Farewell Deanna Durbin

Deanna Durbin (born December 4, 1921) is a Canadian-born, Southern California-raised retired singer and actress, who appeared in a number of musical films in the 1930s and 1940s singing standards as well as operatic arias.

Durbin made her first film appearance in 1936 with Judy Garland in Every Sunday, and subsequently signed a contract with Universal Studios. Her success as the ideal teenage daughter in films such as Three Smart Girls (1936) was credited with saving the studio from bankruptcy.[1] In 1938 Durbin was awarded the Academy Juvenile Award.


Later, as she matured, Durbin grew dissatisfied with the girl-next-door roles assigned to her, and attempted to portray a more womanly and sophisticated style. The film noir Christmas Holiday (1944) and the whodunit Lady on a Train (1945) were, however, not as well received as her musical comedies and romances had been.

Durbin withdrew from Hollywood and retired from acting and singing in 1949. She married film producer-director Charles Henri David in 1950, and the couple moved to a farmhouse in the outskirts of Paris. Since then she has withdrawn from public life. Born Edna Mae Durbin at Grace Hospital in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, she was given the professional name Deanna at the beginning of her association with Universal Studios in 1936, when she was still 14 years old. Her parents, James and Ada Durbin, were immigrants from Lancashire, England who would become U.S. citizens after moving their family from Winnipeg to Southern California in 1923. Durbin had an older sister named Edith, who recognized Deanna’s musical talents at an early age and helped Deanna to take singing lessons at Ralph Thomas Academy. This led to her discovery by MGM in 1935. In late 1936, Cesar Sturani, who was the General Music Secretary of the Metropolitan Opera, offered Deanna Durbin an audition. Durbin turned down his request because she felt she needed more singing lessons. Andrés de Segurola, who was the vocal coach working with Universal Studios (and himself a former Metropolitan Opera singer), believed that Deanna Durbin had an excellent opportunity to become an opera star. Andrés de Segurola had been commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera to watch her progress carefully and keep them advised. Durbin started a collaboration with Eddie Cantor‘s radio show in 1936. This collaboration lasted until 1938 when her heavy workload for Universal Studios made it imperative for Durbin to discontinue her weekly appearances on Eddie Cantor’s radio show.[2]


Durbin signed a contract with MGM in 1935 and made her first film appearance in a short subject, Every Sunday (1936), with another young contract player, Judy Garland. The film was to serve as an extended screen test for the pair as studio executives were questioning the wisdom of having two female singers on the roster. Ultimately Louis B. Mayer decreed that both girls would be kept, but by the time that decision was made Durbin’s contract option had elapsed.[3]

Durbin was quickly signed to a contract with Universal Studios and made her first feature-length film Three Smart Girls in 1936. The huge success of her films was reported to have saved the studio from bankruptcy.[4] In 1938 she received a special Academy Juvenile Award, along with Mickey Rooney. Such was Durbin’s international fame and popularity that diarist Anne Frank pasted her picture to her bedroom wall in the Achterhuis where the Frank family hid during World War II. The picture can still be seen there today, and was pointed out by Frank’s friend Hannah Pick-Goslar in the documentary film Anne Frank Remembered.

Joe Pasternak who produced many of the early Deanna Durbin movies said about her:

“Deanna’s genius had to be unfolded, but it was hers and hers alone, always has been, always will be, and no one can take credit for discovering her. You can’t hide that kind of light under a bushel. You just can’t, no matter how hard you try!”

In 1936, Durbin auditioned to provide the vocals for Snow White in Disney’s animated film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs but was ultimately rejected by Walt Disney, who declared the 15 year old Durbin’s voice “too old” for the part.[5]

“Every Sunday” with Judy Garland

Durbin is perhaps best known for her singing voice, variously described as being light but full, sweet, unaffected and artless. With the technical skill and vocal range of a legitimate lyric soprano, she performed everything from popular standards to operatic arias. Dame Sister Mary Leo in New Zealand was so taken with Durbin’s technique that she trained all her students to sing in this way. Sister Mary Leo produced a large number of famous sopranos including Dames Malvina Major and Kiri Te Kanawa.

The Russian cellist/conductor Mstislav Rostropovich in a late 1980s interview cited Deanna as one of his most important musical influences, stating: “She helped me in my discovery of myself. You have no idea of the smelly old movie houses I patronized to see Deanna Durbin. I tried to create the very best in my music, to try and recreate, to approach her purity.”[6]

Durbin was the heroine of two 1941 novels, Deanna Durbin and the Adventure of Blue Valley and Deanna Durbin and the Feather of Flame, both written by Kathryn Heisenfelt and published by Whitman Publishing Company. “The heroine has the same name and appearance as the famous actress but has no connection … it is as though the famous actress has stepped into an alternate reality in which she is an ordinary person.” The stories were probably written for a young teenage audience and are reminiscent of the adventures of Nancy Drew. They are part of a series known as “Whitman Authorized Editions”, 16 books published between 1941-1947 that featured a film actress as heroine.[7]

“Musetta’s Waltz” from La Bohem

Between December 15, 1936 and July 22, 1947, Deanna Durbin recorded 50 tunes for Decca Records. While often re-creating her movie songs for commercial release, Durbin also covered independent standards, like “Kiss Me Again”, “My Hero”, “Annie Laurie“, “Poor Butterfly“, “Love’s Old Sweet Song” and “God Bless America“.

The star-making five-year association of Deanna Durbin, producer Joe Pasternak and director Henry Koster ended following the film It Started With Eve in 1941. After Pasternak moved from Universal to MGM, Durbin went on suspension between October 16, 1941 and early February 1942 for refusing to appear in They Lived Alone, scheduled to be directed by Koster. Ultimately, the project was canceled when Durbin and Universal settled their differences. In the agreement, Universal conceded to Durbin the approval of her directors, stories and songs.[8]

Durbin married an assistant director, Vaughn Paul, in 1941 and they were divorced in 1943. Her second marriage, to film writer-producer-actor Felix Jackson in 1945, produced a daughter, Jessica Louise Jackson, and ended in divorce in 1949.

In private life, Durbin continued to use her given name; salary figures printed annually by the Hollywood trade publications listed the actress as “Edna Mae Durbin, player.” Her studio continued to cast her in musicals, and filmed two sequels to her original success, Three Smart Girls. The second sequel was a wartime story called Three Smart Girls Join Up, but Durbin issued a press release announcing that she was no longer inclined to participate in these team efforts and was now performing as a solo artist. The Three Smart Girls Join Up title was changed to Hers to Hold. Joseph Cotten, who played alongside Deanna Durbin in Hers to Hold, praised her integrity and character in his autobiography.[9]

“When You’re Away”

She made her only Technicolor film in 1944, Can’t Help Singing, featuring some of the last melodies written by Jerome Kern plus lyrics by E. Y. Harburg. A musical comedy in a Western setting, this production was filmed mostly on location in southern Utah. Her co-star was Robert Paige, who is better known for his work in television dramas in the 1950s.[10]

“Begin The Beguine”

Durbin tried to assume a more sophisticated movie persona in such vehicles as the World War II story of refugee children from China, The Amazing Mrs. Holliday (1943), directed in part by Jean Renoir, who left the project before its completion; the film noir Christmas Holiday (1944), directed by Robert Siodmak, and the whodunit Lady on a Train (1945), but her substantial fan base preferred her in light musical confections.

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s groundbreaking Broadway production of Oklahoma! in 1943 might have showcased Deanna Durbin as original Laurie, but Universal refused to accept the proposal.

In 1945 and 1947, Deanna Durbin was the top-salaried woman in the United States. Her fan club ranked as the world’s largest during her active years.

In 1946, her employers merged with two other companies to create Universal-International, and the new regime discontinued much of Universal’s familiar product and scheduled only a few musicals. Durbin stayed on for another four pictures, but her two releases of 1948, Up in Central Park, a film adaptation of the 1945 Broadway musical, and then what became her last feature, For the Love of Mary, saw her international box-office clout diminish. On August 22, 1948, two months after the latter film was finished, Universal-International announced a lawsuit which sought to collect from Durbin $87,083 in wages the studio had paid her in advance.[11] Durbin settled the complaint amicably by agreeing to star in three more pictures, including one to be shot on location in Paris. Ultimately, the studio would allow Deanna’s contract to expire on August 31, 1949, so the three films were not produced. Durbin, who obtained a $200,000 ($1,842,577 as of 2011),[12] severance payment[13] chose at this point to retire from movie making, already having turned down Bing Crosby‘s request for her to appear in his 1949 attractions for Paramount Pictures: Top o’ the Morning and/or A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.

“Can’t Help Singin”

In Paris on December 21, 1950, Deanna Durbin, shortly after turning 29 years old, married Charles David, the producer-director of both French and American pictures who had guided her through Lady on a Train (1945). Durbin and David raised two children: Jessica (from her second marriage to Felix Jackson) and Peter (from her union with David).

Over the years, Durbin resisted numerous offers to perform again, including two choice proposals by MGM, asking her to take the female lead in the screen version of Cole Porter‘s Kiss Me Kate (1953), and to costar with Mario Lanza in Sigmund Romberg‘s operetta, The Student Prince (1954). As for stage shows, Durbin had been invited to play Kiss Me Kate ‘s Lilli Vanessi in London’s 1951-52 West End production, and reportedly, Alan Jay Lerner first had Deanna in mind to portray Eliza Doolittle in the 1956 Broadway cast of My Fair Lady. Suggestions that Durbin vocalize at the major Las Vegas casinos went unfulfilled.

She granted only one interview in 1983, to film historian David Shipman, steadfastly asserting her right to privacy. She maintains that privacy today, declining to be profiled on Internet websites.[14]

“Nessun Dorma” from Puccini’s opera, Turandot.

However, Durbin has made it known that she did not like the Hollywood studio system. She has emphasized that she never identified herself with the public image that the media created around her. She speaks of the Deanna “persona” in the third person and considers the film character Deanna Durbin a by-product of her youth and not her true self.[15]

Durbin’s husband of over 48 years, Charles David, died in Paris on March 1, 1999.

Deanna Durbin has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1722 Vine Street.

Frank Tashlin‘s 1937 Warner Bros. cartoon The Woods are Full of Cuckoos contains an avian caricature of Deanna Durbin called “Deanna Terrapin”.

Durbin’s name found its way into the introduction to a song written by satirical writer Tom Lehrer in 1965. Prior to singing “Whatever Became of Hubert?”, Lehrer said that Vice President Hubert Humphrey had been relegated to “those where-are-they-now columns: Whatever became of Deanna Durbin, and Hubert Humphrey, and so on.”

She is mentioned in Richard Brautigan‘s novel Trout Fishing in America, when the narrator claims to have seen one of her movies seven times, but can’t recall which one.[16]

Sources: Wikipedia, youtube, imdb.com

Film credits
Title↓ Year↓ Role↓ Notes
Every Sunday 1936 Edna short subject (opposite Judy Garland)
Three Smart Girls 1936 Penelope “Penny” Craig Academy Juvenile Award
One Hundred Men and a Girl 1937 Patricia Cardwell
Mad About Music 1938 Gloria Harkinson
That Certain Age 1938 Alice Fullerton
Three Smart Girls Grow Up 1939 Penny Craig
For Auld Lang Syne: No. 4 1939 Herself short subject
First Love 1939 Constance “Connie” Harding
It’s a Date 1940 Pamela Drake a short subject, Gems of Song, was excerpted from this feature in 1949
Spring Parade 1940 Ilonka Tolnay
Nice Girl? 1941 Jane “Pinky” Dana
Friend Indeed, AA Friend Indeed 1941 Herself short subject for the American Red Cross
It Started with Eve 1941 Anne Terry
Amazing Mrs. Holliday, TheThe Amazing Mrs. Holliday 1943 Ruth Kirke Holliday
Show Business at War 1943 Herself short subject
Hers to Hold 1943 Penny Craig
His Butler’s Sister 1943 Ann Carter
Road to Victory 1944 Herself short subject
Christmas Holiday 1944 Jackie Lamont/Abigail Martin
Can’t Help Singing 1944 Caroline Frost her only film in Technicolor
Lady on a Train 1945 Nikki Collins/Margo Martin
Because of Him 1946 Kim Walker
I’ll Be Yours 1947 Louise Ginglebusher
Something in the Wind 1947 Mary Collins
Up in Central Park 1948 Rosie Moore
For the Love of Mary 1948 Mary Peppertree

