She sounded just as soprano as I did at 18. In't that funny.

Studs Terkel I'm thinking of after No For an Answer, then came the review Lend an Ear.

Carol Channing No, I'll tell you what happened. You know- this- Bennington College, this progressive school where they teach the arts and

Studs Terkel You went to Bennington?

Carol Channing Yes, and during your winter period, you're supposed to get a job in whatever you're majoring in. Well, the first winter period I was good and acted just like a Bennington girl, and I glued scenery together and wrote a thesis. And wha- joined small theaters and all that and wrote this thesis on the theater and [zzzz sound] and the Mielziner revolving stage, and what each designer had done. And the next- and I, every weekend, I kept going down to New York to see the shows, and all I kept doing was getting this- Ethel Waters at the time was on with Mamba's Daughters--

Studs Terkel Mamba's Daughters--

Carol Channing And Merman was in Stars in Your Eyes and Gertie Lawrence, and, oh well, they were all- Susan and God, I think it was at the time--

Studs Terkel Susan and God--

Carol Channing Yeah--

Studs Terkel Before Lady in the

Carol Channing Oh yes. And, so anyway f- all of- I just kept at it and kept these little bits a characterizations that I was collecting and went down and auditioned for Marc Blitzstein for No For an Answer. That is I auditioned for the William Morris office at the time, and they sent me over there for better or for worse whatever would happen, send her over we're sending hundreds to Mark Blitzstein. And he said, "You're just the girl I want." Well, he wrote this song called I've Simply Fraught About You--

Studs Terkel Fraught

Carol Channing And it was supposed to be a girl in a, a cafe on the highway in Jersey City, who thought she was better than B. Lilly, Ethel Merman, Ethel Waters and all the queens of the day put together. She thought, "Well, I'm all of them all at once." And well, it couldn't have been better for me, because there were bits of this and bits of that and, and it was a silly girl who didn't realize that by being all these people all at once she was nobody, you know. And, and what- you could see she was imitating this one and suddenly that one. Well, it was- I'm Simply- it was called the Cole Porter song to end all Cole Porter songs, and it was the- of course, it didn't end Cole Porter at all. And Marc knew it wouldn't. But this-

Studs Terkel [laughs]

Carol Channing Every Cole Porter singer was what I had a chance to be--

Studs Terkel Yeah, you

Carol Channing Well, there I was 18-years-old at the time.

Studs Terkel There's something you just said, something you just said that, that perhaps we could talk about that- but, you were everybody. And yet this girl Dimples, Dimples, oh, I'm Simply Fraught--

Carol Channing Yes--

Studs Terkel About You. Everybody and yet nobody.

Carol Channing And nobody, which is the only thing I could do at 18-years-old.

Studs Terkel Today, the, the, the point is your growth as an artist is a very natural one and a real one. Day, you do takeoffs on a great many, but you are somebody. I mean, you are still you- identifiable as you regardless--

Carol Channing You know you've hit something, Studs. Honestly, you ask the most penetrating questions,

Studs Terkel because-- [laughs]

Carol Channing That's what I'm learning about an act. It's a wonderful thing to do an act, Cyril Ritchard told me that. You have to find you. An act is a personal thing. With Blondes, if they don't care for this character that's going around threatening their homes and their establishments and their- this Lorelei Lee. Well, I can't help, but Anita Loos wrote the character. You know, I mean I'm just trying to be faithful to her, but with an act it's you, and that's the hardest thing in the whole world to find out for all of us.

Studs Terkel There's something else here that- your approach, it seems that of a dramatic actress, even though you're doing a musical. You prepare for it as a dramatic actress would in a drama, isn't that it?

Carol Channing I just don't know, but I don't know. I've never talked to a dramatic actress, but I, I know that Bert Lahr, I've talked to him and Ray Bolger and every- oh, and George Britt- Gracie Allen. Every comic I know approaches it that way.

Studs Terkel Each one- it's from himself first from his own insides.

Carol Channing I guess so, why- Well, Gracie's always saying, "Now, why does she go through that door? Well, why is she mad at her son? Well, well, what's the matt- Why would she take modern dance lessons, anyway? Why would I, the character I'm playing, take m-" Well, I remember Tallulah Bankhead saying, "I know [diamond?], this is Amanda." She kept saying, and we- in Private Lives, it was opening night. And we kept saying, "Well, who cares whether it's Amanda, Tallulah, everybody paid their money to come and hear you laugh like that and romp around." And she thinks- She has a characterization that she calls Tallulah Bankhead, and she steps into it, you know.

Studs Terkel You mean, she- as though she's looking in a mirror, is that it? I mean--

Carol Channing No, it's just- I don't think most actors, if they actually can analyze it, I don't think they'd have the nerve to stand on stage and say, "This is me." They have to say, "This is me as I see it. This is a character"--

Studs Terkel Yeah--

Carol Channing You know, "This is called Tallulah Bankhead," 'cause I remember when Oliver Smith saw the act, he said "Oh I love that ad lib character at the end. The one you call Carol. The one when you're just standing there just talking and laughing with the audience and, and they laugh and then you, you do what you- answer them whatever they say." And he said, "Oh, I love that character, Carol. I've never seen that before." Well, we've known each other for years Oliver Smith

Studs Terkel That character then is you.

Carol Channing Yeah, I call it me--

Studs Terkel Yeah--

Carol Channing But he said, "Oh, that's marvelous that character called you." [laughs]

Studs Terkel And he'd known you all

Carol Channing Yes, [laughs] and he said, "I've never seen a sign a her before. That's wonderful."

Studs Terkel Oliver Smith, this scene designer, too, is

Carol Channing Yes, he's, he's designed. He got the prize this year on West Side Story. He's a wonderful

Studs Terkel On the Town.

Carol Channing On the Town. That's right. Oh [geez?], Studs--

Studs Terkel Come

Carol Channing He co-produced Blondes. He's just marvelous. He decided, "No, you've got to get Carol to play Lorelei. Don't cast your 5 feet two eyes of blue. Don't do that." He said, "The way to do Lorelei now is to get a girl exactly off it, and then have her comment on it," and he said, "That'll make it funny." Well, I've seen it done both ways. I think it's funny, anyway.

