Old ‘Carousel’ tapes surface

GOOD MORNING: A remarkable find of showbiz history has come to light. Oscar winner Shirley Jones, who just completed hosting an A&E special on Rodgers & Hammerstein, tells me the show’s researchers found a treasure store of “Carousel” cinema lore — the Frank Sinatra-Shirley Jones pre-recordings of the songs for the movie in which they were to co-star in 1955. The songs included their duet “If I Loved You” and the classic solo “Soliloquy.” Also found were the costume stills of Sinatra as Billy Bigelow and Jones as Julie Jordan. “Frank was so excited about playing the role,” Shirley recalled. “I thought it was a natural for him.” Recalling the fateful first day when she and Sinatra were to start filming on location at Booth Bay Harbor, Maine, Jones said, “The big company of dancers had just finished the ‘June is Busting Out All Over’ number and Frank’s limo arrived on the set. There were two giant cameras, one for CinemaScope, the other for CinemaScope ’55, which meant on some occasions we were to do some scenes twice. Well, you know Frank is known for doing a scene once and that’s it. He said to director Henry King, ‘I signed to do one picture, not two.’ And he left and went back to the airport.” An SOS went out to Gordon MacRae — the rest is history. Shirley says some of that Sinatra-Jones “Carousel” pre-recorded music may be played on A&E’s R&H special. “And you know my husband, Marty (Ingels),” she laughed, “he’s working on getting the rights” to the music by Sinatra and Jones. “It could be a market blockbuster,” Ingels says modestly. But who owns the rights to ’em? Stay tuned … As for Sinatra’s singing future, as noted here, he’s made no plans and as Nancy Jr. told us, “Hasn’t he shlepped around this world enough?” Now, Tina adds credence to his retirement with: “For the last three-four years, his eyesight has been failing as well as his hearing. He’s been doing the best he could — but he often wasn’t happy with his performances. He’s definitely taking it easy — being a grandfather.” Would he sing at the planned 80th ABC birthday special. “Absolutely not,” said Tina. But, once again, stay tuned.

SOME GOOD NEWS FOR Eric Douglas, who is to be arraigned Monday in federal court on charges stemming from alleged incidents aboard a flight from N.Y. to L.A. July 30 — on which, if convicted, he could face a $255,000 fine and a prison term — and the same day in BevHills court, Eric faces charges on hit-and-run outside the Comedy Store on the Strip. So, where’s the good news? Well, financier, former film producer, and computer executive Max Palevsky told me he and his wife were sitting in the row behind Douglas aboard the above-mentioned flight. “I saw absolutely no altercation that we noted,” Palevsky told me. The charges “seemed a little exaggerated. He was not in any way violent.” Palevsky said he is not in showbiz any more — he spends his time commuting to the Silicon Valley, where he started as a computer designer in 1950 . Add to Eric’s “good luck” (?): He says he has three letters “proving my innocence” and says he’s the victim of “a witch hunt.”… CAA partner Bill Haber returned Tuesday to his office, back from his home in France. How long will he be at CAA? “I’ll let you know.” Is he selling his shares? “That’s what I read in the papers.” Is he retiring from the agency? “I’ve been saying that for 15 years ,” he said (again) … Sidney Poitier is on the board at Disney, so when the appointment of Mike Ovitz came up for board approval, member Poitier had to be tracked down cruising the Mediterranean. He gave his OK, natch. Poitier is repped (for 40 years) by CAA’s Martin Baum.

PIERCE BROSNAN KICKED OFF THE “Goldeneye” campaign at the Playboy Mansion Tuesday taping a special “In Search of James Bond” with Hugh Hefner for London Weekend TV. Howcum Playboy and Hef? “Gadgetry, girls and adventure,” said Hefner , also noting that Playboy published Ian Fleming’s first in the U.S., “The Hildebrand Rarity” in 1960 … Should Marcia Clark need some advice on her summation, she should check Jackie Mason’s latest additions to his “Politically Incorrect” show at the Canon. Mason’s comedics about O.J. is relief for Angelenos from the daily dramatics in court … The Vincent Van Pattens welcomed son Vincent Sunday at Cedars-Sinai. And this week, the new papa starts a 3 -parter with all the gals in “Baywatch.” Meanwhile, his dad, Dick Van P. guests in “Touched by an Angel” for CBS.

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