Deanna Durbin songs

  • A Heart That’s Free [From “100 Men and a Girl”]
  • Alice Blue Gown
  • Alleluia [From “100 Men and a Girl”]
  • Always [From “Christmas Holiday”]
  • Adeste Fideles (O Come All Ye Faithful)
  • Amapola [From “First Love”]
  • Annie Laurie
  • Any Moment Now [From “Can`t Help Singing”]
  • Ave Maria [From “Mad About Music”]
  • Ave Maria [From “It’s a Date”]
  • Be A Good Scout [From “That Certain Age”]
  • Because [From “Three Smart Girls Grow Up”]
  • Begin the Beguine [From “Hers to Hold”]
  • Beneath the Lights of Home [From “Nice Girl”]
  • Brahms’ Lullaby [From “I’ll Be Yours”]
  • Brindisi (Libiamo ne’ lieti calici) [From “100 Men and a Girl”]
  • Californ-I-Ay
  • Can’t Help Singing [From “Can`t Help Singing”]
  • Can’t Help Singing (Deanna Durbin & Robert Paige) [From “Can`t Help Singing”]
  • Carmena Waltz
  • Chapel Bells [From “Mad About Music”]
  • Cielito Lindo (Beautiful Heaven)
  • Ciribiribin
  • Clavelitos (J. Valverde) [From “It Started with Eve”]
  • Danny Boy [From “Because of Him”]
  • Embrace Me
  • Every Sunday (with Judy Garland)
  • Filles de Cadiz (The Maids of Cadiz) [From “That Certain Age”]
  • Gimme a Little Kiss, Will Ya, Huh? [From “Lady on a Train”]
  • God Bless America
  • Goin’ Home [From “It Started With Eve”]
  • Goodbye [From “Because of Him”]
  • Granada [From “I’ll Be Yours”]
  • Home! Sweet Home! [From “First Love”]
  • Il Bacio (The Kiss) [From “Three Smart Girls”]
  • I’ll Follow My Sweet Heart
  • I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen [From “For The Love Of Mary”]
  • I’ll See You In My Dreams
  • I Love to Whistle [From “Mad About Music”]
  • (I’m) Happy Go Lucky and Free [From “Something in the Wind”]
  • (I’m) Happy Go Lucky and Free [From “Something in the Wind”] (Deanna Durbin & Donald O’Connor)
  • In the Spirit of the Moment [From “His Butler’s Sister”]
  • Italian Street Song
  • It’s a Big, Wide, Wonderful World [From “For The Love Of Mary”]
  • It’s Dreamtime [From “I’ll Be Yours”]
  • It’s Foolish But It’s Fun [From “Spring Parade”]
  • It’s Only Love [From “Something In The Wind”]
  • It’s Raining Sunbeams [From “100 Men and a Girl”]
  • Invitation To The Dance [From “Three Smart Girls Grow Up”]
  • Je Veux Vivre (from Roméo et Juliette) [From “That Certain Age”]
  • Kiss Me Again
  • La Estrellita (Little Star)
  • Largo Al Factotum (from The Barber of Seville) [From “For The Love Of Mary”]
  • Loch Lomond [From “It’s a Date”]
  • Love At Last [From “Nice Girl”]
  • Love Is All [From “It’s a Date”]
  • Lover [From “Because of Him”]
  • Love’s Old Sweet Song
  • Make Believe (Jerome Kern song)
  • Molly Malone
  • More and More [From “Can`t Help Singing”]
  • More And More/Can’t Help Singing [From “Can`t Help Singing”]
  • Musetta’s Waltz (from La bohème) [From “It’s a Date”]
  • My Heart Is Singing [From “Three Smart Girls Grow Up”]
  • My Hero
  • My Own [From “That Certain Age”]
  • Nessun Dorma (from Turandot) [From “His Butler’s Sister”]
  • Never in a Million Years/Make Believe
  • Night and Day [From “Lady on a Train”]
  • O Come All Ye Faithful
  • Old Folks at Home [From “Nice Girl”]
  • On Moonlight Bay [From “For The Love Of Mary”]
  • One Fine Day (from Madama Butterfly) [From “First Love”]
  • One Night Of Love
  • Pace, Pace, Mio Dio (La forza del destino) [From “Up In Central Park”]
  • Pale Hands I Loved (Kashmiri Song) [From “Hers to Hold”]
  • Perhaps [From “Nice Girl”]
  • Poor Butterfly
  • Russian Medley [From “His Butler’s Sister”]
  • Sari Waltz (Love’s Own Sweet Song) [From “I’ll Be Yours”]
  • Say a Pray’r for the Boys Over There [From “Hers to Hold”]
  • Seal It With a Kiss
  • Seguidilla (from Carmen) [From “Hers To Hold”]
  • Serenade to the Stars [From “Mad About Music”]
  • Silent Night [From “Lady On A Train”]
  • Someone to Care for Me [From “Three Smart Girls”]
  • Something in the Wind [From “Something in the Wind”]
  • Spring in My Heart [From “First Love”]
  • Spring Will Be A Little Late This Year [From “Christmas Holiday”]
  • Swanee – Old Folks At Home [From “Nice Girl”]
  • Summertime (from Porgy And Bess)
  • Sweetheart
  • Thank You America [From “Nice Girl”]
  • The Blue Danube [From “Spring Parade”]
  • The Last Rose of Summer [From “Three Smart Girls Grow Up”]
  • The Old Refrain [From “The Amazing Mrs. Holiday”]
  • The Prince
  • The Turntable Song [From “Something in the Wind”]
  • There’ll Always Be An England [From “Nice Girl”]
  • Two Guitars [“Две гитары” – Russian Gypsy Folk song (Lyrics – Apollon Grigoriev, music – Ivan Vasiliev), from “His Butler’s Sister” (1943)]
  • Two Hearts
  • Un bel di vedremo (from Madama Butterfly) [From “First Love”]
  • Viennese Waltz [From “For The Love Of Mary”]
  • Vissi d’arte (from Tosca) [From “The Amazing Mrs. Holiday”]
  • Waltzing in the Clouds [From “Spring Parade”]
  • When April Sings [From “Spring Parade”]
  • When I Sing [From “It Started with Eve”]
  • When The Roses Bloom Again
  • When You’re Away [From “His Butler’s Sister”]
  • You Wanna Keep Your Baby Looking Nice, Don’t You [From “Something in the Wind”]
  • You’re As Pretty As A Picture [From “That Certain Age”]

Gordon Jenkins

Gordon Hill Jenkins (May 12, 1910 – May 1, 1984) was an Americanarranger, composer and pianist who was an influential figure in popular music in the 1940s and 1950s, renowned for his lush string arrangements. Jenkins worked with the Andrews Sisters, Johnny Cash, The Weavers, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, Judy Garland, Nat King Cole, Billie Holiday, and Ella Fitzgerald, among other singers.[1]

Jenkins was born in Webster Groves, Missouri. He began his career doing arrangements for a St. Louis radio station.[specify] He was then hired by Isham Jones, the director of a dance band known for its ensemble playing, and this gave Jenkins the opportunity to develop his skills in melodic scoring. He also conducted The Show Is On on Broadway. Jenkins married high school sweetheart Nancy Harkey in 1931 and had three children: Gordon Jr., Susan, and Page. In 1946, he divorced Harkey and married Beverly Mahr, one of the singers in his band. They had a son, Bruce.

“Goodnight Irene” The Weavers, with the Gordon Jenkins Orchestra

After the Jones band broke up in 1936, Jenkins worked as a freelance arranger and songwriter, contributing to sessions by Isham Jones, Paul Whiteman, Benny Goodman, Andre Kostelanetz, Lennie Hayton, and others. In 1938, Jenkins moved to Hollywood and worked for Paramount Pictures and NBC, and then became Dick Haymes‘ arranger for four years. In 1944, Jenkins had a hit song with “San Fernando Valley”.

Sinatra singing, “The Night We Called It A Day”

In 1945, Jenkins joined Decca Records. In 1947, he had his first million-seller with “Maybe You’ll Be There” featuring vocalist Charles LaVere and in 1949 had a huge hit with Victor Young‘s film theme “My Foolish Heart“, which was also a success for Billy Eckstine. At the same time, he regularly arranged for and conducted the orchestra for various Decca artists, including Dick Haymes (“Little White Lies“, 1947), Ella Fitzgerald (“Happy Talk“, 1949, “Black Coffee“, 1949, “Baby“, 1954), Patty Andrews of the Andrews Sisters (“I Can Dream, Can’t I“, 1949) and Louis Armstrong (“Blueberry Hill“, 1949 and “When It’s Sleepy Time Down South“, 1951).

The liner notes to Verve Records‘ 2001 reissue of one of Jenkins’ albums with Armstrong, Satchmo In Style, quote Decca’s onetime A & R Director, Milt Gabler, saying that Jenkins “stood up on his little podium so that all the performers could see him conduct. But before he gave a

downbeat, Gordon made a speech about how much he loved Louis and how this was the greatest moment in his life. And then he cried.”

Dinah Washington sings, “Goodbye” by Gordon Jenkins

Benny Goodman performing, “Goodbye” It was a huge hit recording for the Goodman Orchestra.

During this time, Jenkins also began recording and performing under his own name. One of his enduring works while at Decca was a pair of Broadway-style musical vignettes, “Manhattan Tower” and “California” which saw release several times (78s, 45s, and LP) in the ’40s and ’50s. The two were paired on a very early Decca LP in 1949), and Jenkins was given the Key to New York City by its mayor when Jenkins’s orchestra performed the 16-minute suite on the Ed Sullivan show in the early ’50s. In 1956, he expanded “Manhattan Tower” to almost three times its length, released it (this time on Capitol Records), and performed it on an hour-long television show. (Both versions of “Manhattan Tower” are currently available on CD.) His “Seven Dreams” included a sequence which was the source for Johnny Cash‘s immensely popular recording, “Folsom Prison Blues“. His final long-form work was The Future, which comprised the entire third disk of Frank Sinatra‘s 1980 Grammy-nominated Trilogy album. Although the piece was savaged by critics, Sinatra reportedly loved the semi-biographical work and felt that Jenkins was treated unfairly by the media.


Jenkins headlined New York’s Capitol Theater between 1949 and 1951 and the Paramount Theater in 1952. He appeared in Las Vegas in 1953 and many times thereafter. He worked for NBC as a TV producer from 1955 to 1957, and performed at the Hollywood Bowl in 1964. By 1949, Jenkins was musical director at Decca, and he signed — despite resistance from Decca’s management — the Weavers, a Greenwich Village folk ensemble that included Pete Seeger among its members. The combination of the Weavers’ folk music with Jenkins’ orchestral arrangements became immensely popular, to the surprise of everyone involved. Their most notable collaboration was a version of Leadbelly‘s “Goodnight Irene” (1950) backed by Jenkins’ adaptation of the Israeli folk song, “Tzena, Tzena, Tzena“. Other notable songs they recorded together are “The Roving Kind“, “On Top of Old Smoky” (1951), and “Wimoweh” (1952).

“Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps” 1949

Jenkins later moved to Capitol Records where he worked with Frank Sinatra, notably on the albums Where Are You? (1957) and No One Cares (1959), and Nat King Cole, with whom he had his greatest successes; Jenkins was responsible for the lush arrangements on the 1957 album Love Is the Thing (Capitol’s first stereo release, which included “When I Fall in Love“, one of Cole’s best-known recordings), as well as the albums The Very Thought of You (1958) and Where Did Everyone Go? (1963). Jenkins also wrote the music and lyrics for Judy Garland’s 1959 album The Letter which also featured vocalist Charles LaVere, and conducted several of Garland’s London concerts in the early 1960s.

“Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered”

Whilst most of Jenkins’ arrangements at Capitol were in his distinctive string-laden style, he continued to demonstrate more versatility when required, particularly on albums such as A Jolly Christmas From Frank Sinatra (1957), which opens with a swinging version of Jingle Bells, and Nat King Cole’s album of spirituals, Every Time I Feel The Spirit (1960), which includes several tracks with a pronounced \textstyle\frac{2}{4} beat that might almost be described as rock. He also produced a diverse set of charts for his critically-acclaimed 1960 album Gordon Jenkins Presents Marshall Royal, a jazz-pop crossover project with Count Basie’s alto saxophonist which included both strings and a swinging rhythm section.

However, as rock and roll gained ascendancy in the 1960s, Jenkins’ lush string arrangements fell out of favour and he worked only sporadically, though Sinatra, who had left Capitol to start his own label, Reprise Records, continued to call upon the arranger’s services at various intervals over the next two decades, on albums such as All Alone (1962), the critically-acclaimed September of My Years (1965), for which Jenkins won a Grammy, Sinatra’s 1973 comeback album, Ol’ Blue Eyes Is Back and She Shot Me Down (1981) – regarded by many “Sinatraphiles” as the singer’s last great work. Jenkins also worked with Harry Nilsson, arranging and conducting A Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night (1973), an album of jazz standards. The Nilsson sessions, with Jenkins conducting, were recorded on video and later broadcast as a television special by the BBC.

“Maybe You’ll Be There”

Although best known as an arranger, Jenkins also wrote well-known several songs including “P.S. I Love You“, “Goodbye” (Benny Goodman‘s sign-off tune), “Blue Prelude”, “This Is All I Ask”, and “When a Woman Loves a Man“. Jenkins also composed the “Future” suite for Sinatra’s 1980 concept albumTrilogy: Past Present Future.

enkins died in Malibu, California in 1984 at age 73 of Lou Gehrig’s disease.

In November 2005, Gordon’s son Bruce (a sports columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle) published a biography of his father titled Goodbye: In Search of Gordon Jenkins. Other living relatives include sons Page and Gordon Jr., daughter Susan, nieces Phoebe Barnum and Leslie Mason, and grandson “Pogi” Tony.

Sources: Wikipedia, Youtube, imdb.com

Martha Raye

Martha Raye (August 27, 1916 – October 19, 1994) was an American comic actress and standards singer who performed in movies, and later on television.

