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Ethel Merman

Ethel Merman

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Also Known As: Ethel Agnes Zimmerman Died: February 15, 1984
Born: January 16, 1908 Cause of Death: died of complications from a brain tumor
Birth Place: Astoria, New York, USA Profession: singer, actor, stenographer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

This Broadway singing giant ("Girl Crazy", "Annie Get Your Gun", "Gypsy") had a brassy, larger-than-life star persona and a uniquely powerful, heart-felt voice and popularized songs by George Gershwin, Cole Porter and Irving Berlin, among others. Merman's belt-it-out rendition of Berlin's "There's No Business Like Show Business" has become the anthem of the entertainment industry. In occasional films from 1930, Merman undeniably brightened a number of features (several of which, like "Anything Goes" 1936, "Call Me Madam" 1953 and "There's No Business Like Show Business" 1954, were full-fledged star vehicles), but the medium and, all too often, her material didn't give full reign to her magnetic, grand-slam personality.

This Broadway singing giant ("Girl Crazy", "Annie Get Your Gun", "Gypsy") had a brassy, larger-than-life star persona and a uniquely powerful, heart-felt voice and popularized songs by George Gershwin, Cole Porter and Irving Berlin, among others. Merman's belt-it-out rendition of Berlin's "There's No Business Like Show Business" has become the anthem of the entertainment industry. In occasional films from 1930, Merman undeniably brightened a number of features (several of which, like "Anything Goes" 1936, "Call Me Madam" 1953 and "There's No Business Like Show Business" 1954, were full-fledged star vehicles), but the medium and, all too often, her material didn't give full reign to her magnetic, grand-slam personality.

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Airplane! (1980) Lieutenant Hurwitz
2.
 Journey Back to Oz (1974) Voice
3.
 The Art of Love (1965) Madame Coco La Fontaine
4.
 It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963) Mrs. Marcus
5.
6.
 Call Me Madam (1953) Sally Adams
7.
8.
 Happy Landing (1938) Flo Kelly
9.
 Alexander's Ragtime Band (1938) Jerry Allen
10.
 Straight Place and Show (1938) Linda [Tyler]
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Worked as stenographer upon high school graduation
1926:
Obtained letter of introduction to producer George White from her employer; White subsequently offered Merman a chorus role which she declined (date approximate)
1927:
Signed to 9 year contract by agent Lon Irwin (date approximate)
1928:
Signed 6 month contract with Warner Bros.; made film debut in short subject in nonspeaking role (date approximate)
1929:
Adopted surname of Merman
1930:
Broadway debut in Gershwin's "Girl Crazy"; introduced "I Got Rhythm" and other songs
1932:
Appeared in George White's "Scandals" and introduced song, "Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries"
1934:
First full-length feature appearance, "We're Not Dressing" opposite Bing Crosby
1934:
Appeared as Reno Sweeney in Cole Porter's "Anything Goes" on Broadway
1935:
Radio series debut with the weekly "The Ethel Merman Show"
1936:
Appeared in film version of "Anything Goes"
1940:
Starred on Broadway in "Panama Hattie"
1946:
Played Annie Oakley in Irving Berlin's "Annie, Get Your Gun"
1950:
Broadway appearance in "Call Me Madam"
1953:
First film in 10 years, "Call Me Madam"
1959:
Signature role of Mama Rose in stage version of "Gypsy"
1969:
Final stage appearance "Hello, Dolly!"; the play had been originally created with her in mind but she turned down the role; finally played Dolly on Broadway after Carol Channing, Ginger Rogers, Martha Raye, Betty Grable and Phyllis Diller had played it
1980:
Last film role, a cameo in "Airplane!"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

William Cullen Bryant High School: Long Island City , New York -

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
Sherman Billingsley. Nightclub owner. Owned the Stork Club in NYC; was married at time of relationship with Merman; wife refused to give him divorce so he ended relationship with Merman c. 1940.
husband:
William Smith. Agent. Married on November 15, 1940; divorced on October 1, 1941.
husband:
Robert D Levitt. Publisher. Married in fall 1941; divorced on June 10, 1952; had two children with Merman; committed suicide in 1958.
husband:
Robert F Six. Businessman. Ran Continental Airlines; married on March 9, 1953; divorced in 1960.
husband:
Ernest Borgnine. Actor. Married on June 27, 1964; separated next day; divorced on November 18, 1964.
VIEW COMPLETE COMPANION LISTING

Family close complete family listing

father:
Edward Zimmerman. Accountant. Died in 1977.
mother:
Agnes Zimmerman. Died in 1974.
daughter:
Ethel Levitt. Born in July 1942; suffered with mental problems; estranged from her mother after her marriage at age 18; rift partially mended after birth of her two children committed suicide in August 1967.
son:
Robert Levitt. Born c. 1945.
granddaughter:
Barbara Geary. Born c. 1961; daughter of Ethel Merman Jr; producing a documentary on grandmother.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"Who Could Ask for Anything More?"
"Merman : An Autobiography"
"I Got Rhythm: The Ethel Merman Story"
"Ethel Merman"
VIEW COMPLETE BIBLIOGRAPHY

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