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Ethel Merman, THE musical-comedy star thats belting voice and brassy style entertained

Broadway and movie audiences for over 50 years. During the 'Golden Age' of music
theatre she shone the like the gem she was.
Even the finest composers, such as Porter, George and Ira Gershwin and Irving Berlin, all
loved Ethel Mermans power to belt it out. Back in her prime time when there was no
such thing as a microphone or sound control equipment in the theatre, Ethel could project
her voice against the most deafening of orchestras.
Her first musical appearance, in George and Ira Gershwin's Girl Crazy in 1930, resulted in
her instant rise from secretary and occasional club singer to Broadway singing sensation,
and earn't her a tony for her performance in Call Me Madam.
Her strong attitude and personality was a driving force for her performances in the theatre.
Elaine Stritch was once a stand-by for Ethel Merman for the musical Call Me Madam. In
Elaine Stritch: At Liberty, Elaine told a story illustrating Merman's showmanship and
attitude:
One night, while performing the song "Can You Use Any Money Today," a drunken
audience member kept calling out to Merman while she performed, annoying both the
audience and Merman herself. Finally, Merman got to the last line of the song, hit the first
three notes, and then stopped the song. She then walked off the stage, through the wings,
down the stairs and into the audience. She got to the drunken man, yanked him out of his
seat, dragged him up the center aisle and through the doors that led out of the theatre and
literally threw the man out into the street. She then walked back into the theatre, down the
center aisle, up the stairs, through the wings onto the stage, got to dead center and hit the
final note of the song as if nothing had happened.
In her more personal life, Thrice-wed Merman married twice-wed Ernest Borgnine in 1964.
Their marriage ended after 32 days. Move over Kim Kardashian. They had announced
their split at the iconic New York night spot P.J. Clarke's, but Borgnine, who was rising to
fame as the star of the movie McHale's Navy at the time, said the marriage began
unraveling on their honeymoon, when I {he} received more fan attention than she did.
However an interesting fact was that she was even sought after by Bertolt Brecht to play
the title role in his play Mother Courage... and her Children. Ethel modestly, but quite
accurately assessed her place in the music business- a business
that had changed irrevocably, never again to be what it once had been when we both rose
to fame.
Quote - I dont want to sound pretentious, but in a funny way I feel Im the last of a kind. I
dont mean that there arent some girls out there somewhere who are just as talented as I
was. But even if they are, where will they find the shows like Girl Crazy, Anything Goes,
Annie Get Your Gun, Call Me Madam and Gypsy? They just dont produce those vehicles
anymore.
For the remainder of her career, Merman worked as much as she could. In 1979, she
recorded The Ethel Merman Disco Album, with many of her signature show-stoppers set to
a disco beat. Her last screen role was a self-parody in the 1980 comedy film Airplane!.
Merman was definitely the most successful musical comedy performer of her generation.