Catalogue


Brass diva : the life and legends of Ethel Merman /
Caryl Flinn.
imprint
Berkeley : University of California Press, c2007.
description
xiv, 542 p., [32] p. of plates : ill. ; 24 cm.
ISBN
0520229428 (alk. paper), 9780520229426 (alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
author
imprint
Berkeley : University of California Press, c2007.
isbn
0520229428 (alk. paper)
9780520229426 (alk. paper)
contents note
Beginnings -- From stenographer to star -- The early thirties -- To Hollywood and back again -- Broadway's brightest : the early forties -- Forging a family -- What comes natur'lly : Annie get your gun -- Call me madam -- A more complex image -- Madam in Hollywood -- Life with Six -- There's no business like show business -- From Mrs. Six to Mama Rose -- Gypsy : Ethel Merman's musical fable -- It's a mad, mad schedule -- The sixties and the art of love -- After the big stem--the seventies -- Twilight and transformation -- Afterlife.
general note
"Roth Family Foundation music in America imprint."
catalogue key
6295376
 
"Stage work": p. 443-461.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 473-524), discography (p. 437-442), filmography (p. 463-471), and index.
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Flap Copy
"This book is long overdue. We've been told that Merman's reviews were glowing, but now we can read them for ourselves. Beautifully researched, this book will undoubtedly find it's way into every musical theatre library. Merman has been at the center of so many apocryphal tales, it's thrilling to enter an era of serious exploration and analysis. "Brass Diva" starts to pull the myths apart and to put Ethel Merman in her proper historical perspective."--Klea Blackhurst, creator of "Everything The Traffic Will Allow: The Songs and Sass of Ethel Merman" "It is a pleasure to read Caryl Flinn's scrupulously researched and elegantly constructed biography. "Brass Diva" puts all other Merman books to shame. With her exhaustive knowledge of her subject, Flinn explores the meanings of Merman's life, her shows, her songs, her fans, and most intriguingly, her subtexts."--Krin Gabbard, author of "Black Magic: White Hollywood and African American Culture" ""Brass Diva" is a wonderful and important study of Ethel Merman's life and work, as well as a sophisticated reading of Merman herself. The scholarship is excellent, the writing is lively and engaging, and the research is detailed and absolutely new. "Brass Diva" will likely become the key primary resource for future Merman scholarship."--Stacy Wolf, author of "A Problem Like Maria: Gender and Sexuality in the American Musical"
Flap Copy
"It is a pleasure to read Caryl Flinn's scrupulously researched and elegantly constructed biography.ÊBrass Divaputs all other Merman books to shame. With her exhaustive knowledge of her subject, Flinn explores the meanings of Merman's life, her shows, her songs, her fans, and most intriguingly, her subtexts."--Krin Gabbard, author ofBlack Magic: White Hollywood and African American Culture "Brass Divais a wonderful and important study of Ethel Merman's life and work, as well as a sophisticated reading of Merman herself. The scholarship is excellent, the writing is lively and engaging, and the research is detailed and absolutely new.ÊBrass Divawill likely become the key primary resource for future Merman scholarship."--Stacy Wolf, author ofA Problem Like Maria: Gender and Sexuality in the American Musical
Flap Copy
"A thought-provoking and absorbing read, Caryl Flinn's Brass Diva brings a fresh perspective to the legend of Ethel Merman. While she was easily dismissed as an exceedingly simple broad, Ms. Flinn's research into the nuances of her life reveal the complicated person that was my grandmother. More than once I was moved to reconsider the reasons for her enduring as a source of inspiration as well as notions about her life and career that I had taken for granted. I highly recommend it."--Barbara Geary "This book is long overdue. We've been told that Merman's reviews were glowing, but now we can read them for ourselves. Beautifully researched, this book will undoubtedly find its way into every musical theatre library. Merman has been at the center of so many apocryphal tales, it's thrilling to enter an era of serious exploration and analysis. Brass Diva starts to pull the myths apart and to put Ethel Merman in her proper historical perspective."