Friends, for more than 30 years, I’ve had the same song stuck in my head, due largely in part to Carol Channing. Sometimes I wake up from a dead sleep and the haunting words of her character pop into my mind: “You can have jam tomorrow, jam yesterday, but you can never have jam today.” It’s inescapable, I think about her more than I should rightfully admit.
So it’s with sadness that I tell you that Carol Channing passed away today at the age of 97, and many of us have been quick to commemorate her long career on stage and screen. She was the original Lorelai Lee in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes before Marilyn Monroe breathlessly sang about diamonds; and originated the role of Dolly in Hello Dolly before Streisand ever sunk her teeth into it; not to mention the Golden Globe she won for Thoroughly Modern Millie. Her career spanned decades and won multiple awards, and yet for me, Carol Channing’s best and most memorable role was as the White Queen in the 1985 made-for-tv movie classic Alice Through The Looking Glass.
The song I have constantly stuck in my head? It’s this one:
Specifically the line “Alice, can you hear us, Alice?” which I will repeat in my head in an infinite loop for no discernable reason and sometimes catch myself singing out loud without realizing it.
Although “Jam Tomorrow” is a very close second.
If you watched either clip, you may be wondering if I made this entire movie up, but I assure you not only is it real, but the casting choices only get weirder. Basically, if you ever thought to yourself that what your life was lacking was Ringo Starr as a crying mock turtle, singing to a bewildered Alice, then my friend, I have the movie for you.
Carol Channing, though, is by far the most memorable character in a two-part tv movie extravaganza that also counted John Stamos, Bridges Beau and Lloyd, Sammy Davis Jr, Pat Morita, Shelley Winters, and more as co-stars. Want to experience it for yourself? Alice Through the Looking Glass is available on DVD and random YouTube channels, everywhere. Although I recommend you start with Alice in Wonderland, because it’s equally bonkers.
So, Carol, wherever you are, I hope you’re finally enjoying your jam.