Forrest Tucker singing ‘Seventy Six Trombones’?  Surely not. But it’s  true – and he sang it 2,000 times!

I  came across  the above photo of FORREST TUCKER and was surprised to discover that this actor , whom I only knew for his gangster and western roles, had starred on stage in the musical, THE MUSIC MAN.

The Meredith Willson musical had starred Robert Preston on Broadway  , and Forrest Tucker took over the leading role of Professor Harold Hill in the National tour of the show ,starting in 1958.


Another surprise was to find  that Tucker’s costar on stage was JOAN WELDON who only made a dozen films between 1953 and 1958, mainly westerns and the sci-fi picture, THEM!

I didn’t know Joan was a trained singer.


Joan Weldon, Forrest Tucker.


Forrest, as we know him best:

Gary Cooper, Forrest Tucker, Doris Davenport. THE WESTERNER.

(Forrest’s first film.)


Forrest Tucker, Marie Windsor, Bill Elliott. HELLFIRE.


Charlton Heston, Rhonda Fleming, Jan Sterling, Forrest Tucker.PONY EXPRESS.

(Charlton Heston as Buffalo Bill and Forrest Tucker as Wild Bill Hickok.)


Forrest Tucker, Randolph Scott. THE NEVADAN.


Rosalind Russell, Forrest Tucker. AUNTIE MAME.



Forrest Tucker (1919 – 1986)  also starred in the comedy series “F TROOP” for 65 episodes, 1965 to 1968.


Other stars who played in stage productions of The Music Man:

Van also brought the show to London’s West End.


Eddie Albert



Jack Carson is described as “twinkle-toed and “twinkle-eyed!”

Would love to have seen all these Harold Hills!


Tony Martin, Joan Weldon.

Joan had a guest spot in MGM’s DEEP IN MY HEART, joining Tony Martin in ‘Lover Come Back to Me’, though,bizarrely,it’s not exactly a duet. Joan is only seen in the last minute or two of the number.

And her solo number in the film, ‘One Kiss’, ended up on the cutting room floor, though it can be heard on the dvd release.


Warners didn’t have any musicals for Joan . They weren’t making many musicals in the 50s unless they starred Doris Day and, aside from The Desert Song, they weren’t making the kind that would have suited Joan’s voice – operettas.

Instead they put the actress, who was in her 20s,  into westerns opposite veterans Randolph Scott, Joel McCrea, Fred MacMurray. And made her a scientist in the sci-fi classic, THEM!

Unfortunately the parts they gave her were pretty routine , with little opportunity to gain acting experience.


Joel McCrea, Joan Weldon. GUNSIGHT RIDGE.


Joan Weldon, Guy Madison.THE COMMAND.


Fred MacMurray, Joan Weldon. DAY OF THE BADMAN.



Joan Weldon.

Joan said of  THEM!  “The ants were the star.”


After her brief film career and a few TV appearances, at the age of 28,  Joan returned to the musical stage in 1958. There’s a quote from Joan on IMDB, ”I was a singer. that was my first love.”

Joan toursd with Fess Parker in “Oklahoma”. She had her own TV series in 1955, “This Is Your  Music.”

Married to a doctor since 1966, Joan moved back to New York. I wonder if anyone has ever tried to interview her about her brief sojourn in Hollywood.  She retired from performing in 1980.

I am looking forward to seeing her first film , THE SYSTEM,  costarring  Frank Lovejoy.


23 responses »

  1. What a fascinating post Vienna. Oh to have seen some Hollywood stars on stage even if they were not always ideal casting. How about Jane Russell as the lovelorn receptionist in Bells Are Ringing! Joan Weldon is one of those fifties actresses who made little impression on me but, as you say, the parts she was given offered little opportunity to shine.
    Joan had the second lead in the Broadway musical Kean with Alfred Drake in 1961, but it wasn’t a success. Her final appearance was in the title role of The Merry Widow at Lincoln Centre .

    • Jane did quite a lot of stage work but I just can’t see her in the Judy Holliday role in Bells Are Ringing. She also did Pal Joey and she replaced Elaine Stritch on Broadway in Company – I can see her in these two shows.
      Patrice Munsel was the widow at Lincoln Center. Joan played ‘Natalie’.

  2. I remember seeing Tucker on The Merv Griffin Show during his tour of The Music Man. He met the third of his four wives when she was in the ensemble of the show.

    I used to have the album of Van Johnson’s London run of The Music Man. Would have loved to have seen Eddie Albert in the role. Saw Tony Randall playing Hill. Must have been the late 70s. Barney Martin from The Tony Randall Show played Marcellus.

    • I reckon Eddie Albert would have been a good Harold Hill. I read that Tony Randall did the show in 1978 in St.Louis.
      I’ve also read that Bob Cummings also did it.

  3. Vienna, this is a really good post, that I enjoyed viewing. I can see and hear Forrest Tucker as Professor Harold Hill and Joan Weldon as Marian Paroo. Someone should interview Joan Weldon, I’m sure she has some stories to tell.

