Georgia Brown (British singer & Actress)...star of Broadway musicals (incl. Oliver)
Does anyone here remember her?
I recently saw a documentary she made, in 1968, on the BBC archive site and it/she intrigued me somewhat.
She was Nancy in the original stage production of Oliver in 1960, but it seems she was 'regrettably' overlooked for the role in the movie.
I also recognised her from her role in Upstairs Downstairs.
Here's a clip from the documentary.
This is what The Independent in London said about her performance in Oliver:-
[quote]THE MEMORABLE night in 1960 when Oliver opened in London at the New Theatre (now the Albery) will not be forgotten by those of us lucky enough to be there, but one moment stands out most of all. When the audience returned for the second half, the intermission buzz having confirmed that everyone was in a similar state of rapture, the curtain went up on Sean Kenny's brilliant smoke- filled set of an East End drinking den, and to a pounding waltz beat Georgia Brown, as Nancy, launched into her raucous music- hall ditty 'Oom-Pah-Pah'. When she finished, the roar of approval was deafening and spine-tingling. The dark-haired actress-singer with her husky and full-throated delivery had deservedly triumphed in the role and performance of her career.
& here's a clip of her in Oliver singing 'As Long As He Needs Me'.
It is a shame she did not have a bigger career and she died fairly young too. She did pop up in a few other things, had a few small movie roles ("Lock Up Your Daughters" etc) in the 60s. Was her voice distinctive enough for album sales?
We think she's sweet.
She was terrific in "Carmelina", "Roza" and the '89 "3 Penny Opera".
Saw her in two Broadway flops: "Carmelina" in the late 70's and "Roza" in the late 80's. She was great in both. Mamma Mia! is kind of a modern day version of Carmelina.
Wonderful singer. First time I heard her voice was singing "La Route est Dure" from the BBC's Roads to Freedom in the early 70's - it's worth tracking it down on Youtube.
Her style was out of style by the time she "hit".
Not only do I remember her, but I had the pleasure of meeting her in the early 80s when she came to a show I was working on at the time.
This is her in the late 80s, towards the end of her life.
Crappy out of sync clip. Otherwise, the song seems to be good.
I think R7 has it, totally. She missed the boat. Her timing was wrong. She didn't switch gears into the 60s. She probably could have done Bobbie Gentry type songs or something.
[quote] I had the pleasure of meeting her in the early 80s
Other than it being a pleasure, do you remember anything else?
She performed at the Curran Theater in San Francisco in the mid 80s. She sat at a writing desk and told the story of her life, and would sing every once in a while. The singing was thrilling. The sitting and chatting wasn't as exciting.
It was a short meeting during the show's intermission. She was with an old colleague of mine who I hadn't seen in a few years. Pleasantries were exchanged but I was very excited inside knowing it was THE Georgia Brown who I had grown up listening to on the OCR of Oliver! and who my mother loved, having seen her in L.A. as Nancy when Oliver! came to town.
Did anyone see her in Side By Side By Sondheim?
There's very little footage of her on the internet.
This is very rare, of her appearing on Jonathan King's talk show in 1967.
Push the thing along to 00:56 if you want to avoid the J. King intro, though he has a few very nice things to say about her afterwards.
I kind of like her 'tough chick' persona.
She was always the poor mans Shirley Bassey.
She is absolutely horrid in R9's clip. One can see why she wasn't working. Totally affected performance, indicating on every lyric, basically speak singing the song. And what happened to her neck? She used to have a neck.
Also, thanks a lot, R12, for your short memoir. I really enjoyed it.
Shame there isn't a little memorial site where people can post their memories of her.
Apparently she was survived by one son, after a short marriage. There's little else about her personal life.
Here's the link to the very good Independent obituary.
Was she even considered for the film of "Oliver!". We loved Shani Wallis, however...
R15's post is both funny & dreadful in equal measure.
She seems to lift her shoulders a lot, in order to emote and her neck suffers for it and her movements are kind of jerky, it's true. Shame the quality of the clip is so poor.
A visible neck isn't essential and a lack of one can work for some people. In the earlier clips she had one and a good one, so I do find myself wondering what happened to it. Maybe R12 knows.
[quote]Was she even considered for the film of "Oliver!".
This is what the guy in The Independent wrote (& he obviously knows his 'shit')...
'[she] was never seriously considered for the film version which, though lauded, would have been even better if she had played Nancy.'
She must have been soooo pissed.
R5, tell us more about Carmelina!
Though the melody was written for On a Clear Day, Someone in April is imo one of Lerner's greatest songs. Love Before Breakfast is excellent too. The rest of the score doesn't reach the same levels but I enjoy it.
