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!