JOE BLITMAN'S
FASHION & CELEBRITY DOLLS
2021 HOLIDAY ADVENT CALENDAR
DAY 12




16 Dartmouth Drive
Rancho Mirage, CA 92270
323-953-6490

 
joeblitman@aol.com





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JERRY HERMAN

1931-2019




At the 1984 Tony Awards, Broadway pros were laser-focused on the race between two very different musicals - Jerry Herman’s “La Cage Aux Folles” and Stephen Sondheim’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “Sunday in the Park With George.” 


  


Each show had its fervent supporters. 

When the winner of Best Score was announced, it was Jerry Herman for his music and lyrics. 

Clearly giddy with delight, Herman said:

“There’s been a rumor around for a couple of years that the simple hummable show tune was no longer welcome on Broadway.  Well, it’s alive and well at the Palace.”


Rightly or wrongly, Sondheim-ites took this as a direct “dis” of their guy. 

But it is just as likely that Herman -- after an 18-year career drought between hit shows -- was simply overcome with relief that he was once again back in the game.

Just as we are overcome with excitement to show you the 11 doll-related items from our website that we are featuring for sale today:



COLOR MAGIC COSTUME SET
BARBIE GIFT SET
(1966)
NRFB
$6,500.00


AMIRAH MAJEED
METEOR
24K SHINE
(2021)
NRFB
$160.00


ROGER STERLING
MAD MEN
(SILKSTONE)
(2010)
NRFB
$89.00


DREAM-INS
(1969)
NRFB
$129.00

SOLD - SORRY


I LOVE KEN BARBIE
2021 ROME FASHION DOLL CONVENTION
SOUVENIR DOLL
DESIGNED BY ARTIST CREATIONS
(2021)
NRFB
$129.99
SOLD - SORRY


AFRICAN-AMERICAN MIDGE
ARTIST-CUSTOMIZED
VINTAGE MIDGE DOLL
(2018)
NRFB
$150.00
SOLD - SORRY


LOVING YOU BARBIE
(1984)
$45.00

SENIOR PROM
(1963)
Excellent+ & Complete
$64.00


1990's CHRISTIE DRESSED IN
A DYED MINK COAT
(1995ish)
$299.99

RIDING IN THE PARK
(1966)
Near Mint/Mint & Complete
$299.00

SOLD - SORRY


GIFT CERTIFICATES
IN ANY AMOUNT YOU WANT



When Jerry Herman was growing up, his parents would take him almost weekly to see Broadway musicals.  Writing shows was his only ambition.

In his own words, "music always poured out of me." 

At 17, he played some of his material for Frank Loesser (see Day 5 of this Holiday Advent Calendar), who encouraged him to continue writing songs.



Right out of college, Herman supported himself playing “cocktail piano” in small NYC supper clubs, including one where the legendary Mabel Mercer sang.






From watching her, he learned that it is better to have a good singer who can "act the lyrics" rather than a great singer who doesn't have a clue what they are singing.

In the late 1950s, he created a pair of small original musical revues that proved popular with critics and audiences alike:

“Nightcap”




and “Parade.” 




These revues led to his being offered his first Broadway musical comedy.



“Milk & Honey” is about a busload of American widows touring the newly-created nation of Israel.  



The show was a moderate hit, running for more than a year.

That led to producer David Merrick approaching him to audition for the job of writing a musical version of Thornton Wilder’s “The Matchmaker.”


 

At the time it was called “Dolly, A Damned Exasperating Woman.”

Catchy. 

Merrick gave Jerry three days to “prove” he was up to the job.

72 hours later, Herman came back to Merrick with four songs -- “Put On Your Sunday Clothes,” “I Put My Hand In”/“Call On Dolly”, “Dancing,” and “Ribbons Down My Back.” 

Herman got the job for the 1964 show destined to be called “Hello Dolly.”




(And all four songs are still in the show!)


David Merrick is justifiably remembered as a terror to deal with.



When the show was in trouble during its out-of-town tryout, composer Charles Strouse (see Day 3 of this Holiday Advent Calendar) and lyricist Lee Adams were brought in -- secretly -- to fix the show.





They did some rearranging of the end of the first act, and they wrote a song called “Before the Parade Passes By.” 

Not the “Before the Parade Passes By” that you know. 