--Klea Blackhurst, creator of Everything The Traffic Will Allow: The Songs and Sass of Ethel Merman "It is a pleasure to read Caryl Flinn's scrupulously researched and elegantly constructed biography. Brass Diva puts all other Merman books to shame. With her exhaustive knowledge of her subject, Flinn explores the meanings of Merman's life, her shows, her songs, her fans, and most intriguingly, her subtexts."--Krin Gabbard, author of Black Magic: White Hollywood and African American Culture " Brass Diva is a wonderful and important study of Ethel Merman's life and work, as well as a sophisticated reading of Merman herself. The scholarship is excellent, the writing is lively and engaging, and the research is detailed and absolutely new. Brass Diva will likely become the key primary resource for future Merman scholarship."--Stacy Wolf, author of A Problem Like Maria: Gender and Sexuality in the American Musical
Flap Copy
"This book is long overdue. We've been told that Merman's reviews were glowing, but now we can read them for ourselves. Beautifully researched, this book will undoubtedly find it's way into every musical theatre library. Merman has been at the center of so many apocryphal tales, it's thrilling to enter an era of serious exploration and analysis.Brass Divastarts to pull the myths apart and to put Ethel Merman in her proper historical perspective."--Klea Blackhurst, creator ofEverything The Traffic Will Allow: The Songs and Sass of Ethel Merman "It is a pleasure to read Caryl Flinn's scrupulously researched and elegantly constructed biography.ÊBrass Divaputs all other Merman books to shame. With her exhaustive knowledge of her subject, Flinn explores the meanings of Merman's life, her shows, her songs, her fans, and most intriguingly, her subtexts."--Krin Gabbard, author ofBlack Magic: White Hollywood and African American Culture "Brass Divais a wonderful and important study of Ethel Merman's life and work, as well as a sophisticated reading of Merman herself. The scholarship is excellent, the writing is lively and engaging, and the research is detailed and absolutely new.ÊBrass Divawill likely become the key primary resource for future Merman scholarship."--Stacy Wolf, author ofA Problem Like Maria: Gender and Sexuality in the American Musical
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 2007-10-01:
Fans of the legendary Broadway star Ethel Merman will be delighted with these two biographies. Merman's own autobiographies (Merman and Who Could Ask for Anything More?) are fun to read and offer plenty of Broadway dish, but serious biographies have been past due. Flinn (women's studies, Univ. of Arizona; The New German Cinema) and Kellow (The Bennetts: An Acting Family) bring her to life and tellingly reveal her enormous achievements and talent. While it's clear that Merman had her share of human frailties, each author finds her to be sympathetic as a woman, mother, wife, and performer, and each clearly holds her in the highest regard for her place in theatrical and film history. Flinn's academic training and scholarly approach are illustrated in the amount of information and detail she includes. For example, comparing the indexes, Kellow lists, as does Flinn, all of Merman's performances and the musical numbers she sang; however, Flinn includes all the musical numbers sung by all the other performers in her shows and a six-page discography. Flinn's notes, which include archival resources and interviews, take up 52 pages; Kellow's run 22 pages and are not as broad in scope. Flinn's access to the multivolume scrapbook collection created by Merman's father over his lifetime, which Kellow does not mention, surely gave her an enormous amount of detailed information. Public libraries will find Kellow's book an excellent and enjoyable resource; all academic libraries and public libraries with theater collections will want both of these titles. (Photographs and indexes not available at the time of review.)-Susan L. Peters, Univ. of Texas, Galveston (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Choice on 2008-04-01:
Ethel Merman (1908-84) earned a permanent and major place in musical theater, a fact attested to by numerous testimonials: two "as told to" autobiographies (Who Could Ask for Anything More, with Pete Martin, 1955; Merman, with George Eells, 1978); Bob Thomas's I Got Rhythm!: The Ethel Merman Story (1985); George Bryan's Ethel Merman: A Bio-Bibliography (1992); Geoffrey Mark's Ethel Merman: The Biggest Star on Broadway (2006); and, in 2007, Brian Kellow's Ethel Merman: A Life and the present volume. Presenting a scholarly and comprehensive work on Merman's life and career, Flinn (Univ. of Arizona) employs a broad array of sources, including the scrapbooks of clippings and ephemera assembled by Merman's father and interviews and correspondence with family members (all cited in the voluminous end notes). She particularly depends on the reminiscences of Merman's son, Robert Levitt, Jr. Flinn also provides detailed plot summaries for each Merman stage show and film; a discography, stage credits, and filmography complete the work. Two sections of photographs complement those in other works. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals; general readers. R. D. Johnson emeritus, SUNY College at Oneonta
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2007-09-10:
This comprehensive biography of the Broadway legend (1908-1984) may lack some of the vitality of Brian Kellow's Ethel Merman: A Life (which boasts more than 100 new interviews with Merman's contemporaries offering backstage anecdotes; see review below), but is better written and researched. Flinn offers a more psychologically complex portrait of the fiercely talented and competitive Merman (deftly sorting through and debunking rumors of her being a bigot, anti-Semite and homophobe). She also clears up speculation about Merman having a lesbian affair with Jacqueline Susann, which turns out to have been a one-sided obsession on the part of Susann (who later exacted revenge for her spurned affections by giving her Valley of the Dolls villainess, Helen Lawson, many of Merman's traits). Flinn's extensive use of Merman's 50+ scrapbooks (covering the early 1930s to 1970s) enables her to cover Merman's professional career with microscopic precision. But this is not just a recitation of Merman's long string of Broadway successes (beginning with 1930's Girl Crazy and stretching to 1970's Hello, Dolly!), Flinn (The New German Cinema) masterfully analyzes Merman's work on stage, screen and TV with a sophisticated eye for detail that will delight theater buffs. Photos not seen by PW. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Reviews
Review Quotes
"Masterfully analyzes Merman's work on stage, screen and TV with a sophisticated eye for detail that will delight theater buffs."-- Publishers Weekly
"This well-written and psychologically astute portrait will satisfy musical theater fans and anyone who loves a snappy comeback."
"This well-written and psychologically astute portrait will satisfy musical theater fans and anyone who loves a snappy comeback."-- The Advocate
"Masterfully analyzes Merman's work on stage, screen and TV with a sophisticated eye for detail that will delight theater buffs."
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews,
Publishers Weekly, September 2007
Library Journal, October 2007
Booklist, November 2007
Washington Post, November 2007
Choice, April 2008
New York Times Full Text Review, October 2009
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
Broadway star Ethel Merman's voice was a mesmerizing force and her vitality was legendary, yet the popular perception of La Merm as the irrepressible wonder falls far short of all that she was and all that she meant to Americans over so many decades. This marvelously detailed biography is the first to tell the full story of how the stenographer from Queens, New York, became the queen of the Broadway musical in its golden age. Mining official and unofficial sources, including interviews with Merman's family and her personal scrapbooks, Caryl Flinn unearths new details of Merman's life and finds that behind the high-octane personality was a remarkably pragmatic woman who never lost sight of her roots. Brass Diva takes us from Merman's working-class beginnings through the extraordinary career that was launched in 1930 when, playing a secondary role in a Gershwin Brothers' show, she became an overnight sensation singing "I Got Rhythm." From there, we follow Merman's hits on Broadway, her uneven successes in Hollywood, and her afterlife as a beloved camp icon. This definitive work on the phenomenon that was Ethel Merman is also the first to thoroughly explore her robust influence on American popular culture.