“Waikiki Wedding”

Raye’s life as a singer and comedy performer began very early in her childhood. She was born at St. James Hospital, in Butte, Montana as Margy Reed,[1] where her Irish immigrant parents, Peter F. Reed and Maybelle Hooper, were performing at a local vaudeville theatre as “Reed and Hooper”.[2] Two days after Martha was born, her mother was already back on stage, and Martha first appeared in their act when she was three years old. She performed with her brother, Bud, and soon the two children became such a highlight that the act was renamed “Margie and Bud.” Some show business insiders speculated that the Judy Garland song from A Star Is Born, “I was born in a trunk in the Princess Theater in Pocatello, Idaho” was inspired by Raye’s beginnings.

Raye continued performing from that point on and even attended the Professional Children’s School in New York City, but she received so little formal schooling, getting only as far as the fifth grade, that she often had to have scripts and other written documents read to her by others.

Judy Garland and Martha Raye

Frances Faye vs Martha Raye

In the early 1930s, Raye was a band vocalist with the Paul Ash and Boris Morros orchestras. She made her first film appearance in 1934 in a band short titled A Nite in the Nite Club. In 1936, she was signed for comic roles by Paramount Pictures, and made her first picture for Paramount. Her first feature film was Rhythm on the Range with crooner Bing Crosby. Over the next 26 years, she would eventually appear with many of the leading comics of her day, including Joe E. Brown, Bob Hope, W. C. Fields, Abbott and Costello, Charlie Chaplin, and Jimmy Durante. She joined the USO soon after the US entered World War II.

Martha Raye was known for the size of her mouth, which appeared large in proportion to the rest of her face, thus earning her the nickname The Big Mouth. She later referred to this in a series of commercials for Polident denture cleaner in the 1980s: “So take it from The Big Mouth: new Polident Green gets tough stains clean!” Her mouth would come to relegate her motion picture work to largely supporting comic parts, and was often made up in such a way that it appeared even larger than it already was. In the Warner Brothers cartoon The Woods are Full of Cuckoos, she is caricatured as a jazzy scat-singing donkey named Moutha Bray.

Tribute To Martha

Betty Grable, Carol Burnett and Martha Raye 1968

During World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, she travelled extensively to entertain the American troops, even though she had a lifelong fear of flying.

In October 1966, she went to Soc Trang, Vietnam, to entertain the troops at the base which was the home base of the 121st Aviation company, the Soc Trang Tigers, the gunship platoon, The Vikings and the 336th Aviation company. Shortly after her arrival, both units were called out on a mission to extract supposed POWs from an area nearby. Raye decided to hold her troupe of entertainers there until the mission was completed so that all of the servicemen could watch her show.

During that time, a serviceman flying a “Huey Slick” helicopter carrying troops recalls that his ship received combat damage to the extent that he had to return to base at Soc Trang:

I was the pilot of that “slick” which had received major damage to the tail-rotor drive shaft from a lucky enemy rifle shot. The maintenance team at the staging area inspected and determined that a one-time flight back to base camp would be okay but grounded the aircraft after that. Upon arriving back at Soc Trang, I informed Martha (she came right up to us and asked how things were going) that we had a gunship down in the combat area and additional efforts were being made to extract the crew. I don’t recall if we had received word of the death of the pilot at that time. Martha stated that she and her troupe would remain until everyone returned from the mission. As there were no replacements, the servicemen could not return to the mission. While the servicemen waited, Raye played poker with them and helped to keep everyone’s spirits up. I enjoyed playing cards with Martha but regretted it somewhat. It appears that she had plenty of practice playing poker with GIs during her USO service in multiple wars. But I still love her for who she was and what she did. When the mission was completed, which had resulted in the loss of a helicopter, gunship and a Viking pilot, there was also an officer, the Major who was in command of the Vikings who had been wounded when the ship went down. He was flying pilot position but was not in control of the ship when the command pilot, a Warrant Officer, was shot. When he and the two remaining crewmen were returned to Soc Trang, Raye volunteered to assist the doctor in treating the wounded flyer. When all had been completed, Raye waited until everybody was available and then put on her show. Everyone involved appreciated her as an outstanding trouper and a caring person. During the Vietnam War, she was made an honorary Green Beret because she visited United States Army Special Forces in Vietnam without fanfare, and she helped out when things got bad in Special Forces A-Camps. As a result, she came to be known affectionately by the Green Berets as “Colonel Maggie.”[3]

Hosting the Hollywood Palace in 1966. Rodgers & Hart’s “Little Girl Blue”

Martha Raye on What’s My Line?

On November 2, 1993, Martha Raye was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, by President Bill Clinton, for her service to her country.Raye was an early television star when that medium was very young; for a while she had her own program, The Martha Raye Show (1954 – 1956) in which she was the lead and her awkward boyfriend was portrayed by retired middleweight boxer Rocky Graziano. The writer and producer was future The Phil Silvers Show creator Nat Hiken. Other stars who appeared on her show included Zsa Zsa Gabor, Cesar Romero and Broadway dancer Wayne Lamb. She also appeared on other TV shows in the 1950s, such as “What’s My Line?”. Following the demise of her TV variety show, the breakup of her fifth marriage, and a series of other personal and health problems, she attempted suicide with sleeping pills on August 14, 1956. Well wishers gave her a St. Christopher‘s medal, a St. Genesius medal and a Star of David. After her recovery, she wore these faithfully, although she was neither Catholic nor Jewish. At the end of her TV programs, she would also thank the nuns at The Sisters of St. Francis Hospital in Miami, Florida where she recovered. She would always say, “Goodnight, Sisters” as a sign of appreciation and gratitude. Later, Raye served as the television spokesperson for Polident denture cleanser, principally during the 1970s and 1980s. In 1970, she portrayed Boss Witch, the “Queen of all Witch-dom” in the feature film Pufnstuf for Sid and Marty Krofft. This led to her being cast as villainess Benita Bizarre in The Bugaloos (1970), which the Kroffts produced the same year. She often appeared as a guest on other programs, particularly ones that often had older performers as guest stars, such as ABC‘s The Love Boat and on variety programs, including the short-lived The Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Show, also on ABC. She also appeared for two years as Mel Sharples’ mother, Carrie, on the CBS sitcom Alice. She made guest appearances or did cameo roles in such series as Murder, She Wrote on CBS and The Andy Williams Show and McMillan & Wife, both on NBC.

Famous Polident Commercial

From “Pippin”

Raye’s personal life was complex and emotionally tumultuous. She was married seven times.

She was married to Hamilton “Buddy” Westmore from May 30, 1937 until September 1937, filing for divorce on the basis of extreme cruelty; to conductor and composer, David Rose from October 8, 1938 to May 19, 1941; to Neal Lang from May 25, 1941 to February 3, 1944; to Nick Condos from February 22, 1944 to June 17, 1953 which resulted in the birth of her only child Melodye Raye Condos on July 26, 1944; to Edward T. Begley from April 21, 1954 to October 6, 1956; to Robert O’Shea from November 7, 1956 to December 1, 1960; and to Mark Harris from September 25, 1991 until her death in 1994. Raye’s marriage to Harris in a Las Vegas ceremony made headlines in 1991, partly because Raye was 75 and Harris was 42, and partly because the two had known each other for less than a month. Harris was also bisexual. They remained married until her death in 1994. At that time, Harris received the bulk of Martha Raye’s estate, including her home in Bel Air, California. Raye’s will left nothing to her only daughter from a previous marriage, Melodye Condos, from whom Raye was estranged at the time of her death. On April 23, 2008, Harris was interviewed on The Howard Stern Show and revealed that he had spent all but $100,000 of the money left to him in Martha’s Will, from an estimated $3 million. He also revealed that he had suffered two heart attacks and was living in New York with one of his adult daughters. Before her death, with Harris’s support, Raye sued Bette Midler and the producers of the movie For The Boys in the early 1990s, claiming that the film was based on Martha’s extensive experience as a much-loved entertainer of US troops during three wars. She lost the case when the judge after hearing evidence on both sides decided that Raye did not have a case.[4]

Raye’s final years were spent dealing with ongoing health problems. She suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and had lost both legs in 1993 due to circulatory problems. She died of pneumonia on October 19, 1994, after a long history of cardiovascular disease. Raye was 78 years of age, and residing in Los Angeles at the time of her death.

In appreciation of her work with the USO during World War II and subsequent wars, special consideration was given to bury her in Arlington National Cemetery upon her death, however, at her request, she was ultimately buried with full military honors in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Martha is the only woman buried in the SF (Special Forces) cemetery at Ft. Bragg. Martha Raye was a full Colonel in the US Army Reserve and a Nurse, with a surgical specialty.

Raye has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, for motion pictures, located at 6251 Hollywood Blvd., and for television, located at 6547 Hollywood Blvd.

“Silent Night”

The Martha Raye Show

Sources: Wikipedia.com, youtube.com, nndb.com, imdb.com

Quick Bio Facts:

Martha Raye

Martha RayeAKA Margaret Teresa Yvonne Reed

Born: 27-Aug1916
Birthplace: Butte, MT
Died: 19-Oct1994
Location of death: Los Angeles, CA [1]
Cause of death: Pneumonia
Remains: Buried, Fort Bragg Main Post Cemetery, Fort Bragg, NC

Gender: Female
Religion: Roman Catholic
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Actor

Nationality: United States

Friars Club honorary member
Hollywood Walk of Fame 6547 Hollywood Blvd. (television)
Hollywood Walk of Fame 6251 Hollywood Blvd. (motion pictures)
Presidential Medal of Freedom 2-Nov-1993 by Bill Clinton
Risk Factors: Alzheimer’s, Alcoholism, Amputee

McMillan and Wife Agatha
Alice Carrie Sharples

Alice in Wonderland (9-Dec-1985)
Pippin: His Life and Times (1981)
The Concorde: Airport ’79 (17-Aug-1979)
Pufnstuf (May-1970)
Billy Rose’s Jumbo (6-Dec-1962)
Monsieur Verdoux (11-Apr-1947)
Pin-Up Girl (25-Apr-1944)
Four Jills in a Jeep (17-Mar-1944) Herself
Hellzapoppin (26-Dec-1941)
Keep ‘Em Flying (19-Nov-1941)
Navy Blues (13-Sep-1941)
College Swing (29-Apr-1938)
The Big Broadcast of 1938 (11-Feb-1938)
Artists & Models (4-Aug-1937)
Waikiki Wedding (23-Mar-1937)



Liza Minnelli

Liza May Minnelli (born March 12, 1946) is an American singer and actress. She is the daughter of legendary singer and actress, Judy Garland, and film director Vincente Minnelli.

Already established as a nightclub singer and musical theatre actress, she first attracted critical acclaim for her dramatic performances in the movies The Sterile Cuckoo (1969) and Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon (1970). Minnelli rose to international stardom for her appearance as Sally Bowles in the 1972 film version of the Broadway musical, Cabaret, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress.


While film projects such as Lucky Lady, A Matter of Time and New York, New York were less favorably received than her stage roles, Minnelli became one of the most versatile, highly regarded and best-selling entertainers in television, beginning with Liza with a Z in 1972, and on stage in the Broadway productions of Flora the Red Menace, The Act and The Rink. Minnelli also toured internationally and did shows such as Liza Minnelli: At Carnegie Hall, Frank, Liza & Sammy: The Ultimate Event, and Liza Live from Radio City Music Hall.

1981 “All That Jazz”

After years of chronic health problems, including a serious infection with viral encephalitis, she returned with a new concert show, Liza’s Back, in 2002. She did several well-received guest appearances in the sitcom Arrested Development and had a small role in the movie The OH in Ohio, while continuing to tour internationally. In 2008/09 she performed the Broadway show Liza’s at The Palace…! which earned a Tony Award for Best Special Theatrical Event.[1]

Judy and Liza

Minnelli has won a total of four Tony Awards awards, including a Special Tony Award,.[2] She has also won an Oscar, an Emmy Award, two Golden Globes and a Grammy Legend Award for her contributions and influence in the recording field, along with many other honors and awards.

Liza Minnelli was born in Hollywood, California to Vincente Minnelli and Judy Garland. Born into a family well known to film-goers, Minnelli’s maternal lineage can claim entertainers going back six generations.[3] Her mother, Judy Garland, had legendary success in film and in music, but started in show-business as part of a vaudeville act with Minnelli’s aunts as “The Gumm Sisters”. Her father, an acclaimed MGM film director, was from a theatrical family which also included circus performers.

