Spotlight on Lee Falk - Other writings - Hero Hill / Happy Dollar

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Hero Hill - Happy Dollar

Lee Harrison Falk copyrighted the book and lyrics of "Hero Hill", a musical comedy in two acts, in May 23 1947 [1]. "Hero Hill" became the basis of "The Happy Dollar" version with music and lyrics by John Latouche and William Friml. A third version of the script was adapted by Richard Ott.


  • Sal Bean, saloon owner
  • Boddy Lane, Sal's old paramour
  • Scratch, the devil himself
  • Stacky Lee, a young waiter
  • Susie Tannehill, Stacky's childhood sweetheart
  • Saloon girls
  • Ike, Stacky's deceased father
  • Maggie, Stacky's deceased mother
  • Johnny Appleseed, Pecos Bill, Daniel Boone, Paul Bunyan, Kit Carson, Davis Crocket, Mike Fink, Hiawatha and Wild Bill Hickok


In the western saloon, "Happy Dollar", the girls are bossed by Sal. Thither the cowhands flock, come pay day. Sal has a boy friend named Boddy, who is quite special, and she has a young man of all work, Stacky.

Scratch is the devil in this show and has been looking for Stacky since birth, as he has an interesting proposition to submit to him. The deal is made, and takes the form of a white hat placed on Stacky's head, which enables him to blow anyone down in his vicinity, and blow he does with great effect. He is so successfull as a result of the diabolical assistance that he soon controls the Happy Dollar Saloon. He is pegged as a devil's advocate with a cloven hoof. however, and loses his girl in the bargin. However, after various triulations he suffers, all is right at the end when he wishes himself onto Hero Hill (again with the aid of the white hat) and such characters as Paul Bunyan, Wild Bill Hickock, Mike Fink, Johnny Appleseed, David Crockett and Dan Boon advise him how to rid himself of his Satanic majesty.


Music and lyrics by William Friml and John Latouche.

Scene Place Act 1 Place Act 2
Scene 1 The Happy Dollar Saloon "Happy Dollar" The Happy Dollar Saloon "Howdy Stranger"
Scene 1 The Happy Dollar Saloon "I Don't Need No Wimmin" The Happy Dollar Saloon "Family Man"
Scene 1 The Happy Dollar Saloon "Way Away Up Yonder" The Happy Dollar Saloon "Live For The Moment"
Scene 2 The Happy Dollar Saloon "Maybe You're My Man" The Happy Dollar Saloon "Maybe (I'm That Girl)" (1)
Scene 2 The Happy Dollar Saloon "Happy Dollar" (1) The Happy Dollar Saloon "Whatever Happened"
Scene 3 The Happy Dollar Saloon "No One But You" Little White Church "Sunday Go To Meetin' Time"
Scene 3 The Happy Dollar Saloon "Scratch's Bargain" - -
Scene 4 The Crabapple Tree "The Crabapple Tree" Nearby Woods "(Ya Gotta) Give The Devil His Due"
Scene 5 The Happy Dollar Saloon "Lucky Lovin' You" The Crabapple Tree "Way Away Up Yonder" (1)
Scene 5 The Happy Dollar Saloon "I Don't Need (No Nothin')" (1) The Crabapple Tree "No One But You" (1)
Scene 5 The Happy Dollar Saloon "Stacky Lee" The Crabapple Tree "Way Away Up Yonder" (2)
Scene 6 - - Hero Hill "Hero Hill"
Scene 6 - - Hero Hill "Tell Tales"
Scene 6 - - The Happy Dollar Saloon "Finale" (3)
  • (1) reprise
  • (2) streins segueing into the "Hero Hill" chorus
  • (3) reprise of "Way Away Up Yonder" and "Hero Hill"


Brodway (musical-in-the-making)

James Dunn's productions office was looking for a new play for a Broadway production and started working on "Hero Hill" late 1947. The rehersals were first[2] scheduled to August 1948, then[3] September 1948.

