Monday, September 23, 2013

Cold As Ice


"When they invited me to the premiere, I sent off a 200 word telegram telling why I wouldn't attend -- and I sent it collect!" -- Carol Channing on losing the film version of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) to Marilyn Monroe


9 comments:

  1. She's probably still sticking pins in her Norma Jean dolly... Jx

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    1. Ironically, I suspect the Barbra doll got more pricks than the Marilyn.

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  2. Wow, really hard to imagine Carol Channing in that role. What a different character it must have been on stage.

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    1. Carol explains it thus: "Marilyn played it adorable. I played it as satire." And that, I can totally see. But yes, completely different. It could be argued that MM may have played Lorelei as a subtle parody of the dumb blonde, but parody is broader than satire. Wish footage of Carol's Broadway run existed!

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  3. It served them right

    It's like asking your earlier significant other to give you away at your wedding to someone else ...not . Isn't it enough they aren't making trouble? ..do they have to seem to happy too? Lord

    Marilyn and Carol The difference between movies and theater.....movies must seem more innocent, younger...it's our psyche. The theater. is more of our brain

    Then there is Lucy as Mame ...which made no sense on any level

    " Thoroughly Modern Millie" footage may give us an bare idea of Carol in the role

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    1. I love Carol in Millie, and although she earned an Oscar nomination, I do think that may have cost her the Dolly film role -- execs saw that, as fun as she was in a supporting role, she was just TOO MUCH to carry a lead in a blockbuster musical film. The audience would have been flattened in their seats.

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  4. I wonder if Carol had not done "Thoroughly Modern Millie" if she would have gotten to play Dolly onscreen. I once saw an entry in Walter Scott's Personality Parade from 1965 in which the letter writer asked who was being considered for the movie version of Dolly. The response was that practically every big name actress of the time over 30 was on the list. I definitely remember Doris Day and Shirley MacLaine and I believe Lucille Ball was included. In a book about Barbra that I read a few years ago, either the producer of the movie or the head of the studio was so fed up with Barbra's antics before filming even began that he said to get rid of her and replace her with Doris Day. I wonder if that could have worked out. I think Doris could have done well with the role. But that would have been late winter/early spring 1968, and Marty Melcher was ill at that time, and Doris was probably already signed on for her TV series, or just about to be. I wonder if it could have happened. Who knows?

    On a side note, I once read a blurb in Variety, I believe, from about 1956, that said that plans were in the works for Doris and Carol to do a movie together. I don't think any other details were provided. I never saw any mention of it anywhere else.

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    1. Interesting!! I never heard that Doris or Shirley were considered for Dolly! Like Barbra, Shirley would have been too young for the role, but I can actually see her handling the part quite well -- she would have been quirky (as opposed to Babs' "kooky"), and would have added a nice touch of piss and vinegar. Which is why, as much as I love Doris, I just can't see her as Dolly. She, or at least her persona, is just TOO nice, too warm and low key. Dolly has to be a quirky OR kooky middle aged dynamo, and for some reason, I just can't wrap my head around Doris in the part. Also, I think Doris has one of the all time great voices in popular music, but I just can't "hear" her doing the Jerry Herman score...at least, not in the brassy way that Channing, Bailey and Streisand did. Her rendition of, say, "Before the Parade Passes By" would have been lovely, but completely different...hmmm. Actually, now you have me wishing that Doris had recorded "It Only Takes a Moment" on one of her albums -- it's not one of Dolly's numbers, but boy, what she could have done with THAT one.

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    2. I had never before thought of a Doris recording of "It Only Takes a Moment," but that would most likely have been wonderful. I agree that Doris has one of the all-time great voices in popular music. My partner is extremely knowledgeable about music and singing and technique, and has said that Doris' singing voice comes across as totally effortless. He said there is never any strain and it is as if she just opens up her mouth and the music comes out. As Will Friedwald wrote in the liner notes to the US release of "The Love Album:" "This is perhaps what distinguishes Day from her peers and colleagues: as great as Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Rosemary Clooney, Jo Stafford, and Judy Garland are, to name only five, all of them communicate something of the effort that goes into producing beautiful music. With Day, it just seems to exist, a product of nature that has nothing to do with the machinations of mere mortals, even herself."

      I can see your arguments about Doris as Dolly. But there were a lot of Dollys on stage who did not have quirky or kooky personalities. Ginger Rogers is one who comes to mind. Phyllis Diller is one who doesn't! : ) But, yes, the big, brassy numbers would have been very different if Doris had sung them in the movie. It is not that she could not do that style of singing, as she sometimes did, but it was not her signature style. Warm and intimate and singing to just one specific person was what she excelled at.

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