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Betty Hutton starred in TV's first color "spectacular", 'Satins and Spurs (1954) (TV)', which debuted on September 12, 1954. It was a 90-minute musical comedy produced by Max Liebman. She played a rodeo queen who falls for a magazine writer, played by Kevin McCarthy. Reactions by critics and viewers were so negative that she announced her retirement from show business (one of the many times.) See more »
Few people will remember this rather incredible production, advertised at the time as the "first" 90-minute color television "spectacular." A big, splashy, Broadway type musical comedy starring the incomparable Betty Hutton in a role not that far removed from the character she played in "Annie Get Your Gun." How could it miss?
Well, it missed about as big as a "special" could miss. First, the nation, per TV Guide at the time, tuned in to see color on their black and white sets. Angry, disappointed, the show itself was overlooked and apparently many tuned it out. Critics lambasted the entire production as a cartoon with songs to fill in the slow spots. Betty Hutton was criticized the most, deemed to be "working too hard" and not in good voice. It was a disaster and certainly another nail in the coffin that was becoming Hutton's career.
The original cast recording on a 10 inch RCA vinyl documents the above, but it also documents an often amazing vocal performance by Betty Hutton who belted the tunes out of the ball park as always. The songs were somewhat reminiscent of "Annie Get Your Gun," particularly a duet sung with Kevin McCarthy. If anyone wants to know what was so special about Hutton, why you cannot get away from any of her songs, why she was one of the great "actresses" on record, this is the soundtrack. I do not remember much about the show itself, telecast only once in 1954, but I bought the soundtrack back then and still have a pristine copy and have played it again and again. Just listen to how Hutton "reads" the words and how you are able to visualize much of the action. Her voice was a bit ragged around the edges because she had just had vocal surgery two years earlier and clearly, this being a "live" production, she had little control over the state of her voice at any given minute. But still, it is 100% Hutton and it just doesn't get much better than that. I am not aware that NBC ever released this on any media. But the recording is there and another time capsule of what was once Betty Hutton
To add a note: I bought a copy of the kinescope of Satins and Spurs where the picture is not good but the sound is passable. Quite a trip to relive this unique production and see how hard Betty worked. Following the "show," she comes on screen and introduces the cast and thanks everyone - just like closing night on Broadway.
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