Today on “Days to Remember” we celebrate Ethel Merman’s debuted on Broadway on October 14th 1930, in “Girl Crazy.”
For more than fifty years singer and actress Ethel Merman was a beloved legend of stage and screen. 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. Merman went on to star in a dozen more stage musicals and numerous films and continued to perform into her seventies.
Who was Ethel Merman?
Ethel Merman was born Ethel Agnes Zimmermann in Astoria, a suburb of New York City, on January 16, 1909. She later shortened her name to Merman.
In high school Merman trained to be a secretary; even in later life, she insisted on taking her own notes at business meetings and handling her own correspondence.
She became the secretary to the president of a New York City company, who had connections in the entertainment industry.
He gave her a letter of introduction to George White, a theatrical producer. White offered Merman a place in the chorus line of Scandals, a long-running and highly popular Broadway revue; amazingly, she turned down this break because she preferred to sing.
Merman continued to work as a secretary, but also began to sing at nightclubs. While singing at the Little Russia club, agent Lou Irwin noticed Merman and signed her to a six-month contract at Warner Brothers’ New York studio.
If you never heard Ethel Merman sing before, today’s YouTube video brought to you by user name (Jazzy Classics) is the 1954 Soundtrack of Irving Berlin’s movie called, “There’s No Business. Like Show Business.” As we celebrate on October 14th 1930, how Ethel Merman’s career took off when she did the movie called, “Girl Crazy.”
Merman began to become forgetful with advancing age, and on occasion, had difficulty with her speech. At times her behavior was erratic, causing concern among her friends.
On April 7, 1983, she was preparing to leave for Los Angeles to appear on the 55th Academy Awards telecast, when she collapsed in her apartment. Merman was taken to Roosevelt Hospital, where doctors initially thought she had suffered a stroke. However, after undergoing exploratory surgery on April 11, Merman was diagnosed with stage 4 glioblastoma.
The New York Times reported that she underwent brain surgery to have the tumor removed, but in fact, it was inoperable and her condition was deemed terminal and was given eight and half months to live.
On February 15, 1984, 10 months after she was diagnosed with brain cancer, Merman died at her home in Manhattan at the age of 76, but along with that vibrant voice she had, what a marvelous career she had, as we remember Ethel Merman today on Days’ to Remember.
Written & Designed by JD Mitchell