Minnelli attended New York City’s Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts. Her first performing experience on film was at age three where she appeared in the final scene of the 1949 musical In the Good Old Summertime. The film starred Judy Garland and Van Johnson. Although Minnelli and her mother shared a warm personal relationship, during her performances with her mother at the London Palladium, Garland recognized Minnelli’s talent and felt a sense of competition. Minnelli recalled, “I was onstage with my mother, but suddenly, she wasn’t Mama … she was Judy Garland.”[3]

Judy and Liza again – “Let Me Entertain You”

Minnelli’s half-sister and brother from Garland’s marriage to Sid Luft are Lorna and Joey Luft. She also has another half-sister, Christiane Nina Minnelli (nicknamed Tina Nina), from her father’s second marriage.[4] Minnelli began performing professionally at age 17, in 1963, in an Off-Broadway revival of the musical Best Foot Forward, for which she received good notices, and her first award, the Theatre World Award. The next year, her mother invited Minnelli to perform with her at the London Palladium. The audience loved her, launching her future concert career. She turned to Broadway at 19, and in 1965 she became the youngest woman ever to win a leading actress Tony Award for Flora the Red Menace. It was the first time she worked with the musical duo John Kander and Fred Ebb (who would later write almost all of Liza’s trademark tunes). Minnelli began as a nightclub singer as an adolescent, making her professional nightclub debut at the age of 19 at the Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C.. She later appeared in other clubs and on stage in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami and New York City. Her success as a live performer led to her recording several albums at Capitol Records: Liza! Liza! (1964), It Amazes Me (1965) and There Is a Time (1966). In her early years, she recorded traditional pop standards as well as show tunes from various musicals that she starred in. Because of this fact, William Ruhlmann named her “Barbra Streisand‘s little sister”.[5] The Capitol albums Liza! Liza!, It Amazes Me, and There Is A Time were reissued on the two-CD compilation The Capitol Years in 2001, in their entirety.

Liza wins the Academy Award

From 1968 up to the 1970s, she also recorded more contemporary material according to classic pop songs with her albums Liza Minnelli (1968), Come Saturday Morning and New Feelin’ (both 1970) from A&M Records and The Singer (1973), which seemed like a compilation of soft rock material, as well as the disco-styled Tropical Nights (1977) from Columbia Records. Her music career was more influenced by successful live performances with international concert tours than commercial success as a recording artist.

“Some People” from Gypsy

In 1989 Minnelli collaborated with Pet Shop Boys on Results, an electronic dance-style album. Therelease hit the top 10 in the UK and also charted in the US, spawning four singles: Losing My Mind, Don’t Drop Bombs, So Sorry, I Said and Love Pains. This also gave her a chance to film promotional videos for the songs and resulted in a long-overdue comeback in the music business. Initially released on VHS titled Visible Results, the clips were later issued on a bonus DVD included in the 2005 remastered and expanded edition of the album. Later that year she performed Losing My Mind live at the Grammys ceremony before receiving a Grammy Legend Award (the first Grammy Legend Awards were issued in 1990 to Liza Minnelli, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Smokey Robinson and Willie Nelson). With this award, she became one of only 12 other entertainers, in a list that includes Whoopi Goldberg, Barbra Streisand and Mel Brooks among others, to win an Emmy, Grammy, Tony Award and Academy Award.[6]

In April 1992 Liza Minnelli performed We Are The Champions with the surviving members of the rock band Queen at The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert.

2008 – “New York New York”

In 1996, Minnelli released a new studio album titled Gently. It was a recording of jazz standards and also included some contemporary songs such as the cover of Does He Love You which she performed as a duet with Donna Summer. This album brought her a Grammy nomination for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Performance. Liza was nominated in 2009 for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for her studio recording Liza’s at the Palace…!, based on her hit Broadway show.

On 11 May 2010, Playbill.com reported Minnelli would be releasing an album entitled “Confessions”, with a release date of 21 September 2010 on the Decca Label.[7]

Her first appearance on film is as the baby in the very last shot of her mother Judy Garland‘s film, In the Good Old Summertime (1949).

Her first credited film role was as the love-interest in Albert Finney‘s only film as director and star, Charlie Bubbles (1967).

In 1969 she appeared in Alan J. Pakula‘s first feature film, The Sterile Cuckoo (1969), as “Pookie Adams”, a needy, eccentric teenager. Her performance won her her first Academy Award nomination. She played another eccentric character the following year in Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon, directed by Otto Preminger. In 1972, Minnelli appeared in perhaps her best-known film role, as “Sally Bowles” in the movie version of Cabaret. She said that one of the things she did to prepare was to study photographs of classic actresses Louise Glaum and Louise Brooks and the dark-haired ladies of that time.[8] Minnelli won the Best Actress Academy Award for her performance, along with a Golden Globe Award.

Following the success of Cabaret, Bob Fosse and Minnelli teamed up for Liza with a ‘Z’. A Concert for Television, a made-for-television special. The program aired two times on TV and was not seen until a DVD release in 2006.

Minnelli worked with her father, director Vincente Minnelli, in the 1976 A Matter of Time, co-starring Ingrid Bergman. After severe editing and cutting, done by the studio, with no input from Vincente Minnelli, the film was neither a commercial nor a critical success.

“Bye Bye Blackbird”

Her appearance opposite Robert De Niro in the 1977 musical drama film, New York, New York however, gave Minnelli her best known signature song. Frank Sinatra released a successful cover version (for his Trilogy: Past Present Future album) two years later and used it as his signature song as well, sometimes even duetting with Liza live on stage.

“Don’t Smoke In Bed”

After her performance as leading lady to Dudley Moore in 1981’s hit film Arthur, Minnelli made fewer film appearances although she returned to the big screen in 1991 for Stepping Out, a musical dramedy.

She returned to Broadway in 1997, taking over the title role in the musical Victor/Victoria, replacing Julie Andrews. In his review, New York Times critic Ben Brantley commented, “her every stage appearance is perceived as a victory of show-business stamina over psychic frailty… She asks for love so nakedly and earnestly, it seems downright vicious not to respond.”

1981 on the Tonight Show singing… what else? “New York New York

After a serious case of viral encephalitis in 2000, doctors predicted that she would spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair and would perhaps not even be able to speak again. However, she refused to accept this and with the help of vocal and dance lessons, which she still takes daily, managed to recover and returned to the stage Liza’s Back in 2002 performing to rave reviews in London and New York City. Her first performance after beginning her treatment was at Madison Square Garden in New York city where she sang You Are Not Alone at the Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Special concert.

In 2004 and 2005 she appeared as a recurring character on the critically acclaimed, Emmy Award-winning TV sitcom Arrested Development as “Lucille Austero”, the lover of both the sexually and socially awkward “Buster Bluth” and Buster’s brother “GOB”.

Liza on “Arrested Development”

In September 2006, she made a guest appearance on the long-running NBC drama Law & Order: Criminal Intent, in Masquerade, a Halloween-themed episode, broadcast on Tuesday, October 31, 2006.[9] She also completed guest vocals on My Chemical Romance‘s 2006 concept album The Black Parade, portraying “Mother War”, a dark conception of the main character’s mother, in the song Mama.

2009 at Paris Gay Pride Parade

For years, Liza had wanted to record a collection of songs that her godmother Kay Thompson had performed in her nightclub act. In 2007 Liza added some of Thompson’s songs to her latest tour to introduce them to audiences.

Minnelli returned to Broadway in a new solo concert at the Palace Theatre called Liza’s at The Palace…! which ran from December 3, 2008, through January 4, 2009.[10][11] In her second act she performed a series of numbers created by Kay Thompson.[12] The reviews noted that while her voice was ragged at times, and her movements no longer elastic, the old magic was still very much present—from first to last, Minnelli had audiences cheering and applauding and begging for more. The show was subsequently staged at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on September 30 and October 1, 2009, at which time it was filmed for broadcast on public television and a February 2010 DVD and Blu-ray release.

On January 10, 2009, Minnelli made a rare live TV appearance in a surprise cameo on NBC’s Saturday Night Live, playing the best friend of “Penelope” (Kristin Wiig). On January 26, 2009, she made an appearance on The View, singing I Would Never Leave You from her new CD Liza’s at The Palace…!. She was also interviewed by the cast of The View.

She was a character in the Australian musical The Boy From Oz starring Hugh Jackman. In the show’s Broadway production, she was portrayed by Stephanie J. Block.

In October 2009, Minnelli toured Australia, and appeared on Australian Idol as a mentor and guest judge.

In February 2010, Minnelli appeared in a Snickers commercial along with Aretha Franklin.

Minnelli made a cameo appearance in the May 2010 release of Sex and the City 2.

She has made many notable public performances of her signature song, New York, New York:

  • At the 1978 Studio 54 party honoring New York City’s revival, at which a guest was Mayor Ed Koch;
  • The reopening of the Statue of Liberty on July 4, 1986 (this performance of New York, New York is generally felt to be among the strongest of her career);[citation needed]
  • As a duet with Luciano Pavarotti at the 1996 Pavarotti & Friends for War Child concert in Modena, Italy;
  • At a 2001 New York Mets baseball game that was the metro area’s first major sporting event after the September 11 attacks;
  • For the Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular televised live, and nationally on NBC on July 4, 2006, she performed the song and received an ovation.
  • In February 2008, she performed the song at a televised celebration of Bruce Forsyth‘s 80th birthday celebration on BBC.
  • In June 2008, at the Opening Night at the Hollywood Bowl where she was inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame.
  • On October 2, 2008, at Trevi Fountain in Rome to promote her next tour of Italy.

Minnelli has been married (and divorced) four times. Her first marriage was to Peter Allen (full name Peter Allen Woolnough) on March 3, 1967.[13] Australian-born Allen was Judy Garland‘s protégé in the mid-1960s.[14] The couple divorced on July 24, 1974.[15] Later that year, she married Jack Haley Jr., a producer and director, on September 15, 1974.[16] His father, Jack Haley, was Garland’s co-star in The Wizard of Oz. They divorced in April 1979.[17]

Minnelli was married to Mark Gero, a sculptor and stage manager, from December 4, 1979 until their divorce in January 1992.[18]

She was married to David Gest, a concert promoter, from March 16, 2002, until they divorced in April 2007. (They separated in July 2003.)[19][20]

Minnelli has no children; one pregnancy left her with a hiatal hernia as a result of the medical steps taken to try to save the baby.[4]

Minnelli and her parents are the only family in the history of the Academy Awards in which each member has won an award. Minnelli has, throughout her lifetime, served various charities and causes which she considers very important. She served on the board of directors of The Institutes for The Achievement of Human Potential (IAHP) for 20 years, a nonprofit educational organization that introduces parents to the field of child brain development. She also dedicated much time to amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research. In 2007, Minnelli stated in an interview with Palm Springs Life magazine, “AmfAR is important to me because I’ve lost so many friends that I knew [to AIDS]”.[21] In 1994, Minnelli recorded the Kander & Ebb tune “The Day After That” and donated the proceeds to AIDS research. That same year she performed the song in front of thousands in Central Park at the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall riots.

With Alan Cumming, “Baby Its Cold Outside”

During the early days of Television in the 1950s Liza appeared as a child guest on Art Linkletter‘s show and in 1959 sang and danced with Gene Kelly on his first television special. She was a guest star in one episode of the popular Ben Casey television series starring Vince Edwards and was a frequent guest on chat shows of the day including numerous appearances on shows hosted by Jack Paar, Merv Griffin, Mike Douglas, Joe Franklin, Dinah Shore and Johnny Carson. During the 1960s she made several guest appearances on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh In as well as other variety shows including The Ed Sullivan Show, The Hollywood Palace, as well as The Judy Garland Show. In 1964 she appeared as Minnie in her first television dramatic role in the episode “Nightingale for Sale” on Craig Stevens‘s short-lived CBS series, Mr. Broadway.

“Every Time We Say Goodbye”

Recently, Minnelli has made guest appearances on such shows as Arrested Development, Law & Order: Criminal Intent and Drop Dead Diva. In the UK she has appeared on the Ruby Wax, Graham Norton and Jonathan Ross shows and in October 2006 participated in a comedy skit on the Charlotte Church Show and was featured on the Michael Parkinson Show. Set to be a guest judge on Australian Idol 2009 on the 18th of October 2009. Appeared on The Joy Behar Show on September 1 2010.

