Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sunday Morning with Frank Braden: "Bulls Eye for Big Bertha"

"Spectacular has been the Big Show's season of 1948 -- spectacular in its triumphal coast to coast tour, in its mighty operation, in its phenomenal grosses and its never-to-be-forgotten performance.

Spectacular is the word for it. And don't overlook the nut, pardner. It's a bit of a show off-too.

The Madison Square Garden engagement was fabulous -- hot out of the cosmic dream books. Enough people were turned away during that epichol run to fill the Yale Bowl thrice over, two laps high. Showman pinched themselves in Broadway producers' offices, in Lindy's, in '21, in Sardi's and in vain to make sure they were awake. 'It's the show business millennium to end all millenniums,' chorused three Harvard refugees from the Theatre Guild. In Moscow, Joe Stalin, awaiting the flash on his hoped for U. S. debacle, observed the world rushing through the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey gates and gnashed his Odessa store teeth. 'We're double-crossed,' he howled. 'Fire the whole Red American Fifth Column! But liquidate John Ringling North first.'"

-- from Braden's story in the RBBB 1948 Route Book.

Was one of Ringling's most gifted press agents merely flaking here? I think not. In 1948, Ringling-Barnum turned 'em away by the thousands in San Francisco's Cow Palace. In 1948, maybe the last great year, Americans were yet to be introduced to a dazzling new invention in a magical box waiting around the corner to steal them away from live entertainment: television -- SD

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