Early 1948 Latouche and Frim worked on the music and lyrics. The musical was retitled to "Happy Dollar" and mid 1948 Friml and Latouche completed the music and the (new) lyrics, with rehearsals scheduled[4] for August 30. Several newspapers wrote that Jack Robbins was to produce the mucical, but James Dunn said[5] [6][7][8] that he and Don Medford was to produce the "Happy Dollar" musical. The theatre manager James Colligan was also mentioned in this period. In September newspapers wrote[9] that James Dunn had been quietly angling for Frank Sinatra to star in "Hero Hill", without having succeeded in persuading him. Earl Wrightson was also mentioned in a possible leading role. In December James Dunn said[10] that either himself or Eddie Bracken would perform the leading role co-acting Vivian Blaine. Eddie Bracken accepted the role and said[11] the rehearsals would start in the spring.

In 1949 Charles Friedman accepted[12] as director for the musical. Rehearsals were[13] scheduled to March 15. Dunn said[14] that the cast now included Eddie Bracken, Vivian Blaine, Janet Blair and John Carradine. Dunn said[15][16] the musical would go into rehearsal in April. The rehearsals once again were delayed and he made[17] contact with the writer Sidney Sheldon to have a look at the script. But despite numerious auditions James Dunn found[18] that the necessary money could not be raised. Late June newspapers wrote[19] that James Dunn was said to be out of the production set-up for "Happy Dollar".

San Francisco

In 1950 Eddie Bracken and William Friml promoted[20] their plans for "Happy Dollar" as a musical show with opening in San Francisco, and said[21] that John Latouche would provide the final book draft.


Lee Falk said[18] Richard Ott was one of the singers at the James Dunn auditions, and that he in 1953 asked Lee Falk if a group in Houston could put on "Happy Dollar". Richard Ott persuaded the director of Theatre Incorporated, Johnny George, to launche the piece. The script and the score was a revision[footnotes 1] of the Dunn-version, with fewer songs and with a new song titled "Cleaving". Lee Falk was invited to the opening[footnotes 2] of the show and said[18] he enjoy the show, even with many cuts and rewrites.

Richard Ott's daughter has[22] recently discovered demo tape of the score for piano and a makeshift film of the rehearsas.

Theatre, Inc.

April 24, 1954 - ?

  • Credits: directed by Johnny George, settings by Earl Ehret, costumes by Cecilia West and choreography by Vivien Altfeld.
  • Starring: Bobby Larr (Stacky Lee), Nancy Phillips (Susie Tannehill), Jay Froman (Scratch), Caroline Richter[23] (Sal Bean) and Richard Ott (Boddy Lane).


John Huntington said he would put up "Happy Dollar" at Spa Theatre 6-11 September, 1954.


At Dallas Courtyard Theatre Betty Blanchard was mounting the new musical "Happy Dollar" early 1955 [24]. "The Happy Dollar" opened with four drama students appearing in the show: Tommy Wright (male chorus), Scott Holtzman (singing in the chorus, dansing in the ballet, singing part of Hiawatha in final scene), Edgar Webb '(male chorus, solo singing role of Johnny Appleseed) and Jim McCarley. The show did run through Saturday 19 March [25] and was to go to Broadway October the 6th [26].

