Saturday, September 09, 2006
Today is the birthday of a master showman and an amazing lyricist who gave the world the lyrics to some of the greatest songs ever written. His name was Billy Rose. Now most people associate Billy with producing "Jumbo" starring Jimmy Durante and the amazing Martha Raye. But he really was a master showman and was once married tothe amazing Fanny Brice.He discovered stripper Sally Rand, swimming star Esther Williams and Tarzan legend Johnny Weismuller. Billy was producing a new show at his legendary "Diamond Horseshoe Club back in 1939 and he needed a choreographer who could make "tits and ass" look spectacular. His associate, John Murray Andersen reccomended none other than Gene Kelly. Gene was hired under protest until Rose saw him work-- and this was the biggest step in Gene Kelly's career. As far as songs go Billy wrote the lyrics (or co wrote the lyrics for) "Me and My Shadow" (how many times did I sing this as a kid!), "Does The Spearmint Lose Its Flavor On The Bedpost Over Night?" (that one too-- at camp) "I Found a Million Dollar Baby at a Five And Ten Cent Store" and "It's Only A Paper Moon" He also produced "Carmen Jones" in 1943 with an all black cast, taking the Bizet opera Carmen and transplanting it to World War II. Oscar hammerstein did the lyrics and the libretto--it was an instant hit! It was from a stage play he did called "The Great Magoo" --that the cartoon of the fifties was derived and whom Jim Baugus immortalized. Billy came up with the concept of the classic movie "San Francisco" starring Clark Gable. (yes, the one with great earthquake sequence) Billy died in 1966-- yet another show business legend dying in that year. He operated the Billy Rose Theatre on Broadway for decades. His estate maintained it with his name until 1978 when it was sold to the Nederlander and that theatre is currently hosting another Broadway legendary show called "Rent". One more lyric he wrote was with the amazing composer Al Dubin-a little ditty that continues to earn his estate royalties (besides "Paper Moon" and "Me and My Shadow" -it was a song my mother used to play on the piano-- it was called "A Cup of Coffee, A Sandwich and You" -- classic title and the kind of thing nobody would coin today! Well it looks like the Space Shuttle got off the ground on the fifth attempt-- Go NASA! We need to complete this space station. I am also reading this morning that we will soon have foods that you buy in the supermarket and somehow they will have their own heating devices within the package-- progress goes on! Well until next time! And oh yes-- one more thing-- this the third month anniversary of my writing a blog. I must say, I really enjoy writing it. It gives me a chance to write something down and be creative at least once a day!