We’re not sure exactly when filmmaker Dan Wingate started filming this very affectionate profile of the late great KAYE BALLARD as several of the show business luminaries who line up to sing her praises have also passed on. They include Carol Channing, Jerry Stiller, Hal Prince and Liz Smith.
Kaye Ballard, had a very long and successful career as a comedian, actress, Broadway star, singer and nightclub performer which lasted until her death last year aged 93 . Despite her enormous talent and the unanimous respect of the industry, being a headlining A list star somehow eluded her . However judging by her passion and zest for life as she recounts her career to the camera, there is not one single hint of regret.
Wingate’s film which follows Ballard’s career chronologically is full of surprises that even ardent fans of hers are probably unaware off, but even more importantly it introduces this remarkable woman to an audience that have not heard of her yet. You will notice though that she has all the qualifications and attributes to being declared a very definite gay icon.
Ballard was extremely pretty and with unceasing energy and such a passion for life. Rex Reed comments at one point that her misfortune was that she was so multi-talented that no-one knew which direction to really focus her career. It never stopped her working, and reading her lengthy resume, you will be shocked how much she squeezed into her life. And like others you may not even remember seeing some of her very many performances, such as in the gay cult classic movie The Ritz.
Ballard was the first actress to ever play Rose in Gypsy the Musical (before Ethel Merman got a Tony Nomination on Broadway). Songwriters loved to compose songs for her such as John Kander and Fred Ebb wrote Maybe This Time, which later Liza Minnelli wrongly claimed as her own.
Ballard was equally at home in TV on shows like The Perry Como Show, The Mothers-in-Law and The Doris Day Show. Or on the NY stage in The Golden Apple , Joseph Papp‘s The Pirates of Penzance and Carnival!
She did confess however that her real love was performing in cabaret. Ballard had started her career performing in NY’s finest The Bon Soir and The Blue Angel and at the end her one woman revue shows. in California
Ballard didn’t just collect friends, but she kept them for years and years, and Wingate had a whole stream of them eagerly testifying to their relationships with her, They included Carol Burnett, Donna McKechnie, Peter Marshall, Joy Behar, Carole Cook, Mimi Hines, Ann-Margret, Michael Feinstein and Rex Reed. The only thing missing was any mention at all of Ballard’s personal life. From Wikipedia we read she was engaged 4 times but never married.
This glowing profile would have been really complete if we knew that the woman who made the world a happier place, also found her own happiness at home.
Its a sheer joy remembering a remarkable talent and a wonderful lady
Streaming via https://www.abcinemanow.com/ 8:00pm EDT July 14, 2020 3:00 EDT, July 15, 2020