R18/OP I think part of the neck problem is the shoulder pads fashionable in the 1980s combined with the weight gain. But is is kind of jarring as she had a nice long neck in the 1960s.
[quote]But is is kind of jarring as she had a nice long neck in the 1960s.
Yes, it's horrid when someone has a nice neck and then loses it.
She sort of reminds me of Eve Best, looks-wise.
Look at this & compare it with the next one I'll post of G. Brown.
I saw her in Oliver, and it was obvious she was the star of the show. Always wondered what happened to her and why she didn't become as big as her talent. It just shows you that luck and random acts of fate have a lot to do with our lives. Many people with great talent don't become well-known for reasons beyond their control.
Try this one and imagine her with heavy 60s eye make up.
I saw Georgia in Side By Side By Sondheim!
It was the night of a terrible snow storm in NY around 1976/77 and I remember trudging over to the theater district to see what shows would still be on. There weren't many choices but we went to see her. Very small audience because of the weather so the show felt particularly intimate and special.
Strangely, I can't remember who else was in it that night. Was it mostly a replacement cast by that end of the run? Maybe Larry Kert? George Rose? Millicent Martin? I could be completely confused!
But Georgia was great....quite a bit heavier from her Oliver days and wearing kind of a beautiful lilac caftan. Smoky sexy voice, hair still quite black. Funny, the things you remember and the things you don't!
I first watched her as a kid in the arly 60s on those Goodson/Todman game shows that were shot in NYC which she appeared on while also in Oliver. Broadway stars were often on those TV game shows and that's how I was introduced to many of them.
IMHO Shani Wallis didn't come close to what Georgia would have done with the Nancy film role.
Thanks. I imagine Georgia Brown did Millicent Martin's part in Side By Side. I think Hermione Gingold may have been the narrator IIRC
Thanks for your lovely post R32.
How interesting to know she appeared on the Goodson Todman shows. They have a lot of archive they don't release. Maybe they will one day.
I've enjoyed this thread very much and we have good ol' Georgia to thank for that. People mostly speak well of her (apart from the post about her neck).
The best thing in the movie of "Oliver!" is Shani Wallis as Nancy. I don't think that performance could have been bettered.
Shani Wallis was remarkably good in the film. She was prettier than Georgia Brown and she sang the part beautifully. They didn't call her the British Judy Garland for nothing. But you don't have to knock the one to build up the other, Brown was great too. I love her anachronistic "flip" hairdo in the clip at R1.
Funny how the part of Nancy was an end in itself, earning both women much acclaim but leading to nothing greater for either.
[quote] I love her anachronistic "flip" hairdo in the clip at [R1].
The clip @ R1 is about her returning to her old East End of London (London's version of the old Jewish Lower East Side). Later on in the documentary she visits Vidal Sassoon at his salon, her old friend from the East End, where she was obviously a regular.
Apparently she was his first customer when he opened his first shop.
The whole doc is at the link but I think it's unavailable to people in the USA (might not be, try it).
Georgia's trademark hairdo is particularly anachronistic worn as Nancy in the mid-Victorian London of Oliver!
Meant to say in my earlier post that Password was the Goodson/Todman show I most remember her on. I think a lot of the episodes are on youtube so maybe she can be found there.
That was the show that these Broadway stars mostly appeared on, as the others like What's My Line?, To Tell the Truth and I've Got a Secret generally had the same panelists week to week (if not year to year!).
Her best friends from a VERY poor East End childhood were Vidal Sassoon and Marty Feldman. I met her at Marty's house in L.A. in the late 80's - Vidal was there - and they talked about some harrowing childhood experiences together during WW2.
[quote]Wonderful singer. First time I heard her voice was singing "La Route est Dure" from the BBC's Roads to Freedom in the early 70's - it's worth tracking it down on Youtube.
Here it is.
Georgia Brown and the cast of Oliver appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show on the same night that the Beatles made their first U.S. appearance. The cast performed “I'd Do Anything” and “As Long As He Needs Me.” I was bored by the Beatles (I was very young), but mesmerized by the cast of Oliver and demanded (and got) tickets as my birthday present. Last row of the highest balcony. I had to sit on my knees to see over the heads in front of me. I remember a lot of the show, but mostly Georgia Brown in "Oom Pa Pa," "Consider Yourself" and my favorite "It's a Fine Life." For several years I drove my mother crazy singing it all over the house with my best Georgia Brown imitation. I fell asleep halfway through Act II and woke up at the sound of the gunshot that killed Nancy. I still remember my excitement at the revolving stage. I think that Mr. Bumble pulled Oliver from the orphanage to the undertaker’s as the stage moved to change scenes. I saw Georgia Brown on both the TV show and in the theater. BTW, Davy Jones of the Monkees was the Artful Dodger in the Ed Sullivan Show and, according to my Playbill, still in the role when I saw it. That Playbill gave me a certain cachet among Davy Jones-adoring school chums when the Monkees were popular.