Studs Terkel Of course, what you've done. The very fact that you were cast as Lorelei, I think has added a great deal of dimension to musical theater in America. This may sound like a, a big ho- no, pretentious com- not meant that way. The fact is you have broke- you have broken this typecasting. I think this was the first time it's happened to musical theatre. We always typecast, isn't that so?

Carol Channing Well, I hadn't thought of it. I know Oliver Smith was just hellbent on getting it. You know, he just, oh no, he didn't want typecasting. He said this whole thing is, is a satire on an era of musical comedy.

Studs Terkel Did you, in doing the- in doing Lorelei this is- Did you- Of course, the Jazz Age was before your time

Carol Channing No, it wasn't.

Studs Terkel [laughs] Well, you were a little girl, you were

Carol Channing Yes, oh, just in blankets

Studs Terkel Did you brush up on it? Were- was it- was a lot of the, a lot of the things you did that were so much your own. Was that based upon your own memories as well,

Carol Channing Well, Stu- Yes, my own memory. Now, I know to tell you the absolute truth, now, Yvonne Adair played Dorothy with me. I know we're the same age now, and Yvonne keeps saying teach me the Charleston. Well, the truth is, she doesn't know it. But my grandmother and I used to be movie happy, and we went from one Marion Davies movie over to Dorothy Mackaill. And, and the one that played with her--

Studs Terkel Colleen Moore--

Carol Channing Jack Mulhall.

Studs Terkel Yes-- Jack

Carol Channing Colleen Moore and Richard Bothams and--

Studs Terkel Milton Sills--

Carol Channing Yeah, Milton.

Studs Terkel [laughs]

Carol Channing Oh yes. And, and he was playing tennis with Vilma Bánky in a picture. I re-

Studs Terkel [laughs]

Carol Channing Well, we used to go- We'd start out at 10 o'clock in the morning on Saturdays, and then- and go to one movie and then get a, a malted milkshake between movies and go over to Rear Admiral Richard Evelyn Byrd over down the street. And then have a, a sandwich or something just to tide us through. Well, the Wheeler and Woolsey with little Dorothy Lee, you know, then we'd go home and do the Charleston. Well, I was an authority on it. This was at- I don't know how old, I think I was 3 and a half,

Studs Terkel Where, where, where was

Carol Channing This was in San Francisco.

Studs Terkel You're from San Francisco.

Carol Channing Yes. And then I used to- she used to come home. You know how grandmothers are, they always pamper their grandchildren. She- we used to go home, then I'd make her up like Anita Page with that worried look,

Studs Terkel you-- [laughs]

Carol Channing Remember Anita Page. Her eyebrows went up in the center. So, I'd make my grandmother up in the center, and then put false eyelashes on her and then stand back and look, and she'd start to look like Anita Page and figure and play with this. She let me do it, and then the Jean Har- when Jean Harlow came in my poor grandmother had to go to church with her eyebrows shaved in the center. And those two hooks beginning in the middle of her eye and, and big black pencil going with a half a circle from the center of the eye on out. And people said, "What on earth happened to your grandmother?" Well, she wouldn't let on. She wouldn't say a word that dear woman. So, anyway practicing with that, I finally evolved to makeup that I found out looked surprised, bewildered like the, the du- you know, that Dorothy Lee baby doll look of the 20s. So, I, I knew all about makeup. By the time--

Studs Terkel This was a makeup then that you yourself conceived--

Carol Channing Yes. I just kept fooling on my grandmother, except she must have been awfully old, because I remember if I touch- if I'd put the, the pencil on her, her skin would stick to the bezel. And it would kind of sag a little after the pencil would let go, so I thought, gee I bet she was old.

Studs Terkel One of the morals, obviously, of this for young artists is to have an understanding grandmother.

Carol Channing Yes, well--

Studs Terkel Goes

Carol Channing Most pe- most grandmothers are terrible that way they're so understanding [laughs]

Studs Terkel I'm thinking about you again. Breaking type once more, then you were in Wonderful Town, and here you played the very literate and sophisticated Ruth.

Carol Channing Oh yes, that's ri- did you se- it was here in Chicago--

Studs Terkel It was here--

Carol Channing For a whole year. You know, when it plays a whole year that's the only way I have of knowing I was on the right track. [laughs] I mean, yes, it must have rung

Studs Terkel Here again your whole approach was different, wasn't it? From that of Lorelei.

Carol Channing Yes, it was Ruth McKenney, really. The most important- that was a, a lesson, too, to learn not to be Rosalind Russell, 'cause she's a potent personality. And it's not easy to forget her.

Studs Terkel Rosalind Russell did it in the original production

Carol Channing Yes, it was. It was her

Studs Terkel Now, you did not, you see, since you are a different person.

Carol Channing Yes--

Studs Terkel In Ros- You did not do a take off of Rosalind Russell.

Carol Channing No, I--

Studs Terkel What did you do?

Carol Channing Well, in a musical comedy on Broadway you must be true to your own concept, you know. I mean, an imitation of Rosalind Russell, they'll be better off paying Rosalind Russell. You know, but they're gonna- they're paying me the same amount. For what? For the same creative ability, so, so then, I had to- I remember not accepting the part until I could figure out what is Ruth McKenney mean to me. The woman that wrote the books. Wha- what do I understand about her? Not what does Rosalind Russell see, and what do I get from Rosalind Russell's performance? You know the hardest thing in the world is to forget her, and not see Rosalind Russell's face and not feel her whole approach. And, and you start right back from the original books and just keep reading, reading. And I found out- Ruth McKenney is about as stupid as I am, you know. I mean, she's, I mean- not that, but we've all felt stupid at times. She's falling all over her own two feet.

Studs Terkel You mean, very- she's really a bright girl, literate girl but stupid about--

Carol Channing A--

Studs Terkel Men.

