A taped television showcase for Petula Clark, in which she sings a number of her hit songs. Harry Belafonte is her guest.

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Nominated for 1 Primetime Emmy. See more awards »

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A taped television showcase for Petula Clark, in which she sings a number of her hit songs. Harry Belafonte is her guest.

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tv special | See All (1) »

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Music

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2 April 1968 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Petula Clark Spectacular  »

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1.33 : 1
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At one point in the show, Petula Clark and Harry Belafonte are singing a duet, and Clark holds on to Belafonte's arm. After the scene was shot, the director asked them to redo the duet, this time standing apart. They later found out that a representative from the sponsor saw the first take and ordered that it be re-shot with Clark and Belafonte apart. His reason was that the company sold cars in the South and showing a white woman touching a black man might affect car sales there. Outraged, Clark and her husband, 'Claude Wolff' (the show's executive producer), ordered the director to erase all takes except the first one, ensuring that the original take would be the only one broadcast. See more »

Connections

References Finian's Rainbow (1968) See more »

Soundtracks

Elusive Butterfly
Written by Bob Lind
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Petula Makes Music - and History - in Her First American TV Special
14 February 2005 | by (LARGO, FLORIDA) – See all my reviews

Petula Clark, who skyrocketed to the top of pop music charts worldwide with "Downtown" in early 1965, had already enjoyed a few years of success Stateside when NBC approached her to headline a musical variety special. Rather than clutter the hour with multiple guests, Clark opted to invite only one - Harry Belafonte - to join her on the show, which adopted her song "Who Am I?" as its theme. In an attempt to discover if she was something more than "that girl from England who sings 'Downtown'," Clark embarked on a musical journey that proved she was indeed far more than a one-song wonder.

The hour-long program, practically void of the between-song chatter that tends to clutter this type of entertainment, is absolute magic, opening with a segment that allows Clark to display her versatility as she sings and dances her way through a lengthy medley. It's a bit frustrating to hear only bits and pieces of most of the included songs, as she segues from "The In Crowd" to "Las Vegas" to "We Can Work It Out," among several others. (Even "Downtown" is given short shrift, heard only briefly over the closing credits.) In a slightly more satisfying portion of the hour, Clark offers us full versions of her interpretations of "Elusive Butterfly," "Come Rain or Come Shine," and the stunning "Just Say Goodbye," which would have brought down the house had she performed it with an audience. Only the final section of the show is "live," and Clark treats her guests to her hit "Don't Sleep in the Subway," "How Are Things in Glocca Morra?" from her then-forthcoming film "Finian's Rainbow," and "Have Another Dream on Me," at the time under consideration for release as a single, but which ultimately became a track on her "Petula" LP (better known to fans as "The Pink Album").

Belafonte's solos lack the excitement of any of Clark's songs, but he more than redeems himself with their duet, "On the Path of Glory," an anti-war anthem she composed. The show received unexpected advance publicity when a representative for the sponsor, Plymouth, objected to Clark's touching Belafonte on the arm during a duet, fearing the moment wouldn't play well in the South in an era before the civil rights movement fully had hit its stride. NBC requested an alternate take be used, but Clark stood her ground and delivered to the network - just days before airtime - a finished production that included the touch. With all other takes intentionally destroyed, there was nothing to do but air the show as is. Even then, the touch was nothing more than a lovely moment in which Clark, stirred by the lyrics the two were singing, instinctively placed her hand on Belafonte's arm, but amazingly it was the first time that a man and woman of different races had physical contact on American television.

As a bonus, the original Plymouth commercials - all starring Petula - that aired during the hour are included here. They are mini-production numbers in themselves, and prove that Petula Clark was as capable of selling the American public shiny new cars as she was of convincing us that she was a lot more than "that girl from England who sings 'Downtown'." Check out this extraordinary video and find out for yourself.


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