Hello Dolly! Dress
Hello, Dolly! was the first musical I saw on Broadway. Pearl Bailey was Dolly, Cab Calloway was the male lead, and I think Morgan Freeman was also in the cast. It was at the St. James Theatre. My father was a journalist. He was a Washington correspondent, and he was doing some research in Vietnam, so he was away for six or eight weeks during the war, which included Thanksgiving. My mother said, “To hell with it. We’re going to New York for Thanksgiving!” It was the first time I had been to New York, and she took me to see Hello, Dolly! Bob Hope was there that night because I remember, at the curtain call, Pearl Bailey came out and introduced Bob Hope to the audience. That was when Bob Hope was a hero because he was doing USO tours in Vietnam.
The story of Hello, Dolly! doesn’t wear its heart on its sleeve. There’s no sadness in the show exactly, but it has its roots in the greatest possible loss, and I think that’s why that show continues to be loved. Whether an audience is cognizant of it as they’re watching it, it touches on things that are the deep, deep bedrock for human life. I look at Carol’s dress here, and I recognize that Santo Loquasto, the brilliant designer for our Hello, Dolly! show, did a version of this dress for Bette Midler. It’s not this dress, but it’s definitely an homage or inspired by [it] in many little ways.
Hello, Dolly! is one of the most iconic and best-loved Broadway musicals of the 20th century. The show combines all of the elements that make live theater an indelible and special experience even in this age of entertainment overload: memorable music, fantastic choreography, hilarious dialogue, well-drawn characters performed by some of the greats of the stage (Carol Channing was born to play Dolly Gallagher Levi), and, last but not least, dazzling costumes. More than any other in our theater collection, Channing’s Dolly dress – bright red, studded with gems, and with vibrant design by Freddy Wittop – speaks to the flashy glamour and magnificent spectacle of the Broadway stage