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 »
Betty Hutton was one of those rare stars for whom an original television musical was written. There are few others, Julie Andrews with Cinderella, Bing Crosby with High Tor and Frank Sinatra in Our Town. That's a mighty select company for Betty do be in.
Sad to say Satins and Spurs did not quite measure up to these efforts. Betty basically hauls out her Annie Get Your Gun character with a little of Calamity Jane thrown in for good measure. Even the songs that Jay Livingston and Ray Evans wrote for the score sound like they were heavily influenced by what Irving Berlin had written for his show. And Berlin's songs were a lot better.
I think the problem was Betty was too large a personality for the small screen. She overwhelms the story which is about a rodeo performer who attracts the attention of a Life Magazine photographer, first as a subject and then as romantic interest. The problem is we don't know where one leaves off and the other begins. Hutton also overwhelms Kevin McCarthy and the rest of the cast.
McCarthy actually sings a contrapuntal duet song with Hutton, the kind that Irving Berlin made famous. I'm not sure, but that might not have been McCarthy's singing voice. Of course back in those days that would have been scandal. Such an incident nearly sank Mario Lanza's career.
Satins and Spurs was much ballyhooed and then it was much lampooned. Seen over 50 years later, it's not a terribly bad effort. But it might better have been done on the big screen just as Bing Crosby's High Tor should have been. And maybe with a real singing co-star.
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