After the death of Muhammad Ali, the world continues to mourn his skills in the ring, on the screen, and in the culture at large. But the legendary boxer also featured in the 1969 Broadway musical Buck White.
Ali was suspended from the ring for not joining the army while the Vietnam War waged, and it was during this time he starred for five days in Oscar Brown Jr. and Jean Pace’s adaptation of Joseph Dolan Tuotti’s play Big Time Buck White.
In a New York Times review partially titled “Champion Does Himself Well,” Clive Barnes wrote, “Muhammad Ali, also known as Cassius Clay for stage purposes, is heavyweight champion of the world, by right and dignity if not by name, and he is beautiful. Buck White, the new musical that opened at the George Abbott Theater last night, is not quite so beautiful, and this is a pity.”
He was slightly more kind about Ali’s performance. “He emerges as a modest, naturally appealing man,” Barnes said. “He sings with a pleasant slightly impersonal voice, acts without embarrassment and moves with innate dignity.”
Ali appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show to perform numbers from the musical. Watch one of them below (via Hesherman.com).