Our Annual Ethel Merman Birthday Surprise!

Welcome to a new Musical Theatre Monday! January is always Ethel Merman month here, given that the 16th is the anniversary of the great Broadway diva’s birth!

To celebrate, I’ve got a rarity to share — something that, for once in the great belter’s career, is NOT musical: a straight dramatic performance from the May 09, 1956 episode of CBS’s The United States Steel Hour entitled “Honest In The Rain.” It was Merman’s second anthology drama, and while reviews at the time were not kind (Variety was brutal), now you can see it for yourself. Here are links to the complete broadcast. (Password: renosweeney.)

And, oh, I won’t let you go away musically empty-handed either! Here’s a clip from a recently-uncovered (previously “lost”) episode of Tallulah Bankhead’s radio variety program, The Big Show, on which Ethel Merman was a frequent guest. This is from the February 03, 1952 broadcast and features repartee between Tallu and La Merm, along with the latter’s soaring rendition of “Zing! Went The Strings Of My Heart.” Enjoy!

 

 

Come back next month for another Musical Theatre rarity! And stay tuned for more Burns & Allen!

6 thoughts on “Our Annual Ethel Merman Birthday Surprise!

  1. Jackson, this IS a treat! “Honest in the Rain” only gets a passing reference in the Merman bios I’ve read (and in her memoirs, I see she wasn’t very satisfied with her performance in it herself), but I’ve long wanted to see this production. I haven’t had a chance to get through it yet, but the comic timing between Tallulah and Ethel in “The Big Show” clip is so spot on, I’m glad you included it so we can compare and contrast. I love Ethel Merman month!

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