Jerry Herman (1931-2019)

I was sorry to hear of the death of famed Broadway composer and lyricist, JERRY HERMAN  .

I’m sure Jerry Herman didn’t know that when he wrote HELLO DOLLY  in 1964 and MAME in 1966 that he would be providing employment for many vintage Hollywood  stars.

Carol Channing was the original star of Hello Dolly  and Angela Lansbury was the first Mame . The two shows had such long runs, both on Broadway and on tour that many stars played the roles, including Ginger Rogers, Jane Russell,  Celeste Holm, Ethel Merman, Pearl Bailey, Dorothy Lamour, Eve Arden, Betty Grable, Ann Miller, Mary Martin, Martha Raye, Yvonne De Carlo, Ann Sothern.

 

Ginger Rogers as Dolly.

 

Betty Grable

 

Mary Martin………Martha Raye

 

Eve Arden

 

Ann Miller……….Ethel Merman (for whom the role was originally intended, but she turned it down).

 

Carol Channing

 

Dorothy Lamour

 

Pearl Bailey

 

Gower Champion

  • Well known for his  MGM musicals with his wife, Marge Champion, Gower Champion had  become a  stage director/choreographer, and was responsible for directing Hello Dolly.

 

Yvonne De Carlo

 

Hello Dolly was based on Thornton Wilder’s 1955 play, THE MATCHMAKER which was filmed with Shirley Booth as Dolly Levi.

Paul Ford, Shirley Booth.

 

My Dolly was Dora Bryan who was very good but I did long to see one of the Hollywood stars!

For all things Dolly, there is a fine website, callondolly.com

 

 

Oh to have seen Susan Hayward as MAME.

 

Celeste Holm, who took over from Angela Lansbury as Mame  on Broadway.

Jerry Herman wanted Judy Garland  to take over from Angela , and he rehearsed with Judy but the producers decided Judy couldn’t sustain a Broadway run.

Jerry said, “Whenever I’ve had to write a real hit-em-in-the-gut show tune, I always pictured it in the voice of Judy Garland.”

The dramatic highlight of MAME  was the lovely song “If He Walked Into My Life”. Jerry said,

“I didn’t write ‘If he walked into my Life’to be a popular song hit. I was amazed when I heard Eydie Gorme sing this exquisite torch song – she didn’t change one note or word that Angela Lansbury was singing every night on  stage.”

 

The “Mame” I saw in London 1969, GINGER ROGERS. What a thrill that was.

 

Angela Lansbury was deprived of the opportunity of memorialising her performance as ‘Mame’ when Lucille Ball was cast in the film version in 1974 which wasn’t well received.

There was a rumour that Bette Davis wanted to play the acid-tongued Vera Charles in the film .

 

And the original ‘Auntie Mame’, Rosalind Russell. (1958).

 

MACK AND MABEL, written in  1974 ,  was the Herman show that never quite made it. It was a love story about the beginning of Hollywood, with Robert Preston as Mack Sennett and Bernadette Peters as Mabel Normand. The score is amazing , with beautiful songs like “I Won’t Send Roses” and “Time Heals Everything.”

  • As with Hello Dolly, Gower Champion directed Mack and Mabel.
  • Robert Preston, Bernadette Peters

Of the show’s failure on Broadway (only 65 performances) Jerry said, “It was heartbreaking for me to have it not really work.”

Musical historian Miles Kreuger commented, I think MACK AND MABEL , with a totally different book, could be a triumph.”

I was lucky enough to see a London revival of the show, and found myself sitting in the row behind Jerry Herman at a preview. When I tapped his shoulder at the interval and said how much I loved his songs, he gave me a hug!
I agree  entirely with Miles Kreuger. With a much lighter plot, Herman’s score deserved as much success as his three great successes, Hello Dolly, Mame and La Cage Aux  Folles.

“Mack and Mabel “ had quite a sombre  mood, with the heroine on drugs and dying at the end.  Being faithful to the real life characters didn’t sit well with audiences.

I bet folk remember Torvill  and Dean winning the 1982 World Ice Dance Skating Championship using Herman’s  music from Mack And Mabel.

Christopher Dean, Jayne Torvill

 

 

 

I also attended MACK AND MABEL IN CONCERT at Drury Lane London in 1988. Another opportunity to see Jerry Herman in person as he helped introduce all the performers.
Highlights were Georgia Brown singing “Time Heals Everything”; Denis Quilley’s “I won’t Send Roses” and Tommy Tune in a spectacular “Tap Your Troubles Away.”

The concert was captured on record. Great memories.

 

George Hearn, Gene Barry in LA CAGE AUX FOLLES (1983).Jerry saw the French film, La Cage Aux Folles and decided, “That’s going to be my next musical”

I was fortunate to see George Hearn in La Cage  in London, with Denis Quilley in the Gene Barry role.

 

 

On his own musical back ground, Jerry said, “I was so fortunate to have parents who loved musical theatre. I saw Ethel Merman in ANNIE GET YOUR GUN belting out those Irving Berlin songs, and I was able to come home and play 3 or 4 songs , that I had never heard before, on my mother’s piano.

It really changed my life.”

 

I love the lyrics of a song Jerry wrote for a  musical revue, A Day in Hollywood, A Night in the Ukraine” (1979)

Need to relax, need to escape,

Go see Fay Wray in the paw of an ape,

     Watch Errol Flynn shooting his bow,just go to the 

Movies, just go to a picture show……

 

The melodies live on. A great talent.

