Ann Miller Stories?

WOSQ
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Ann Miller Stories?#0
Posted: 1/23/04 at 10:10am
We have all heard them. Can we try to put them in one place?

First off, Ann did have some self-awareness. She loved being the High Priestess of Camp. She also knew it was paying her bills. She was also enough of a pro to adjust her costuming as she aged. Specifically she would wear multiple pairs of tights to keep her famous legs solid-looking during her dances. I have heard that eventually it was as many as six. Smart girl.

But she was also famously daffy--not stupid, Ginger Rogers was stupid--but just ditzy.

--She once wrote on her tax forms under occupation, "STAR". Her advisor told her she couldn't do that so she amended it to read "STAR LADY".

--My favorite: Ann was at a concert in L.A. in 1970 marking the 10th anniversary of the passing of Oscar Hammerstein. She leaned over to her date, "Why isn't Oscar here with us tonight?"

He replied, "Annie, Oscar's been dead for ten years. That's why we're having this concert tonight"

Says Miss Miller, "Well how should I know? I've been out on the road in Mame!"

Who has more? We all know about falling down and breaking her hair....
"If my life weren't funny, it would just be true. And that would be unacceptable." --Carrie Fisher
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re: Ann Miller Stories?#1
Posted: 1/23/04 at 10:16am
I got one. She was being interviewed for the A&E Biography on Garland. While they were setting up, adjusting lights, etc., the interviewer remarked to Annie that Lucille Bremer, Garland's co-star in MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS, had just died that week.

Annie said "Oh, really? No, I hadn't heard that. That's a shame." Then she turned to her assistant and cracked, "You know who Lucille Bremer was, don't you? She was Arthur Freed's p**sy."

I love me a brassy broad. That can tap.
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re: Ann Miller Stories?#2
Posted: 1/23/04 at 10:20am
Ann is only peripherally involved in one of my favorites.

During the 1976 press junket for A STAR IS BORN, Barbra & Jon Peters (and whatever happened to HIM?) showed a clip of the film where Barbra is wearing a tuxedo. "I wore that because it is an empowering symbol of how far women have come in the world" said Streisand (I'm paraphasing a wee bit). At that, the late Arthur Bell leaned over to a colleague and cracked: "Who raised HER Women's Consciousness - Ann Miller?"
"Christ, Bette Davis?!?!"
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re: re: Ann Miller Stories?#3
Posted: 1/23/04 at 11:46am
I have two good ones:

During Sugar Babies, Mickey and Anne had a bit that they regularly did at one of their many curtain calls. However, one night, Mickey didn't do whatever it was that she was expecting, but left the stage.

Anne was a huff in the wings. "I can't believe he left me out there with cheese on my face!" she yelled in the wings.

The ASM hesitated for a moment, then summoned up the guts to correct her. "Actually, Ms. Miller, the expression is 'egg on your face.'"

Anne looked him dead in the face and said, "Egg. Cheese. It's all poultry."

But my favorite:

The cast of Sugar Babies was sitting around and as will happen, the subject turned to some very interesting subjects- one of which was FDS.

Anne couldn't figure out what they were talking about, so she asked about it. Someone explained that it was similar to regular deoderant, but instead of spraying under your arms, you spray "down below."

Anne looked horrified. "Oh, I couldn't do that," she exclaimed. "Then all my boyfriends would say that I didn't smell like the same old Annie!"
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re: re: re: Ann Miller Stories?#4
Posted: 1/23/04 at 12:37pm
A company member in SUGAR BABIES asked Annie if she was gonna work on Passover. Annie replied "Oh, no, Honey, I never do gameshows!"
PEACE.
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re: re: re: re: Ann Miller Stories?#5
Posted: 1/23/04 at 1:29pm
*gasp* Ginger wasn't stupid!!!!
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re: Ann Miller Stories?#7
Posted: 1/23/04 at 2:51pm

I immediately thought of the Forbidden Broadway number. Possibly from the original, since it was spoofing Sugar Babies. To the tune of That's Entertainment, Ann Miller sang about: "...when I killed L.B. Mayer by hitting him with my hair!"
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Ann Miller Stories?#8
Posted: 1/23/04 at 3:06pm

Does anyone remember the 1983 or '84 Grammy Awards, when Ann Miller and Mickey Rooney (still riding the Sugar Babies popularity) presented the award for best show album? They both seemed completely clueless about any of the nominees, and possibly about what they were doing there in the first place. I believe CATS won, but no one was present to accept. So they start calling out another nominee (LA CAGE AUX FOLLES), like they were going to go down the list till someone was present and that would be the winner. I remember Ann Miller looking out into the audience saying "La Cage [or Cats], are you here?"