Carol Channing Yes, and about, about the daily living. About how to get along with people. She's so bright, and so- Well, we've all had that feeling of being a wallflower and, and so just remember when you felt like a- you know, like that. We've all had it at times, and we've had times when everybody- We all love everybody, and everybody loves us. Life is ever changing, thank goodness. But, you know, Ruth was well- this Ruth McKenney character actually was naive in comparison to her sister, Eileen. I found out by reading the original books. Eileen was the smart businesswoman. She married a very wealthy man. She made a snappy quick marriage. It was a beautiful thing. Down the aisle she went, and everybody approved of it. But Ruth flopped around and floundered and didn't know who to marry. And, it- she just, Ruth just was naive. She was bewildered, and she, she didn't know how to take care of herself in daily living.

Studs Terkel It's a page out of life. The girl seemingly innocent naive, the kid sister--

Carol Channing Yes--

Studs Terkel Eileen, was much brighter, shrewder, shall we

Carol Channing Much. She was more like Lorelei, but, but Eileen had a snappy mind. Eileen knew just what she was doing. And I talked, it's the funniest thing. We played Cleveland and all Ruth McKenney's and Eileen's schoolmates came back, and they said, "Isn't it funny, but you're just like Ruth. Why, that's the way she was in gym class. Falling all over herself, always getting out a line. She just couldn't seem to walk a straight line with the rest of us, and, we- nobody wanted her on their side in the basketball games, because she just, she- you know, and she'd horse around laugh and everything. She was," they said, "Isn't that strange?" But Ruth was not bright about looking out for herself.

Studs Terkel Well, she was an excellent writer.

Carol Channing But an excellent writer. But she was- she wasn't so quick with the wisecracks. It was Chodorov and Fields that were quick with the wisecracks. They adapted her books.

Studs Terkel So coming back, coming back to you again. Here's another insight in why you are the performer you are. The- you go to the sources. You go back to the original source in this

Carol Channing I don't know that there's any other way to do it. Unless they want to give you an understudy's salary, you know.

Studs Terkel That's a good comment. Identify--

Carol Channing 'Cause an understudy is a different thing from- Now, if I were understudying I remember understudying Eve Arden in Let's Face It. And the kindest thing you can do for the rest of the company is do it as truly like Eve. The way she did it with her timing. A lot of understudies don't, you know, and the whole poor company gets thrown. I found that out. Just do it the way they've been doing it.

Studs Terkel You're hitting, I think, a very key point. I, I haven't heard this made. I never heard this, put this way before. An understudy, yes, the understudy's job to imitate. Let's--

Carol Channing Yes--

Studs Terkel Say the, the performer, because the rest of the cast might be thrown by different timing. But someone else in the national company, should be herself. [Or some such?]--

Carol Channing Yes, that's what the audience has gone out of their way to come see is a contribution of yourself. But with an understudy, they haven't gone out of the- their way to see your contribution at all.

Studs Terkel Did you ever [unintelligle] to be a dramatic actress? You, going back to Bennington again,

Carol Channing Never--

Studs Terkel Always musical.

Carol Channing Always, always. I never wanted to be a dramatic actress. It, it's just, I don't know why, really--

Studs Terkel Well, you don't have to, right?

Carol Channing [laughs]

Studs Terkel There's enough you contribute in this way. There's a- this is own- this has its own drama and entertainment. Now, which leads us to a questions. You're as good an authority as good, better. On the subject of musicals today, what is the- We hear, of course, the great trend through the years has been adaptation of serious works. Do you feel this is being overdone a bit? What's your feeling? Now, Juno flopped recently--

Carol Channing Yeah--

Studs Terkel And it's hard to figure out with all the talent involved. O'Casey's Juno and the Paycock flopped, you know. Now, what's your feeling about the trend?

Carol Channing Well--

Studs Terkel From not, from originals to adaptations or, or am I wrong?

Carol Channing Oh yes, we, actually, you know- We were involved in Juno. That is, we put a little bit of money in it.

Studs Terkel This, I didn't, I didn't

Carol Channing Oh well, like you I thought, oh wonderful, you know. As it went on, they kept us informed as to what was happening. Even- the most penetrating remark that, that I heard was even Seán O'Casey couldn't rewrite it himself, and do it as well or improve on it. So who are we to rewrite it and improve on it?

Studs Terkel The one I heard- that's a musical in itself, was a musical to begin with. I mean, the music of

Carol Channing Yes, the music of O'Casey. Why didn't he rewrite it again himself, anyway? Unless it was just a gem the way it was. It couldn't be done. It's also- they were playing it, I understand. Now, I didn't get to see it, 'cause we were on the road with this act. And boy, I wouldn't miss the experience for this act for anything, even to see Juno. But I understand that, you know, Seán O'Casey has a way- his characters are totally un-self-conscious, and they're moving around happily, merrily just like all the rest of us, just milling around. Totally without realizing that they are immortal doomed characters. They don't know it. Well, they were playing it as though, they were all doomed, and they were all immortal.

Studs Terkel In other words, they were conscious--

Studs Terkel Yes--

Studs Terkel Instead, instead of being unconsciously or naturally the people they were, they were playing it very- The very thing you talked about earlier about analyzing your act. They were doing

Carol Channing Yes, Studs. Gee, I've never talked to anybody about these things. It's- You seem so interested.

Studs Terkel Keep talking--

Studs Terkel [laughs]