“Never Never Land / Over The Rainbow”

In November 2009, American Public Television aired “Liza’s at the Palace”, taped from September 30-October 1, 2009 in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand’s Hollywood Theatre.[22] The executive producers of the taping, Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, previously were involved with the 2005 re-release of 1972’s Emmy and Peabody Award winning “Liza with a ‘Z'”.[23]


Year Film Role Notes
1949 In the Good Old Summertime Baby uncredited
1954 The Long, Long Trailer Wedding Guest scenes deleted
1967 Charlie Bubbles Eliza
1969 The Sterile Cuckoo ‘Pookie’ (Mary Ann) Adams David di Donatello for Best Foreign Actress
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress
Mar del Plata Film Festival Award for Best Actress
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actress
Nominated — BAFTA Award for Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Film Roles
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
1970 Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon Junie Moon
1972 Cabaret Sally Bowles Academy Award for Best Actress
BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role
David di Donatello for Best Foreign Actress
Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Sant Jordi Award for Best Performance in a Foreign Film
1974 Just One More Time Herself uncredited (short subject)
That’s Entertainment! Herself (narrator)
Journey Back to Oz Dorothy voice
1975 Lucky Lady Claire Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1976 Silent Movie Herself
A Matter of Time Nina
1977 New York, New York Francine Evans Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1981 Arthur Linda Marolla Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1983 The King of Comedy Herself appears in gag cardboard cutout
1984 The Muppets Take Manhattan Herself
1985 That’s Dancing! Herself – Host
1987 Pinocchio and the Emperor of the Night voice
Rent-A-Cop Della Roberts
1988 Arthur 2: On the Rocks Linda Marolla Bach
1991 Stepping Out Mavis Turner
1994 A Century of Cinema Herself documentary
1995 Unzipped Herself – uncredited documentary
2006 The OH in Ohio Alyssa Donahue
2010 Broadway: Beyond the Golden Age Herself documentary

Film Sequel To (Sex And The City)

Television movies

  • The Dangerous Christmas of Red Riding Hood (1965)
  • The Princess and the Pea (1984, episode of the television anthology Faerie Tale Theatre)
  • A Time to Live (1985)
  • Sam Found Out: A Triple Play (1988)
  • Parallel Lives (1994)
  • The West Side Waltz (1995)



Studio albums

  • Results (1989) US #128 UK #6, France #49, Sweden #23, mainly written and produced by Pet Shop Boys

Live albums

  • Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli Live at the London Palladium (1965) US #41
  • Liza Minnelli: Live at the Olympia in Paris (1972, recorded in December 1969)
  • Live at the Winter Garden (1974) US #150
  • Live at Carnegie Hall (1981)
  • Liza Minnelli at Carnegie Hall (1987) US #156
  • Liza: Live from Radio City Music Hall (1992)
  • Aznavour Minnelli: Paris, Palais des Congrès (1995)
  • Minnelli on Minnelli: Live at the Palace (1999)
  • Liza’s Back (2002)


  • Liza Minnelli: The Liza Minnelli Foursider (1990)
  • Liza Minnelli: The Collection (1997)
  • Liza Minnelli: A Touch Of Class (1997)
  • Liza Minnelli: It Was a Good Time: The Best of Judy Garland & Liza Minnelli (1998)
  • Liza Minnelli: 16 Biggest Hits (1999)
  • Liza Minnelli: Ultimate Collection (2001)
  • Liza Minnelli: The Capitol Collection (2001)
  • Liza Minnelli: Essential (2003)
  • Liza Minnelli: The Best Of Liza Minnelli (2004)
  • Liza Minnelli: When It Comes Down to It: 1968-1977 (2004)
  • Liza Minnelli: All That Jazz (2005)
  • Liza Minnelli: Say Liza (2005)
  • Liza Minnelli: The Complete Capitol Collection (2006)
  • Liza Minnelli: The Complete A&M Recordings (2008)

Soundtracks and cast recordings

  • Best Foot Forward (1963) (Original Cast Recording)
  • Flora the Red Menace (1965) (Original Cast Recording) US #115
  • The Dangerous Christmas of Red Riding Hood (1966) (soundtrack)
  • Cabaret (1972) (soundtrack) US #25 UK #13
  • Liza with a ‘Z’ (1972) (soundtrack) US #19 UK #9
  • Lucky Lady (1975) (soundtrack)
  • A Matter of Time (1976) (soundtrack)
  • New York, New York (1977) (soundtrack) US #50
  • The Act (1978) (Original Cast Recording)
  • The Rink (1984) (Original Cast Recording)
  • Stepping Out (1991) (soundtrack)
  • Music from The Life: A New Musical (1995) (concept cast album, is featured on “Use What You Got”, “We Had a Dream”, and “People Magazine”)
  • Sex and the City 2 (2010) (soundtrack) (“Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)” and “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye”)


  • “The Travelin’ Life”/”It’s Just a Matter of Time” (1961)
  • You Are For Loving“/”What Do You Think I Am” (1963)
  • “One Summer Love”/”How Much Do I Love You” (1963)
  • “Day Dreaming”/”His Woman” (1963)
  • “Hello Dolly”/”He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” (1964, with Judy Garland)
  • “A Quiet Thing”/”All I Need” (1965)
  • “Sing Happy”/”Dear Love” (1965)
  • “Imprevu”/”Did I Hurt Your Feelings” (1965)
  • “I’m Not Laughing” (1965)
  • “I (Who Have Nothing)”/”In the Middle of the Street” (1966)
  • “The Singer”/”Mr. Emory” (1972)
  • “More Than I Like You”/”Harbour” (1974)
  • All That Jazz“/”I Am My Own Best Friend” (1975)
  • Theme from New York, New York” (1977, US #104)
  • “For You, Armenia” (1988, with Irene Cara, Dionne Warwick)
  • Losing My Mind” (1989, UK #6, Austria #19, France #42, Holland #36, New Zealand #23, US Dance chart #11)
  • Don’t Drop Bombs” (1989, UK #46)
  • So Sorry, I Said” (1989, UK #62)
  • Love Pains” (1990, UK #41, US dance chart #40)
  • “The Day After That” (1993)
  • “Let’s Make a Date” (2008, with Johnny Rodgers)

Stage productions

Awards and honors

Film awards

Academy Awards[24]

  • 1970 nominated: Best Actress (The Sterile Cuckoo)
  • 1973 won: Best Actress (Cabaret)

Minnelli has the distinction of being the only Academy Award winner whose parents were both Academy Award winners (her father won as Best Director for Gigi and her mother received an honorary Oscar for The Wizard of Oz).

British Academy of Film and Television Arts[25]

  • 1971 nominated: Film Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Film Roles (The Sterile Cuckoo)
  • 1973 won: Best Actress (Cabaret)

Golden Globe Awards[26]

  • 1970 nominated: Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama (The Sterile Cuckoo)
  • 1973 won: Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy (Cabaret)
  • 1976 nominated: Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy (Lucky Lady)
  • 1982 nominated: Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy (Arthur)

Television awards

Emmy Awards[27]

  • 1973 won: Outstanding Single Program – Variety and Popular Music (Liza with a ‘Z’. A Concert for Television)
  • 1973 nominated: Outstanding Achievement by a Supporting Performer in a Variety Show or a Special (A Royal Gala Variety Performance)
  • 1980 nominated: Outstanding Variety or Music Program (Goldie and Liza Together)
  • 1987 nominated: Outstanding Informational Special (Minnelli on Minnelli: Liza Remembers Vincente)
  • 1993 nominated: Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program (Liza Live from Radio City Music Hall)

Golden Globe Awards[28]

  • 1986 won: Best Actress in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television (A Time to Live)

Recording awards

Grammy Awards

  • 1997 nominated: Best Traditional Pop Vocal Performance (Gently)
  • 2010 nominated: Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album (Liza’s at The Palace…!)

Grammy Hall of Fame Award

  • 2008 inducted (Cabaret. Original Soundtrack Recording)

Grammy Legend Award

  • 1990 won: Grammy Legend Award for Contributions and Influence in the Recording Field[29]

Stage awards

Drama Desk Awards

  • 1984 nominated: Outstanding Actress in a Musical (The Rink)
  • 2009 won: Drama Desk Special Award for “her role as a beloved American musical theater icon, for her enduring career of sustained excellence, and her glorious performance in Liza’s at The Palace…![30]

Independent Theatre Reviewers Association

  • 2009 won: Best Female Theatrical Performance (Liza’s at The Palace…!)

Theatre World Award

  • 1963 won: Outstanding Off-Broadway Debut (Best Foot Forward)

Tony Awards[31]

The show Liza’s at The Palace…! itself won the Tony Award for Best Special Theatrical Event in 2009.[33]

Miscellaneous Honors

Hasty Pudding Theatricals[34]

Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation[35]

  • 2005: Vanguard Award, for “her contributions to increased visibility and understanding of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community”

Mercy College (New York)[36]

  • 2007: Honorary Doctorate, “for her charitable activities and a career that has spanned five decades and multiple genres”[37]

Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays[38]

  • 2010: Straight for Equality in Entertainment Award, for “her lifelong support of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people.”

Judy Garland

Judy Garland (born Frances Ethel Gumm; June 10, 1922 – June 22, 1969) was an American actress and singer. Through a career that spanned 45 of her 47 years, Garland attained international stardom as an actress in musical and dramatic roles, as a recording artist and on the concert stage. Respected for her versatility, she received a Juvenile Academy Award, won a Golden Globe Award, received the Cecil B. DeMille Award for her work in films, as well as Grammy Awards and a Special Tony Award. After appearing in vaudeville with her sisters, Garland was signed to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer as a teenager. There she made more than two dozen films, including nine with Mickey Rooney and the 1939 film with which she would be most identified, The Wizard of Oz. After 15 years, Garland was released from the studio but gained renewed success through record-breaking concert appearances, including a critically acclaimed Carnegie Hall concert, a well-regarded but short-lived television series and a return to acting beginning with a critically acclaimed performance in A Star Is Born (1954).

From Meet Me In Saint Louis, “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”

Despite her professional triumphs, Garland battled personal problems throughout her life. Insecure about her appearance, her feelings were compounded by film executives who told her she was unattractive and manipulated her on-screen physical appearance. Plied with drugs to control her weight and increase her productivity, Garland endured a decades-long struggle with prescription drug addiction. Garland was plagued by financial instability, often owing hundreds of thousands of dollars in back taxes. She married five times, with her first four marriages ending in divorce. She also attempted suicide on a number of occasions. Garland died of an accidental drug overdose at the age of 47, leaving children Liza Minnelli, Lorna Luft and Joey Luft.

1950 From Summer Stock, “Get Happy”

In 1997, Garland was posthumously awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Several of her recordings have been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. In 1999, the American Film Institute placed her among the ten greatest female stars in the history of American cinema.

Born Frances Ethel Gumm in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, Judy Garland was the youngest child of Francis Avent “Frank” Gumm (March 20, 1886–November 17, 1935) and Ethel Marion Milne (November 17, 1893–January 5, 1953). Garland’s parents were vaudevillians who settled in Grand Rapids to run a movie theatre that featured vaudeville acts.

Garland’s ancestry on both sides of her family can be traced back to the early colonial days of the United States. Her father was descended from the Marable family of Virginia, and her mother from Patrick Fitzpatrick, who emigrated to America in the 1770s from Smithtown, County Meath, Ireland.[1]

Named after both her parents and baptized at a local Episcopal church, “Baby” (as Frances was called by her parents and sisters) shared her family’s flair for song and dance. Baby Gumm’s first appearance came at the age of two-and-a-half when she joined her two older sisters, Mary Jane “Suzy/Suzanne” Gumm (1915–64) and Dorothy Virginia “Jimmie” Gumm (1917–77), on the stage of her father’s movie theater during a Christmas show and sang a chorus of “Jingle Bells“.[2] Accompanied by their mother on piano, The Gumm Sisters performed at their father’s theater for the next few years. Following rumors that Frank Gumm had made sexual advances toward male ushers at his theater, the family relocated to Lancaster, California, in June 1926.[3] Frank purchased and operated another theater in Lancaster, and Ethel, acting as their manager, began working to get her daughters into motion pictures.

In 1928, The Gumm Sisters enrolled in a dance school run by Ethel Meglin, proprietress of the Meglin Kiddies dance troupe. The sisters appeared with the troupe at its annual Christmas show.[4] It was through the Meglin Kiddies that Garland and her sisters made their film debut, in a 1929 short subject called The Big Revue. This was followed by appearances in two Vitaphone shorts the following year, A Holiday in Storyland (featuring Garland’s first on-screen solo) and The Wedding of Jack and Jill. They next appeared together in Bubbles. The final on-screen appearance of The Gumm Sisters came in 1935, in another short entitled La Fiesta de Santa Barbara.[5]

From the Dean Martin Show, Judy, Frank and Dean

In 1934, the sisters, who by then had been touring the vaudeville circuit as “The Gumm Sisters” for many years, performed in Chicago at the Oriental Theater with George Jessel. He encouraged the group to choose a more appealing name after the name “Gumm” was met with laughter from the audience. “The Garland Sisters” was chosen, and Frances changed her name to “Judy” soon after, inspired by a popular Hoagy Carmichael song.[6]

Several stories persist regarding the origin of the name “Garland”. One is that it was originated by Jessel after Carole Lombard‘s character Lily Garland in the film Twentieth Century which was then playing at the Oriental; another is that the trio chose the surname after drama critic Robert Garland.[7] Garland’s daughter Lorna Luft stated that her mother selected the name when Jessel announced that the trio of singers “looked prettier than a garland of flowers”.[8] Another variation surfaced when Jessel was a guest on Garland’s television show in 1963. He claimed that he had sent actress Judith Anderson a telegram containing the word “garland,” and it stuck in his mind.[9]

At any rate, by late 1934 the “Gumm Sisters” had changed their name to the “Garland Sisters.”[10] The trio was broken up in August 1935, however, when Suzanne Garland flew to Reno, Nevada, and married musician Lee Kahn, a member of the Jimmy Davis orchestra playing at Cal-Neva Lodge, Lake Tahoe.[11]

In 1935, Garland was signed to a contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, supposedly without a screen test, though she had made a test for the studio several months earlier. The studio did not know what to do with Garland, as at age 13 she was older than the traditional child star but too young for adult roles. Garland’s physical appearance created a dilemma for MGM. At only 4 feet 11.5 inches (151.1 cm), Garland’s “cute” or “girl next door” looks did not exemplify the more glamorous persona required of leading ladies of the time. She was self-conscious and anxious about her appearance. “Judy went to school at Metro with Ava Gardner, Lana Turner, Elizabeth Taylor, real beauties,” said Charles Walters, who directed Garland in a number of films. “Judy was the big money-maker at the time, a big success, but she was the ugly duckling … I think it had a very damaging effect on her emotionally for a long time. I think it lasted forever, really.”[12] Her insecurity was exacerbated by the attitude of studio chief Louis B. Mayer, who referred to her as his “little hunchback”.[13] During her early years at the studio, she was photographed and dressed in plain garments or frilly juvenile gowns and costumes to match the “girl-next-door” image that was created for her. She was made to wear removable caps on her teeth and rubberized disks to reshape her nose.[14] She performed at various studio functions and was eventually cast opposite Deanna Durbin in the musical short Every Sunday. The film contrasted Garland’s contralto vocal range[15] and swing style with Durbin’s operatic soprano and served as an extended screen test for the pair, as studio executives were questioning the wisdom of having two girl singers on the roster.[16] Mayer finally decided to keep both girls, but by that time Durbin’s option had lapsed and she was signed by Universal Studios.

