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The Ford 50th Anniversary Show (June 15, 1953)

Mary Martin & Ethel Merman

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Album Review

On June 15, 1953, the Ford Motor Company sponsored a two-hour television special to celebrate its 50th year of existence that was broadcast live on both CBS and NBC. Guests included Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Rudy Vallée, and Eddie Fisher, but the highlight of the show was a medley performed by Broadway's two leading female stars, Mary Martin and Ethel Merman. The 39-year-old Martin had made her Broadway debut in 1938 in Leave It to Me and since starred in One Touch of Venus and South Pacific; the 44-year-old Merman's Broadway career dated back to Girl Crazy in 1930 and included Anything Goes and Annie Get Your Gun. The two were a study in contrasts, Merman a brassy belter and Martin a warm, understated charmer. But they made a terrific team, beginning separately with signature songs for each, "There's No Business Like Show Business" for Merman and "A Wonderful Guy" for Martin, then trading choruses, or just lines, from a series of old Tin Pan Alley songs, followed by a series of "I" songs, leading into more signature songs ("You're Just in Love" and "I Get a Kick Out of You" for Merman, "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair" and "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" for Martin) and finishing with some old standards. Decca Records quickly rushed out this 10" LP, with an edited version of the medley on side one ("You Made Me Love You" and "My Melancholy Baby" were deleted) and separate songs by Martin ("Mountain High, Valley Low" and "I'll Walk Alone") and Merman ("Eadie Was a Lady") on side two. (These were studio recordings, not from the TV show.) The funniest element of the brief album is the effort to share top billing: the duo's names are in reverse order on the front and back sides of the cover, and on the two sides of the disc.

Biography

Born: December 01, 1913 in Weatherford, TX

Genre: Soundtrack

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

Singer/actress Mary Martin was, along with Ethel Merman, one of the two leading performers in stage musicals during the middle third of the 20th century. From the 1930s to the 1960s, Martin appeared on Broadway, in the West End, and on tour thousands of times in such massively successful shows as South Pacific and The Sound of Music. She also recorded cast albums for these shows that sold in the millions. Unlike Merman, who was known for her brassy, extroverted style, Martin was a warm, ingratiating...
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The Ford 50th Anniversary Show (June 15, 1953), Mary Martin
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