Studs Terkel You speak

Carol Channing Hi [laughs] but--

Studs Terkel Mr. Lowe has just entered and left, and he's welcome anytime to

Charles Lowe

Carol Channing When the phrase a nightclub act is heard immediately a stereotype comes to mind. A nightclub act: someone a, a cute little girl singing a gay song or a comic, a stand-up comic with jokes that are to some extent weary. They're some fresh, some new but a nightclub act as such seems to fit in a framework. Yet, we're fortunate to have in Chicago a performer who fits in no framework. She is her unique self. Carol Channing, who is now at the Empire Room performing every night. That's right, Studs. Oh, what a nice introduction, thank you [laughs]-- Y'know what- It's, it's an introduction that I'm trying to sequin to fit you, because you fall in no one pattern. You sing. There's a sparkle to you. There's a, an overall intelligence to you, and this comes through to the audience. Oh is it- Really? An intelligence? That's a first time anyone ever accused me of that. [laughs] [laughs] Oh, that's wonderful-- If we could, if we could find out something about you- something very simple. What makes Carol Channing tick, y'see? And that this is sort of a ram- we can make this out of a rambling autobiography in a way-- [laughs] About you and theater and entertainment generally. Oh, that's a hard thing to do for a performer. The day you get perspective on yourself is the day the act is lousy, you know [laughs]. Would you, would you mind talking about that? You say the day you get perspective on yourself is the day the act is lo- you really feel that? You feel l- a lot of your stuff should be unconscious or subconscious? Well I imagine complete re- perspective- As soon as I think I've got it- All I know is my own experience, it's probably different with everybody. But as soon as I think, "Ah! There's the answer," I find out on the next show doing that is self-conscious. It- you know then that's your joke, and it's no longer funny. You mean the element of improvisation is gone. Maybe? No, it's- let me see now, what would the element be? It's just the direct- Well, here's the character, and now you're going to do this kind of a number with this kind of a person singing it. And this kind of a person is saying this to these people, and the moment you get your mind off that this little jumping across each little pebble and stand back and say, "But look how I'm doing it." The moment you say, "Look how I'm doing it," the joke is gone. In other words-- I don't know why, but there's no laugh all of a Well this, this explains why your act seems so fresh all the time. You yourself, honestly now, you yourself get a kick out of what you're doing each night. Yes. It's also frightening, too, Studs, because the audience tells you sooner than any one human being that you're off the track, you know. [laughs]-- How can you sense that? They don't laugh. And- Where did the laugh go? You- it was a big boff last night. What did you do tonight that was wrong? It has to be wrong, because they laughed last night. You know? [laughs] Well, do you sense what happened or did- do you take sort of inventory after, after that happens? Oh, yes, we discuss it after every show. If someone comes in the dressing room all of a sudden after the show, we don't even hear them. Everybody the drummer, Sammy Goldstein; the musical director, Robert Hunter; and Jane, the keeper of the diamonds; and Charles Lowe, who produces the act. He's my husband, too. Well, we- right away we go [zip sound] just like magnets after each show. It sounds silly, but we get together right after the show and say well, alright, let's move Homesick along a little faster. We went a little too slow on the bridge, that's what did it. It bogged down the whole pace of the act. Or we decide, let's pick up little Prue as we go into the verse, because- or, or it's too fast. It's, it's going ahead of them. So there's a question here of continuous observation of the act without you yourself being objective while you're onstage. Yes, without thinking-- Yeah-- All you can do is think of what am I saying? Who am I? What is this character saying, and are- is the audience hearing her? Is she going too fast or too slow for them? Or too high or too low or too fat or too thin or something, you This is very interesting. You actually- this is your little Stanislavski here, see? [laughs] What am I saying? Who am I? Yeah, you- question of identifying what you're doing. I guess so, Studs. I don't know- I imagine everybody does it. I don't know. I think pe- I think actors do, but they- If they say to you, "Oh, we're just having a ball out there. It's just a romp." Well, they're skipping over a couple of things, I think. [laughs] What about yourself? I came across this old record. I told you about, before we were Yes, Studs. You were in Marc Blitzstein's No For an Answer. That's right. That was my very first professional job. Dimples Fraught. Now this, this was a- I suppose, you describe that as a folk opera. Yeah. Oh, that- [laughs] that was just Charlie-- It's alright-- A folk opera. I guess so-- I Would you, Studs? Well, I don't know. I'm just- it's Blitzstein, he himself is unique in his way as you are in yours. Isn't he marvelous? He- yes, he's in that off Broadway thing, that's been playing and playing and playing that he did. Threepenny-- Yes-- Opera, his adaptation. What about you yourself? We immediately think of you, of course, most people do as Lorelei Lee, of course. Well, this in itself was a remarkable bit of casting, wasn't it? Originally. Yes, isn't it peculiar? It, it was odd. Actually, Oliver Smith who produced- who co-produced Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and Anita Loos, who wrote it, came to Lend an Ear, a little review that Charlie Gaynor wrote. And there was- You remember it. I- you- Studs, you remember everything-- [laughs] It's the darndest thing, because very few people can think far- as far back as No For an Answer for heavens- And you have a record of that. You know, I was 18-years-old then, would you believe it? What, you are quite young now. No, but I mean you can tell by my voice. We all started out sopranos, you know, and then we just slowly ga- Today, 'Cause I heard Sophie- I heard Sophie Tucker when she was 18. She sounded just as soprano as I did at 18. In't that funny. I'm thinking of after No For an Answer, then came the review Lend an Ear. No, I'll tell you what happened. You know- this- Bennington College, this progressive school where they teach the arts and everything-- You went to Bennington? Yes, and during your winter period, you're supposed to get a job in whatever you're majoring in. Well, the first winter period I was good and acted just like a Bennington girl, and I glued scenery together and wrote a thesis. And wha- joined small theaters and all that and wrote this thesis on the theater and [zzzz sound] and the Mielziner revolving stage, and what each designer had done. And the next- and I, every weekend, I kept going down to New York to see the shows, and all I kept doing was getting this- Ethel Waters at the time was on with Mamba's Daughters-- Mamba's Daughters-- And Merman was in Stars in Your Eyes and Gertie Lawrence, and, oh well, they were all- Susan and God, I think it was at the time-- Susan and God-- Yeah-- Before Lady in the Dark-- Oh yes. And, so anyway f- all of- I just kept at it and kept these little bits a characterizations that I was collecting and went down and auditioned for Marc Blitzstein for No For an Answer. That is I auditioned for the William Morris office at the time, and they sent me over there for better or for worse whatever would happen, send her over we're sending hundreds to Mark Blitzstein. And he said, "You're just the girl I want." Well, he wrote this song called I've Simply Fraught About You-- Fraught And it was supposed to be a girl in a, a cafe on the highway in Jersey City, who thought she was better than B. Lilly, Ethel Merman, Ethel Waters and all the queens of