Little Richard Remembered

(Photo: Little Richard in ‘Down and Out in Beverly Hills.’ Source: IMDb)

Little Richard, the flamboyant rock and roll pioneer who died Saturday at 87, burst onto the music scene with a string of hits starting in 1955 and into movie theaters with two major studio films in December, 1956: The Girl Can’t Help It and Don’t Knock the Rock.

Here, from the former, Little Richard sings the title song to the movements of Jayne Mansfield, whose performance won her a Golden Globe as Most Promising Newcomer:

From the latter, Little Richard performs “Long Tall Sally”:

Neither The Girl Can’t Help It, from 20th Century Fox, nor Don’t Knock the Rock, from Columbia Pictures, are currently available to stream.

Thirty years later, another generation got a taste of Little Richard when he played neighbor Orvis Goodnight in the comedy Down and Out in Beverly Hills (1986), which starred Nick Nolte, Bette Midler and Richard Dreyfuss. Here’s a classic scene:  

You can stream Down and Out in Beverly Hills, from Disney’s Touchstone Pictures, with a subscription to Amazon Prime, or rent it starting at $2.99 from Google Play, Vudu, YouTube and other providers.

Thirty years ago next week, The Disney Channel debuted Mother Goose Rock ‘n’ Rhyme (1990), with Little Richard playing Old King Cole. This musical, which won an Emmy for Costume Design, also featured Paul Simon as Simple Simon, Art Garfunkel as Georgie Porgie, Debbie Harry as The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe, Cindi Lauper as Mary (Had a Little Lamb), ZZ Top as Three Men in a Tub, and the Stray Cats as Georgie Porgie’s House Band. You can watch it right here:

Finally, from 20 years ago, we present an NBC bio pic, Little Richard (2000), directed by Robert Townsend (The Five Heartbeats, The Parent ‘Hood) and starring Leon (David Ruffin in 1988’s The Temptations) in the title role:  

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About Les Luchter

Les Luchter is a former managing editor of Multichannel News, editor-in-chief of Cable Marketing, and news editor of Broadcast Week.

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