  4. Nice bit of movie trivia here. Count me in as I had no idea of Tuckers work on stage. Any time I read an actor’s bio I’m usually surprised by the amount os stage work they may have done. Sadly without it being recorded to film its too easily forgotten. Kind of Henry Fonda in mister Roberts and all those who played him afterwards including Tyrone Power I believe.

  5. Not every film actor could adapt to stage work but those who could got lots of work . I see that Ralph Meeker and Lee Van Cleef were in the original Fonda production in 1948.

  6. Great post, Vienna. One Harold Hill that was overlook is Lloyd Bridges who actually replaced Robert Preston in the original Broadway production

  7. Joe, I read that Eddie Albert replaced Bob Preston on Broadway in 1960. I can’t find any confirmation of Lloyd Bridges playing Harold Hill.

  8. Hi, Vienna. I found the old TV interview with Lloyd talking excitingly about doing the role. He talked about seeing Robert Preston in the show and wanted to do what his old friend was doing. But apparently, it fell through. He never did get to play Harold Hill. -J

    • Vienna-

      Lloyd did do “Man of La Mancha” at Lincoln Center in 1966 and, the year before that, he toured in a production of “Guys and Dolls.” Below is a link to images of him as Don Quixote, as well as info about the “La Mancha” production, for your perusal. Enjoy!


      This is a rare October 1966 playbill from the Original Broadway production of the DALE WASSERMAN, MITCH LEIGH and JOE DARION musical “MAN OF LA MANCHA” which played the ANTA Washington Square Theatre in New York City. (The production opened November 22nd, 1965 and ran for 2728 performances.) ….. Winner of five Tony Awards including “Best Musical”, the show starred LLOYD BRIDGES (who briefly stepped in for RICHARD KILEY) as “Don Quixote” and featured IRVING JACOBSON, RAY MIDDLETON, ROBERT ROUNSEVILLE and JOAN DIENER and featured JON CYPHER, JAMES COCO, TED FORLOW, MIMI TURQUE, SHEV RODGERS and ELEANORE KNAPP …. CREDITS: Book by DALE WASSERMAN; Music by MITCH LEIGH (“Man of La Mancha”, “Cry For Us All”, “Home Sweet Homer”, “Chu Chem”, “Sarava”, “Ain’t Broadway Grand”); Lyrics by JOE DARION; Sets designed by HOWARD BAY; Costumes designed by HOWARD BAY and PATTON CAMPBELL; Choreographed by JACK COLE; Directed by ALBERT MARRE; Produced by ALBERT W. SELDEN and HAL JAMES ….. DETAILS: The 62 page playbill measures 6″ X 9″ inches and includes full production credits, cast list, synopsis of scenes, list of musical numbers and bios of each of the leading actors and members of the creative team, but no cast photos ….. CONDITION: With the exception of light surface and edge wear to the cover, this playbill is in excellent condition and will make a wonderful addition to the collection of any musical theatre aficionado or historian. This item will be carefully packaged in a protective, carded sleeve and backed by stiff cardboard.

  9. Didn’t know Lloyd had done Guys and Dolls.
    Wonder how he did with ‘The Impossible Dream’ from Man of La Mancha. That song deserves a trained singer to do it justice. Richard Kiley gives a powerful rendition.
    Thanks for link.

    • Vienna! The movie musical is my favorite genre, hands-down, but by no means am I a purist. I don’t care if an actor has a trained singing voice as long as he/she is well-cast. Blasphemy? Perhaps, In fact, in many cases, I prefer non-singers. Harve Presnell is my least favorite performer in “Paint Your Wagon,” despite his powerful voice. I actually prefer Clint Eastwood’s relaxed singing in that film. Richard Kiley sings on screen in “The Little Prince,” and very well, but in terms of personality, he’s a blank. And critics still complain about Pierce Brosnan’s singing in “Momma Mia!,” but for me, he sounds like a raspy old rocker in the film. It’s curious – if someone not known as a singer dares to sing in a film, everyone gets nervous and snarky. But the fact is, neither Fred Astaire nor Gene Kelly was a great singer – both so-so, at best – and yet they got a pass because of their movie-musical credentials. That said, I’m crazy about both. -J

  10. Found this and don’t know how I missed it back in ’18! My parents saw Tucker as Hill and loved it. Years later, also in Chicago, I was taken to my first professional production: “Plaza Suite” starring Betty Garret and Forrest Tucker, directed by Mike Nichols. And even though Tucker didn’t appear that night, his understudy Grant Sullivan, despite being slightly young for one or two of the 3 roles, was excellent. Garret was also superb and I remember the production as marvellously stylish in a way no longer seen: an aura of glamorous entertainment that never for a second, negated the truth of the material and in fact enhanced it.
    How fascinating so many others played the great role of Professor Hill!

      • Also interesting is what you wrote of Joan Weldon. Contributors to her 2021 obituary speak of her vastly underrated talents and help to other performers, and include Mrs. Tucker who was in their “Music Man” tour.

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