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Carol Channing delivers a beautiful feminist tirade against housework (you know, for the kids)
10:52 am


Carol Channing
Free to Be... You and Me

Miss Piggy and Carol Channing
Channing with a glitzy showbiz colleague (and possibly her only worthy rival)

Free to Be… You and Me was second-wave feminist consciousness-raising at its simplest, and at its finest. The brainchild of Marlo Thomas (yes, the Marlo Thomas of That Girl fame) the 1972 album and accompanying book was produced in conjunction with the Ms. Foundation for Women with the express purpose of giving children some gender-neutral, identity-affirming entertainment. A lot of FTBYAM’s success could be attributed to the many high-profile celebrities who participated in the project. The kids might not have known who they were, but it probably made their parents more comfortable with it.

For example, former NFL defensive tackle Rosey Grier sang a song called “It’s All Right to Cry.” Marlo Thomas and Alan Alda (who directed much of the album) sang “William’s Doll,” the surprisingly emotional tale of a little boy who wants to play with dolls. Thomas actually had to fight to keep “William’s Doll” in the 1974 FTBYAM television special because ABC expressed concern that playing with dolls could make little boys gay (if only!). She also had to fight to keep her duet with Calypso legend and black activist Harry Belafonte, as ABC was worried Southern viewers would see an interracial couple and all hell would break loose. (We’d like to think things have changed, but…)

But my favorite segment of FTBYAM is the contribution of the immortal Carol Channing. Below you can hear Dolly herself talking the sweetest line of smack on advertisements, bullshit depictions of Hollywood femininity, and the very idea of housework as “women’s work.” It’s not patronizing or preachy, but it’s perfectly sweet and subtly clever.

Channing may seem like a left-field candidate for a project like FTBYAM, but I assure you, she’s an inspired choice. Think about it.

Who better than the glamorous Carol Channing to remind kids that housework isn’t glamorous? And who better than Carol Channing (a lady so feminine that only the most talented of women, Muppets, and drag queens can even attempt to emulate her), to tell little girls that femininity isn’t contingent on a perpetually sunny disposition and a dutiful commitment to drudge-work? Gender is something that you can navigate and mold to your liking—to put it in terms a child could understand—gender should be fun. And no one has more fun being a girl than the great Carol Channing!

Bonus clip: Michael Jackson and Roberta Flack sing “When We Grow Up” in the 1974 FTBYAM television special:

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Carol Channing, Poly Styrene and Jackie Collins at Women of the Year Awards
12:07 pm


Poly Styrene
Carol Channing
Jackie Collins

Poly, Carol, Jackie
I have searched high and low for any more context on this photo, but the only thing I can glean from the Internets is that there were Woman of the Year Awards, and for one glorious moment, these ladies shared a room.

My only theory is that this is a magical dream I once had that I have somehow manifested into reality. I demand to see this reenacted by drag queens!

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Bad acid trip: ‘Carol Channing Is Better Than You’
08:15 pm


Carol Channing

“One pill makes you larger and one pill makes you small…” but whatever Broadway great Carol Channing is on in this clip from the 1985 Alice in Wonderland TV movie, I want no part of it. It might take years of therapy to get over this one. The mayhem starts at around the 2:10 mark. That’s my jam!

“Alice” has the right reaction to the frenzied gyrations of the “White Queen” (ahem):

“That’s confusing!”

Don’t ever decide to watch this version of Alice when you’re tripping, it could seriously scar you for life.


Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment