‘Hello, Everybody!’: Kate Smith in rare movie appearance experiences unrequited Love for Randolph Scott
In 1933, radio and stage performer Kate Smith was a force to be reckoned with when Paramount tapped her talents for the absurd romantic musical Hello Everybody!. But how do you harness such a big talent as hers?
The answer was to cast Smith as an innocent farm girl who falls in love with handsome Randolph Scott. The Power and Water Company had sent him out to convince her to sell her land so the county could build a dam project to provide water for the city folk.
“There’s only one way to tackle a woman…” one of the company employees tells Scott, “…Around the waste.” But you’d have to have arms as long as an octopus to put them around Kate Smith. Now, I don’t mean to make fun of her size. Smith got enough insults on and off-stage when she appeared as Big Tiny Little in Flying High on Broadway. In any case, as it turns out Scott only has eyes for Smith’s younger (and much prettier and thinner) sister, Sally Blane.
Taking it all in stride, Smith goes on a crusade to save her farm from the wicked city folk. She goes on the radio, and becomes a success singing “Twenty Million People,” “Out in the Great Open Spaces,” and the dreadfully morose “Moon Song.”
Much better is the tune she sings to “all the little colored children” in the orphanages, “Pickaninnies’ Heaven.” It is a lullaby about a place where “all good little pickaninnies can go” to enjoy watermelon vines, pork-chop bushes, and lemonade rivers. Embarrassing in the 21st century, to say the least.
But there’s more. She sings a rousing chorus of “Dinah” on her radio show, followed by a frantic Charleston – the 300-pound-plus Smith dances like a featherweight. She then goes offstage doing high kicks that must have registered on the Richter Scale.
Kate Smith had some of the most superb vocal pipes of all time. Due to that big, beautiful voice, her career survived the disastrous Hello, Everybody!. She wisely returned to radio – where audiences wouldn’t get preoccupied over her avoirdupois looks – and with her patriotic ditties she had a lasting impact on the American music scene for years to come.
© Danny Fortune.
Hello, Everybody! (1933). Director: William A. Seiter. Screenplay: Lawrence Hazard and Dorothy Yost; from a story by Fannie Hurst. Cast: Kate Smith, Randolph Scott, Sally Blane, Charley Grapewin, George Barbier, Julia Swayne Gordon.