Ethel Merman: The Biggest Star on Broadway Released Sept. 25
Published by Barricade Legends/Barricade Books Inc., Geoffrey Mark's book is "in-depth portrait (that) details her career, marriages, affairs and her children. It includes a complete glossary of all of Merman's appearances," according to Amazon. The star penned two volumes of reminiscences herself--1955's Who Could Ask for Anything More and 1979's Merman: An Autobiography, and a 1985 biography by Bob Thomas is called I Got Rhythm: The Ethel Merman Story.
Born Ethel Zimmermann in Astoria, Queens in 1908, Merman rocketed to fame in the Gershwins' Girl Crazy in 1930; she reportedly stopped the show nightly with her brazen belt and ability to hold a note for 16 bars during "I Got Rhythm." In the thirties and early forties, she would star in a string of hit shows, with five of them by Cole Porter--Anything Goes (one of her biggest hits), Red Hot and Blue, DuBarry was a Lady, Panama Hattie and Something for the Boys. Two shows with scores by Irving Berlin--Annie Get Your Gun and Call Me Madam--were big successes, with the former her longest-running show and the latter netting her a Tony Award. Merman shocked audiences and critics in 1959 by revealing untapped dramatic powers as Rose in Gypsy, the show for which she is best known today. She has previously been known only for her powerhouse voice and comic skils.
Merman worked sporadically in Hollywood but never broke out as a screen star--perhaps due to her outsized presence and unconventional looks. Her film credits include Anything Goes, Call Me Madam (the only two movies in which she recreated screen roles), We're Not Dressing, Alexander's Ragtime Band, There's No Business Like Show Business and Airplane (in which she made a self-parodying cameo). Merman, who received a Special Tony Award in 1972, passed away in 1984.
Ethel Merman: The Biggest Star on Broadway is listed at $24.95, but can be pre-ordered on Amazon at $16.47.