Friday, September 28, 2018

Can We? Shall We? Oh, Just Dance!

 Celebrating George Gershwin,
who along with Brother Ira,
wrote the music for A Damsel In Distress, in 1937.
No Ginger this time around;
nope, RKO chose 19 year old Joan Fontaine to star opposite
Fred Astaire (above).
Too bad she couldn't dance!
Fred wanted to replace her with Ruby Keeler, 
who very much could.
Didn't happen.
It was the first Astaire picture to lose money.

 Actor Charley Chase was first cast to be Fred's valet
in the film,
but had to drop out due to ill health.
The part was rewritten for George Burns and Gracie Allen,
above with Astaire.  
George Gershwin died 4 months before the movie was released.

 Another Gershwin Hollywood creation,
Shall We Dance", also released in 1937.
A ton of goodies in this one,
from the title song to "Slap That Bass,"
"Walkin' The Dog", "I've Got Beginniner's Luck",
"Let's Call The Whole Thing Off",
and "The Way You Look Tonight"
(supposedly Fred and Ginger's favorite).

 George and Ginger...on the very civilized set of "Shall We"...
they knew each other from Girl Crazy,
which Ginger did at the age of 19,
her Broadway debut!

Broadway's Girl Crazy...
the Gershwins' hit of 1930.
That's Ethel Merman in the center, age 22,
playing Frisco Kate.
She got to introduce both
"I Got Rhythm" and "Sam And Delilah".
Below, Ethel with co-star William Kent,
with a hat that looks like it weighed more than he did.

Above, Ginger, as the female lead, Polly,
and The Foursome.
Girl Crazy "made Ginger a star".
She got to introduce "Embraceable You", "But Not For Me",
and "Could You Use Me?"
The pit orchestra included Red Nichols, Glenn Miller, Gene Krupa, 
Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman and Jack Teagarden. 
Onstage pianist for Ethel:
Roger Edens, 
who would remain a good friend of The Merm for many years.
Annnnd on opening night, George Gershwin himself conducted.

 Ending a Gershwin-ized show with Cole Porter?
Why not!
Another excuse to play more Marin Mazzie,
above with Brian Stokes Mitchell,
in the 1999 revival,
the first Broadway production since the 1948 original.

  Above "Too Darn Hot"
and below, the replacement Broadway cast:
Carolee Carmelo (Parade) and Burke Moses (The Frogs).

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