 

ON THE SET 45

Rita Hayworth, Director Charles Vidor. GILDA

 

Having a break on the set of I REMEMBER MAMA.

Irene Dunne,  Steve Brown (who only made two films  – I Remember Mama and The Outriders),  Barbara O’Neill .

 

Ronald Colman  visits Claude Rains (looking different!), Olivia De Havilland and George Brent on the set of GOLD IS WHERE YOU FIND IT. (1938).  Never heard of this one.

 

 

1939

Robert Taylor, Director Norman Z. Leonard, Greer Garson, Lew Ayres . REMEMBER? Does anyone remember this one?

 

Decorated directors chair from William Wyler to first time director John Huston on The Maltese Falcon, with Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor and Walter Huston.

 

Rudolph  Mate directs Robert Mitchum  and Linda Darnell in SECOND CHANCE.

 

Director Jack Conway, Jean Harlow, Clark Gable.SARATOGA.

 

Director Elia Kazan, James Dunn, Ted Donaldson, Dorothy McGuire.A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN.

And Peggy Ann Garner!

 

William Powell, Myrna Loy, Director Robert Z. Leonard. THE GREAT ZIEGFELD.

 

Barbara Stanwyck, Ray Milland. CALIFORNIA (1947)

IT’S THE ‘20s AGAIN‼️🎉🎉

 

Gershwin at the piano and his song,”I’d Rather Charleston” sung by Fred and Adele Astaire. No film but still wonderful to hear it.( From LADY BE GOOD, London 1926.)


A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR TO EVERYONE. HEALTH AND HAPPINESS in 2020.

And now that it is the ‘20s again, LET’S CHARLESTON‼️

 

 

 

 

TEA FOR TWO(1950)

 

Eddie Nugent, Joan Crawford. OUR DANCING DAUGHTERS. 1928

 

The ‘Charleston’ was  a song written In 1923 by James Johnson and Cecil Mack for the Broadway show, “Runnin’ Wild”. ( sung by Elizabeth Welch). And the name did originate from the town of Charleston in South Carolina.

This new, jazzy dance was frowned upon, “Any lover of the beautiful will die rather than be associated with the Charleston.” (A vicar in Bristol, 1926)

 

A Charleston competition in London , and prizes to be presented by Fred and Adele Astaire who were in London starring in LADY BE GOOD.

 

 

IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE.

 

 

And why not let’s cut  rug and do the Leg of Mutton Rag!

 

 

“I SAW STARS….in the 40s and 50s”

Just discovered this lovely book from 2005 by life long film fan Eddie Garrett (1927-2010) who lived in Los Angeles and hung around the studios and radio stations, snapping stars with his trusty little Brownie camera.

The photos Eddie took are not the best quality but they reflect a time when a star could be approached and would have their picture taken by a fan.
Eddie Garrett became a nightclub impressionist and did some acting too, appearing as a semi-regular on the TV show Quincy M.E. which starred his good friend,Jack Klugman.

Eddie commented , “ After school and during the summers, knowing where the major radio and film studios were located, I took to hanging out at the Artists Entrances and Parking Lots to try and ‘catch’ the stars and asked to take their pictures.

Of course in those days stars were very willing to have their picture taken.”

 

I was half way through the book before I realised that not one female star was featured among the 148 photos! No reason given.

He snapped SO many stars – Fred MacMurray, Ray Milland, Danny Kaye, Fritz Feld, Herbert Marshall, Jeff Chandler, Robert Mitchum, Bob Hope, Scott Brady, Dana Andrews –  the list goes on!

Unfortunately, the photos aren’t dated. And wouldn’t we love to know what films or radio shows the stars were working on.

This is a unique and valuable collection and I am glad Eddie chose to share them with the public.

And here’s a selection:

 

Eddie Garrett

 

 

Barry Sullivan

”I worked with Barry Sullivan in an episode of Quincy M.E., a show in which I proudly played  the photographer out of the Los Angeles County Coroners Office.”

 

Gary Cooper

 

 

 

Alan Ladd

I snapped Alan Ladd at the Mocambo Night  Club on Sunset Blvd. I had to wade through a bevy of female fans to get this shot…..and his charming smile.”

 

William Conrad

 

 

Edward G. robinson

“Edward G. Robinson was very friendly, humble and most obliging to my request.”

 

Cecil B. De Mille

”I took this picture inside the ‘De Mille Gate’ between RKO and Paramount. From time to time I saw him arriving at the CBS Playhouse Theater on Vine Street where he was host and director of Lux Radio Theater.”

 

 

Ted De Corsia

“When I asked Ted if I could snap his picture, he replied  by doing one of his gangster style voices. I was taken aback, but it only lasted a moment. He started laughing because he knew he had frightened me. Then he said, ‘Ok, kid. Take my picture!”

 

John Derek

l took this photo of John Derek outside the Paramount studios.”

 

Tom Drake

”Tom Drake was standing in front of one of the sound stages of MGM.”
(Tom’s real name was Alfred Alderdice).

 

Louis Hayward (born Seafield Grant)

 

Van Heflin

”Van Heflin was very cordial and seemed to be flattered that I wanted to snap his picture.”

 

John Dehner

”I took this picture of John Dehner outside the CBS radio studios. He was out of breath coming from NBC but consented to stop and allow me time to take his photo.”

 

 

Cary Grant

”In later years I answered an automobile ad in a Los Angeles newspaper and much to my surprise, it was Cary’s Mercury Covertible…..I bought it….a great car!”

 

Eddie with Jack Klugman