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Arts & Culture

Oscar Hammerstein II - Out Of My Dreams

Oscar Hammerstein II, the most acclaimed lyricist and librettist of the 20th century.
Courtesy of Rodgers and Hammerstein: An Imagem Company
Oscar Hammerstein II, the most acclaimed lyricist and librettist of the 20th century.

Airs Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013 at 9:30 p.m. & Sunday, Sept. 8 at 3:30 p.m. on KPBS TV

"Oscar Hammerstein II - Out Of My Dreams" is a celebration of the most acclaimed lyricist and librettist of the 20th century, the man who worked in the theater for more than 40 years, writing the lyrics for more than a thousand songs and the libretti for dozens of operettas and musicals performed on Broadway, in London and in Hollywood films.

His legendary works include "Rose-Marie" (1924), "Show Boat" (1927), "Oklahoma!" (1943), "Carousel" (1945), "South Pacific" (1949), "The King and I" (1951) and "The Sound of Music" (1959).

Brimming over with movie clips from his greatest musicals, this new PBS special features interviews with Stephen Sondheim, Harold Prince, Shirley Jones, Mitzi Gaynor, Hammerstein family members and others.


The program is hosted by Tony, Emmy and Golden Globe-nominated Matthew Morrison (“Glee”) — who starred in the 2008 Tony-winning revival of "South Pacific" as Lieutenant Cable.

Born into a theatrical dynasty, Hammerstein (1895-1960) changed the course of musical theater forever with a series of landmark productions, from "Show Boat," composed by Jerome Kern in 1927, to the “Golden Age of Broadway” musicals written with composer Richard Rodgers from 1942-1959.

The American musical, which began as purely light-hearted and escapist entertainment, was transformed by Hammerstein’s ground-breaking works that told believable stories about plausible (often real-life) characters, with songs that enhanced the narrative, and a message that was sometimes political, and nearly always inspirational.

This program includes segments from five of the timeless, ever-popular Rodgers & Hammerstein films, including iconic scenes from "Oklahoma!," "Carousel," "South Pacific," "The King and I" and the most popular movie musical of all time, "The Sound of Music."

Also featured are songs and scenes from among the several movie versions of "Show Boat," as well as a clip from the rarely seen film "Lady Be Good," with Ann Sothern singing “The Last Time I Saw Paris,” written by Oscar Hammerstein II on the day Paris fell to Nazi Germany. Set to music by Jerome Kern, it won the Academy Award as Best Song in 1941.


While footage of Oscar Hammerstein II is rare, he is seen and heard in excerpts from a 1958 television interview with CBS News’ Mike Wallace, as well as recorded comments from conversations with contemporary journalists Arnold Michaelis and Tony Thomas.

Rodgers & Hammerstein is on Facebook, and you can follow @RnH_Org on Twitter.

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