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Wednesday
Nov 16 2016

Judy by the Numbers: "There's No Business Like Show Business"

Anne Marie has been chronicling Judy Garland's career chronologically through musical numbers...

Sometimes,surprises happen.And sometimes those surprises are planted.I'm referring in this case to both the reappearance of Episode 9 on this series,and the "unplanned"appearance of Ethel Merman on the already-iconic show guest-starring Barbra Streisand.Though Merman's big reveal was first suggested as a way to placate both the surprise guest and her not-so-gracious host.Judy may have originally balked at the idea of her Tea for Two guest skipping the tea for some titanic trilling,but when the producers roped Barbra into the skit as well,it went from a battle of egos to a mammoth moment in musical history.

The Show:The Judy Garland ShowEpisode 9
The Songwriters:Various,arranged by Mel Torme
The Cast:Judy Garland,Barbra Streisand,The Smothers Brothers,surprise guest Ethel Merman directed by Norman Jewison

The Story:So,here's the thing.I've never been a great lover of Ethel Merman.I understand her importance in the musical canon,and some of the shows written for her rank in my Top 5 Favorite Musicals,but the Hostess with the Mostest tends to leave me cold.But evenIam swayed by the sheer power of seeing the three greatest American Belting Broads belting out a songtogether.It's not even a passing of the torch as the Judy/Liza sketch had been.Instead,this feels very much like three old pros - well,two old pros and one new pro - sizing each other up,celebrating what they see,and cooperating.Though Merman would return later for a proper guest spot,nothing would capture the weird wonder of this trio scene.It's improvised,it's lively,and it's unlike anything else onThe Judy Garland Show.

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Reader Comments (6)

So we get Babs,Helen Lawson and Neely O'Hara together.Truly an Olympian summit.

November 16,2016 | Unregistered Commenterken s

Brilliance once again.This show is just an nearly endless source of pleasure.

The Merm is definitely not for everyone but I love her in all her clarion trumpet clarity.Nuance was not her friend and I think she was too big for film,though I love her in the film of "There's No Business Like Show Business"which is as big and brassy as she was,but most assuredly perfect for the stage.You would never be at a loss as too what she sang or said on that stage.

There's the famous story when she and Mary Martin were rehearsing for a show and Mary,who had a lovely but small voice,asked Ethel why she wasn't going to be wearing a mike for the performance and Merman replied "I only want to hit the back of the house,Mary!"

November 16,2016 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

"My Marriage to Ernest Borgnine."For this alone I will always love the Merm.

November 16,2016 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

It really is a Mad,Mad,Mad,Mad World!Amazing!

November 16,2016 | Unregistered Commenterforever1267

So we have to close our eyes and imagine Miss Merman singing at the Neil Simon ( nee Alvin) Theater

BLOW GABRIEL BLOW

That did hit the back of the house.

But when was May Martin ever miked?

November 16,2016 | Unregistered CommenterLeslie19

@ Leslie19

Perhaps?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0QhfT-dgFU

November 16,2016 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

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