Ethel Merman, Live at the Plaza Hotel, 1979

PalJoey
Broadway Legend
joined:3/11/04


13 minutes and 22 seconds from a PBS broadcast in the January 1979, live from the Grand Ballroom of New York City's Plaza Hotel (misidentified on the YouTube link as the Waldorf-Astoria).

She ends it at the 10:45 point with a powerhouse rendition of "Everything's Coming Up Roses" that gives a hint of what she must have been like 20 years earlier in Gypsy.

http://youtu.be/UUGkFDQ42hA




yr pal,
joey




Blocked so far: suestorm, Master Bates
Updated On: 4/19/14 at 09:23 PM
Sally Durant Plummer
Stand-by
joined:8/15/13
Wow. Thank you so much for this. You always post the best things. She was such a force to be reckoned with. Love the softer side she shows with that memory of Gershwin. What it must have been like to see her perform live.
SweetLips
Broadway Star
joined:1/23/13
Double WOW. I don't usually swear but that was fcuken unbelieveable-how she got those notes with such power, and no mics.-I was enthralled.....Thank you.
madbrian
Broadway Legend
joined:6/1/06
And the audience rising to their feet for her meant a lot more in 1979 than it would today.
"It does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are 20 gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket, nor breaks my leg." -- Thomas Jefferson
morosco
Broadway Legend
joined:7/10/04
She loved that dress.
PalJoey
Broadway Legend
joined:3/11/04
Why not. The dress works.
yr pal,
joey




Blocked so far: suestorm, Master Bates
lovebwy
Broadway Star
joined:4/22/12
This is spectacular. Thank you for posting.

What an absolute crime that there is no footage of her doing Rose's Turn. No one ever thought "We should maybe make a quick film of the greatest moment in the history of Broadway". It's crazy!!

I love the way she addressed the crowd as "The point I'm trying to make is this, ladies and gentlemen..."

She reminds me of my late great brassy Brooklyn raised grandmother. I think that's partly why I love her so much.

"Ya nevah change a note, in a Goishwin tune..."
buddy 11432
Chorus Member
joined:3/8/08
I did see Merman in "Gypsy" in 1960. Agree that she still had it 20 years after "Gypsy," especially with "Everythings Coming Up Roses." But you do lose the context of the song. As we know, it's not an uplifting song, rather Mama Rose has shifted her focus to her older daughter as a potential meal ticket. Glad Ethel included "Small World" because her performance in "Gypsy" was not all brass; she had many fine quiet, funny moments as well. Thanks for posting. It brings back great memories. Hard to believe that Ethel was only 52 when I saw "Gypsy."
lovebwy
Broadway Star
joined:4/22/12
Someone who'd seen the Merm in Gypsy told me he didn't know too much about musicals when he saw it. He was on leave from the military and given tickets. He said when he saw her sing Small World, he "melted". Not really an experience you'd expect to hear about a Merman performance, but you can see some of her warmth here.

GavestonPS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/10/12
^^^^Jack Klugman (original Herbie) told a similar story from his audition with Merman. He wasn't a singer and knew it, and threatened to walk out if Merman started belting so he couldn't be heard.

I don't know which ballad they sang, but he said he was shocked at how tenderly and sweetly she sang it.
GavestonPS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/10/12
"What it must have been like to see her perform live."

I was 12 and siting in the very last row on the far aisle house-right when I saw CALL ME MADAM. (No, not the original; the mid-60s tour.)

There was little amplification yet I heard every word. Her personality was big enough (but not too big for the character) that I might as well have been sitting 5th row center.

I used to tell students that seeing Ethel Merman live had much of the excitement of a heavily amped rock concert today. It's not a perfect analogy, but it does explain some of her appeal.


Updated On: 4/19/14 at 09:31 PM
alterego
Broadway Legend
joined:6/5/03
Sensational. Watching this really makes you long for a type of Broadway that is long gone.
Ed_Mottershead
Broadway Legend
joined:10/20/05
I was so lucky to have seen the Merm in the original Gypsy in 1959. When she yelled "Sing Out, Louise!" from the audience before her first entrance, the audience went wild. Never, never, never was there anyone to compare with her and I've seen most of the Mamma Roses since the original -- only Patti LuPone came close. All the others were good, quite good in some instances, but the Merm was the greatest. I get all teary just thinking about it -- she was Broadway personified.
BroadwayEd
hushpuppy
Broadway Star
joined:11/13/04

For some reason, she gives the address of the Gershwins' building as 74th and Riverside, but it's actually 33 Riverside Drive, which is at 75th and Riverside. There is a small plaque on the 75th Street side of the 1927 building indicating that George and Ira Gershwin lived there during the period they wrote GIRL CRAZY. LET THEM EAT CAKE, and OF THEE I SING . I guess the Merm never had seen the Woolworth Building, since she says she had never seen anything as tall as the Gershwins' building, which is only 17 stories tall.

