Sometimes a bunch of old clips turns up on YouTube all at once, and this YouTube account recently was updated with a lot of musical numbers from Tony Awards telecasts, starting in the late ’60s and going up to the ’00s. (The channel already had a bunch of other Tony clips, and some of the clips are already on Bluegobo.com.) Some are more interesting for what they don’t have – like choosing lesser numbers or performers because the stars weren’t available. Others are notable for who they include, like a clip of the replacement cast of Fiddler on the Roof, which had a young Bette Midler. And some are from shows no one would ever hear of again (Walking Happy). But there’s a lot of good stuff in there, from the all-black version of Hello, Dolly! onward. Here’s the opening of Zorbà, the 1968-9 Harold Prince production that was an exact mid-point between Fiddler on the Roof and his abrasive, uncompromising 1970s productions: it’s a meaner, darker opening number than his earlier musicals, but not as mean and dark as the opening of Prince’s Pacific Overtures, which would be performed on a later Tony show.
Unfortunately the biggest treasure for musical fans, the Ed Sullivan Show clips, have mostly been pulled from every site and aren’t coming back. Once in a while, a stray one manages to find its way back onto YouTube, like these two clips from Bye Bye Birdie: Paul Lynde’s bravura monologue as an angry suburban dad, and the “Put on a Happy Face” number. (I guess today you couldn’t do a number where the hero accosts a teenage girl and makes faces at her. Not without at least one joke about the possible implications.) Note that the drink Lynde refers to in his monologue had to be changed to “Ginger Ale” from 7-Up, because you couldn’t refer to brand-name products on a sponsored TV show without getting into trouble.