“The Boy Next Door”

On November 16, 1935, in the midst of preparing for a radio performance on the Shell Chateau Hour, Garland learned that her father—who had been hospitalized with meningitis—had taken a turn for the worse. Frank Gumm died the following morning, on November 17, leaving Garland devastated. Garland’s song for the Shell Chateau Hour was her first professional rendition of “Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart“, a song which would become a standard in many of her concerts.[17]

Garland with Mickey Rooney in Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938)

Garland next came to the attention of studio executives by singing a special arrangement of “You Made Me Love You” to Clark Gable at a birthday party held by the studio for the actor; her rendition was so well regarded that Garland performed the song in the all-star extravaganza Broadway Melody of 1938 (1937), in which she sang the song to a photograph of Gable.[18]

MGM hit on a winning formula when it paired Garland with Mickey Rooney in a string of “backyard musicals”.[19] The duo first appeared together in the 1937 B movie Thoroughbreds Don’t Cry. They became a sensation, and teamed up again in Love Finds Andy Hardy. Garland would eventually star with Rooney in nine films.

Judy and Barbara Streisand, “Get Happy” and Happy Days Are Here Again”

To keep up with the frantic pace of making one film after another, Garland, Rooney, and other young performers were constantly given amphetamines, as well as barbiturates to take before bed.[20] For Garland, this regular dose of drugs led to addiction and a lifelong struggle, and contributed to her eventual demise. She later resented the hectic schedule and felt that her youth had been stolen from her by MGM. Despite successful film and recording careers, several awards, critical praise, and her ability to fill concert halls worldwide, Garland was plagued throughout her life with self-doubt and required constant reassurance that she was talented and attractive.[21]

In 1938, at the age of 16, Garland was cast in the lead role of Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz (1939), a film based on the children’s book by L. Frank Baum. In this film, Garland sang the song for which she would forever be identified, “Over the Rainbow“. Although producers Arthur Freed and Mervyn LeRoy had wanted Garland from the start, studio chief Mayer tried first to borrow Shirley Temple from 20th Century Fox. Temple’s services were denied and Garland was cast.[22] Garland was initially outfitted in a blonde wig for the part, but Freed and LeRoy decided against it shortly into filming. Her breasts were bound with tape and she was made to wear a special corset to flatten out her curves and make her appear younger; her blue gingham dress was also chosen for its blurring effect on her figure.[23]

Shooting commenced on October 13, 1938,[24] and was completed on March 16, 1939,[25] with a final cost of more than $2 million.[26] From the conclusion of filming, MGM kept Garland busy with promotional tours and the shooting of Babes in Arms. Garland and Mickey Rooney were sent on a cross-country promotional tour, culminating in the August 17 New York City premiere at the Capitol Theatre, which included a five-show-a-day appearance schedule for the two stars.[27]

Liza on the Judy Garland Show

On November 17, 1939, Garland’s mother, Ethel, married William P. Gillmore in Yuma, Arizona.[28] It was the fourth anniversary of her first husband’s death.

The Wizard of Oz was a tremendous critical success, though its high budget and promotions costs of an estimated $4 million coupled with the lower revenue generated by children’s tickets, meant that the film did not make a profit until it was rereleased in the 1940s.[29] At the 1940 Academy Awards ceremony, Garland received an Academy Juvenile Award for her performances in 1939, including The Wizard of Oz and Babes in Arms.[30] Following this recognition, Garland became one of MGM’s most bankable stars.

“Over The Rainbow” By Judy Garland In “The Wizard Of Oz” in HQ.

Somewhere over the rainbow
Way up high,
There’s a land that I heard of
Once in a lullaby.

Somewhere over the rainbow
Skies are blue,
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true.

Someday I’ll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far
Behind me.
Where troubles melt like lemon drops
Away above the chimney tops
That’s where you’ll find me.

Somewhere over the rainbow
Bluebirds fly.
Birds fly over the rainbow.
Why then, oh why can’t I?

If happy little bluebirds fly
Beyond the rainbow
Why, oh why can’t I?

In 1940, she starred in three films: Andy Hardy Meets Debutante, Strike Up the Band, and Little Nellie Kelly. In the latter, Garland played her first adult role, a dual role of both mother and daughter. Little Nellie Kelly was purchased from George M. Cohan as a vehicle for Garland to assess both her audience appeal and her physical appearance. The role was a challenge for her, requiring the use of an accent, her first adult kiss, and the only death scene of her career.[31] The success of these three films, and a further three films in 1941, secured her position at MGM as a major property.

Garland performing “The Trolley Song” in Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

During this time Garland experienced her first serious adult romances. The first was with the band leader Artie Shaw. Garland was deeply devoted to Shaw and was devastated in early 1940 when Shaw eloped with Lana Turner.[32] Garland began a relationship with musician David Rose, and on her 18th birthday, Rose gave her an engagement ring. The studio intervened because Rose was still married at the time to the actress and singer Martha Raye. The couple agreed to wait a year to allow for Rose’s divorce from Raye to become final, and were wed on July 27, 1941.[33] She was noticeably thinner in her next film, For Me and My Gal, alongside Gene Kelly in his first screen appearance. Garland was top billed over the credits for the first time, and effectively made the transition from teenage star to adult actress.

Peggy Lee and Judy Garland on the Judy Garland Show

At the age of 21, she was given the “glamour treatment” in Presenting Lily Mars, in which she was dressed in “grown-up” gowns. Her lightened hair was also pulled up in a stylish fashion. However, no matter how glamorous or beautiful she appeared on screen or in photographs, she was never confident in her appearance and never escaped the “girl next door” image that had been created for her.[34] Adding to her insecurity was the dissolution of her marriage to David Rose. Garland, who had aborted her pregnancy by Rose in 1942, agreed to a trial separation in January 1943, and they divorced in 1944.[35]

One of Garland’s most successful films for MGM was Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), in which she introduced three standards: “The Trolley Song“, “The Boy Next Door“, and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas“. Vincente Minnelli was assigned to direct this movie, and he requested that make-up artist Dorothy Ponedel be assigned to Garland for the picture. Ponedel refined Garland’s appearance in several ways, including extending and reshaping her eyebrows, changing her hairline, modifying her lip line, and removing her nose discs. Garland appreciated the results so much that Ponedel was written into her contract for all her remaining pictures at MGM. During the filming of Meet Me in St. Louis, after some initial conflict between them, Garland and Minnelli entered a relationship together. They were married June 15, 1945,[36] and on March 12, 1946, daughter Liza Minnelli was born.[37]

The Clock (1945) was her first straight dramatic film, opposite Robert Walker. Though the film was critically praised and earned a profit, most movie fans expected her to sing. It would be many years before she acted again in a non-singing dramatic role.

Sammy Davis and Judy Garland

Garland’s other famous films of the 1940s include The Harvey Girls (1946), in which she introduced the Academy Award-winning song “On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe“, and The Pirate (1948).

During filming for The Pirate in April 1947, Garland suffered a nervous breakdown and was placed in a private sanitarium.[38] She was able to complete filming, but in July of that year she undertook her first suicide attempt, making minor cuts to her wrist with a broken glass.[39] During this period, Garland spent two weeks in treatment at the Austen Riggs Center, a psychiatric hospital in Stockbridge, Mass.[40] Following her work on The Pirate, Garland completed three more films for MGM: Easter Parade (in which she danced with Fred Astaire), In the Good Old Summertime, and her final film with MGM, Summer Stock.

Because of her mental condition, Garland was unable to complete a series of films. During the filming of The Barkleys of Broadway, Garland was taking prescription sleeping medication along with illicitly obtained pills containing morphine. These, in combination with migraine headaches, led Garland to miss several shooting days in a row. After being advised by Garland’s doctor that she would only be able to work in four- to five-day increments with extended rest periods between, MGM executive Arthur Freed made the decision to suspend Garland on July 18, 1948. She was replaced by Ginger Rogers.[41]

1964 “As Long As He Needs Me” from the Broadway musical, Oliver

Garland was cast in the film adaptation of Annie Get Your Gun in the title role of Annie Oakley. She was nervous at the prospect of taking on a role strongly identified with Ethel Merman, anxious about appearing in an unglamorous part after breaking from juvenile parts for several years, and disturbed by her treatment at the hands of director Busby Berkeley. She began arriving late to the set, and sometimes failed to appear. She was suspended from the picture on May 10, 1949, and was replaced by Betty Hutton.[42]

Garland was next cast in the film Royal Wedding with Fred Astaire after June Allyson became pregnant in 1950. She again failed to report to the set on multiple occasions, and the studio suspended her contract on June 17, 1950, replacing her with Jane Powell.[43] Reputable biographies following Garland’s death stated that after this latest dismissal, she slightly grazed her neck with a broken water glass, requiring only a Band-Aid, but at the time, the public was informed that a despondent Garland had slashed her throat.[44] “All I could see ahead was more confusion,” Garland later said of this suicide attempt. “I wanted to black out the future as well as the past. I wanted to hurt myself and everyone who had hurt me.”[45]

In 1951, Garland divorced Vincente Minnelli.[46] She engaged Sid Luft as her manager the same year.[47] Luft arranged a four-month concert tour of the United Kingdom, where she played to sold-out audiences throughout England, Scotland, and Ireland.[48] The tour included Garland’s first appearances at the renowned London Palladium, for a four-week stand in April.[49] Although the British press chided her before her opening for being “too plump”, she received rave reviews and the ovation was described by the Palladium manager as the loudest he had ever heard.[50]

In October 1951, Garland opened in a vaudeville-style, two-a-day engagement at Broadway’s newly refurbished Palace Theatre. Her 19-week engagement exceeded all previous records for the theater, and was described as “one of the greatest personal triumphs in show business history”.[51] Garland was honored for her contribution to the revival of vaudeville with a Special Tony Award.[52]

“By Myself”

Garland and Luft were married on June 8, 1952, in Hollister, California,[53] and Garland gave birth to the couple’s first child, Lorna Luft, on November 21 that year.[54]

Garland’s personal and professional achievements during this time were marred by the actions of her mother, Ethel. In May 1952, at the height of Garland’s comeback, Ethel was featured in a Los Angeles Mirror story in which she revealed that while Garland was making a small fortune at the Palace, Ethel was working a desk job at Douglas Aircraft Company for $61 a week.[55] Garland and Ethel had been estranged for years, with Garland characterizing her mother as “no good for anything except to create chaos and fear” and accusing her of mismanaging and misappropriating Garland’s salary from the earliest days of her career.[56] Garland’s sister Virginia denied this, stating “Mama never took a dime from Judy.”[57] On January 5, 1953, Ethel was found dead in the Douglas Aircraft parking lot.

In 1954, Garland filmed a musical remake of the 1937 film A Star is Born for Warner Bros. Luft and Garland, through their production company Transcona Enterprises, produced the film while Warner Bros. supplied the funds, production facilities, and crew.[59] Directed by George Cukor and co-starring James Mason, it was a large undertaking to which Garland initially fully dedicated herself. As shooting progressed, however, she began making the same pleas of illness which she had so often made during her final films at MGM. Production delays led to cost overruns and angry confrontations with Warner Bros. head Jack Warner. Principal photography wrapped on March 17, 1954. At Luft’s suggestion, the “Born in a Trunk” medley was filmed as a showcase for Garland and inserted over director Cukor’s objections, who feared the additional length would lead to cuts in other areas. The “Born in a Trunk” sequence was completed on July 29.[60]

Garland in A Star Is Born (1954)

Upon its September 29 world premiere, the film was met with tremendous critical and popular acclaim. Before release it was edited at the instruction of Jack Warner; theater operators, concerned that they were losing money because they were only able to run the film for three or four shows per day instead of five or six, pressured the studio to make additional reductions. About 30 minutes of footage was cut, sparking outrage among critics and filmgoers. A Star is Born ended up losing money, and the secure financial position Garland had expected from the profits did not materialize.[61] Transcona made no more films with Warner.[62]

1963 “You Made Me Love You”

Garland was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress and, in the run-up to the 27th Academy Awards, was generally expected to be the winner. She could not attend the ceremony because she had just given birth to her son, Joseph Luft, so a television crew was in Garland’s hospital room with cameras and wires to televise Garland’s anticipated acceptance speech. The Oscar was won, however, by Grace Kelly for The Country Girl (1954). The camera crew was packing up before Kelly could even reach the stage. Garland even made jokes about the incident, on her television series, saying “…and nobody said good-bye.” Groucho Marx sent Garland a telegram after the awards ceremony, declaring her loss “the biggest robbery since Brinks“. To this day, it is still considered to be one of the biggest upsets in the history of the Academy Awards.[63] Garland won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Musical for the role.[64]

Garland’s films after A Star Is Born included Judgment at Nuremberg (1961) (for which she was Oscar- and Golden Globe-nominated for Best Supporting Actress), the animated feature Gay Purr-ee (1962), and A Child Is Waiting (1963) with Burt Lancaster. Her final film, I Could Go On Singing (1963), co-starring Dirk Bogarde, mirrored her own life with its story of a world famous singing star. Garland’s last screen performance of a song was the prophetic I Could Go on Singing at the end of the film.

