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WHATEVER HAPPENED TO?


Guest Kfend

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Guest k, sandy

Martha, according to the Internet Movie Database CALL ME MADAM is not available on video or dvd. It was produced by 20th Century Fox, but you might try requesting it on TCM. I didn't even know that there was a film version of this musical! Ethel Merman originally starred in it on Broadway-interesting that she repeats her role on film. She usually didn't get the chance to. Two of her biggest Broadway successes-Annie Get Your Gun and Gypsy-went to other stars with more box-office clout. Rosalind Russell played Mama Rose in the film version of GYPSY, and Betty Hutton played Annie Oakley. (Although, Judy Garland was originally set to play the role on film.) Anyone out there who has seen CALL ME MADAM? I'm curious.

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Guest son, jery

"Call Me Madam" came out in the fifties, I think, and I saw it in our one movie palace in my tiny home town. the movie flopped big time. I heard the script had to be watered down for 50s audiences and Ethel Merman was just too over the top. Judy Garland was originally cast but--here we go again--she had a breakdown. I liked Ethel in her cameo appearances, like "Alexander's Ragtime Band," where she was great. But she across as too brassy and harsh, I think, to many people to carry a major role. She was a perfect stage performer. On film, she knocked everybody else out of the picture with that big, brassy voice!

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Guest K, Sandy

Thanks for the info, jeryson. You're probably right about Merman being just too big for films. God, what a voice, though! Thankfully, it will live on in the original Broadway cast recordings of her many stage roles. I wish that I had been able to see her perform live. Born too late. Back in the late 70's The Merm recorded a disco album! Yes, it is true--a friend gave it to me back in the early 80's. I still bring it to parties sometimes-it's a hoot! I was watching a biography of Susan Hayward on tv last night and they showed a clip of her as Helen Lawson from VALLEY OF THE DOLLS. Someone once told me that the character was based on Ethel Merman. Anyone know if there's any truth to that? Sandy K

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Guest son, jery

Sandy, here's the lowdown on the Valley of the Dolls thing. It's rumored that Ethel Merman had an affair with Mitzi Gaynor.In the book, the Helen Lawson character is portrayed as a swinging Bi-sexual. Any big star usually has over-sized appetites for everything: booze, food, egomania and sex. Who knows?

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Guest Christenson, Martha

I know the movie Call me Madam was made in the early 50's. I graduated in 51. I sang the duet she sang with Donald O'Conner while in High School. The title of the song was "You're just in Love." Had my 50th class reunion last year and can still remember all of the words.

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Guest K, Sandy

Ethel Merman and Mitzi Gaynor?! Was this during the filming of THERE'S NO BUSINESS LIKE SHOW BUSINESS where Mitzi plays Ethel's daughter? Shocking! Hey, they do perform that drag number, though, where they're dressed as sailors...hmmmm...

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Guest son, jery

Another little tidbit about THERE'S NO BUSINESS LIKE SHOW BUSINESS. Dan Daily, the father of this bouncing brood, was also notorious for dressing up in drag, as well, in real life. He was arrested, in fact, for appearing in public in female finery and make-up. I understand he was caught on the set of There's No business...dressed up in Ethel's great costume she wears in the finale number. He had been drinking and wasn't all that careful and someone found him, dressed up like la Merman! What fun they had back then!

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Guest K, Sandy

What?! Dan Daily, a cross-dresser? Do you think that Ethel was flattered that he chose her dress or angry that someone else had dared to touch her costume? ;) I wonder why Dan picked that gown. It had that weird neckline that I always thought looked like a big open mouth, ready to chomp Ethel's head off. You know, there's quite a bit of cross-dressing in films. Why, CALAMITY JANE is just rife with it! Of course, this coming from me, a woman who just played Victoria in Victor/Victoria! :) Sandy K

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Guest son, jery

Sandy, tell us more, more about Victor/Victoria! What a blast that must have been. Wasn't it confusing trying to get across someone who was one gender, pretending to be a member of another gender, and so on and so on! You're right about the cross dressing in musicals. The worst case was that horrendous Mickey Rooney take-off of "Carmen Miranda",in "Strike Up the Band." God, how nauseating. He tried so hard to show everyone he was really a man, impersonating a woman.Also, I've noticed that Gene Kelly was forever doing his female schtick--fluttering his hands, throwing a towel over his head, twisting his hips around--in "An American in Paris" and--I believe, "On the Town."

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Guest olmsted, l

Another great "cross-dressing" film is Pricsilla, Queen of the Desert. Although not "classic" in the sense of genre, it's definately a cult classic. Guy Pearce who is gorgeous as a man is just as beautiful as a drag queen! And his acting was superb.

