Barbra Streisand TV Special: Tons of Fun
Photos by Sam Siegel
Showfolks are always looking for fatter parts, but here at last were some parts looking for fatter people to populate a TV special with prancing, big-time pulchritude
WHEN the talent call went out, no one in show business would believe it. The ad said: "Weight Watchers Dropouts: "Beefy beauties needed for forthcoming Barbra Streisand C.B.S.-TV musical special. "Must sing, dance, be under 45 (years) and over 45 (bust), and fracture the scales at 200 or more in g wet bikini. Send (!) snapshot with id statistics."
The replies were more flab than flabbergasting, for not only was the response heavy, it proved once again that plump people have pleasant personalities along with poise and avoirdupois.
Wrote one lady, "Alas! You've found me! I dance a little and sing in the shower. [Signed] A Heavy Hippy"
Wrote another, "Here I am, a slender 250-odd pounds, five-feet-seven, with a 48C. How does that grab you?"
A reject wrote, "I weigh 165 pounds. I am a half-inch under five feet. For my height I am very fat. Your ad said 200 pounds, but you should consider a person's height. I am as fat as someone five-feet-five inches tall."
Another wrote (with no return address), "Finally you want a dropout! I sing and dance but I am not too sure about wearing a soaking wet bikini—I could try."
So many big and bulging beautiful butterballs turned up, producer Joe Layton had a heavy responsibility in selecting his corpulent cuties. His assistant was a Toledo scale at the entrance to make sure no undersized ladies came padded for the occasion.
While movies claim they are "bigger than ever" it looks as though the Streisand show might tip the scales in favor of TV. Over 400 heavy hopefuls showed up but only six were finally selected to re-create the famed "Billy Watson's Beef Trust" of vaudeville days. At one point, when producer Layton asked the girls to form a double line, one hopeful quipped, "I am a double line."
The six winners, shown on these pages, displayed their sense of humor along with their talent during the selection. "I'm so embarrassed," said winner Harriet Gibson of Brooklyn. "I used to weigh 150 but I spent five years in Rome and gained 100 pounds."
The youngest winner, Barbara Terry of Long Island, just twenty, said, "I'm going to join Weight Watchers—again!"
The heaviest, at 310, Mary Alice Voelkle, a Buffalo, New York, housewife, plans to enter a spa and slim down, "Eventually!"
Patti Sauers, 210, currently appearing in the Broadway musical hit, "Hello, Dolly!" had already lost 100 pounds.
Undoubtedly, the most amazing of all is pretty, red-haired Carol Swanberg, a housewife from Santa Monica, California. She flew to New York despite the 400-to-1 odds. She won, and weighed in at 210 pounds, though she lost nearly ten pounds after two hours of dance auditions. When she was picked she said, "I feel like a million dollars - all nickels." Or penny-wide, pound foolish.
When the svelte Barbra Streisand, a comparative weakling at 112 pounds, was shown photos of the winners, she murmured, "One things for sure. When we rehearse, I'm not gonna get in their way." Jason Robards, who is Barbra's costar in the vaudeville special, quipped, "There's a ton of 'em."
The unsung hero of the heavy-handed jokes about the large ladies was a CORONET editor who took one look at a hopeful in pants and said, "When it comes to that one wearing slacks, the end doesn't justify the means."
So move over, Ed Sullivan, and watch for the Streisand special, "A reeeaallly biiiig shooooow."
Related: The Belle of 14th Street TV Show
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