Beginning in 1955, Garland appeared in a number of television specials. The first, the 1955 debut episode of Ford Star Jubilee, was the first full-scale color broadcast ever on CBS and was a ratings triumph, scoring a 34.8 Nielsen rating. Garland signed a three-year, $300,000 contract with the network. Only one additional special, a live concert edition of General Electric Theater, was broadcast in 1956 before the relationship between the Lufts and CBS broke down in a dispute over the planned format of upcoming specials.[65] In 1956, Garland performed four weeks at the New Frontier Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip for a salary of $55,000 per week, making her the highest-paid entertainer to work in Las Vegas.[66] Despite a brief bout of laryngitis, her performances there were so successful that her run was extended an extra week.[67] Later that year she returned to the Palace Theatre, site of her two-a-day triumph. She opened in September, once again to rave reviews and popular acclaim.[68]

In November 1959 Garland was hospitalized, diagnosed with acute hepatitis.[69] Over the next few weeks several quarts of fluid were drained from her body until, still weak, she was released from the hospital in January 1960. She was told by doctors that she likely had five years or less to live, and that even if she did survive she would be a semi-invalid and would never sing again.[70] She initially felt “greatly relieved” at the diagnosis. “The pressure was off me for the first time in my life.”[44] However, Garland successfully recovered over the next several months and, in August of that year, returned to the stage of the Palladium. She felt so warmly embraced by the British that she announced her intention to move permanently to England.[71]

Garland before a concert in 1957

Her concert appearance at Carnegie Hall on April 23, 1961, was a considerable highlight, called by many “the greatest night in show business history”.[72] The two-record Judy at Carnegie Hall was certified gold, charting for 95 weeks on Billboard, including 13 weeks at number one. The album won four Grammy Awards including Album of the Year and Best Female Vocal of the Year.[73] The album has never been out of print.

In 1961, Garland and CBS settled their contract disputes with the help of her new agent, Freddie Fields, and negotiated a new round of specials. The first, entitled The Judy Garland Show, aired in 1962 and featured guests Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.[74] Following this success, CBS made a $24 million offer to Garland for a weekly television series of her own, also to be called The Judy Garland Show, which was deemed at the time in the press to be “the biggest talent deal in TV history”. Although Garland had said as early as 1955 that she would never do a weekly television series,[75] in the early 1960s she was in a financially precarious situation. Garland was several hundred thousand dollars in debt to the Internal Revenue Service, having failed to pay taxes in 1951 and 1952, and the financial failure of A Star is Born meant that she received nothing from that investment.[76] A successful run on television was intended to secure Garland’s financial future.

Following a third special, Judy Garland and Her Guests Phil Silvers and Robert Goulet, Garland’s weekly series debuted September 29, 1963.[77] The Judy Garland Show was critically praised,[78][79] but for a variety of reasons (including being placed in the time slot opposite Bonanza on NBC) the show lasted only one season and was cancelled in 1964 after 26 episodes. Despite its short run, the series was nominated for four Emmy Awards.[80] The demise of the series was personally and financially devastating for Garland, who never fully recovered from its failure.

With the demise of her television series, Garland returned to the stage. Most notably, she performed at the London Palladium with her then 18-year-old daughter Liza Minnelli in November 1964. The concert, which was also filmed for British television network ITV, was one of Garland’s final appearances at the venue. She made guest appearances on the The Ed Sullivan Show, The Tonight Show, The Hollywood Palace, and The Merv Griffin Show, guest-hosting an episode of the last one.[81]

Garland sued Sid Luft for divorce in 1963, claiming “cruelty” as the grounds. She also asserted that Luft had repeatedly struck her while he was drinking and that he had attempted to take their children from her by force.[82] She had filed for divorce more than once previously, including as early as 1956.[83]

From the famous Carnegie Hall concert, “The Man That Got Away”

A 1964 tour of Australia was largely disastrous. Garland’s first concert in Sydney, held in the Sydney Stadium because no concert hall could accommodate the crowds who wanted to see her, went well and received positive reviews. Her second performance, in Melbourne, started an hour late. The crowd of 7,000, angered by her tardiness—and believing Garland to be drunk—booed and heckled her, and she fled the stage after just 45 minutes.[84] She later characterized the Melbourne crowd as “brutish”.[56] A second concert in Sydney was uneventful but the Melbourne appearance garnered her significant bad press.[85] Some of that bad press was deflected by the announcement of a near fatal episode of pleurisy, followed by Garland’s fourth marriage to tour promoter Mark Herron. They announced that their marriage had taken place aboard a freighter off the coast of Hong Kong; however, Garland was not legally divorced from Luft at the time the ceremony was performed.[86] Her divorce from Luft became final on May 19, 1965,[82] but Herron and Garland did not legally marry until November 14.[87]

In February 1967, Garland had been cast as “Helen Lawson” in Valley of the Dolls for 20th Century Fox. The character of “Neely O’Hara” in the book by Jacqueline Susann was rumored to have been based on Garland.[88] The role of O’Hara in the film was played by Patty Duke. During the filming, Garland missed rehearsals and was fired in April. She was replaced by Susan Hayward.[89] Garland’s prerecording of the song “I’ll Plant My Own Tree” survives today, along with her wardrobe tests.

Returning to the stage, Garland made her last appearances at New York’s Palace Theatre in July, a 16-show tour, performing with her children Lorna and Joey Luft. Garland wore a sequined pantsuit on stage for this tour, which was part of the original wardrobe for her character in Valley of the Dolls.[90]

By early 1969, Garland’s health had deteriorated. She performed in London at the Talk of the Town nightclub for a five-week run[91] and made her last concert appearance in Copenhagen during March 1969.[92] She married her final husband, Mickey Deans, in London on March 17, 1969,[93] her divorce from Herron having been finalized on February 11 of that year.[94] On June 22, 1969, Garland was found dead by Deans in the bathroom of their rented Chelsea, London house. The coroner, Gavin Thursdon, stated at the inquest that the cause of death was “an incautious self-overdosage” of barbiturates; her blood contained the equivalent of ten 1.5-grain (97 mg) Seconal capsules.[95] Thursdon stressed that the overdose had been unintentional and that there was no evidence to suggest she had committed suicide. Garland’s autopsy showed that there was no inflammation of her stomach lining and no drug residue in her stomach, which indicated that the drug had been ingested over a long period of time, rather than in one dose. Her death certificate stated that her death had been “accidental.”[96] Even so, a British specialist who had attended Garland said she had been living on borrowed time due to cirrhosis of the liver.[97] Garland had turned 47 just 12 days prior to her death. Her Wizard of Oz co-star Ray Bolger commented at Garland’s funeral, “She just plain wore out.” An estimated 20,000 people lined up for hours at the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Chapel to view her body. Prominent minister Jonathan North gave the eulogy at the funeral.[98] Garland was interred in Ferncliff Cemetery, in Hartsdale, New York.

“San Francisco” from the Carnegie Hall concert

Quick Bio Facts:

Judy GarlandJudy Garland – AKA Frances Ethel Gumm

Born: 10-Jun1922
Birthplace: Grand Rapids, MN
Died: 22-Jun1969
Location of death: London, England
Cause of death: Accident – Overdose
Remains: Buried, Ferncliff Cemetery, Hartsdale, NY

Gender: Female
Religion: Anglican/Episcopalian
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Singer, Actor

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Dorothy in Wizard of Oz

Father: Francis Avent Gumm (“Frank”, d. spinal meningitis)
Mother: Ethel Milne (d. 5-Jan-1953)
Sister: Mary Jane Gumm (“Susie”, b. 9-Sep-1915, d. May-1964 suicide)
Sister: Dorothy Virginia Gumm (“Jimmie”, b. 4-Jul-1917, d. 27-May-1977)
Husband: David Rose (bandleader, m. 28-Jul-1941, div. 8-Jun-1944, d. 23-Aug-1990)
Husband: Vincente Minnelli (film director, m. 15-Jun-1945, div. 29-Mar-1951, one daughter)
Daughter: Liza Minnelli (actress, b. 12-Mar-1946)
Husband: Sidney Luft (producer, m. 8-Jun-1952, div. 19-May-1965, one daughter, one son)
Daughter: Lorna Luft (actress/performer, b. 21-Nov-1952)
Son: Joey Luft (photographer, b. 29-Mar-1955)
Husband: Mark Herron (actor, b. 8-Jul-1928, m. 14-Nov-1965, sep. 1966, div. 9-Jan-1969, d. 13-Jan-1996)
Husband: Mickey Devinko (“Mickey Deans”, disco promoter, b. 24-Sep-1934, m. 15-Mar-1969 until her death, d. 11-Jun-2003)
Boyfriend: Tyrone Power (actor)

High School: Hollywood High School, Hollywood, CA (attended)
High School: University High School, Los Angeles, CA (graduated)

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Contract (1935-48)
Endorsement of Liggett Group Chesterfield cigarettes
Job’s Daughters
March of Dimes
Oscar (Juvenile) 1940
Golden Globe 1955 for A Star is Born
Grammy 1997 (lifetime achievement, posthumous)
Hollywood Walk of Fame 6764 Hollywood Blvd.
Hollywood Walk of Fame 1715 Vine St.
Suicide Attempt 1947
Suicide Attempt 1951
Nervous Breakdown
Shock Treatment
Huguenot Ancestry
Risk Factors: Hepatitis, Smoking, Alcoholism, Insomnia, Depression, Amphetamines

I Could Go on Singing (15-May-1963)
A Child Is Waiting (13-Feb-1963)
Gay Purr-ee (24-Oct-1962) [VOICE]
Judgment at Nuremberg (14-Dec-1961)
Pepe (21-Dec-1960) Herself
A Star Is Born (29-Sep-1954)
Summer Stock (31-Aug-1950)
In the Good Old Summertime (29-Jul-1949)
Words and Music (9-Dec-1948) Herself
Easter Parade (30-Jun-1948)
The Pirate (20-May-1948)
Till the Clouds Roll By (5-Dec-1946)
Ziegfeld Follies (8-Apr-1946)
The Harvey Girls (18-Jan-1946)
The Clock (22-Mar-1945)
Meet Me in St. Louis (28-Nov-1944)
Girl Crazy (26-Nov-1943)
Thousands Cheer (13-Sep-1943) Herself
Presenting Lily Mars (29-Apr-1943)
For Me and My Gal (21-Oct-1942)
Babes on Broadway (31-Dec-1941)
Life Begins for Andy Hardy (15-Aug-1941)
Ziegfeld Girl (25-Apr-1941)
Little Nellie Kelly (22-Nov-1940)
Strike Up the Band (27-Sep-1940)
Andy Hardy Meets Debutante (5-Jul-1940)
Babes in Arms (13-Oct-1939)
The Wizard of Oz (12-Aug-1939)
Listen, Darling (18-Oct-1938)
Love Finds Andy Hardy (22-Jul-1938)
Everybody Sing (4-Feb-1938)
Thoroughbreds Don’t Cry (25-Nov-1937)
Broadway Melody of 1938 (20-Aug-1937)
Pigskin Parade (23-Oct-1936)

Sources: Wikipedia, nndb.com, youtube, imdb.com, judygarland.com

Mel Tormé

Melvin Howard Tormé (September 13, 1925 – June 5, 1999), nicknamed The Velvet Fog, was an American musician, known for his jazz singing. He was also a jazz composer and arranger, a drummer, an actor in radio, film, and television, and the author of five books. He co-wrote the classic holiday song “The Christmas Song” (also known as “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire”) with Bob Wells.

Melvin Howard Torme was born in Chicago, Illinois, to immigrant Russian Jewish parents,[1] whose surname had been Torma. However the name was changed at Ellis Island to “Torme”. A child prodigy, he first sang professionally at age 4 with the Coon-Sanders Orchestra, singing “You’re Driving Me Crazy” at Chicago’s Blackhawk restaurant.[2]

Between 1933 and 1941, he acted in the network radio serials The Romance of Helen Trent and Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy. He wrote his first song at 13, and three years later, his first published song, “Lament to Love,” became a hit recording for Harry

In 1943, Tormé made his movie debut in Frank Sinatra‘s first film, the musical Higher and Higher. He went on to sing and act in many films and television episodes throughout his career, even hosting his own television show in 1951–52. His appearance in the 1947 film musical Good News made him a teen idol for a few years.

In 1944 he formed the vocal quintet “Mel Tormé and His Mel-Tones,” modeled on Frank Sinatra and The Pied Pipers. The Mel-Tones, which included Les Baxter and Ginny O’Connor, had several hits fronting Artie Shaw‘s band and on their own, including Cole Porter‘s “What Is This Thing Called Love?” The Mel-Tones were among the first jazz-influenced vocal groups, blazing a path later followed by The Hi-Lo’s, The Four Freshmen, and The Manhattan Transfer.

