A Celebration of the Women (and a few Good Men!) who Have Played Dolly...and those that Have Supported Them!

On January 16, 1964, “Hello, Dolly!” starring Carol Channing opened on Broadway at the St. James Theatre. The musical, about a meddling matchmaker and a curmudgeonly “half-a-millionaire” bachelor, sold out instantly. During the Broadway musical’s original seven-year run, it had critical and popular success, winning 10 Tony Awards at the 18th Annual Tonys (out of eleven nominations). Dolly became Channing’s signature role. However, throughout the show’s original 2,844 performances, many legendary actresses went on to play the legendary part, including Pearl Bailey, Phyllis Diller and Ethel Merman.

New chapters are added daily in this on going love fest. Right now, Betty Buckley is about to embark on a two year National tour. It is always nice to have her back where she belongs...on the stage.

Richard Skipper started this project in January of 2011 with the hopes of celebrating the 50th anniversary of the opening at Hello, Dolly!

This site and an eventual book is a celebration of the women (and a few good men) who have given life to Dolly Levi in various productions of both Hello, Dolly and The Matchmaker AND the supporting players both son stage and behind the scenes.

This site covers eight years of interviews and is based on the first-hand accounts of those who have taken part in this incredible journey. This is not a linear history but more of an oral history. A huge thank you to Glen Charlow and Christopher Vaughn for the look of this site (also based on Richard's blog, Richard Skipper Celebrates). This site is for the fans of all things Dolly! Your feedback is always welcome.

Bette Midler returned to Broadway in a revival of Jerry Herman’s beloved musical costarring two-time Tony winner David Hyde Pierce last year, officially opening on April 20th, 2017. This critically acclaimed and crowd-pleasing star turn of a revival went on to win four 2017 Tony Awards, including Best Revival of a Musical. When Richard first considered writing a book celebrating the rich history of the players of this landmark musical, he made sure nobody had published anything like it.

Getting to know these players both on and off stage led him to the desire to archive their stories in this website, and eventual book. These experiences of the theater should be remembered by new generations, especially since the theater and how it is performed and perceived is constantly evolving. We will NEVER see that kind of theater and dedication to a particular role ever again. The desire is that the legacy of ALL of the players both on and off-stage to be remembered. Richard's goal is to carry that mantle forward to future artists and theater-goers alike.

 

Testimonials

Many many thanks to Richard Skipper for taking the time to include my thoughts and memories of four productions of Hello, Dolly!, with Carol Channing, Eve Arden, Ginger Rogers and Dorothy Lamour, for his book. His thoughtful considerate questions were appreciated and more than helpful. Although I have never seen Richard perform in person, I have heard of his extraordinary talent and look forward to seeing him perform someday. I am honored to be included in his book and have great expectations for this project.

TERRY DEMARI

Having read all of your blog entries over these past months and who you were planning to interview or already had talked with, I cannot imagine that you will miss anyone. CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!! What an accomplishment this is for you and such a wonderful tribute to Carol Channing, “Hello, Dolly!” and everyone that has been associated with so many productions since its inception. And thank you, Richard, for asking me to be a part of this adventure and letting me share my fond memories of my “Hello, Dolly!” with Patrice Munsel at Louisiana Tech University in 1984!!!!!! It has been an honor and my pleasure.

DAVID F. WYLIE

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Richard for allowing me to be a part of his book on all the Dolly’s that will come out on the anniversary of the show’s beginnings! It is such a small world. Richard and I have so many friends and people that we have both worked with in common. In many ways it was like old home week when we talked on the phone. Thank you Richard for adding the pictures and for being such a good listener and making our conversation just that…a great conversation. I am truly thrilled and excited and I wish you nothing but the best in everything you do!!

NANCY SINCLAIR

Richard, your reportage is very accurate and you write like one who loves and is captivated by your subject, Hello Dolly! I can’t wait to read your book. All the best.

GARY BEACH

Dear Richard, you are the DOLLY fan’s mighty leader! Thank you for your passion, warmth and knowledge about this wonderful musical and for paying tribute to those of us who have had the pleasure of playing her! Continued success in all that you do! xo

RANDY GRAFF

Thank you for your lovely chapter on me and my time as Dolly. It’s flattering to be the subject of a good writer, and I sincerely appreciate your interest and time. Isn’t it incredible to realize how many lives have been touched by this marvelous show? I truly hope your work will materialize into a fine book, and millions of copies will be bought and read. Count me as one of the first! Warmest regards.

ANNE RUSSELL

Richard Skipper is the embodiment of the spirit of Dolly Levi. He is an “enthusiast,” a word that has also been applied to Thornton Wilder. Richard celebrates when others criticize. He forgives when others find faults. He understands the hard work of theatre but hasn’t become jaded or discouraged. In short, he is the perfect person to chronicle HELLO, DOLLY!, allowing a large number of people associated with the musical to have their say. Richard and DOLLY! are a perfect match.

JOSH ELLIS

Thanks for the loverly interview on my youthful experience with three different companies of “Hello Dolly!” You brought back wonderful memories, as did your other “Dolly” chapters! What a great idea, and how beautifully brought to life!

JUDITH DRAKE

Hi, Richard, Your research on “Dolly” is extraordinary. You know much more about the show than I do and I was the press agent from the very inception and also handled “The Matchmaker” for Merrick. Lee Solters and I represented Channing for many years as well as Barbra Streisand. You are truly awesome. And a remarkable theatre historian as well. The stories behind “Hello, Dolly!” have never been told in detail and you’ve nailed it. The show added lustre to the golden age of the Broadway musical and I was happy to be a part of it. It also gave a lot of people a lot of work.