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Guest K, Sandy

I tell you, I've always loved Julie Andrews, but I have so much more respect and admiration for her after playing Victoria myself. The character is in every scene of the show except one (that would be the Chicago scene with Norma's big number) and when she's not on stage, she's changing costumes! I wonder if performing that is what finally ruined Julie's voice. The role is extremely demanding vocally. Victoria sings in 8 or 9 numbers, most of them in a very low alto range, and then she has to go around hitting high notes and shattering glass. We used sugar glass, of course! The show was a lot of fun to perform-I enjoyed playing Victor immemsely. One night during the tango, my tuxedo pants started to fall down! The button had come off the top sometime during the quick change. Luckily, I had black tights on so you couldn't really see anything. My boyfriend was more worried than I was--he said that if my pants had fallen down all the way, the show would've had to end right there-my secret being revealed! It wasn't hard to play a woman pretending to be a man pretending to be a woman. The hardest part was keeping my hair slicked down. I've always had long hair and I cut it all off for the show. I had to practically shellac it! Hey, you're right about that Gene Kelly thing! It is kind of a shtick he has. I love Gene Kelly and I read in Esther Williams book that he was quite rude to her during TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL GAME. My heart sunk when I read that but I could see it. He has a cocky air about him. Thanks, jeryson & lolmsted for asking about Victor/Victoria. I feel silly blowing my horn about it. It wasn't a professional production. We have a lot of great theatre in Cleveland-so many opportunities for people to perform on every level. I work at a school of the arts in the theatre dept. So I do a bit of everything on both sides of the footlights. But acting is my first love. Have either of you done any theatre?

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Guest olmsted, l

Sandy, you're from Cleveland! My family is from there and we go every few months. Being in theatre, I love to check out community theatre often and I actually almost went to see Victor/Victoria when I was there last! Now I'm sorry I missed it.

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Guest son, jery

loved hearing about your hilarious experiences in "Victor/Victoria." I used to review community theater when I was a reporter in North CArolina and Montgomery, Alabama. Sometimes, their efforts were hard to sit through. But several times, I was knocked out of my seat. Especially, in Montgomery when they put on "Funny Girl." The star was a newcomer from New Jersey. She killed herself after the show closed. One of the critics said she sounded like a "sick moose." I thought she was fabulistic.

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Guest K, Sandy

lolmsted, what aspect of theatre are you involved in? Are your family west-siders or east-siders? An important question to all Clevelanders!:) I, myself, am from the east side!

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Guest K, Sandy

I've sat through my share of awful shows, too-usually in the name of friendship! What a sad story about the actress from "Funny Girl." That's a tough role to pull off. Barbra Streisand is so closely identified with the role, it's hard for audiences to accept anything else. I think that there are tactful ways to criticize without being personally insulting. Sandy K

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Guest K, Sandy

Priscilla is a good film. Much better than To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar. Guy Pearce IS quite handsome! I loved him in L.A. CONFIDENTIAL. And the PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT soundtrack always puts me in a party mood!

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Guest olmsted, l

My first love is acting and most of my experience is in that field, but I am familiar with all areas of theatre since that was my college major. I have family all over Cleveland. Most are in South Euclid, some in Shaker Heights, some in Lakewood. I plan on moving back someday, just need to decide where!

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Guest olmsted, l

Check out another film with Guy--Memento. The movie is one of the best to come out this year. I've never seen anything like it. The director/producer is an absolute genius. Also looking forward to the new Count of Monte Cristo with Guy Pearce. That's my favorite book so I hope the movie lives up to it.

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Not to forget the other Pierce who was perhaps the greatest drag queen of them all. Charles Pierce female impersonator extraordinaire was outrageous on stage as Bette Davis, Mae West, Tallulah Bankhead, Gloria Swanson, Joan Crawford, Carol Channing, Katharine Hepburn, Marlene Dietrich and so many others. He certainly was a HOOT!

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Charles Pierce was an actor and night club performer known as the Master and Mistress of Surprise and Disguise. He was hilarious, wicked and sometimes irreverent with his impression of film stars as noted in message #26. He even did "Mrs. Olsen" of the Folgers coffee commercial fame. He appeared in major cities throughout the United States and in London. He was a smash hit at the Town Hall in New York City. He appeared on TV talk/variety shows and in a handful of films including "Torch Song Trilogy" (1988). Videos exist of him especially his appearance on the Playboy channel performing a wonderful assortment of his characters. He was beloved by many celebrities during his lifetime. He died of cancer in 1999 at age 72.

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Guest K, Sandy

Thanks for the info on Charles Pierce, mongo. Sad that he is no longer with us. I'll have to check him out in TORCH SONG TRILOGY, which I've always wanted to see.

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