Sunday, January 16, 2011

Ethel M

I've seen movies and heard recordings of Ethel Merman, whose birthday is today, and I have to admit much or her charm escapes me.  I have a theory.  She was a huge Broadway star, but never made it in movies.  Her voice was a clarion, which must have been thrilling in the theatre, especially in the days before microphones.  However, the more intimate medium of film negated her greatest strength.

But there's no denying that she made a difference, starring in shows like Anything Goes, Annie Get Your Gun, Gyspy and so many others.  She probably introduced more standards from the Great American Songbook than any other woman.

Here's an anthem from Annie Get Your Gun, "There's No Business Like Show Business," that Ethel later reprised in a movie of the same name. (I've heard rumors they originally needed a song in one to change the sets, but haven't been able to confirm.)

Back in the 30s, they didn't record cast albums, so we're lucky to have a TV version of "Friendship," originally from Du Barry Was A Lady.

And I don't know who's putting out this material, but this is from a live recording of Gypsy.

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