the day put together. She thought, "Well, I'm all of them all at once." And well, it couldn't have been better for me, because there were bits of this and bits of that and, and it was a silly girl who didn't realize that by being all these people all at once she was nobody, you know. And, and what- you could see she was imitating this one and suddenly that one. Well, it was- I'm Simply- it was called the Cole Porter song to end all Cole Porter songs, and it was the- of course, it didn't end Cole Porter at all. And Marc knew it wouldn't. But this- [laughs] [laughs] Every Cole Porter singer was what I had a chance to be-- Yeah, you were Well, there I was 18-years-old at the time. There's something you just said, something you just said that, that perhaps we could talk about that- but, you were everybody. And yet this girl Dimples, Dimples, oh, I'm Simply Fraught-- Yes-- About You. Everybody and yet nobody. And nobody, which is the only thing I could do at 18-years-old. Today, the, the, the point is your growth as an artist is a very natural one and a real one. Day, you do takeoffs on a great many, but you are somebody. I mean, you are still you- identifiable as you regardless-- You know you've hit something, Studs. Honestly, you ask the most penetrating questions, because-- [laughs] That's what I'm learning about an act. It's a wonderful thing to do an act, Cyril Ritchard told me that. You have to find you. An act is a personal thing. With Blondes, if they don't care for this character that's going around threatening their homes and their establishments and their- this Lorelei Lee. Well, I can't help, but Anita Loos wrote the character. You know, I mean I'm just trying to be faithful to her, but with an act it's you, and that's the hardest thing in the whole world to find out for all of us. There's something else here that- your approach, it seems that of a dramatic actress, even though you're doing a musical. You prepare for it as a dramatic actress would in a drama, isn't that it? I just don't know, but I don't know. I've never talked to a dramatic actress, but I, I know that Bert Lahr, I've talked to him and Ray Bolger and every- oh, and George Britt- Gracie Allen. Every comic I know approaches it that way. Each one- it's from himself first from his own insides. I guess so, why- Well, Gracie's always saying, "Now, why does she go through that door? Well, why is she mad at her son? Well, well, what's the matt- Why would she take modern dance lessons, anyway? Why would I, the character I'm playing, take m-" Well, I remember Tallulah Bankhead saying, "I know [diamond?], this is Amanda." She kept saying, and we- in Private Lives, it was opening night. And we kept saying, "Well, who cares whether it's Amanda, Tallulah, everybody paid their money to come and hear you laugh like that and romp around." And she thinks- She has a characterization that she calls Tallulah Bankhead, and she steps into it, you know. You mean, she- as though she's looking in a mirror, is that it? I mean-- No, it's just- I don't think most actors, if they actually can analyze it, I don't think they'd have the nerve to stand on stage and say, "This is me." They have to say, "This is me as I see it. This is a character"-- Yeah-- You know, "This is called Tallulah Bankhead," 'cause I remember when Oliver Smith saw the act, he said "Oh I love that ad lib character at the end. The one you call Carol. The one when you're just standing there just talking and laughing with the audience and, and they laugh and then you, you do what you- answer them whatever they say." And he said, "Oh, I love that character, Carol. I've never seen that before." Well, we've known each other for years Oliver Smith and That character then is you. Yeah, I call it me-- Yeah-- But he said, "Oh, that's marvelous that character called you." [laughs] And he'd known you all these Yes, [laughs] and he said, "I've never seen a sign a her before. That's wonderful." Oliver Smith, this scene designer, too, is he Yes, he's, he's designed. He got the prize this year on West Side Story. He's a wonderful man-- On the Town. On the Town. That's right. Oh [geez?], Studs-- Come He co-produced Blondes. He's just marvelous. He decided, "No, you've got to get Carol to play Lorelei. Don't cast your 5 feet two eyes of blue. Don't do that." He said, "The way to do Lorelei now is to get a girl exactly off it, and then have her comment on it," and he said, "That'll make it funny." Well, I've seen it done both ways. I think it's funny, anyway. Of course, what you've done. The very fact that you were cast as Lorelei, I think has added a great deal of dimension to musical theater in America. This may sound like a, a big ho- no, pretentious com- not meant that way. The fact is you have broke- you have broken this typecasting. I think this was the first time it's happened to musical theatre. We always typecast, isn't that so? Well, I hadn't thought of it. I know Oliver Smith was just hellbent on getting it. You know, he just, oh no, he didn't want typecasting. He said this whole thing is, is a satire on an era of musical comedy. Did you, in doing the- in doing Lorelei this is- Did you- Of course, the Jazz Age was before your time [unintelligible]-- No, it wasn't. [laughs] [laughs] Well, you were a little girl, you were a Yes, oh, just in blankets [laughs] Did you brush up on it? Were- was it- was a lot of the, a lot of the things you did that were so much your own. Was that based upon your own memories as well, [unintelligible]-- Well, Stu- Yes, my own memory. Now, I know to tell you the absolute truth, now, Yvonne Adair played Dorothy with me. I know we're the same age now, and Yvonne keeps saying teach me the Charleston. Well, the truth is, she doesn't know it. But my grandmother and I used to be movie happy, and we went from one Marion Davies movie over to Dorothy Mackaill. And, and the one that played with her-- Colleen Moore-- Jack Mulhall. Yes-- Jack Colleen Moore and Richard Bothams and-- Milton Sills-- Yeah, Milton. [laughs] Oh yes. And, and he was playing tennis with Vilma Bánky in a picture. I re- [laughs] Well, we used to go- We'd start out at 10 o'clock in the morning on Saturdays, and then- and go to one movie and then get a, a malted milkshake between movies and go over to Rear Admiral Richard Evelyn Byrd over down the street. And then have a, a sandwich or something just to tide us through. Well, the Wheeler and Woolsey with little Dorothy Lee, you know, then we'd go home and do the Charleston. Well, I was an authority on it. This was at- I don't know how old, I think I was 3 and a half, 4, Where, where, where was this? This was in San Francisco. You're from San Francisco. Yes. And then I used to- she used to come home. You know how grandmothers are, they always pamper their grandchildren. She- we used to go home, then I'd make her up like Anita Page with that worried look, you-- [laughs] Remember Anita Page. Her eyebrows went up in the center. So, I'd make my grandmother up in the center, and then put false eyelashes on her and then stand back and look, and she'd start to look like Anita Page and figure and play with this. She let me do it, and then the Jean Har- when Jean Harlow came in my poor grandmother had to go to church with her eyebrows shaved in the center. And those two hooks beginning in the middle of her eye and, and big black pencil going with a half a circle from the center of the eye on out. And people said, "What on earth happened to your grandmother?" Well, she wouldn't let on. She wouldn't say a word that dear woman. So, anyway practicing with that, I finally evolved to makeup that I found out looked surprised, bewildered like the, the du- you know, that Dorothy Lee baby doll look of the 20s. So, I, I knew all about makeup. By the time-- This was a makeup then that you yourself conceived-- Yes. I just kept fooling on my grandmother, except she must have been awfully old, because I remember if I touch- if I'd put the, the pencil on her, her skin would stick to the bezel. And it