Daffy is the word for it!
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re: Ann Miller Stories?#9
Posted: 1/23/04 at 6:49pm
This isn't remotely a howler, but it reveals the unique and subjective way she viewed (her role in) show biz.

She was a member of the Academy, who baldly and even proudly admitted she never actually SAW most of the movies nominated for the Oscars, or the knew one "kid" who starred in them from another. When pressed if it's fair to do so, she was clueless: "Oh honey, 'course I haveta' vote. I can't let all those kids down."
"I'm a comedian, but in my spare time, things bother me." Garry Shandling
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re: re: Ann Miller Stories?#10
Posted: 1/23/04 at 9:10pm
I have the Grammy Awards fiasco on tape somewhere. When Cats wins and there isn't anyone there to collect she says "Andrew Lloyd Webber? (long pause)...is he, or she here? (pause, embarrassed silence from crowd)no? no...it's a him I think"

Another, small wigs for matinees and big one's for evening shows.
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re: re: re: Ann Miller Stories?#11
Posted: 1/24/04 at 12:36am
This from the writer of Sugar Babies (who was my univ. Prof at the time)

Stepping out of the Plaza one evening a Central Park buggy trots by.

Annie: (Points)I once got laid in one of those.

Ralph: Really Miss Miller? Which one of your husbands was that?

Annie: HUSBAND? You think I'd marry someone who had to screw me in a carriage?
I'd fire you... if you weren't so g*dd*mn beautiful out there. - Blades of Glory blog
Updated On: 1/24/04 at 12:36 AM
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re: re: re: re: Ann Miller Stories?#12
Posted: 1/24/04 at 7:38am
Ann Miller didn't throw her money around. A friend of mine toured with Sugar Babies. One night Ann admired my friends false eyelashes. My friend explained she sent away for them to L.A. Ann sent her secretary down to the chorus dressing room with a couple of dollars asking my friend to get her a set next time she was ordering some. Four weeks later the lashes hadn't arrived, Ann sent the secretary down to get her $2 back!
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re: re: re: re: re: Ann Miller Stories?#13
Posted: 1/24/04 at 11:59am
Another one... from rlb's friend (small world, keeds)!

Annie on Vincente Minnelli: "That man wore more eye shadow that I did! He was so flaming, you wanted to shut all the windows to make sure he wouldn't fly away!"
"Christ, Bette Davis?!?!"
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re: re: re: re: re: Ann Miller Stories?#14
Posted: 6/27/20 at 11:12pm

Rhonda Burchmore, who played the Soubrette in the Australian and West End production of Sugar Babies, has released an episode of her YouTube series discussing working with Ann Miller.

Some hilarious stories about her dropping tissues across the stage before every performance to identity anything that might 'hinder' her performance and doing the Shakin the Blues Away routine at a New Year's Eve party. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n3KAV--U_2I

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re: re: re: re: re: Ann Miller Stories?#15
Posted: 6/28/20 at 12:09am

As I heard the "Where's Oscar?" story, it was only a couple of years after he died and Richard Rodgers was the guest of honor at the affair. Ann thought it odd that Rodgers' long-time collaborator wouldn't have come, so she asked "Where's Oscar?" It was pre-MAME, so her response to being told Oscar was dead was simply, "Oh, I've been on the road a long time!"

In the mid-1970s, I happened to catch her on one of the afternoon talk shows (Mike Douglas or Merv Griffin), where her co-star in a tour of PANAMA HATTIE told the story. The studio audience howled with laughter; Ann looked at the host and said, "I don't know why everyone finds that so funny, I HAD been on the road a long time!" Which of course only made the audience laugh even harder.

***

That tour of HATTIE opened at the theater where I was a PA in South Florida, so I worked with her for a short time. I agree with the poster above who said Ann wasn't stupid. I think she was just so focussed on whatever she was doing, that she didn't always have a good sense of what people were thinking around her, or even things that were "common knowledge" to everyone else.

(Ginger Rogers came through the following summer, BTW, and I didn't find her stupid either. I think performers who grew up in the studio system or touring in vaudeville were just fairly isolated back in the day. They had laser-like focus on anything to do with their performance, and not a lot of knowledge of anything else.)

Ann did indeed write "S T A R" as her occupation on her W2 form.

She used to coat her teeth with Noxema before her first entrance each night, to make her teeth "sparkle". I was never brave enough to try eating cold cream.

The Wig was carefully styled by her assistant and was present every moment Ann was on stage. Her actual hair was coal black and straight: beautiful, but not the "image" she had nurtured since her days at MGM.