Courtyard Theatre

March 9 - March 19 (extended through March 26), 1955

  • Credits: directed and produced by Richard Ott, settings by Jerome Jordan, costumes by Julia Marie Whitehead, choreography by Vivien Ainslie, William Knight as musical director, John Tedford Jr. as conductor and lead piano, Robert Dietrich and Charles Hamilton percussion.
  • Staff members: Mary Moore and Charl Finley (stage manager and assistant); Richard Fox, Charlotte Barton, Richard Herrin and Pierre Grelet (set assistants); Frank Blume and Mollie Norfleet (lighting); Jane Jones and Mary Louise Slack (wardrobe assistants); Dr Shirley McCore, Clarinne Compton Shaw, Aileen Rogers and Marilyn Larner (prooerties) and Pat Froman (costume assistant)
  • Starring: Ted Stanford as (Stacky Lee), Olyve Hallmark (Susie Tannehill), Caroline Richter (Sal Bean), Jay Froman (Scratch), Richard Culver (Boddy Lane), Joyce Ann Boyd (Susie as child), Ann Bullis (Sal as child), Jerry Mullins (Stacky Lee as child), Carl Jones (Boddy as child), Freddy Packer & Freddy Uhlemeyer (children and Imps), Charles West (Ike Lee), Rosemary Harris (Maggie Lee), Edgar Webb (Doc), Dorrace Bullis (Cora), Chris Braun (Dora) and Ray Anderson (Drunk)
  • Singing chorus: Rene Cranfield, Denise Foster, Barbara Weathergill, Jean Wilson, Norma Jean Roach, Jean Armistead, Vianne Black, Rosemary Harris, Marvin Alexander, William Fanning, Tom Wright, Tom Van Meter, Robert Wayne, Edgar Webb and Scott Holtzmann - (mentioned during the rehearsals: Marianna Clore, Barbara Gillian, Allen Case, Robert Daugherty and Richard Gregory)
  • Dancers: Ann Etgen (dance assistant and leading dance role), Joyce Ann Williamson, Vianne Black, Madeline Cole, Jamie Dietrich, Peggy Hess, Scott Holtzmann, Allen Riley and John Williamson - (mentioned during the rehearsals: Hugh Cundiff, Norma Roach, Mary Harkleroad, Charles Hess and Jan Blair)

In February Gerry Mathews was mentioned as Stacky Lee. Paul Bernath said he acted in "Happy Dollar".

Los Angeles

Late May 1956 Richard Ott and Pierre Cosette announced that "Happy Dollar" was to premiere at the Las Palmas Theatre on June 27 [27].The opening date was changed to June 29, and the producer /director Richard Ott said "The Happy Dollar was the first TV spectacular ever to be presented on the stage. The attraction was in the nature of a tryout for future television production via a national, coast-to-coast network. Gene Nash was to cast, stage and coreograph the new musical, and also to star in "The Happy Dollar" [28]. In The Los Angeles Times the 17th and 24th one could read an advertice for The Stage's First TV Spectacular... A Music Fantasy with Songs & Dansing!, "The Happy Dollar".

The Los Angeles Times printed a picture of Gene Nash and Wendy Martin together with Betty Holt, Dorothy Harmony and Erin O'Brian [29]. Just few days befor the opening four young girls signed as dancers: Liz Ackard (lead dance), Mary Val, Marlene Walter and Dorothy Harmony [30]. And then Caroline Richter and Jay Froman signed to co-star Gene Nash in the musical[31].

The opening was canceled and Ben Cooper signed for the staring role as Stacky Lee [32]. A new opening was annonsed July 3 and then July 6th [33].

The theater review in The Los Angeles Times was positive [34], and the show run for 4 weeks [35] (The last ad for the show was in The Los Angeles Times Sunday August 5, 1954 [footnotes 3]).

About the time the show ended Ben Coopers girlfriend, Estelita, blew up her top when she discover that her boyfriend had been taking his stage romance with Wendy Martin in "The Happy Dollar" to seriously [36]

Las Palmas Theatre

July 9 - August ?, 1956

  • Credits: directed and produced by Richard C Ott, settings by Bob Sydney Rushakoff, Jeff Lewis as musical director, staged and choreographed by Gene Nash
  • Starring: Ben Cooper (Stacky Lee), Caroline Richter (Sal Bean), Jay Froman (Scratch), Wendy Martin (Susie Tannehill), William Meigs (Boddy Lane)
  • Song and Dance: Betty Holt, Dorothy Harmony, Erin O'Brian, Erin Fitzgerald, Cleone Duncan, Darryl Duran, Jinny Saturday, Fred Curt, Robert Dixon, Mike Barnett, Paul Corrigan, William Linton, Robert Dixon, Liz Ackard (lead dance), Mary Val, Marlene Walter and the Birk Twins (John Edward and Edward John)


