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A curtain call (often known as a walkdown or a final bow) occurs at the end of a performance when individuals return to the stage to be recognized by the audience for their performance. In musical theatre, the performers typically recognize the orchestra and its conductor at the end of the curtain call. Luciano Pavarotti holds the record for receiving 165 curtain calls, more than any other artist.
Use in film and television
In film and television, the term "curtain call" is used to describe a sequence at the end of the film and before the closing credits, in which brief clips, stills, or outtakes featuring each main character are shown in sequence with the actor's name captioned. This sequence results in a similar individual recognition of each actor by the audience as would occur in a stage curtain call. This is not common, but when seen is more common in films that are light-hearted and have many characters, or perhaps a long list of cameo appearances.
On occasion, long-running television series, particularly those filmed in front of a live audience, have featured a theater-style curtain call at the conclusion of their runs, with the cast breaking character and often showing the audience and crew. The final episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, entitled "The Last Show" was a famous example of this. Since then, this term has been, more or less, associated with the series finale of a particular show.
Sports curtain calls
Athletes who also perform well may return to the field of play after a big play or at the conclusion of the game for recognition. Professional baseball players usually take their cap or helmet by the brim and hold it in the air. According to baseball historian Peter Morris, in May 1881 Detroit fans cheered a home run by Charlie Bennett until he bowed to them.
On October 3, 1951, after Bobby Thomson hit the pennant-winning home run for the New York Giants in the ninth inning of the third game of the National League playoff, jubliant Giants fans swarmed the playing field of the Polo Grounds, running after the triumphant Giant players, who raced towards the clubhouse which was located in center field. Author Joshua Prager, in his definitive volume of Thomson's homer The Echoing Green, wrote, "(T)housands of fans hungry for a curtain call stood now outside a green clubhouse chanting 'We want Thomson!' We want Thomson!'" Several minutes later (about 15 minutes after the actual home run), "word reached Thomson that he was wanted outside, that only a curtain call might dissipate the stubborn throng (...) And so out Thomson went, wading through the packed clubhouse to its top outdoor step." New York Times sportswriter John Drebinger called the crowd's response "the most frenzied 'curtain calls' ever afforded a ballplayer."
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- Prager, Joshua (2006). The Echoing Green. New York: Vintage Books. pp. 235–36. ISBN 978-0-375-71307-1.