I saw her in Side by Side many years ago and I still remember her. Didn't she sing "I'm Still Here"? She did a great job.
Not to get off track-but R27-that clip was great. I miss those variety shows- Dinah, Dean, Carol. Those people had real talent- of various degrees- but real- their talent was their image. Remember those days!
I love her four songs from "Oliver"-I play some every now and on the IPod.
Barrie Humphries, who later became Dame Edna Everedge, was also in the original Broadway cast of Oliver.
It's been said she knocks them dead.
I saw Georgia in 3 Penny Opera and she was terrific.
In the Broadway replacement cast of Side by Side, she did the songs Millicent Martin sang. Gingold was the narrator and sang I Never Do Anything Twice which was hilarious. Kert was the guy and Nancy Dussault was the other woman.
[quote]Did anyone see her in Side By Side By Sondheim?
I saw also saw her in that show--the other performers were Nancy Dussault, Larry Kert with Hermione Gingold doing the narration. I seem to remember that GB did sing "I'm Still Here," but my strongest memory is of the three of them doing "You Gotta Have a Gimmick." Nancy Dussault did the Miss Mazeppa section, and she played a mean trumpet.
How could I have forgotten Hermione Gingold? I wonder if she got caught in the snow storm and didn't get to the show?
I remember being positively thrilled watching her in the ill-fated, Roza, and her absolutely killing it in the showstopping 11 o'clock number, Encore, Encore. It rivaled Jennifer Holiday's And I Am Telling You with the audience's rapturous response.
From looking at all the clips on this thread, I'm starting to think it was a real tragedy that her role in Oliver wasn't preserved on film.
I think the girl who played Nancy in the film looked too pure to be hanging out in the world she was supposed to come from...whereas Georgia seemed like a very tough broad, who in real life came from the slums of London's East End.
I guess the film makers felt an audience would care more for a delicate blonde.
Conventional wisdom, R50. Georgia Brown had striking looks but she was on the plain side. Film is less forgiving than the stage when it comes to faces. Brown had the look of a character actress. It's hard to sell that in a young romantic lead no matter what the social circumstances of the character are. Plus, as effective as her singing was, her voice had a kind of starchy, braying quality that might have annoyed on screen. I think it would have been hard to find anyone better than Shani Wallis.
And at the time, Wallis was considered a young star on the rise. Unfortunately, her career fizzled because she just wasn't that exciting.
Having seen both Georgia in the show and Shani in the film, I think the character of Nancy was very different in each.
In the show she is much more of an earth mother to the neighborhood, particularly for the young boys, a little older and wiser, kind of watching over and nurturing them.
In the film Nancy is more just a pretty streetwalker whose life sometimes kind of intersects with the boys. Her relationship to them and Oliver is more casual and therefore negligible.
So for me her death in the show is far more powerful and emotional.
Wow! Just look at this pic of Shani with Tom Jones.
(The wow is in reference to Tom's outfit, obviously).
The character of Nancy was a total turn-off for me because her boyfriend beat her up, then she sang "As Long as He Needs Me."
???? Battered woman syndrome?
Shani was all over American variety shows in '68-69.
[quote]Shani was all over American variety shows in '68-69.
Murder She Wrote, Columbo & Charlie's Angels.
Basil, the Great Mouse Detective (voice)
Oliver! was the first of a spate of British imported or inspired musicals, mostly unsuccessful, that invaded Broadway in the
I also loved Half a Sixpence, The Girl Who Came to Supper, Walking Happy, High Spirits and The Roar of the Greasepaint, The Smell of the Crowd.
But as mediocre as some of them were, they were masterpieces compared to the Broadway British invasion of the 1980s.
[quote]But as mediocre as some of them were, they were masterpieces compared to the Broadway British invasion of the 1980s.
Same thing goes for the pop music (& I'm not referring to Herman & Henry VIII).
"High Spirits" is an American musical.
"The Girl who Came to Supper" is also an American musical. In fact it is the only Noel Coward musical to have never played London. You are two for two so far.
I love the score for High Spirits! Prefer the tempos on the London cast recording.
[quote]"The Girl who Came to Supper" is also an American musical. In fact it is the only Noel Coward musical to have never played London. You are two for two so far.
This is extremely interesting. I'll google it.
