Laura Levine
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The Day I Sang on the Ed Sullivan Show
posted: January 22, 2007
Back in 1968, when I was ten years old, my Girl Scout troop (Chinatown, NYC district) was selected to perform on the Ed Sullivan Show, along with about a hundred other Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, on the occasion of Irving Berlin's 80th birthday. It was an amazing experience. The other performers on the show included Bing Crosby, Ethel Merman, Robert Goulet, Steve and Eydie, and Diana Ross and the Supremes. I remember meeting The Supremes and just looking UP at these gorgeous six foot tall women sheathed in sequins.

We sang two songs -- God Bless America (accompanying Berlin), and then Ethel Merman rolled out a big birthday cake and we all sang "Happy Birthday." Berlin had earlier signed over all the royalties to GBA to the Scouts, hence the special connection.

Afterwards they took us ALL out to the Brass Rail restaurant where we each dined on our own Cornish game hen.

I found this clip of us singing online (sorry, I don't know how to post anything other than a link). I'm PRETTY sure I'm in the third row, fifth from the left.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=9112785640653374817&q=irving+berlin
20 comments
Steve Wacksman January 22, 2007
Wow-what an amazing experience. I was 'asked to leave' in my first year of Boy Scouts; apparently I was too disconnected and not a team player, so I was just taking up space. Maybe kif I'd stuck it out I would have a story like this. But probably not.
Peter Cusack January 22, 2007
I my God that's so awesome! What an experiece. Love your commment about meeting the Supremes! Great!
Nancy Stahl January 22, 2007
Great story, Laura. As a ten year-old, did you know how celebrated everyone there was? Were you good at singing, or did they not care as long as you wore the uniform? (Love the white gloves..!)
Laura Levine January 22, 2007
I was a TERRIBLE singer. I'm sure the only reason our troop was picked is that we were a mini-rainbow coalition of every skin color under the sun. Wax, don't assume that my scouting career was unblemished. Years later, when I was hanging on WAY too long, as a 15 year old "Mariner Scout," I and my fellow troop-mates actually DROVE our Scoutmaster out of scouting for good. Being too old for "regular" Scouts, we were Mariner Scouts, which meant we met every Friday night on the rusted hull of the Ambrose lightship which was docked at the South Street Seaport, and our leader was a crusty old seaman who tried his best to teach us about all things nautical (knot tying, port vs. starboard, etc.) but we were bad city girls who would just throw french fries at each other and giggle and eventually he handed in his letter of resignation to the scouting board and disbanded the troop.
Zina Saunders January 22, 2007
Neat story, Laura. I particularly liked your description of the big dinner out at the Brass Rail, eating Cornish game hens...it all must've been terribly splendid for a little kid!
Steve Brodner January 22, 2007
Laura: This is a deliciously awful clip. But your singing doesn't make it so. It's just the death rattle of old show biz. But a golden age it was and you got to touch the hem of its robe as it passed. His family still owns the Music Box. Did you know that? I wonder if they still have his piano upstairs that automatically transposes key.
Laura Levine January 22, 2007
Steve - what's the Music Box? (sorry to be so ignorant). My grandmother's maiden name is Berlin, and I always liked to imagine that we were related to Irving, but I'm pretty sure we're not. Yes, it was definitely old-school showbiz. That world just doesn't exist anymore.
Adam McCauley January 22, 2007
That is so amazing!!! Laura, you're too much.
J.D. King January 22, 2007
But did you photograph Irving and The Supremes back at your apartment?
David G Klein January 22, 2007
So which one is you?
Laura Levine January 22, 2007
On the right side (with the girls), third row up (i.e. the first row of Juniors, in the green), fifth from left. I actually have a VHS of it that I got a few years ago...they did a closeup pan across my row, but it's not on this clip.
Stephen Kroninger January 22, 2007
Irving Berlin and Laura Levine on the same stage! God bless America indeed.
Laura Levine January 22, 2007
And don't forget Ethel Merman! (Do any of you upstate Drawgers have the ability to transfer a VHS to a computer file?)
Stephen Kroninger January 22, 2007
You've inspired me to play my copy of "Irving Sings Berlin". You're welcome to come by the studio and sing along if you like.
Laura Levine January 22, 2007
Be careful what you wish for! Actually, I'm not in the city now, but it'd be nice to meet you sometime! Hmmmm.....Zimm? What about a NYC Drawger gathering? I'm also working on getting Goldin to chair an upstate one. I'll come to both.
Harry Campbell January 22, 2007
Wow, how many people can say they were on the Ed Sullivan show. I think somebody in my family was on "This is Your Life" Hey Wax, I was kicked out of the boyscouts too. Big fat scary scout leader said "You go on the jamboree oe whatever or you're out" I was out. I also failed my first driving test fro "Attitude" and parallel parking. I'm much better now.
Peter Cusack January 22, 2007
Wow! Laura I was just over at your website checking out all the things that you do. I am so impressed. I was blown away by your photography!! And I can't wait to come by you shop. Beautiful work all around. I am truly inspired!!!
Tim O'Brien January 23, 2007
That's cool!
Mike Moran January 23, 2007
What a GREAT memory to have and how great it is now to search the web and find a clip!
Steve Wacksman January 23, 2007
Not to hijack the thread or anything, but on the subject of Boy Scout misadventures- I went to some cub scout day camp when I was just a pup- maybe 10 years old, fat and socially awkward. The 'leader', a tubby troglodyte with a sparse and pitiful moustache that went by the handle "Huggy Bear" (no lie) took an instant dislike to me. I exacerbated it by shyly correcting him when he referred to "Dark" Vader. I was rewarded for this transgression with a leash made out of a one inch elastic band around my neck and was forced to walk behind Mr. Bear. If I lagged behind I was treated to a quick jerk of the leash and a command to "Heel, dog!". The humiliation was great enough that later that day I took it out on on of my fellow campers. In the course of a mild disagreement, he referred to me as 'doggy'. He was the first person I ever punched in the face. My scouting tragectory, I believe, was set on that day and (predictibly) ended shortly thereafter.
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