“Beach Blanket Babylon” — with its trademark San Francisco hat — celebrated with its final performance after 45 years on New Year’s Eve. (Ming Vong/S.F. Examiner)

San Francisco bids farewell to ‘Beach Blanket Babylon’

Beloved hat-filled show ends 45-year run

Bye, bye “Beach Blanket Babylon!”

On New Year’s Eve, San Francisco’s beloved, zany, costume-filled musical revue concluded its final performance after a record-breaking 45-year run at Club Fugazi in North Beach.

After the clock struck midnight, Jo Schuman Silver, wife of creator Steve Silver, who died in 1995, was on hand to greet notable guests including Gov. Gavin Newsom, The City’s chief of protocol Charlotte Mailliard Shultz and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — who also happened to be a biker chick character in the show with an applause-getting line about impeachment.

The evening also featured appearances by Willie Brown (who made a royal entrance wearing a crown and robe) and maestro Michael Tilson Thomas, a gleeful longtime fan of the production who warbled for the glammed-up crowd.

Still, the biggest stars of funny, sweet show are its longstanding characters: Snow White, who, on her journey to meet her prince, encounters Glinda the Good Witch, Mr. Peanut, Louis XIV (and his backup crew of poodles), Oprah Winfrey, James Brown, Tina Turner, Elvis Presley and Madonna. Snow also crosses paths with current pop culture heroes, including Barack and Michelle Obama, Colin Kaepernick, Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Kamala Harris, Miley Cyrus, Kellyanne Conway, Ted Cruz, Stormy Daniels and, of course, our current president and his brood, the “Von Trump Family,” singing a revamped “Do Re Mi” with specially written lyrics.

After being seen by more than 6 million patrons and 17,000 performances, Tuesday’s final run also boasted a unique black-and-white costumed opening homage to “My Fair Lady” and a short film of “BBB” mastermind Steve Silver talking about the show’s ragtag origins and thanking his mentor Cyril Magnin.

The audience included old friends, too. Jim Van Buskirk, a San Francisco resident who was at the very first show —“I was dating the poodle,” he said — called the occasion “historic and poignant.”

And as the crowd sang to “San Francisco” for the last time in lively yet slightly bittersweet moment, Tammy Nelson wore the trademark gargantuan you-have-to-see-it-to-believe-it San Francisco hat, a state-of-the-art version with a glowing Salesforce Tower in the skyline.


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Jo Schuman Silver, left, and Charlotte Mailliard Shultz visit at “Beach Blanket Babylon’s” historic last show. (Ming Vong/S.F. Examiner)

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