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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.
 Alexander's Ragtime Band (1938) Jerry Allen
9.
 Straight Place and Show (1938) Linda [Tyler]
10.
 Happy Landing (1938) Flo Kelly
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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