Posted ByGerry O. on February 18, 2003 at 07:26:58:
After watching Sunday night's Disney remake of Meredith Willson's "The Music Man", I did some internet research on the history of the original Broadway production.
I was fascinated to see the names of some of the actors who were considered for the part of Prof. Harold Hill before Robert Preston was chosen...
Dan Dailey, Gene Kelly, Ray Bolger, Danny Kaye, Jackie Gleason...and PHIL HARRIS!
Preston was chosen over these men because Willson didn't want a professional song-and-dance man in the part....He wanted an actor who wasn't known for his musical skills (he thought that it would make the part of Prof. Hill, who couldn't read a note of music, more believable).
With all due respect and admiration to Mr. Preston, I think that Phil would have been GREAT in the part (if not on Broadway, then maybe in a touring production). He had that bombastic but smooth charm that the character of Hill requires....plus, he would have done a terrific job on those fast-talking "patter" numbers like "Trouble". A song like that was right up Phil's alley!
Oh well, it's fun to wonder "What If"?