  1. Possible the revision Eddie Bracken and William Friml promoted in 1950
  2. He said on May 9, 1954, and that th "Happy Dollar" played for a full house and run for six weeks. Back in New York he called producers urging them to go and see the show i Huston, but he could not manage to get a single producer to go.
  3. The Los Angeles Times August 5 1956


  1. Catalog of Copyright Entries: Third series (Washington D.C.) Volum 1 parts 3-4, Number 1, p 37
  2. "The New York Times drama section..", The Times Recorder (Zanesville, Ohio), 31 Oct 1947, p 6
  3. "Another Perry", Daily News (New York, New York), 12 February 1948, p 669
  4. "Theater by George Currie", The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York), 23 Jun 1948, p 13
  5. "The Signal's Listening Post", The Times Recorder (Zanesville, Ohio), 17 Feb 1948, p 4
  6. "Theater by George Currie", The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York), 28 Feb 1948, p 12
  7. "Theater by George Currie", The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York), 05 Apr 1948, p 4
  8. "Cavalcade by Louis Sobol", The Evening News (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania), 21 Jun 1948, p 14
  9. "The Drama Desk by Harold V Cohen", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), 22 Sep 1948, p 12
  10. "Voice of Broadway by Dorothy Kilgallen", Times Herald (Olean, New York), 15 Dec 1948, p 11
  11. "In Hollywood by Erskine Johnson", Dunkirk Evening Observer (Dunkirk, New York), 06 Jan 1949, p 15
  12. "In this Corner: Generally Speaking by Mona Colver", The Times Recorder (Zanesville, Ohio), 30 Jan 1949, p 2
  13. "The Drama Desk by Harold V Cohen", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), 08 Feb 1949, p 10
  14. "Jimmy Dunn To Produce Musical Play", The Miami News (Miami, Florida), 18 Februar 1949, p 13
  15. "The Drama Desk by Harold V Cohen", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), 4 April 4, p 17
  16. "August Rehearsal", The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York), 03 Apr 1949, p 34
  17. "Movieland and Briefs" 'The Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California), 23 April 1949, p 9
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 Bentley, Byron, "Mandrake's Alter Ego", Theatre Arts September 1955. p 91
  19. "New Team", Daily News (New York, New York), 27 June 1949, p 350
  20. "Movieland Briefs", The Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California), 22 Dec 1950, p 10
  21. "Happy Dollar may be made into Stage Play", The Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California), 24 Dec 1950, p 43
  22. Pollack Howard, "The Ballad of John Latouche: An American Lyricist's Life and Work", Oxford University Press (2017), p 294-301
  23. "Blond Actress Incorporates Self to Finance Stage Career", Lubbock Evening Journal (Lubbock, Texas), 02 Apr 1956, p 14
  24. "Curtain Call", The Times (Shreveport, Louisiana), 20 Feb 1955, p 54
  25. "Four Collegians Appear in The Happy Dollar, Current Dalla Musical", The Campus Chat (Denton, Texas), 16 Marsh 1955, p 3
  26. "Reel Roving by Jay Rogers", Denton Record-Chronicle (Denton, Texas), 13 Mar 1955, p 16
  27. "Happy Dollar to Open June 27", The Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California), 29 May 1956, p 19
  28. "Tickets for Musical Happy Dollar Offered", The Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California), 17 Jun 1956, p 97
  29. "Musical Readied", The Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California), 24 Jun 1956, p 108
  30. "Four Girls Secured for Happy Dollar", The Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California), 26 Jun 1956, p 15
  31. "Comic, Singer Signed for Show", The Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California), 27 Jun 1956, p 14
  32. "Ben Cooper", The Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California), 5 July 1956, p 76
  33. "Film actor Ben Cooper...", The Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California), 6 July 1956, p 17
  34. Schallert, Edvin. "Happy Dollar Affords Bright Entertainment", The Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California), 5 July 1956, p 76
  35. "Curtain Going Up", The Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California), 5 August 1956, p 91
  36. "Martin Woos Bartok in next Productin by Dorothy Manners", Clarion-Ledger (Jackson, Mississippi), 06 Aug 1956, p 10