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Bye Bye Birdie (1963)

Based on the Broadway Musical about teenage singing sensation Conrad Birdie giving his final TV show (in his hometown) before leaving for military service.

The musical (and movie) were inspired by the sensation caused when Elvis Presley was drafted into the US Army.

Presley became Conrad Birdie (Jesse Pearson), a rock singer whose imminent induction into the army isn’t just a blow for his millions of fans, but is especially bad news for songwriter Albert Peterson (Dick Van Dyke) who has written the title song for Birdie’s latest movie.

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If Birdie is drafted, the movie won’t get made and Albert will lose out on the royalties, a situation that will prevent him from turning his back on his possessive mother (Maureen Stapleton) in order to marry his secretary, Rose (Janet Leigh).

It is Rose who comes up with a solution – She persuades Albert to write a song for Birdie called One More Kiss which is duly performed by a fan of Birdie’s called Kim McAfee (Ann-Margret) on the Ed Sullivan Show.

Plot-wise the movie was no world-beater, but this frothy musical features some great numbers, including Put on a Happy Face, and One More Kiss, and Onna White’s choreography keeps the film on the move.

Ann-Margret’s was the stand-out performance, but Paul Lynde and Maureen Stapleton were impressive as frantic parents, and Ed Sullivan and John Daly had cameos. Bye Bye Birdie was remade in 1995.

The song, We Love You Beatles, (oft sung by crowds of American teenyboppers at the height of Beatlemania) was adapted from a song in this movie – We Love You Birdie.

A vastly inferior TV-movie adaptation was produced for ABC in 1995. It starred Jason Alexander as Albert and Vanessa Williams as Rosie. Tyne Daly played Mae Peterson. Marc Kudisch, who played Conrad Birdie on tour, reprised the role. Chynna Phillips played Kim MacAfee.

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Kim McAfee
Ann-Margret
Conrad Birdie
Jesse Pearson
Rosie DeLeon
Janet Leigh
Albert F. Peterson
Dick Van Dyke
Harry McAfee
Paul Lynde
Doris McAfee
Mary LaRoche
Mama Mae Peterson
Maureen Stapleton
Hugo Peabody
Bobby Rydell
Ed Sullivan
Himself
Claude Paisley
Michael Evans
Bob Precht
Robert Paige
Maestro Borov
Gregory Morton
Randolph McAfee
Bryan Russell
Mr Maude
Milton Frome

Director
George Sidney