In the movie musical Carousel, Shirley Jones & Gordon MacRae were unforgettable (1956)

Carousel 1956 movie - Shirley Jones and Gordon MacRae

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In the 1956 movie musical Carousel, Oklahoma stars Shirley Jones and Gordon MacRae were again teamed up for a Rodgers and Hammerstein classic.

Below, you can also read an interview with Miss Jones from the same year, where she talks about how she got her start in the business.

Review of Carousel: The musical movie (1956)

Lansing State Journal (Lansing, Michigan) – March 31, 1956

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic, “Carousel,” produced in its new CinemaScope 55 photographic process and color, opened at the Michigan theater Friday.

This milestone in the progress of motion picture entertainment was ushered in with all the fanfare of a Hollywood premiere.

Shirley Jones and Gordon MacRae for the 1956 Carousel movie

The studio gave it an incomparable group of singing artists to bring the unforgettable folk story to the screen.

Heading the cast are Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones, both of whom won critical praise for their work in “Oklahoma.”

In the principal supporting roles are Cameron Mitchell, Barbara Ruick, Claramae Turner of Metropolitan opera fame, Robert Rounseyille, Gene Lockhart, Audrey Christie, Susan Luckey, William Le Massena, John Dehner and Jacques D’Amboise.

All the rich Rodgers and Hammerstein music which helped make “Carousel” a stage hit have been woven into the screen presentation.

Among the 12 songs heard in the picture are the very popular “If I Loved You,” “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” “June Is Bustin’ Out All Over,” “What’s the Use of Wond’rin'” and “When the Children Are Asleep.”

Shirley Jones in the movie Carousel on the cover of Life magazine (1956)

These popular songs gains in effectiveness and brilliance through their staging in the picturesque New England forests and seacoast.

Director Henry King transported the entire company and a troupe of 40 dancers to Boothbay Harbor, Maine, where the exterior scenes for the picture were filmed, thus giving great authenticity to the story of “Billy Bigelow,” the swaggering Carousel barker, and his love for “Julie Jordan,” a factory worker.

This romance, which ends in Billy’s tragic death, his sojourn in heaven, and return to earth, stirs up the entire Maine coast town and gives poignancy to the story.

Vintage Carousel movie trailer

YouTube video

Vintage Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Carousel” lobby cards

Vintage Carousel movie lobby card (1956)

Vintage Carousel movie lobby card - 1950s (1)

Vintage Carousel movie lobby card - 1950s (2)

Vintage Carousel movie lobby card - 1950s (3)

Shirley Jones: $10,000,000 bet on the Jones girl (1956)

The Detroit Free Press (Michigan) February 14, 1956

They say there is 10 million dollars worth of film invested in Shirley Jones, a 20-year-old movie hopeful from a tiny, coal-mining community of 800 souls near Pittsburgh.

She became the latest “Cinderella” when Rodgers and Hammerstein handed her the assignment of “Laurey” in the screen version of their Broadway classic “Oklahoma!” filmed in the amazing new Todd-AO process.

Vintage Carousel movie soundtrack cover (1950s)

The casting was a calculated move, based upon the honest opinion that Shirley was the best of all candidates considered for the part. Shirley won the role only after exhaustive tests.

She played three scenes from the picture with Gordon MacRae, who was up for the part of “Curly.” Their voices were tested and retested together.

Some weeks later a voice on the long-distance phone said: “Hello, Laurey,” and then Shirley knew she had won the part. Said Shirley: “I promptly pinched myself before the news sank in.”

ALSO SEE: 20 ways “The Sound of Music” movie got it wrong

A slender, hazel-eyed, natural blond, Shirley was born March 31 in Smithton, Pa., and it was there that she went to school.

She showed a definite talent for singing and started voice lessons at 12. At South Huntingdon High School she was cast in dramatic stage presentations. In 1952, she represented Pittsburgh in the state-wide “Miss America” contests.

Vintage Shirley Jones autograph (1959)

In 1953 she went to drama school at the Pittsburgh Playhouse, subsequently had leading roles with Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera in “Lady in the Dark” and “Call Me Madam,”

In New York for a holiday, Shirley visited a Broadway theatrical agent, auditioned for him, and was rushed over to the Rodgers and Hammerstein office.

Casting director John Fearnley was so impressed that he signed her to a contract, put her in the chorus of “South Pacific” on Broadway so that she might obtain experience. Later when that show closed, she understudied one of the leads and sang in the chorus of “Me and Juliet.”

During the road tour of this show, R. & H. brought Shirley to Hollywood for the “Laurey” screen test.

After completing this role, Shirley was cast in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Carousel.” She is a young newcomer who has really become a star in a hurry! 

SHIRLEY IN THE ’70s: Meet the Partridge Family & see the TV show intro – C’mon get happy!

Vintage Carousel movie ad (1956)

DON’T MISS: See Fred Astaire Puttin’ On The Ritz in the Irving Berlin 1946 musical movie ‘Blue Skies’

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