A Forgotten Dolly: Martha Raye!

Welcome to a new Musical Theatre Monday! In honor of the upcoming revival of Hello, Dolly! (1964), starring Bette Midler, I wanted to take a post and make known both my fondness for the classic Jerry Herman score and my desire to one day hear audios of every woman who played the title role in the original Broadway production (we’ve already got one of Mary Martin, who played the role in London, and on both the National and International Tours — she’s not in great voice on the album, but I find her electric). We’ve all heard Carol Channing and Pearl Bailey thanks to their cast albums, and bootlegs of Ethel Merman circulate with frequency.


But one Dolly whose performance is less heard is that of comedienne Martha Raye, one of the funniest women from ’50s television — whose work I wish was seen more often today. She succeeded Ginger Rogers (the first star to take the role after Channing) in the original production, making her the third headlining Broadway Dolly. So, in today’s post, I’m offering an audio (highlights only — Dolly’s numbers) of Raye in the original production. Subscribed readers interested in obtaining a copy, please comment below! (And maybe I’ll share some other Dolly rarities at a later date — stay tuned!) Below is Raye — LIVE — with the title tune!



Come back next month for another Musical Theatre rarity! And tune in tomorrow for more Murphy Brown!


8 thoughts on “A Forgotten Dolly: Martha Raye!

    • Hi, John! Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Yes, she’s a dynamic performer. Let me know if you’d like access to more surviving live excerpts from one of Raye’s DOLLY performances, and stay tuned for the third Monday in April for a new Musical Theatre post!

  1. Please send a link to Martha’s Dolly clip. Her Dolly was the first Broadway show I attended. I had great seats in the Orchestra, Row D. Gower Champion’s house seats. When my brother-in-law was director of youth at West Side YMCA, he got the tickets from Champion.

    • Hi, Bob! Thanks for reading and commenting.

      I have emailed you at your gmail address. Sadly, and as we’ve previously discussed, there are no audios of Arden on stage known to be in existence.

  2. Thanks for Raye’s Dolly. I have a numbr of Dolly’s which I am happy to share (I must dig them out). I have a personal interest in this musical as I played Cornelius many years ago!!!

    • Hi, Garry! Thanks for reading and commenting.

      I do as well; the only known-to-exist DOLLY audio I’m actively seeking is a complete copy of Ginger Rogers performing the role in 1965 on Broadway.

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