Two of the most famous names in Broadway history gave us musicals that were adapted into A-list Hollywood films. Onscreen saw Rodgers & Hammerstein's OKLAHOMA!, Rodgers & Hammerstein's CAROUSEL, Rodgers & Hammerstein's THE KING AND I, Rodgers & Hammerstein's SOUTH PACIFIC, Rodgers & Hammerstein's FLOWER DRUG SONG and Rodgers & Hammerstein's THE SOUND OF MUSIC. Two years after the death of Oscar Hammerstein II, Richard Rodgers went solo and gave Broadway a timely 1962 musical called NO STRINGS. In the story, a top fashion model who's Black and from New York works and lives in Paris. She has a quality of career opportunities and income she probably would not have back in America. She meets another American visiting Paris. He's a white novelist, a Pulitzer Prize winner, who's been stalled by a severe writer's block since he arrived in France. The model challenges his writer's block. But can the freedom and acceptance of their romance in France survive if they take it back home to the States? He wants to return home to New England. They face the fact that, until America changes, they'd have no romantic future there and must part. Keep in mind this was a 1962 musical. Interracial marriage was still illegal in some American states. The Supreme Court would make it legal all across the country in June 1967. Dr. Martin Luther King's historic March on Washington for Civil Rights, which Diahann Carroll attended, would be in August 1963.
Her leading man in NO STRINGS was singer/actor Richard Kiley. Kiley was in the 1953 film noir, PICKUP ON SOUTH STREET, and played one of the high school teachers in the hit 1955 drama, BLACKBOARD JUNGLE. Here, he and Diahann Carroll sing what became the hit song from the score of NO STRINGS. The song is "The Sweetest Sounds."
Paris. The colorful world of high fashion. The lead female character who's from New York. Romance. Showtunes. Those are elements that made FUNNY FACE, the classic 1957 film starring Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn, such a delicious musical. But did Hollywood make a move to star Tony winner Diahann Carroll in a film version of her Broadway hit, a show that had those same elements as FUNNY FACE? No. 1962's NO STRINGS had an interracial romance. Even though the prestigious name of Richard Rodgers was attached to the project, Hollywood did not give us a deluxe movie version of a Tony-winning Broadway musical with a Black actress in the glamorous lead role.
That is a damn shame.