In 1985, disaster movie producer Irwin Allen (Towering Inferno, The Poseidon Adventure) had more highbrow aspirations and brought the world a two-part musical, TV-movie remake of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. The results were a different kind of disaster movie and for this, my friends, we are all in Mr. Allen’s debt. Viewed today, Mr. Allen’s version of Alice in Wonderland feels like a late-period episode of The Love Boat on acid with a script co-written by, say Michael Musto and Bruce Vilanch, on the gayest day of their lives. Consider the cast: Sherman Hemsley, Red Buttons, Donald O’Connor, Shelly Winters, Scott Baio, Sammy Davis Jr., Martha Raye, Imogene Coca, Telly Savalas, Anthony Newley, Roddy McDowall, Arte Johnson, Robert Morley, Sid Caeser, Ringo Starr, Ernest Borgnine, Steve Allen, Jayne Meadows (Mrs. Steve Allen), Tom McLoughlin, Beau Bridges, Lloyd Bridges, Patrick Duffy, Eydie Gormé, Merv Griffin, George Gobel, Ann Jillian, Harvey Korman, Steve Lawrence, Donna Mills, John Stamos, Pat Morita, Sally Struthers, Jonathan Winters, Karl Malden, and Jack Warden. The resulting film feels like an entire month of late-1970s Match Game panelists convened to take L.S.D. together. In other words, it’s exhilarating.
Of course I’ve left out one person—the sublime Carol Channing. Her work here as the White Queen is extreme, even when measured against her own over-the-top Carol Channing standards. Her performance of the rousing song “Jam Tomorrow, Jam Yesterday” has become a viral video, even inspring take-offs and tributes. Like jam itself, this musical number is sweet, delicious and, sticky as hell. See for yourself:
More Carol Channing:
On Carol Channing, Corn, and Other (Urban) Legends: Including Her Recipe For German Pot Roast in Eating With the Stars
Carol Channing by Alvaro:
Alvaro is a world-renowned artist celebrated for his portraits and illustrations of the icons of film, music, and pop culture, as well as his “girls”—the super models. A true New Yorker, born in Brooklyn and raised in the South Bronx, Alvaro’s work is distinctive for projecting a contemporary streetwise sensibility while simultaneously evoking the timeless glamour of classic Hollywood.