Later in 1947, Tormé went solo. His singing at New York’s Copacabana led a local disc jockey, Fred Robbins, to give him the nickname “The Velvet Fog,” thinking to honor his high tenor and smooth vocal style, but Tormé detested the nickname. (He self-deprecatingly referred to it as “this Velvet Frog voice”. As a solo singer, he recorded several romantic hits for Decca (1945), and with the Artie Shaw Orchestra on the Musicraft label (1946–48). In 1949, he moved to Capitol Records, where his first record, “Careless Hands,” became his only number one hit. His versions of “Again” and “Blue Moon” became signature tunes. His composition “California Suite,” prompted by Gordon Jenkins‘ “Manhattan Tower,” became Capitol’s first 12-inch LP album. Around this time, he helped pioneer cool jazz.

From 1955 to 1957, Tormé recorded seven jazz vocal albums for Red Clyde’s Bethlehem Records, all with groups led by Marty Paich, most notably Mel Tormé with the Marty Paich Dektette. When rock and roll music (which Tormé called “three-chord manure”) came on the scene in the 1950s, commercial success became elusive. During the next two decades, Tormé often recorded mediocre arrangements of the pop tunes of the day, never staying long with any particular label. He was sometimes forced to make his living by singing in obscure clubs. He had two minor hits, his 1956 recording of “Mountain Greenery,” which did better in the United Kingdom where it reached #4 in May that year; and his 1962 R&B song “Comin’ Home, Baby,” arranged by Claus Ogerman. The latter recording led the jazz and gospel singer Ethel Waters to say that “Tormé is the only white man who sings with the soul of a black man.” It was later covered instrumentally by Quincy Jones and Kai Winding

Mel with his idol, Ella Fitzgerald singing the Gershwin Tune, “Lady Be Good” -very brief clip, but terrific!!

In 1960, he appeared with Don Dubbins in the episode “The Junket” in NBC‘s short-lived crime drama Dan Raven, starring Skip Homeier and set on the Sunset Strip of West Hollywood. He also had a significant role in a cross-cultural western entitled Walk Like a Dragon staring Jack Lord. Tormé played ‘The Deacon’, a bible-quoting gunfighter who worked as an enforcer for a lady saloon-owner and teaches a young Chinese, played by James Shigeta, the art of the fast draw. In one scene, he tells a soon-to-be victim: ‘Say your prayers, brother Masters. You’re a corpse.’ And then delivers on the promise. Tormé, like Sammy Davis Jr. and Robert Fuller was a real-life fast-draw expert. He also sang the title song.

Now here’s Mel’s version of “Lady Be Good” in the style of Ella Fitzgerald. I was at this concert. It was in San Francisco in 1992.

In 1963–64, Tormé wrote songs and musical arrangements for the The Judy Garland Show, where he made three guest appearances. However, he and Garland had a serious falling out, and he was fired from the series, which was canceled by CBS not long afterward. A few years later, after Garland’s death, his time with her show became the subject of his first book, “The Other Side of the Rainbow with Judy Garland on the Dawn Patrol” (1970). Although the book was praised, some felt it painted an unflattering picture of Judy, and that Tormé had perhaps over-inflated his own contributions to the program; it led to an unsuccessful lawsuit by Garland’s family. Other books by Tormé include Wynner (1979), It Wasn’t All Velvet (1988) and My Singing Teachers: Reflections on Singing Popular Music (1994).

Here with jean Toots Thielemans, “Bluesette”

Tormé befriended Buddy Rich, the day Rich left the Marine Corps in 1942. Rich became the subject of Tormé’s book Traps — The Drum Wonder: The Life of Buddy Rich (1987). Tormé also owned and played a drum set that drummer Gene Krupa used for many years. George Spink, treasurer of the Jazz Institute of Chicago from 1978 to 1981, recalled that Tormé played this drum set at the 1979 Chicago Jazz Festival with Benny Goodman on the classic “Sing, Sing, Sing.”[3] Tormé had a deep appreciation for classical music; especially that of Frederick Delius and Percy Grainger.

James. He played drums in Chicago’s Shakespeare Elementary School drum and bugle corps in his early teens. While a teenager, he sang, arranged, and played drums in a band led by Chico Marx of the Marx Brothers. His formal education ended in 1944 with his graduation from Chicago’s Hyde Park High School.

1976 Grammy Awards. Another Great clip of Mel and Ella together. Unbelievable!! There will never be another Ella or Mel!!

The resurgence of vocal jazz in the 1970s resulted in another artistically fertile period for Tormé, whose live performances during the 1960s and 1970s fueled a growing reputation as a jazz singer. He found himself performing as often as 200 times a year around the globe. In 1976, he won an Edison Award (the Dutch equivalent of the Grammy) for best male singer, and a Down Beat award for best male jazz singer. For several years around this time, his September appearances at Michael’s Pub on the Upper East Side would unofficially open New York’s fall cabaret season. Tormé viewed his 1977 Carnegie Hall concert with George Shearing and Gerry Mulligan as a turning point. Shearing later said:

“It is impossible to imagine a more compatible musical partner… I humbly put forth that Mel and I had the best musical marriage in many a year. We literally breathed together during our countless performances. As Mel put it, we were two bodies of one musical mind.”

Starting in 1982, Tormé recorded several albums with Concord Records, including:

In the 1980s, he often performed with pianist John Colianni as well as famed New Zealand pianist Carl Doy.

Merv Griffin Show, 1985, 15th Air Force Band

And again with Judy Garland on the Judy Garland Show Mid Sixties

In 1993, Verve Records released the classic “Blue Moon” album featuring the Velvet voice and the Rodgers and Hart Songbook. His version of Blue Moon performed live at the “Sands” in November that year earned him a new nickname from older audiences: “The Blue Fox.” The nickname was used to describe Tormé’s performance after spending an extra hour with pianist Bill Butler cracking jokes and answering queries from a throng of more “mature” women who turned out to see the show. Under the shimmering blue lights at the Sands, he gained a new nickname that would endure for every future performance in Las Vegas and his last performance at Carnegie Hall. Tormé would develop other nicknames later in life, but none seemed as popular as the Velvet Fog (primarily on the East Coast) and the Blue Fox.

Tormé made nine guest appearances as himself on the 1980s situation comedy Night Court whose main character, Judge Harry Stone (played by Harry Anderson), was depicted as an unabashed Tormé fan (an admiration that Anderson shared in real-life; Anderson would later deliver the eulogy at Tormé’s funeral) which led to a following among Generation Xers along with a series of Mountain Dew commercials and on an episode of the sitcom Seinfeld (“The Jimmy“), in which he dedicates a song to the character Kramer. Tormé also recorded a version of Nat King Cole‘s “Straighten up and Fly Right” with his son, alternative/adult contemporary/jazz singer Steve March Tormé. Tormé was also able to work with his other son, television writer-producer Tracy Tormé on Sliders. The 1996 episode, entitled “Greatfellas,” sees Tormé playing an alternate version of himself: a country-and-western singer who is also an FBI informant.

Rodgers and Hart’s “Blue Moon”

In a scene in the 1988 Warner Bros. cartoon Night of the Living Duck, Daffy Duck has to sing in front of several monsters, but lacks a good singing voice. So, he inhales a substance called “Eau de Tormé” and sings like Mel Tormé (who in fact provided the voice during this one scene, while Mel Blanc provided Daffy’s voice during most of the cartoon).

In February 1999, Tormé was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. On August 8, 1996, a stroke abruptly ended his 65-year singing career; another stroke in 1999 ended his life. In his eulogistic essay, John Andrews wrote about Tormé:[4]

Source: Wikipedia, YouTube, nndb.com, imdb.com meltorme.com

Quick Bio Facts:

Mel TorméMel Torme – AKA Melvin Howard Tormé

Born: 13-Sep1925
Birthplace: Chicago, IL
Died: 5-Jun1999
Location of death: Los Angeles, CA
Cause of death: Stroke
Remains: Buried, Westwood Memorial Park, Los Angeles, CA

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: The Velvet Fog

Military service: US Army (1944-45)

Wife: Susan Perry (m. 1949, div.)
Wife: Arlene Niles (m. 1956, div. 1965)
Wife: Janette Scott (actress, m. 1966, div. 1977)
Wife: Ali Severson (m. 1984, until his death)
Son: Tracey Tormé
Son: Steve March

High School: Hyde Park High School, Chicago, IL

Endorsement of Revlon Charlie (1974)
Grammy Best Jazz Vocalist 1982
Grammy Best Jazz Vocalist 1983
Stroke 8-Aug-1996
Russian Ancestry
Jewish Ancestry

A Spinal Tap Reunion: The 25th Anniversary London Sell-Out (31-Dec-1992) Himself
The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear (28-Jun-1991) Himself
Daffy Duck’s Quackbusters (24-Sep-1988) [VOICE]
The Patsy (2-Aug-1964) Himself
Walk Like a Dragon (1-Jun-1960)
Girls Town (5-Oct-1959)
The Big Operator (Aug-1959)
The Fearmakers (Oct-1958)
Duchess of Idaho (14-Jul-1950)
Words and Music (9-Dec-1948) Himself
Good News (26-Dec-1947)
Higher and Higher (1943)

Source: nndb.com

Joe Bushkin

Joe Bushkin (November 7, 1916 – November 3, 2004) was a jazz pianist who began by playing trumpet and piano with New York City dance bands. He joined Bunny Berigan‘s band in 1935, then left to join Muggsy Spanier‘s Ragtime Band in 1939. From the late 1930’s through to the late 1940’s he also worked with Eddie Condon on records, radio and TV. After service in WWII he worked with Louis Armstrong and Benny Goodman.

He might be best known for co-writing Oh! Look at Me Now, with John DeVries, when he worked in Tommy Dorsey‘s band. That song would become Frank Sinatra‘s first hit. In his 60s Bing Crosby ended Bushkin’s semi-retirement with an offer for them to tour together.

He died in 2004.

Source: Wikipedia

Alternate Bio

Judy Garland called Joe Bushkin, “a musician’s musician,” Frank Sinatra said, “One of the things I missed most about leaving Tommy Dorsey’s band was the piano playing of Joe Bushkin.” Over the course of his illustrious 70 year career, Joe Bushkin played with Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong, Artie Shaw, Billie Holiday, led the band for Sinatra at the paramount and was Bing Crosby’s musical director.

Here’s a fantastic clip from the early TV program, “The General Electric Theater.” There’s a surprise host. This show features Judy Garland in 1956 with Joe Bushkin on piano. Watch all the way through. Joe Bushkin plays a solo that really show cases his talent. This is a great vintage video clip.

Here’s Jo Stafford singing the Joe Bushkin tune, “Oh Look At Me Now” from her 1963 album, “Getting Sentimental Over Tommy Dorsey.” Joe Bushkin and Jo Stafford were great friends. They met while both performing with the Tommy Dorsey Big Band in the early 40’s. Both performers eventually left the band and enjoyed lengthy, successful solo careers.

Not only a legendary jazz pianist, he was also a talented song writer who co-wrote Sinatra’s first hit, “Oh, Look At Me Now,” and, “Hot Time in the Town of Berlin,” a hit for both Sinatra and Bing Crosby, as well as songs for Della Reese, Louis Armstrong, Louis Jourdan, Nat King Cole, for the Andrews Sisters, and sang and played some of his own compositions in his inimitable style.

One of the greatest jazz musicians of all time, Joe Bushkin died in 2004, just days before his 88th birthday.

Joe Bushkin, who passed away in November 2004, was a legend in his time. A pianist, composer, arranger and vocalist of superb talents and impeccable taste. A professional for over 70 years, he started at age 15 playing gigs with Benny Goodman, Bunny Berigan and Eddie Condon.

Among his many achievements, he had the distinction of accompanying Billie Holiday on her first recording, as a leader, writing Frank Sinatra’s first hit song, “Oh! Look At Me Now” when they were with Tommy Dorsey’s band, and serving as Bing Crosby’s last musical director and playing on his last recording session. In between, he also wrote songs for Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong, the Andrews Sisters, Louis Jordan and Nat “King” Cole.

After serving in the Army Air Corps in WWII, Bushkin became one of New York City’s most popular nightclub performers, frequently appearing on radio and television in the late 40’s and 50’s. Joe had also enjoyed a prolific recording career, appearing on countless studio sessions and recording dozens of albums as a leader. His series of eight popular “mood albums” with full orchestra for Capital Records in the 1950’s are among the best selling albums ever by a Jazz artist. He also found time to appear as an actor on Broadway in Garson Kanin’s The Rat Race, later reprising his role in the Hollywood movie version.

Joe Bushkin’s exuberant piano style was developed in the pioneer days of American Jazz, and he raised the roof of every club and concert hall around the world that was lucky enough to host one of his selectively rare performances.

Perhaps the best accolade was delivered by Frank Sinatra, who commented that “one of the things I missed most about leaving Tommy Dorsey’s band was the piano playing of Joe Bushkin!”

Here’s a terrific bio taken from the New Yorker Magazine, February 21st, 1983.

Joe Bushkin New Yorker Article 1983

Source: joebushkin.com