What you may not know about ‘Bye Bye Birdie’
o In 1963, “Bye Bye Birdie” was made into a film that was credited with turning Ann-Margret into a superstar and landing her a featured role with Elvis Presley in “Viva Las Vegas.”
o The film version of “Birdie” ranked number 38 on Entertainment Weekly’s list of the 50 Best High School Movies. But cast members Dick Van Dyke and Paul Lynde were not happy with the differences between the Broadway musical and the film.
o A new adaptation was also made for TV in 1995 starring Jason Alexander (of “Seinfeld” fame) in the role of Albert Peterson and Grammy Award-nominated singer/actress Vanessa Williams as Rose Alvarez. Actress Tyne Daly played Albert’s extravagant and over-bearing mother, Mae Peterson. Broadway actor Marc Kudisch, who played Conrad Birdie on tour opposite TommyTune, reprised the role. The 1980s’ pop music sensation Chynna Phillips played Kim MacAfee, and George Wendt played her father, Harry. While this version remained mostly true to the original play, several songs were added, including “Let’s Settle Down,” “A Mother Doesn’t Matter Anymore,” and “A Giant Step.”
o The name Conrad Birdie was a play on the name Conway Twitty, a popular singer at the time the musical debuted.
o Songs from “Bye Bye Birdie” are often adapted for use in cartoons and other media: a “Telephone Hour” parody aired in a “Family Guy” episode titled “Petarded”; a “Kids” parody was featured in “The Simpsons” episode titled “Wild Barts Can’t Be Broken”; and “Telephone Hour” was used by “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart to explain the Valerie Plame scandal.
o “Put on a Happy Face” has been used in various TV commercials, including for Wal-Mart in the 2000s for an advertising campaign with its smiley logo and in the early 1970s for a Kool-Aid commercial featuring a very young Jimmy Osmond. It was also used for a cold sore medicine commercial – instead of “Grey skies are gonna clear up,” the jingle ran, “Cold sores are gonna clear up …”
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