would kind of sag a little after the pencil would let go, so I thought, gee I bet she was old. One of the morals, obviously, of this for young artists is to have an understanding grandmother. Yes, well-- Goes Most pe- most grandmothers are terrible that way they're so understanding [laughs] I'm thinking about you again. Breaking type once more, then you were in Wonderful Town, and here you played the very literate and sophisticated Ruth. Oh yes, that's ri- did you se- it was here in Chicago-- It was here-- For a whole year. You know, when it plays a whole year that's the only way I have of knowing I was on the right track. [laughs] I mean, yes, it must have rung true-- Here again your whole approach was different, wasn't it? From that of Lorelei. Yes, it was Ruth McKenney, really. The most important- that was a, a lesson, too, to learn not to be Rosalind Russell, 'cause she's a potent personality. And it's not easy to forget her. Rosalind Russell did it in the original production in Yes, it was. It was her originally-- Now, you did not, you see, since you are a different person. Yes-- In Ros- You did not do a take off of Rosalind Russell. No, I-- What did you do? Well, in a musical comedy on Broadway you must be true to your own concept, you know. I mean, an imitation of Rosalind Russell, they'll be better off paying Rosalind Russell. You know, but they're gonna- they're paying me the same amount. For what? For the same creative ability, so, so then, I had to- I remember not accepting the part until I could figure out what is Ruth McKenney mean to me. The woman that wrote the books. Wha- what do I understand about her? Not what does Rosalind Russell see, and what do I get from Rosalind Russell's performance? You know the hardest thing in the world is to forget her, and not see Rosalind Russell's face and not feel her whole approach. And, and you start right back from the original books and just keep reading, reading. And I found out- Ruth McKenney is about as stupid as I am, you know. I mean, she's, I mean- not that, but we've all felt stupid at times. She's falling all over her own two feet. You mean, very- she's really a bright girl, literate girl but stupid about-- A-- Men. Yes, and about, about the daily living. About how to get along with people. She's so bright, and so- Well, we've all had that feeling of being a wallflower and, and so just remember when you felt like a- you know, like that. We've all had it at times, and we've had times when everybody- We all love everybody, and everybody loves us. Life is ever changing, thank goodness. But, you know, Ruth was well- this Ruth McKenney character actually was naive in comparison to her sister, Eileen. I found out by reading the original books. Eileen was the smart businesswoman. She married a very wealthy man. She made a snappy quick marriage. It was a beautiful thing. Down the aisle she went, and everybody approved of it. But Ruth flopped around and floundered and didn't know who to marry. And, it- she just, Ruth just was naive. She was bewildered, and she, she didn't know how to take care of herself in daily living. It's a page out of life. The girl seemingly innocent naive, the kid sister-- Yes-- Eileen, was much brighter, shrewder, shall we Much. She was more like Lorelei, but, but Eileen had a snappy mind. Eileen knew just what she was doing. And I talked, it's the funniest thing. We played Cleveland and all Ruth McKenney's and Eileen's schoolmates came back, and they said, "Isn't it funny, but you're just like Ruth. Why, that's the way she was in gym class. Falling all over herself, always getting out a line. She just couldn't seem to walk a straight line with the rest of us, and, we- nobody wanted her on their side in the basketball games, because she just, she- you know, and she'd horse around laugh and everything. She was," they said, "Isn't that strange?" But Ruth was not bright about looking out for herself. Well, she was an excellent writer. But an excellent writer. But she was- she wasn't so quick with the wisecracks. It was Chodorov and Fields that were quick with the wisecracks. They adapted her books. So coming back, coming back to you again. Here's another insight in why you are the performer you are. The- you go to the sources. You go back to the original source in this case-- I don't know that there's any other way to do it. Unless they want to give you an understudy's salary, you know. That's a good comment. Identify-- 'Cause an understudy is a different thing from- Now, if I were understudying I remember understudying Eve Arden in Let's Face It. And the kindest thing you can do for the rest of the company is do it as truly like Eve. The way she did it with her timing. A lot of understudies don't, you know, and the whole poor company gets thrown. I found that out. Just do it the way they've been doing it. You're hitting, I think, a very key point. I, I haven't heard this made. I never heard this, put this way before. An understudy, yes, the understudy's job to imitate. Let's-- Yes-- Say the, the performer, because the rest of the cast might be thrown by different timing. But someone else in the national company, should be herself. [Or some such?]-- Yes, that's what the audience has gone out of their way to come see is a contribution of yourself. But with an understudy, they haven't gone out of the- their way to see your contribution at all. Did you ever [unintelligle] to be a dramatic actress? You, going back to Bennington again, or Never-- Always musical. Always, always. I never wanted to be a dramatic actress. It, it's just, I don't know why, really-- Well, you don't have to, right? [laughs] [laughs] There's enough you contribute in this way. There's a- this is own- this has its own drama and entertainment. Now, which leads us to a questions. You're as good an authority as good, better. On the subject of musicals today, what is the- We hear, of course, the great trend through the years has been adaptation of serious works. Do you feel this is being overdone a bit? What's your feeling? Now, Juno flopped recently-- Yeah-- And it's hard to figure out with all the talent involved. O'Casey's Juno and the Paycock flopped, you know. Now, what's your feeling about the trend? Well-- From not, from originals to adaptations or, or am I wrong? Oh yes, we, actually, you know- We were involved in Juno. That is, we put a little bit of money in it. [laughs] This, I didn't, I didn't Oh well, like you I thought, oh wonderful, you know. As it went on, they kept us informed as to what was happening. Even- the most penetrating remark that, that I heard was even Seán O'Casey couldn't rewrite it himself, and do it as well or improve on it. So who are we to rewrite it and improve on it? The one I heard- that's a musical in itself, was a musical to begin with. I mean, the music of O'Casey. Yes, the music of O'Casey. Why didn't he rewrite it again himself, anyway? Unless it was just a gem the way it was. It couldn't be done. It's also- they were playing it, I understand. Now, I didn't get to see it, 'cause we were on the road with this act. And boy, I wouldn't miss the experience for this act for anything, even to see Juno. But I understand that, you know, Seán O'Casey has a way- his characters are totally un-self-conscious, and they're moving around happily, merrily just like all the rest of us, just milling around. Totally without realizing that they are immortal doomed characters. They don't know it. Well, they were playing it as though, they were all doomed, and they were all immortal. In other words, they were conscious-- Yes-- Instead, instead of being unconsciously or naturally the people they were, they were playing it very- The very thing you talked about earlier about analyzing your act. They were doing that-- Yes, Studs. Gee, I've never talked to anybody about these things. It's- You seem so interested. Keep talking-- [laughs] You speak interestingly. Hi [laughs] but-- Mr. Lowe has just entered and left, and he's welcome anytime to contribute-- [laughs] Yes,