HARVEY SABINSON

“Hello Dolly” speaks and moves Richard Skipper to sing her praises once again.  He is her witness. He catalogues all the characters she touched and all the couples she made match! Long may she live!!!!     

JUDY KNAIZ

I recently had the pleasure of talking with Richard Skipper about his passion for theatre and Hello, Dolly! in particular.  It is such a treat to meet a fellow artist who so loves what he does. Thank you for sharing all your wonderful experiences with all of us through your work, your blog, your websit, AND your upcoming book…  Carry on… it is appreciated and relished!!

JUDY NORTON

Richard – The Nashville Dramaturgy Project is going to give you our first “Awesome Dramaturgy Award” for www.callondollly.com. I have been wandering around the website when I have had time and especially enjoying the bios of the many actresses who have played Dolly. For any dramaturg who finds him or herself working on a production of HELLO, DOLLY the site and the tremendous work you have done is indispensable, but beyond that you really set a standard and raise the bar for the kind of contribution that dramaturgs can make to the world of the theatre (I know you may not think of yourself as a dramaturg, but believe me, you are – just very specialized.)

JAZ DORSEY, THE NASHVILLE DRAMATURGY PROJECT

EVERYBODY INTERESTED IN THE AMERICAN MUSICAL THEATRE AND “HELLO, DOLLY!” If you miss reading Richard Skipper’s superb and detailed interviews with members of the Dolly family, you’re missing the joy of recapturing musical theatre history. They are a must-read, and when this book is published in its entirety, it will be time to celebrate. CALL ON DOLLY! Indeed!

HOWARD ROGUT

Richard — You are AMAZING! What you have done with Cousin Tuny‘s entry (as another Dolly Levi) is soooo creative and simply wonderful! CAN’T WAIT FOR THE BOOK!!!!

CINDIE HAYNIE

Richard is such a lover of the theatre ~ a real treasure. I thank him so much for realizing his dream of remembering the Dollys of Hello Dolly! and for allowing me to participate in the fun~ Merde Richard!

FRANCIE MENDENHALL (PEARL BAILEY/BILLY DANIELS REVIVAL)

Oh, Richard! What a delightful project you have in process with “Call On Dolly”! You are providing so many people with shared experiences the wealth and joy of those memories! I know that for myself, revisiting HELLO DOLLY has uplifted me and encouraged me – just like “Dolly Levi” did in her community!!! Thank you, Richard Skipper

CAROL SWARBRICK

Recently I was contacted by Richard Skipper requesting an interview about my experience as a member of the National Tour of HELLO DOLLY starring Betty Grable. Having the pleasure of seeing Richard perform as Carol Channing, I jumped at the opportunity. Richard was charming, very knowledgeable about the stars who played Dolly and well prepared with some terrific questions that really sparked a lot of my memories of Betty and HELLO DOLLY. Having read his blog, I am touched by his passion for this subject and the ladies who played Dolly Levi.

DENNIS EDENFIELD

When it comes to the history of Jerry Herman’s brilliant production, beyond the 5000+ performances of my own, even I turn to Richard Skipper when I have questions about the remarkable ladies who followed me in the role that the world fell in love with over 50 years ago.

CAROL CHANNING

Richard Good info here! it is important to see these details and it constitutes real history so I like it. It is honest and details are important Tony Lamond account sounds very accurate.

BRUCE MORGAN (SON OF YVONNE DECARLO)

Richard Skipper is a delight! How wonderful that he’s doing everything he can to keep the arts alive and thriving. His passion for Hello Dolly! is infectious and inspiring! May we all learn from his passions. Bravo Richard!

LESLIE ALEXANDER

Richard Skipper is a one-of-a-kind theatre impresario. His knowledge of the 50-year history of Hello Dolly is – to say the least – staggering. He is passionate and charming. He was able to transform everything I recounted in our hour-long phone interview into a wonderful and nostalgic journey for me and the actors that I worked with in 2004.The blog was flattering and thrilling and made me proud. I truly look forward to his book publication when Dolly turns 50 in 2014. Richard was a stranger to me and now, I am pleased to say, he is a friend and colleague! Bravo Richard for all your remarkable work!

FRANK ANZALONE

Richard, thank you for the marvelous article about our “Dolly”. Your passion and perseverance is inspiring. What a gift this book will be. Much love.

VICKI LEWIS

Head’s-Up!! My friend, Richard Skipper is working on the definitive “Hello Dolly” tribute. His book is sure to be as beautifully written as his blog, “Richard Skipper Celebrates!“, as informative as his on-camera celebrity interviews and as much fun as his stage performances!! ‘Google’ Richard Skipper!! (And skim my “likes” and do “like-wise”)

LEE SCHILLER

Wow, wow, wow, Fella…Look what you did to the Old Boy, now, Fella!!  You are one of the wonderful things in life, Richard.  It’s one of the best articles on Dolly.  Can you send me a printed copy for my scrapbook?  Thank you for getting it right and making me sound so good….XX’s

LEE ROY REAMS

Richard – You are amazing!!!! Finding these wonderful people and getting them to share their own memories is creating a legacy about an era in show business that is unsurpassed and the impact that one show had. Your ultimate book will be a reference that will be a must for all scholars and just those seeking insight laced with humor and heartfelt warmth. Bravo!!!

PAUL E. BROGAN, AUTHOR "WAS THAT A NAME I DROPPED?"