Kaye Ballard Doc Debuts

(Photo: Kaye Ballard, Eve Arden in ‘The Mothers-in-Law.’ Source: KayeBallardMovie.com)

Kaye Ballard – The Show Goes On!, a feature documentary about “The Greatest Star You Hardly Knew,” will premiere free tomorrow, July 14, at 8 pm ET, with an encore Wednesday at 3 pm.

To attend either online screening, RSVP at kayeballardmovie.com. Pre-show and post-show “surprises” are promised.

Ballard, who achieved fame as an actress, comedian and singer, died early last year at 93.  

Kaye Ballard – The Show Goes On! features clips illustrating her career, plus tributes from the likes of Joy Behar, Carol Burnett, Ann-Margret, Woody Allen, Michael Feinstein and Rex Reed.

The documentary also includes commentary by Peter Marshall, who hosted Ballard on at least 177 episodes of The Hollywood Squares game show (NBC, 1967-1975); and three others who have also passed on since giving their interviews —  Jerry Stiller, Carol Channing, and Broadway producer Harold Prince, who cites Ballard as one of the greatest female entertainers of all time.

Baby boomers, though, might only recall Kaye Ballard as co-star of the 1967-1969 NBC sitcom, The Mothers-in-Law. Ballard and Eve Arden played the title characters, with Deborah Walley and Jerry Fogel as their respective daughter-in-law and son-in-law, and Roger C. Carmel (season one)/Richard Deacon (season two) and Herbert Rudley as their respective husbands.

Ballard was the last surviving member of the regular cast. But they’re all still together in reruns of the show’s 56 episodes, available to Amazon Prime subscribers, or free without ads on the Hoopla library-connected service or with ads on Tubi. You can also buy episodes for $1.99 each or $19.99 per season from Amazon, Google Play or YouTube

Kaye Ballard; The Show Goes On!
(Photo by Maurice Seymour, late 1950s. Source kayeballardmovie.com)

Ballard appeared on countless variety and talk shows starting in 1951, helping to preserve samples of her nightclub and stage career for future documentarians.

Ballard’s TV acting career began in 1956 on a long-forgotten episode of NBC’s Kraft Television Theatre. But her sophomore outing the next year would be memorable: Ballard played one of the wicked stepsisters in CBS’ premiere production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, starring Julie Andrews, which garnered TV’s largest audience up to that time: 107 million viewers.

The original live airing was broadcast in color, but only a black-and-white version survives. You can stream it in its entirety on YouTube. Here are some highlights featuring Ballard, including the songs “Stepsisters’ Lament” and “A Lovely Night”:

Ballard next co-starred in a feature film, The Girl Most Likely (1958), perhaps most notable for being the last film produced by RKO Radio Pictures. This musical comedy, also starring Jane Powell and Cliff Robertson, isn’t streaming anywhere, but here’s a scene:

While The Mothers-in-Law would be Ballard’s only starring role on TV, she was a regular on a few other series, including a one-season dud, What a Dummy (syndicated sitcom, 1990-1991), a couple of seasons of The Doris Day Show (CBS sitcom, 1970-1972) and The Perry Como Show (NBC variety series, 1960-1963).

Here, from the latter, she appears in a very funny spoof of the CBS game show, To Tell the Truth, alongside future Hollywood Square Paul Lynde:

And here she is on the real To Tell the Truth, from later in the 1960s, attempting to fool the panel alongside the real Bette Davis:

For more, visit kayeballard.com.

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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