Ethel Merman

Definition

Theater

  • (Ethel Zimmerman; 1909 - 84) US actress and trumpet-toned vocalist. Merman made her Broadway debut in a 1930 production of Girl Crazy at the Alvin Theatre; while singing 'I Got Rhythm' she held a note for 16 bars and stopped the show. It was said of her that she could "hold a note longer than the Chase Manhattan Bank", while Time magazine wrote:
    She aims at a point slightly above the entrails, but sheknocks you out just the same.
    In 1946 Merman opened in her most memorable part - AnnieOakley in Irving Berlin's Annie Get Your Gun, which ran for1146 performances at the Imperial. It included her best-known song'There's No Business Like Show Business'. Later triumphs includedthe roles of Sally Adams in Berlin's Call Me Madam (1950),Rose in Gypsy (1958), and the title character in Hello Dolly!(1970).

    Merman's star quality owed a great deal to her contagiousenergy and enthusiasm. The Saturday Review of Literature oncewrote "she works like a stable, not a horse", while KennethTynan stated that in Merman's hands "musical comedy became amartial art." When Ralph Richardson was asked on televisionto define a star, he responded instantly, "Ethel Merman."

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