Iconic Stars Enshrined In The Smithsonian
Carol Channing, Florence Henderson, Julie Newmar & other great looking Legendary Ladies from TV & Films honored by Smithsonian
These great gals helped create the entertainment business. They were pioneer women in TV, stage and films. Others just follow in their footsteps.
They are the legendary ladies who have become showbiz icons– Carol Channing, Florence Henderson, Julie Newmar, Esther Williams, Tippi Hedren, June Lockhart and Rose Marie. These seven stars were recently honored by the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, which will showcase mementos from their enduring careers in permanent exhibits.
“Tonight is a tremendous night for all of us, because now we are all historic monuments,” Carol Channing gushed with youthful enthusiasm, noting that she was just turning 87. When the VIP audience at the El Portal Theater in North Hollywood broke into applause, she coyly added, “Oh, is that an achievement?” Yes, indeed. Especially when you remain the consummate entertainer, and quick with the ad-libs, like the rest of her gal-pals.
“I’ve been on television so long, when I was told about the honor, I thought maybe they wanted to put me in the Smithsonian,” joked Florence Henderson, who called herself “the mother of all mothers” thanks to her role on the beloved Brady Bunch series.
The youthful appearance of Henderson, 73, is matched by her endless energy. She just launched a new talk-show on the Retirement Living TV network. When she gifted her pop culture TV Land Award for The Brady Bunch, she got very emotional and noted that she was “the youngest of ten children, with big dreams. But in all my dreams, I never thought I’d be in the Smithsonian.”
Rose Marie quipped, “To think that I’ll be there with Lindbergh’s plane.” The 85-year-old comedy legend, best known for her role on The Dick Van Dyke Show, added, “This is like getting a Purple Heart,” as she handed over her signature hair-bow, and memorabilia from the earliest talking film, the 1929 short Baby Rose Marie the Child Wonder.
Julie Newmar, 74, gave up her Catwoman costume, from the campy Batman series. She could still fit into the outfit and make guys go wild– if she wanted to. But Newmar said it was time to let it go, and just enjoy having men and young boys “stop me on the street and say ‘Do you know that you were my first turn-on?’”
Tippi Hedren, 77, said she was humbled to give her scripts from Hitchcock’s The Birds and Marnie, and Charlie Chaplin’s A Countess from Hong Kong.
June Lockhart, 82, of Lassie and Lost in Space fame, donated her Tony Award for Best Newcomer in 1947.
Esther Williams, 86, bestowed her enormous scrapbooks in which she recorded all the details of her years at MGM. The bathing beauty known for her aqua-musicals reminisced about all her “good-looking leading men in their skimpy tight swim suits.”
Channing, the Broadway legend who starred in Hello, Dolly, and got an Oscar nominee for Thoroughly Modern Millie, donated the “diamond dress” designed by Bob Mackie for her stage role as Lorelei in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. In keeping with her “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend” persona, Carol wore a $40 million Arch Duke Joseph diamond necklace to the dazzling Smithsonian event.
An inspiration to everyone for generations, Carol still performs in theaters around the country, doing her one-woman show. “And I visit schools to talk about keeping the creative arts programs alive. I raise money for them so that kids can enjoy the theater and grow up full of wonder about the world.” She and her husband have formed the Carol Channing/Harry Kulijian Endowment for the Arts Foundation which creates scholarships for students.
It was a wonderful to see all those talented and generous women on stage talking about their lives and their treasured mementos that will be preserved in the permanent entertainment collections of the National Museum of American History.
Angela Lansbury and Phyllis Diller also donated memorabilia. Diller’s 50,000-card joke file, and Lansbury’s typewriter from Murder She Wrote. They weren’t able to attend, but sent messages of gratitude for contributing to the historic artifacts that are a testament to the American dream, which folks will be able to see at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.