“Our kids done good,” wrote Tulsa Tribune entertainment columnist Bill Donaldson. As critic he doesn’t pass out kudos indiscriminately in a city that, for its size, has a lot going for it culturally. “Our kids” are the World Action Singers of Oral Roberts University. The talented dozen’s Hollywood debut on the “Joey Bishop Show” was good enough to “make the home folks proud,” Donaldson said.
Early this month the Roberts group was back in Hollywood, taping hour-long TV specials certain to prompt some secular rave notices, along with some frowns from members of the evangelical old guard who might view it all as a bit too avant-garde, too hip. But so smart is the execution of the programs—amid much mediocrity in religious broadcasting—that they can’t help receiving notice in this month’s primetime premieres on 115 stations.
Wedding Hollywood techniques and a palpable presentation of a faith-healing ministry is no small feat. But with the distinctive lilt of the Ralph Carmichael Orchestra and the strictly mod style of the swinging World Action troupe, even those thinking it would be a mismatch came away believing the marriage would last. Producer Dick Ross of Billy Graham fame has let out the stops for his new client.
Roberts, hearing rehearsal accolades from numerous “studio bums” who while away many hours following the stars, insists “we’re not in show business—we’re only using the equipment.” But more than one hearer readily acknowledged that Roberts’s soloist son Richard, boosted into the limelight overnight, outcrooned special guest Pat Boone. And in their choreography ORU students slithered across the stage at a pace somewhere between Lawrence Welk and the cavorting on the Smothers Brothers program. The “Dean Martin Show” ...1
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