Copacabana (1985 film)

Last updated
  • Musical
  • Romance
  • Comedy
Based onCharacters from the song "Copacabana" by Barry Manilow, Bruce Sussman and Jack Feldman
Written by James Lipton
Directed by Waris Hussein
Music by
  • Barry Manilow
  • Bruce Sussman
  • Jack Feldman
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
Executive producers
Producer R.W. Goodwin
Cinematography Bobby Byrne
EditorMichael Jablow
Running time96 minutes
Production company Dick Clark Productions
Original networkCBS
Picture formatColor
Audio format Mono
Original releaseDecember 3, 1985 (1985-12-03)

Copacabana is a 1985 American made-for-television musical film based on the 1978 song of the same title by Barry Manilow, and starred Manilow himself, in his acting debut, as Tony, an aspiring songwriter, and Annette O'Toole as Lola, an aspiring singer who falls in with the wrong crowd. [1]


The film premiered on CBS on December 3, 1985. At the 38th Primetime Emmy Awards, the film was nominated for Outstanding Achievement in Choreography (Grover Dale) and Outstanding Directing in a Variety or Music Program (Hussein), and won for the latter. [2]

A soundtrack album, Copacabana: The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Album , was released. The film also inspired a 1990 stage show at Caesars Atlantic City, as well as a 1994 musical of the same name.


The film's story is told in flashbacks from 1978 to 1948, and back again. In 1978, a woman named Lola Lamar patronizes the Copacabana lounge in Manhattan, which in that year was being operated as a discotheque. There, outfitted in worn wardrobe that was new in the middle-to-late 1940s, when she had originally obtained it, she drinks rather heavily and remembers happier days thirty years ago, when she was far younger.

In 1948, wannabe singer Lola meets aspiring songwriter Tony Starr when both are contestants on a radio show. Tony is immediately smitten with Lola and assists her flailing attempts to break into show business. At Manhattan's Copacabana lounge, both start finding fame. However, fate steps in and Lola is swept to Havana to work in a splashy night club act where she is convinced she will find her stardom, while Tony finds his own career gaining speed at the Copa. But Lola's new mentor and boss, Rico Castelli, demands a heavy price for elevating Lola's career, resulting in conflict, drama and eventually Tony's accidental murder at Lola's hands, during a battle for the gun.

The setting returns to 1978 after the depiction of Tony's accidental murder at Lola's hands. The now-aged Lola, thoroughly drunk, has a vision of a younger version of herself and Tony dancing on the dancefloor.



Dick Clark approached Manilow and cowriters Bruce Sussman and Jack Feldman, persuading them to develop a musical film around the song. Directed by Waris Hussein and written by James Lipton, the film features a handful of newly composed songs by Manilow.


The soundtrack album was released by RCA Records.

Nine songs were written specifically for the film. [3]

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  1. "Copacabana Cast & Crew". Yahoo. Retrieved January 7, 2007.
  2. "Copacabana". Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.
  3. "Copacabana (TV) Soundtrack".