No matter when a show was set nor the character she played, Ann always found a number in which to do her famous "100 taps in 60 seconds" (or whatever it was called). This involved ripping off her skirt, then executing a series of tap pirouettes from one wing to the other in a giant semi-circle. Someone here will know what movie that came from, but Ann took it with her, whether she was playing Hattie or Mame. (My terminology may be off, but if you ever saw the routine, it was unforgettable. And audiences exploded over it!)

Ann's co-star (not the one from the TV show above) used to have sex with his boyfriend up against the wall between his and Ann's dressing rooms after "half-hour" of each performance. The thumping was quite audible on Ann's side of the wall. Every time she had to kiss her leading man during the show, she would turn upstage afterwords and wipe her mouth on her sleeve.

Otherwise, she was generally lovely to co-workers in my experience and always ready to do extra work to promote the show. She made a grand entrance before the Latino Press Association and announced, "I'm so glad to be here for the members of the L.P.A. Some of my best friends are Latinos!" (That's what I mean: not stupid or malicious, but by 1976 most of us knew better than to say that.)

***

My own personal favorite Ann Miller encounter isn't funny and doesn't make her look bad. But a year or so after she did HATTIE with us, my producer was in negotiations with her to do another show in Florida. I had to call her at her home in LA about something, I forgot what decades ago.

Her mother (who lived with her) answered the phone in LA and I asked for Ann. Without covering the phone, mother screamed, "ANNNNNNNNNNIEEEEEEEEE!"

And I swear I heard "Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap ... tap, tap! Hello?" I later learned Ann had been rehearsing in the garage, but the moment was so perfectly "Ann Miller!" I was on the floor laughing by the time she picked up the receiver.

Updated On: 6/28/20 at 12:09 AM
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re: re: re: re: re: Ann Miller Stories?#16
Posted: 6/28/20 at 3:15am
I had a friend who did a show with Ann Miller years ago. It was like summer stock or something she was brought in for that show. When she got there she informed the company no one is to ever speak to me, no wants to ever touch me. One night the set caught her costume and drug her across the stage. No one touched her.

She got what she asked for but I guess the stage manager had to untangle her.
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re: re: re: re: re: Ann Miller Stories?#17
Posted: 6/28/20 at 4:40am

daisy hilton said: "*gasp* Ginger wasn't stupid!!!!"

It sounds odd to me. She was a notorious queen bee whom Betty Grable silently dissed at Mame the last night Rogers was playing the role before Gable took over. A loaded curtain speech about "my dear, dear friend," though she'd treated Grable horribly in their RKO days. So Grable walked out before the speech was over, and when Rogers named her, and the spotlight went to her seat--no one was there.

But I never heard about her being stupid.

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re: re: re: re: re: Ann Miller Stories?#19
Posted: 6/28/20 at 8:52am

Ginger won the best actress Oscar in 1940, over Bette Davis (The Letter), Joan Fontaine (Rebecca) and Katharine Hepburn (The Philadelphia Story, one of my fave films)

Looking this over, the other three probably split the vote.

I've seen Kitty Foyle and it was pretty good but not memorable, which is probably why no one remembers it.

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re: re: re: re: re: Ann Miller Stories?#20
Posted: 6/28/20 at 10:54am
FAIR WINDS AND FOLLOWING SEAS
Updated On: 6/28/20 at 10:54 AM
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re: re: re: re: re: Ann Miller Stories?#21
Posted: 6/28/20 at 11:17am

James, thanks for that video!

"I'm pissed but I'm elegant."  

That's a star!!

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re: re: re: re: re: Ann Miller Stories?#22
Posted: 6/28/20 at 11:39am

joevitus said: "daisy hilton said: "*gasp* Ginger wasn't stupid!!!!"

It sounds odd to me. She was a notorious queen bee whom Betty Grable silently dissed at Mame the last night Rogers was playing the role before Gable took over. A loaded curtainspeech about "my dear, dear friend," thoughshe'd treated Grable horribly in their RKO days. So Grable walked out before the speech was over, andwhen Rogers named her, and the spotlight went to her seat--no one was there.

But I never heard about her being stupid.
"

 

NEVER happened.

I saw the London production of "Mame" with Miss Rogers.  She was replaced by Juliet Prowse.

 

FAIR WINDS AND FOLLOWING SEAS
Updated On: 6/28/20 at 11:39 AM
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re: re: re: re: re: Ann Miller Stories?#23
Posted: 6/28/20 at 1:15pm

Looks like there is a new biography to be released in August of this year.

Ann Miller: Her Life and Career

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re: re: re: re: re: Ann Miller Stories?#24
Posted: 6/28/20 at 1:22pm

Here is some star power at 75 years of age.

I'm Still Here