Friday, June 27, 2008

Life Lessons from the Merm

All the following quotes have been credited to Ethel Merman. Some of them quite choice. I can't say for certain whether or not she actually said all of them, but I wouldn't be surprised... I offer them for your enjoyment.

- Always give them the old fire, even when you feel like a squashed cake of ice.

- Any audience that gets a laugh out of me gets it while I'm facing them.

- As far as dramas are concerned, it's considered passe for playwrights to turn out anything the average person can understand.

- At a flea market I always head for the junk jewelry table first.

- At one time I smoked, but in 1959 I couldn't think of anything else to give up for Lent so I stopped-and I haven't had a cigarette since.

- Broadway has been very good to me. But then, I've been very good to broadway.

- Christmas carols always brought tears to my eyes. I also cry at weddings. I should have cried at a couple of my own.

- Cole Porter had a worldwide reputation as a sophisticate and hedonist.

- Cole Porter wrote Anything Goes and four more hits for me.

- Eisenhower was my war hero and the President I admire and respect most.

- I am known to be able to take care of myself when I become angry. I don't mince words.

- I attend surprisingly few shows. The type of theater that is popular today just doesn't appeal to me.

- I can never remember being afraid of an audience. If the audience could do better, they'd be up here on stage and I'd be out there watching them.

- I don't like to read. The only things I read are gossip columns. If someone gives me a book, it had better have lots of pictures.

- I have plenty of invitations to go places, lots to do. If I'm not working, I go to have my hair taken care of and work at needlepoint.

- I preferred delivering my performance in person. I liked to be in control. You couldn't be in films.

- I take a breath when I have to.

- I was born in my parents' bedroom on January 16. The World Almanac says it was 1909. I say it was 1912. But what difference does it make as long as I feel 33?

- I was lucky enough to have the songs in my first show written by George and Ira Gershwin. Then Cole Porter wrote five shows for me.

- I wasn't straining at the bit to become a movie star any more than I had plotted to get out of vaudeville and into Broadway musicals.

- I work as often as I want and yet I'm free as a bird.

- People who retire fall apart. As long as you've still got it, use it.

- I wouldn't change one thing about my professional life, and I make it a point not to dwell on my mistakes.

- I wouldn't trust any man as far as you can throw a piano.

- I'll pat myself on the back and admit I have talent. Beyond that, I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

- I've made a wonderful living playing that theatrical character - the professional brassy dame.

- I've never cooked. I can't do much more in the kitchen than make a cup of tea and some toast.

- I've never suffered stage fright. That fascinates people.

- If I feel in need of sleep, I just open a book or turn on the television. Both are better than any sleeping pill.

- In my case, things have pretty much been handed to me.

- Legend has it that when God created me, he gave me a big distinctive voice, a lot of boldness and no heart.

- Mom and Pop were proud of my popularity, but from their point of view, show business was no way to make a living.

- Mom claimed that I could carry a tune at 2 or 3 years of age. Maybe she was a little prejudiced.

- Music, in the past few years... anything singable or understandable is square.

- My beloved Mom and Pop always rated tops with each other, and that's the way it will always be.

- My career at Warner Brothers consisted of one musical short subject. I was running around in a bear skin. Very chic.

- My father taught me to read music and play the piano-but not well, even though people have said that I'm a natural musician.

- Of my four marriages, the one to Bob Levitt is the only one I don't regret.

- Once I had all the attention, all I had to do was deliver.

- The slapdash way producers used to assemble a show seems a little unbelievable when we talk about them now.

- There have been people who have tried to take advantage of me. They want to be linked to me just because I'm Ethel Merman.

- There's such a thing as theater discipline. One player doesn't appropriate another's inventions.

- When I'm asked how to succeed in show business, I always say I haven't the foggiest.

- When you are in deep conflict about something, sometimes the most trivial thing can tip the scales.

- There are lots of show tunes left to do.

- You can't buck a nun. (Losing the Tony for her Rose to Mary Martin's Maria von Trapp)

- Call Miss Bird's Eye 1950, this show is frozen! (being presented new lyrics for Call Me Madam)

1 comment:

Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Sarah B also taught me another one: when in doubt, do disco. I was playing the Merm's disco re-do of "Everything's Coming Up Roses." I had only heard of the legendary recording...