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.
Mary Martin………Martha Raye
Ann Miller……….Ethel Merman (for whom the role was originally intended, but she turned it down).
- 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.
Hello Dolly was based on Thornton Wilder’s 1955 play, THE MATCHMAKER which was filmed with Shirley Booth as Dolly Levi.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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)
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.
And why not let’s cut rug and do the Leg of Mutton Rag!
IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE❗️
You don’t get casts like this anymore. Stars and great supporting performers.
How many can you identify and who is missing!
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:
”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.”
”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.”
“Edward G. Robinson was very friendly, humble and most obliging to my request.”
”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.”
“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!”
l took this photo of John Derek outside the Paramount studios.”
”Tom Drake was standing in front of one of the sound stages of MGM.”
(Tom’s real name was Alfred Alderdice).
”Van Heflin was very cordial and seemed to be flattered that I wanted to snap his picture.”
”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.”
”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!”