Ethel Merman


Actor, Singer
Ethel Merman

About

Also Known As
Ethel Agnes Zimmerman
Birth Place
Astoria, New York, USA
Born
January 16, 1908
Died
February 15, 1984
Cause of Death
Died Of Complications From A Brain Tumor

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 occ...

Family & Companions

Sherman Billingsley
Companion
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.
William Smith
Husband
Agent. Married on November 15, 1940; divorced on October 1, 1941.
Robert D Levitt
Husband
Publisher. Married in fall 1941; divorced on June 10, 1952; had two children with Merman; committed suicide in 1958.
Robert F Six
Husband
Businessman. Ran Continental Airlines; married on March 9, 1953; divorced in 1960.

Bibliography

"Ethel Merman"
George B Bryan (1992)
"Merman : An Autobiography"
Ethel Merman with George Eels (1978)
"Who Could Ask for Anything More?"
Ethel Merman (1955)
"I Got Rhythm: The Ethel Merman Story"
Bob Thomas

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.

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

Airplane! (1980)
Journey Back to Oz (1974)
Voice
The Art of Love (1965)
Madame Coco La Fontaine
It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963)
Mrs. Marcus
There's No Business Like Show Business (1954)
Molly Donahue
Call Me Madam (1953)
Sally Adams
Stage Door Canteen (1943)
Straight Place and Show (1938)
Linda [Tyler]
Happy Landing (1938)
Flo Kelly
Alexander's Ragtime Band (1938)
Jerry Allen
Anything Goes (1936)
Reno Sweeney
Strike Me Pink (1936)
Joyce Lennox
The Big Broadcast of 1936 (1935)
We're Not Dressing (1934)
Edith
Kid Millions (1934)
Mrs. Edward Grant Wilson, Sr., "Mama"
Follow the Leader (1930)
Helen King

Music (Feature Film)

The Next Best Thing (2000)
Song Performer
Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999)
Song Performer
In & Out (1997)
Song
The Late Shift (1996)
Song Performer
Terms Of Endearment (1983)
Song Performer
Airplane! (1980)
Song Performer
All That Jazz (1979)
Song Performer

Cast (Special)

Texaco Star Theater: Opening Night (1982)
100 Years of Golden Hits (1981)
Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme From This Moment On... Cole Porter (1977)
You're Gonna Love It Here (1977)
Ted Knight Musical Comedy Variety Special Special (1976)
Ed Sullivan's Broadway (1973)
Jack Lemmon in 'S Wonderful, 'S Marvelous, 'S Gershwin (1972)
Annie Get Your Gun (1967)
Annie Oakley
The Gershwin Years (1962)
The Arthur Murray Party For Bob Hope (1960)
Guest
The Talent Scouts Program (1960)
Guest
Merman on Broadway (1959)
Host
Crescendo (1957)
Guest
The Music of Gershwin (1956)
Guest
Panama Hattie (1954)
Hattie Maloney

Music (Special)

Irving Berlin: An American Song (1999)
Song Performer
You're Gonna Love It Here (1977)
Theme Song Performer

Cast (TV Mini-Series)

Rudolph & Frosty's Christmas in July (1979)
Voice

Life Events

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

Appeared as Reno Sweeney in Cole Porter's "Anything Goes" on Broadway

1934

First full-length feature appearance, "We're Not Dressing" opposite Bing Crosby

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!"

Videos

Movie Clip

Straight Place And Show (1938) - With You On My Mind In the opening scenes no trace of the stars (The Ritz Brothers) but we’ve met “society horsewoman” Barbara (Phyllis Brooks) who was late for her own engagement party, and her fiancè (Richard Arlen) and his discarded admirer, Broadway’s Ethel Merman, with an original by Lew Pollack and Lew Brown, in Straight Place And Show, 1938.
Alexander's Ragtime Band - Blue Skies In an all-Irving Berlin musical, the composer's two favorite singers (Ethel Merman as "Jerry", Alice Faye as "Stella," having just met) take turns with "Blue Skies," in Alexander's Ragtime Band, 1938.
There's No Business Like Show Business - Midnight Choo-Choo First number, introducing the parents of the nascent "Five Donahues," (Ethel Merman as mom "Molly," Dan Dailey as dad "Terry"), from 20th Century Fox's non-Broadway Irving Berlin musical, There's No Business Like Show Business, 1954.
It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963) - Every Man For Himself! The second scene of motorist-witnesses Sid Caesar, Mickey Rooney, Jonathan Winters, Milton Berle, Ethel Merman, and Buddy Hackett (Edie Adams and Dorothy Provine not talking) finally not agreeing on how to split the loot from the dead gangster’s stash, in It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, 1963.
Strike Me Pink (1936) - High And Low Nebbish Eddie Cantor in the crowd swooning over Ethel Merman, then 27 years old, her first scene, with a tune by Harold Arlen and Lew Brown, shot by Merrit Gerstad, from the Samuel Goldwyn production Strike Me Pink, 1936.

Trailer

Family

Edward Zimmerman
Father
Accountant. Died in 1977.
Agnes Zimmerman
Mother
Died in 1974.
Ethel Levitt
Daughter
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.
Robert Levitt
Son
Born c. 1945.
Barbara Geary
Granddaughter
Born c. 1961; daughter of Ethel Merman Jr; producing a documentary on grandmother.

Companions

Sherman Billingsley
Companion
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.
William Smith
Husband
Agent. Married on November 15, 1940; divorced on October 1, 1941.
Robert D Levitt
Husband
Publisher. Married in fall 1941; divorced on June 10, 1952; had two children with Merman; committed suicide in 1958.
Robert F Six
Husband
Businessman. Ran Continental Airlines; married on March 9, 1953; divorced in 1960.
Ernest Borgnine
Husband
Actor. Married on June 27, 1964; separated next day; divorced on November 18, 1964.

Bibliography

"Ethel Merman"
George B Bryan (1992)
"Merman : An Autobiography"
Ethel Merman with George Eels (1978)
"Who Could Ask for Anything More?"
Ethel Merman (1955)
"I Got Rhythm: The Ethel Merman Story"
Bob Thomas