Studs Terkel As he wishes to--

Charles Lowe I'm serving the press ginger ale.

Carol Channing Oh, isn't that nice? I'm sure they're delighted. [laughs]

Studs Terkel [laughs] This is known as a, at the moment, a teetotallers' conversation.

Carol Channing [laughs]

Studs Terkel So, we come back to Carol Channing and the- You said to them, you wouldn't miss the experience of this act, not eve- What about this particular act- The one in which you do- It's a combination of everything. It's, it's a potpourri in a way of--

Carol Channing Yes, actually, I think everybody to his own field, and mine is revues. I've always liked revues, but they're out of style now. And I think it's only because a good one hasn't been along for a long time, and I believe in them implicitly. It's just that they haven't wri- They're not. They haven't written one lately, so this act is really a revue.

Studs Terkel Just in case some listeners don't know the difference between revue and a musical. Would you mind just telling us, and why there so few reviews today?

Carol Channing Well, well, I don't know. I underst-

Studs Terkel Musical has a book, you know.

Carol Channing Yes, it has a book and, and it follows a plot. A revue has no, no connection whatsoe- One would be a comedy sketch, and another is a, is a dance or a beautiful ballet number or something. It just goes from one thing to a- It's a- Sometimes, it's a topical revue, ands a, a, about the present day happenings. And sometimes it just- Charlie Gaynor's are not topical revues. They're just comments on as Brooks Atkinson said, "Satirizing things that ought to be satirized." He said, "Just luckily enough, Mr. Gaynor seems to tear down only what ought to be torn down, and has no caustic tongue about things that should be preserved."

Studs Terkel I think we should make it clear that Charlie Gaynor wrote Lend an Ear.

Carol Channing Yes.

Studs Terkel In which you appeared as a Gladiola girl.

Carol Channing That was my fir- the first time anybody ever really laughed was when Charlie Gaynor said, "Oh, I think this is all so funny." And I kept telling him, "You can't. Nobody's thought so for 10, 12 years." And he said, "Well, Carol don't talk me out of it. I want to hire you." So--

Studs Terkel You mean you didn't realize when you first- you didn't realize that you were funny? What you did was

Carol Channing I did, but everybody kept telling me that's not funny. And it goes on long enough 'til finally you believe it, you kno- [laughs]

Studs Terkel And back to Gaynor again. He's also writing a good deal of the material for-

Carol Channing For this act. For my act now, he's writing material, and he has written most all my act, now. What he didn't write, George Burns wrote, and he's writing- He's been writing a new revue ever since Lend an Ear, and Oliver Smith is producing the revue.

Studs Terkel Now, do you plan to be in any forthcoming revue, or is this--

Carol Channing Yes, it's that revue.

Studs Terkel You, you, you'll be

Carol Channing Yes, I'll be in it. And Gaynor will be here next Wednesday to show us the- All that this so far where they are.

Studs Terkel This is rare today. Any, any reason if, if do you have any reason to offer why there are so few revues in this era? You know, there were so many revues in the 20s and early

Carol Channing Yes, there were, weren't there. You know, I don't know except that maybe, they have a lot of sketches on television that are ground out quickly. And they haven't the, the- Of course, they're pretty funny, some of those, too. Maybe it's because on television it's, it's done a lot. But Gaynor's stuff is so thought out that I think it's different from television revues.

Studs Terkel His are not- As you say his or not topical as such, they

Carol Channing will-- No--

Studs Terkel Not be dead tomorrow. Live today and dead tomorrow.

Carol Channing Everything that I looked at from Lend an Ear is still good. He has a- in Lend an Ear, there were things that weren't mentioned as often. And that was- as a matter of fact, they're going to do a spectacular of Lend an Ear on television.

Studs Terkel Will you be in it?

Carol Channing Yes--

Studs Terkel Wow--

Carol Channing And Cyril Ritchard, I think.

Studs Terkel That's a combination.

Carol Channing Isn't that--

Studs Terkel [laughs]

Carol Channing I think that he's a wonderful man. Well, he wants to do it. And Mildred Alberg wants to produce that, so that should be next season on television. But- and Gaynor's all for it. But there's an opera number. The opera company- touring opera company that didn't pay their musicians, and so they'll have to do their opera without music. And it's, it's just a number that, that everyone skipped over. But it's awfully funny now.

Studs Terkel And that was in Lend an Ear.

Carol Channing That was in Lend an Ear, but you didn't notice it so--

Studs Terkel It holds up--

Carol Channing Oh, it

Studs Terkel After the fact- years after the fact, it

Carol Channing Yes, they still have- but the- imagine say, "Oh ho ho where," you know, is, is- That was my part, I remember, it was Kirsten Flagstad without the music.

