Every year the public proposes films for consideration to the National Film Registry of the U.S. Library of Congress. In 2022, 6,865 titles were submitted and two of the 25 films added included films featuring the work of two Baltimore legends: John Waters’ Hairspray (1988) and Cab Calloway’s Home Movies (1948-1951). There are now 850 films in the Registry all of which were selected to be preserved as part of the nation’s film heritage for their “cultural, historic or aesthetic importance.” Both Hairspray and Home Movies are among the 15 that were directed or co-directed by filmmakers of color, women, or members of the LGBTQ+ community. We wanted to particularly highlight the regional and national luminaries of Cab Calloway and Hairspray as February celebrates Black History Month and is the 35th anniversary of Hairspray‘s premiere at Baltimore’s Senator Theatre.
Hairspray and WJZ’s The Buddy Deane Show
Waters’ The Corny Collins Show was an exaggeration of TV dance shows of his childhood including WJZ’s The Buddy Deane Show (1957-1964). It was a Baltimore-based teen dance show created by Zvi Shoubin and based off of the popular show, American Bandstand. The Corny Collins Show was described by Hairspray producer, Margo Lion as the “dream version” of the The Buddy Deane Show because the latter was cancelled due to its inability to integrate Black and white dancers. The show became affiliated with segregation and despite WJZ’s efforts to keep their very popular show on air, integrationist and General Manager, Herbert Cahan, confronted with bomb and arson threats, and angry parents, opted to cancel. Not many items survive before 1977 in the WJZ-TV Collection, but we do have several clips of The Buddy Deane Show from later broadcasts remembering the show.
Footage of The Buddy Deane Show from a WJZ promotional film (1959).
A look back at The Buddy Deane Show from WJZ’s Eyewitness News (1978).
Footage of The Buddy Deane Show for WJZ’s 40th anniversary (1989).
WJZ’s Evening Magazine interviews John Waters about Hairspray (circa 1988).
Cab Calloway’s Home Movies
Cabell “Cab” Calloway III, Baltimore’s legendary singer, bandleader, and actor along with his wife Zulme “Nuffie” Calloway, documented their family, friends, everyday life and travels. The movies are on 16mm black and white, and color film. The collection was donated to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture by Cabella Calloway Langsam. It was preserved by Colorlab in 2016. Additionally, Colorlab made new duplicate films from the originals. They are digitized and available at the Smithsonian through the following links:
Home Movie #1: https://nmaahc.si.edu/object/nmaahc_2015.222.214.171.124a
Home Movie #2: https://nmaahc.si.edu/object/nmaahc_2015.2126.96.36.199abc
Home Movie #3: https://nmaahc.si.edu/object/nmaahc_2015.2188.8.131.52a
Home Movie #4: https://nmaahc.si.edu/object/nmaahc_2015.2184.108.40.206a
Home Movie #5: https://nmaahc.si.edu/object/nmaahc_2015.2220.127.116.11a
Home Movie Haiti: https://nmaahc.si.edu/object/nmaahc_2013.237.20.1abc
More from the The Cabell “Cab” Calloway III Collection
Evening Magazine‘s story, “Famous Grads From Frederick Douglass High School” includes an interview with alumnus Cab Calloway (1985).
1. “Brief Descriptions and Expanded Essays of National Film Registry Titles” Library of Congress, Accessed January 31, 2023. https://www.loc.gov/programs/national-film-preservation-board/film-registry/descriptions-and-essays/
2. The Cabell “Cab” Calloway III Collection, Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Accessed January 31, 2023. https://nmaahc.si.edu/explore/collection/search?edan_fq%5B%5D=set_name:%22The+Cabell+%E2%80%9CCab%E2%80%9D+Calloway+III+Collection%22
3. Ed Gunts, “John Waters’ ‘Hairspray’ added to the National Film Registry of the U. S. Library of Congress; ‘Home Movies’ by Baltimore native Cab Calloway also honored” Baltimore Fishbowl, December 14, 2022.
4. Siobhan Hagan, “WJZ’s ‘The Buddy Deane Show’ and ‘Shakedown'” marmia.org, Accessed January 31, 2023.
5. Laura Wexler, “The Messy Truth of The Real ‘Hairspray'” The Washington Post, September 17, 2003. https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/2003/09/17/the-messy-truth-of-the-real-hairspray/6be8c494-2ca1-42a1-bdee-fd3969d7fc90/
This blog post was written by Joana Stillwell, MARMIA’s AV Archivist.