And she refers to Astoria as being on Long Island, but, as we all know, it's in Queens (which is technically on long Island, but c'mon, who refers to it as such?). But it's a great story nevertheless.

Every morning when I go for my pre-dawn walk in Riverside Park, I look up at #33 and think of the wonderful parties that must've happened there, the glamorous stars that sang around the piano, and all the glorious music that was composed in that penthouse. So glad the building is still there as a link to the past.


33 Riverside Drive

'Our whole family shouts. It comes from us livin' so close to the railroad tracks'
lovebwy
Broadway Star
joined:4/22/12
Ed_Mottershead your post about the Merm moves me. Consider yourself very lucky to have seen her in Gypsy. She played her final performance of Dolly 6 months after I was born. I never had the chance to see her live and I never will.

I watch these old tapes of her and am overwhelmed by the sheer talent. What performer under 50 has what Merman had? Patti has come close at times, but I can't think of a single person who is up and coming who has it.

I recently watched that girl from Glee attempt to do You Are Woman I Am Man from Funny Girl. If THAT'S what passes for talent these days, I'll just take the check, thank you!

Here is a fun Youtube find. Ethel and Random House publisher Bennett Cerf for Braniff Airlines!
Braniff Airways "Bennett Cerf & Ethel Merman"
hushpuppy
Broadway Star
joined:11/13/04
Thanks, lovebwy, that's a great clip. You have to wonder if Merman jumped at the chance to make a commercial for a rival of her ex-husband Bob Six's Continental Airlines. In those pre-deregulation days, all the airline bosses knew each other, so someone at Braniff had to know that the Merm and Six had gone through an acrimonious divorce in 1960.
'Our whole family shouts. It comes from us livin' so close to the railroad tracks'
ClapYo'Hands
Broadway Legend
joined:11/29/09
So amazing. Who else could hit those notes (especially "I've talked about is duuuueeeee!") like her?
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StageStruckLad
Featured Actor
joined:3/13/13
The holy grail of Ethel videos that I've actually seen (as opposed to long-lost ones like her Annie Get Your Gun TV broadcast) is her singing "Everything's Coming Up Roses" for some JFK event at Madison Square Garden. She apparently arrived late, still wearing her Mama Rose costume and didn't have time to get into a ball gown. So she sang the song in costume as Rose. It's a pretty upbeat rendition, not too scary, but it's the closest we'll ever have to seeing her in costume singing that song. It used to be available on some government web site, but I haven't been able to find it for years. I wish it would magically show up on You Tube so I could download it!
PalJoey
Broadway Legend
joined:3/11/04



Here's a photo, but I've never seen video footage:

yr pal,
joey




Blocked so far: suestorm, Master Bates
beaemma
Stand-by
joined:11/24/09
According to her autobiography, Merman performed in her travel clothes at the JFK event. The photo doesn't show her costume from GYPSY. The plaid coat in GYPSY was a completely different style, and she did not wear it at the end of the show. I saw Ethel Merman in the ANNIE GET YOUR GUN revival, HELLO DOLLY, and in concert. These remain some of my most treasured and vivid theatre memories. She was unique, exciting, and unforgettable. She deserves a new adjective; she was Mermanesque!
PalJoey
Broadway Legend
joined:3/11/04
yr pal,
joey




Blocked so far: suestorm, Master Bates
east side story
Leading Actor
joined:4/21/11
Ask and you shall receive.
lovebwy
Broadway Star
joined:4/22/12
OMG! Thank you to whomever uploaded that, and to Pal Joey for posting it. I'm so excited I'm shaking! Absolutely thrilling to see her perform that in 1961.

As much as sometimes this board can be snarky and mean, I really love that I have a place to come celebrate people like La Merman, who left us 30 years ago now. Thank you all.

Here she is doing the same song for President Reagan 20 years later. I really do miss the time when performers could put petty partisan politics aside and respect the office of the Presidency. The Merm campaigned for Nixon in 1960, but knew it was the RIGHT thing to do when Kennedy called. She campaigned for her old friend Ronald Reagan in 1980, and then performed at HIS inauguration as well.

"Everythings comin up sunshine and jelly beans". LOL.
Ethel Merman sings for Ronald Reagan
SweetLips
Broadway Star
joined:1/23/13
PJ I watched and listened to that clip very closely and it is un-noticable where Ms Merman takes a breath. Some singers seem to gulp for a breath before a note/phrase but her phrasing is seamless. Julie Andrews used to worry me as her 'breathing' was very noticable but Ms Merman seems to carry her voice with great support from the diaphram--any of that make sense?
PalJoey
Broadway Legend
joined:3/11/04


"BREATHING? Who the hell has time to BREATHE when you're singing? Breathing is what you do AFTER the show, in a BAR, over a cocktail!"

yr pal,
joey




Blocked so far: suestorm, Master Bates
SweetLips
Broadway Star
joined:1/23/13
Not the type of answer I was expecting, but it was humorous, perhaps a voice teacher might explain.

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