Studs Terkel We have to come back to you again on the matter of energy. This, the actors', the actresses' energy in this instance. Where, where does it come from? Your own- You, you give so much in what you do as a performer and as a person. The question comes up of the physical question. How?

Carol Channing Well, Studs, one thing is, I don't do anything but the show. So, it's not so amazing. Most people are doing so many things, you know. And mine is just, thank goodness, we've worked out our lives, so that I can just go ahead and anything pertaining to the act I'm free to do.

Studs Terkel Well, does the act- This is a question. You have an act worked out. I'm sure carefully worked out, too. But do you at times- does the act alter slightly at times with different audiences?

Carol Channing Oh, yes. Yes, there are certain audiences- sometimes and, and it's only natural. If I hadn't seen certain fields of entertainment or hadn't noticed it. I wouldn't know what somebody was satirizing, so we just take that number out, you know. On so- we kind of size up the audience and decide let's not do that in Chicago, because- simply because the Palace didn't play in Chicago, you

Studs Terkel There are references, you mean, that would be too esoteric for this audience here. Say, that would fit in another city.

Carol Channing Yes, enough. For instance, there's a number that we have- we had in last year's act called You Haven't Lived Until You've Played the Palace, and it's about all the present day entertainers, who open- who reopened the old Palace Theatre, such as well- all of them, Jerry Lewis, Betty Hutton, Danny Kaye, of course. They're all great entertainers. Judy Garland. They- the ones that sit down on the edge of the stage and, and have a cup of tea with the audience. And, and- or have their throats sprayed, or so, you know, and it's, it's a number about all of the young entertainers who, who have reopened the Palace. Well, they haven't done that in Chicago. So, how should I expect the Chicago audience--

Studs Terkel True-- To

Carol Channing To know about this?

Studs Terkel In your pre-Bennington days, did, did you go to Vaudeville shows much- Do you remember?

Carol Channing Oh

Studs Terkel [You look?] like you did. And so, Vaudeville that you remember as a small girl was a source--

Studs Terkel To tell you the absolute truth, the Orpheum in San Francisco and the Golden Gate was the remains of Vaudeville. I think I got the fringes of it.

Studs Terkel We almost have to wind up- the tapes running out. You have so much to offer--

Carol Channing Oh, Studs, you know, it's like talking to the Kogan's talking with

Studs Terkel you-- [laughs]

Carol Channing Because we- I keep asking them about painting this way, and you keep asking

Studs Terkel One, one last question--

Carol Channing

Studs Terkel Yes-- It's not a question. It's just a comment, and, well, you talked about it. Obviously your imagination is not a limited or bounded one, becau- I notice among the recordings, you have a lot of folk song albums. Why the interest in folk music?

Carol Channing Well, I went through a terrible era of folk music, anyway, back before I could get a job. Oh, I was going to tell you after No For an Answer, I, I got that job, and then I thought, "Good, I'll quit Bennington after two and a half years. I'm on my way," and spent the next four years looking for another job. So it, it isn't that easy once you're started in theater, that doesn't mean you're started at all. Well, anyway, you asked me about the folk music. It was during those four years that I went crazy over all those folk singers, and now I've got these songs. And I don't know what to do with them. So, Charlie, my husband, and I are listening to more and trying to figure out- And Charlie Gaynor, who wrote the act and all is- we're trying to think what to do with these folk songs. So, we're- they're listening to them now, too, trying to, trying to find out what I hear in them, and to figure out what the joke is. So we can make a satire of it or some comment, anyway--

Studs Terkel So you, you may do a satire on a folk singer-- Yes--

Carol Channing Yes--

Studs Terkel Or folk music, which is I think high time too.

Carol Channing Oh good, alright, well, we'll check with you, Studs.

Studs Terkel [laughs]

Carol Channing If you don't mind. Huh?

Freddy Townsend [unintelligible] He's, he's the greatest [unintelligible] in

Studs Terkel Freddy Townsend--

Carol Channing I know that, 'cause I was asking him questions about

Studs Terkel Speaking the demon publicity man, but Carol Channing this has been a very delightful, wholly improm- Well, of course, get together here and you play two nights a week at the Palmer House--

Carol Channing Yes--

Studs Terkel An act loaded with sparkle and your own vitality. Now, how--

Freddy Townsend Two shows a night, you

Studs Terkel Two shows a night. Oh, I said two shows a week. I'm sorry--

Carol Channing Oh,

Studs Terkel Two shows a night, seven nights a week--

Carol Channing That's

Studs Terkel And how much longer will you be here?

Carol Channing Just two more weeks, I believe. It

Freddy Townsend 'Til the twenty-ninth.

Carol Channing Twenty-nin- and then we join our six-year-old boy.

Studs Terkel And you have a six-year-old boy.

Carol Channing We were just with him before here, and then we'll see him aga- Oh, he's all involved with the act, too. I think it's just as well that children know their parents is in--

Studs Terkel Of course--

Carol Channing Oh, yes [laughs]--

Studs Terkel Here would you mind, perhaps a sign off reading this correspondence from your boy.

Carol Channing This is my mother's day present, and it's a great many paintings. And it's a traveling bulletin board for me, because he has a bulletin board, and he can't imagine anyone not having one. So, here's the bulletin board, and I can put it in the suitcase, and it says, "X, X, X, O, O, O." The circles are hugs, and you know what the Xs are. And, "dear mommy and daddy," no mistakes but small M and small D- I, I is a small- well, "am very happy," capital H. Well, he'll learn. It's alright. It's his fir- he's just turned six, huh. "And send

Studs Terkel you"-- Very

Carol Channing "A million big hugs for the nice presents. Have a nice Mother's Day. Love, Chan," on the top.

Studs Terkel Can't think of a better note on which to wind up this very delightful--

Carol Channing [laughs]

Studs Terkel Get together. Carol Channing, artist, human being, mother.

Carol Channing [laughs]

Studs Terkel Thank you very

Carol Channing Oh, Studs, I've enjoyed talking with you. Thank you for this interview.