Main Description
Broadway star Ethel Merman's voice was a mesmerizing force and her vitality was legendary, yet the popular perception of La Merm as the irrepressible wonder falls far short of all that she was and all that she meant to Americans over so many decades. This marvelously detailed biography is the first to tell the full story of how the stenographer from Queens, New York, became the queen of the Broadway musical in its golden age. Mining official and unofficial sources, including interviews with Merman's family and her personal scrapbooks, Caryl Flinn unearths new details of Merman's life and finds that behind the high-octane personality was a remarkably pragmatic woman who never lost sight of her roots. Brass Divatakes us from Merman's working-class beginnings through the extraordinary career that was launched in 1930 when, playing a secondary role in a Gershwin Brothers' show, she became an overnight sensation singing "I Got Rhythm." From there, we follow Merman's hits on Broadway, her uneven successes in Hollywood, and her afterlife as a beloved camp icon. This definitive work on the phenomenon that was Ethel Merman is also the first to thoroughly explore her robust influence on American popular culture.
Long Description
Broadway star Ethel Merman's voice was a mesmerizing force and her vitality was legendary, yet the popular perception of La Merm as the irrepressible wonder falls far short of all that she was and all that she meant to Americans over so many decades. This marvelously detailed biography is the first to tell the full story of how the stenographer from Queens, New York, became the queen of the Broadway musical in its golden age. Mining official and unofficial sources, including interviews with Merman's family and her personal scrapbooks, Caryl Flinn unearths new details of Merman's life and finds that behind the high-octane personality was a remarkably pragmatic woman who never lost sight of her roots. "Brass Diva "takes us from Merman's working-class beginnings through the extraordinary career that was launched in 1930 when, playing a secondary role in a Gershwin Brothers' show, she became an overnight sensation singing "I Got Rhythm." From there, we follow Merman's hits on Broadway, her uneven successes in Hollywood, and her afterlife as a beloved camp icon. This definitive work on the phenomenon that was Ethel Merman is also the first to thoroughly explore her robust influence on American popular culture.
Long Description
Broadway star Ethel Merman's voice was a mesmerizing force and her vitality was legendary, yet the popular perception of La Merm as the irrepressible wonder falls far short of all that she was and all that she meant to Americans over so many decades. This marvelously detailed biography is the first to tell the full story of how the stenographer from Queens, New York, became the queen of the Broadway musical in its golden age. Mining official and unofficial sources, including interviews with Merman's family and her personal scrapbooks, Caryl Flinn unearths new details of Merman's life and finds that behind the high-octane personality was a remarkably pragmatic woman who never lost sight of her roots. Brass Divatakes us from Merman's working class beginnings through the extraordinary career that was launched in 1930 when, playing a secondary role in a Gershwin Brothers' show, she became an overnight sensation singing "I Got Rhythm." From there, we follow Merman's hits on Broadway, her uneven successes in Hollywood, and her afterlife as a beloved camp icon. It is a story populated with some of the biggest luminaries of American show business--including Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Stephen Sondheim, Mary Martin, Bing Crosby and the many others who worked with Merman over the years. Brass Diva, the definitive work on the phenomenon that was Ethel Merman, explores her robust influence on American popular culture.
Bowker Data Service Summary
This biography is the first to tell the full story of how the stenographer from Queens, New York, became the queen of the Broadway musical in its golden age. Flinn unearths new details of Merman's life and finds that behind the high-octane personality was a remarkably pragmatic woman who never lost sight of her roots.
Table of Contents
Prefacep. vii
Beginningsp. 1
From Stenographer to Starp. 30
The Early Thirtiesp. 57
To Hollywood and Back Againp. 90
Broadway's Brightest: The Early Fortiesp. 113
Forging a Familyp. 138
What Comes Natur'lly: Annie Get Your Gunp. 150
Call Me Madamp. 177
A More Complex Imagep. 192
Madam in Hollywoodp. 218
Life with Sixp. 239
There's No Business Like Show Businessp. 255
From Mrs. Six to Mama Rosep. 278
Gipsy: Ethel Merman's Musical Fablep. 293
It's a Mad, Mad Schedulep. 333
The Sixties and the Art of Lovep. 347
After the Big Stem-the Seventiesp. 374
Twilight and Transformationp. 401
Afterlifep. 415
Acknowledgmentsp. 429
A Word on the Scrapbooksp. 433
Discographyp. 437
Stage Workp. 443
Filmographyp. 463
Notesp. 473
Indexp. 525
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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