That is precisely why I said British imported or INSPIRED musicals, r whatever.
The Girl Who Came to Supper is based on Terrence Rattigan's The Sleeping Prince, which originated on the London stage and, of course, High Spirits was based on Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit, which also originated on the London Stage.
Tessie at r58
[quote]The Girl Who Came to Supper is based on Terrence Rattigan's The Sleeping Prince, which originated on the London stage
Which was made into a very American movie with Marilyn Monroe called The Prince and the Showgirl.
The fact is that most of your examples don't wash. Noel Coward is Noel Coward. "Oliver!" had nothing to do with his works. "The Girl Who Came to Supper" actually had more to do with the Kennedy's than Oliver!. In truth, My Fair Lady beget more anglo inspired musicals than Oliver!
If you can find the series The Edwardians, look at the episode about the English music hall strike of 1908? Georgia brown plays Marie Lloyd and she does a wonderful The Boy I Love is Up in the Gallery and a My Old Man Said Follow the Van. It's black and white but it's a wonderful set of music hall numbers by others as well.
[quote]Georgia Brown and the cast of Oliver appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show on the same night that the Beatles made their first U.S. appearance
What a very interesting and fun fact!
Apparently Davy Jones of 'future' Monkee fame was also on that show.
I've never really ever even thought about who the other acts might have been.
Although they would have been over-powered by The Beatles performance (a rather small word for what actually happened), I guess they were still seen by all the millions a well, waiting for the Fab Four to appear.
I'd love to see the whole show now, not just The famous Beatles clips.
& I've found the clip.
Seems G. Brown DID sport that hairdo for Oliver (they even gave it to one of the little girls in the cast).
Anyway, it's a very nice clip and it's amazing they were able to re-produce the atmosphere of the show so well in the Ed Sullivan studio.
The original Oliver must have been so good.
[quote]I met her at Marty's house in L.A. in the late 80's -
Marty Feldman died in 1982.
Wasn't Georgia Brown's death some kind of tragic medical mistake?b she went in for something very minor and then died.
R70 - You're right. It was late 70's, my bad.
Can't believe time has passed by so quickly.
[quote]She probably could have done Bobbie Gentry type songs or something.
Why ever would she have wanted to?
saw her in oliver side by side carmelina roza and three penny.missed her in roads to freedom and gb and friends/ can anyone tell about these shows? she had a long list of credits and always gave a good performance.
[quote]The character of Nancy was a total turn-off for me because her boyfriend beat her up, then she sang "As Long as He Needs Me." ... ???? Battered woman syndrome?
No doubt this was discussed over and over in the media and contributed to the show and film being a total flop.
she is burnt into my memory while the rest of the cast fades. she had a long list of credits. any more info on her illness and death?
"Carmelina" was based on the film "Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell" with Gina Lollobrigida, Peter Lawford, Phil Silvers, Telly Savals, Shelley Winters and Lee Grant. And yes, the plot of "Mamma Mia" clearly borrowed quite heavily from that film.
And speaking of Shani-- I saw in her "Follies" in Long Beach in 1990 with Juliet Prowse, Carol Burnett, Dorothy Lamour and ... YMA SUMAC!
oliver was a huge hit..ran for years 1960 to 1965 movie was popular[better with gb]. the later .may have been les popular but brown was better than lupone
[quote]oliver was a huge hit..ran for years 1960 to 1965
I know that. I only said it was a flop so that poor thing with the battered woman syndrome at R55 would feel included. She still hasn't gotten over the fact that Marian Paroo is going with traveling salesman/con artist Harold Hill and she wants Eliza to marry Freddy Eynsford-Hill instead of that petulant Henry Higgins.
Georgia also appears in two episodes of Cheers. She plays a gypsy woman that Carla consults.
Hate to write the following, but it's true-
Saw Georgia Brown in "Oliver" on Broadway. It was the worst instance of "walking through" a part that I have ever seen. Perhaps she was sick that night. It was in 1964, but it was so bad, I remember it as if it was yeaterday. Until then I had really liked her on TV shows.
Carmelina revival anyone?
message 39 please tell us more about gb harrowing wartime experiences'if anyone saw gb and friends please tell us more
she always gave so much of herself on stage..many people asked her why she did..isaw most of her ny shows and rememberhow well she used the set and stairs in as long as[tv can not duplicate]
can anyone who saw Georgia brown and friends give more show details? (life story}
I'm rather glad that this DL thread now appears on the first page when you google search Georgia Brown.
I'm bumping this because it's such a nice & interesting thread, (as good as anything on the internet about Georgia Brown) and thought maybe there are folks here who missed it the first time who have something to add.