Jerry Herman used that title to write an entirely different song --  sung very affectingly here by Carol Channing, the original Dolly.



Strouse and Adams threatened to sue Merrick for their uncompensated rearranging work and the song title.  In a settlement, they receive a weekly royalty check whenever the show is performed.

The show, of course, is famous for the title number, performed here in 2017 by Bette Midler in a smash hit Broadway revival of the show.



But there was a great deal of sturm-und-drang over that song as well: 



After “Hello Dolly” had opened and was an enormous hit -- and after 20th Century Fox offered to pay $3 million for the right to make the movie -- established songwriter Mack David accused Herman of plagiarizing 4 bars of music from David's totally-obscure 1948 song “Sunflower.”





Apparently this happens all the time with successful songs.   There’s always someone who’s looking to make a quick buck by crying “plagiarism.” 

Because the lawsuit was going to take years to litigate and because Fox didn’t want to wait around to buy the show, Herman was heavily guilted into settling the lawsuit.  It cost him $200,000 of his own money.

Okay. 

So you just heard “Hello Dolly.” 

Here’s “Sunflower.”  (The notes in question are in the middle of the song.)



Whatta ya think?


The movie version of "Hello Dolly" was a disappointment, to put it mildly.





But two of its songs - “Put On Your Sunday Clothes” and “It Only Takes a Moment” --  were re-purposed as a key plot point in the hit Pixar movie, “Wall-E.”



The stage version of “Hello Dolly” ran for a then-record 7 years and won a then-record 10 Tony Awards, including Best Score for Herman.





In 1966, Jerry was hired to write about another larger-than-life lady - Auntie Mame. 




The producers wanted Rosalind Russell:
 




then Mary Martin:
 




Both declined. 


It was Herman who championed Angela Lansbury:
 




and, after a protracted process of auditioning and re-auditioning, she was hired and became ….



Angela Lansbury, Musical Comedy Star!






A highlight of the show was the song “Bosom Buddies," performed by Angela and an uber-acerbic Bea Arthur. 

Here, they recreate that hilarious number:



Jerry Herman established his holiday annuity with the ever-popular “We Need a Little Christmas,” gleefully sung here by Johnny Mathis:



Herman got another standard out of the show, the ballad “If He Walked into My Life Today.” 

It was a very big hit for Eydie Gorme':
 

 


“Mame” ran for over four years and was made into a dreadful movie with Lucille Ball.









What followed for Herman were 18 years of disappointments.

He wrote 3 shows that had songs and performances that people loved and admired, but the shows themselves failed with audiences and critics.

There was 1968’s “Dear World,” based on the “The Madwoman of Chaillot,” which won Angela Lansbury her second Tony Award.





In 1974, Robert Preston and Bernadette Peters starred in “Mack & Mabel,” about the ill-fated romance between film director Mack Sennett and his star, Mabel Normand.
 




The score abounds with terrific songs, but the one that has endured is a heartbreaking torch song, “Time Heals Everything”:


This was followed by “The Grand Tour,” with Joel Grey, which came and went very quickly.





Herman began to think he was permanently out-of-fashion.  To fill his time, he began to flip houses (with great success).

Then, in 1984, came the call to write the score for “La Cage Aux Folles.” 




At the time, this was considered very risky. 

A big Broadway musical comedy about the love affair between two men?

Sometimes big risks pay off. 

The show ran for 5 years, won a Best Musical Tony, and was successfully revived in 2005 and 2010 -- winning the Tony Award for Best Revival both times.
 




The most affecting song is one that has evolved into a Gay Pride anthem. 

Here’s John Barrowman, who portrayed Zaza and sang this song in the London production of “La Cage Aux Folles”:



The other hit song from “La Cage” is one that sums up Jerry Herman’s eternal optimism -- "The Best of Times is Now."

Here are Faith Prince, Marin Mazzie, and, again, John Barrowman:
 


Lee Roy Reams was slated to take over the role of Albin on Broadway in 1987, but the show closed before he could start performances.

At the Broadway Memorial Service for Jerry Herman in 2020, Reams was joined by Bernadette Peters, Kristin Chenowith, Harvey Fierstein, Leslie Uggams, Kelli O'Hara, Sutton Foster, Michael Feinstein, Tyne Daley, Lorna Luft, Betty Buckley, and many others in singing:



 






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