JOE BLITMAN'S
FASHION & CELEBRITY DOLLS
2021 HOLIDAY ADVENT CALENDAR
DAY 13




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

 
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JULE STYNE

1905-1994




Jule Styne was an extraordinarily-gifted composer of such shows as “Gypsy” and “Funny Girl.” 

  


He earned his living from music for 7 decades. 

He did, however, have one quirk: 

To new collaborators or co-workers, he sometimes sounded like he spoke gibberish. 

Comden & Green, who worked with him plenty, called what he said “Styne-ese.” 




His thoughts were so lightning fast, he couldn’t get the words out as quickly as his thinking. 

So what came out of his mouth was a weird sort of shorthand that many had to struggle to decipher. 
 


But you should have no trouble deciphering the 11 doll-related items from our website that we are featuring today:




BARBIE & THE SENSATIONS
4 MASS-PRODUCED DOLLS
PLUS 3 PREMIUM SAMPLE OUTFITS
(1988)
$149.00


COUNTRY BOUND
SILKSTONE FASHION
(2002)
NRFB
$52.00
SOLD - SORRY


HOME AT LAST
LADY AURELIA GREY
OUTFIT ONLY
EAST 59th
$99.99
SOLD - SORRY


WONDER WOMAN
WW84 GIFT SET
(2020)
NRFB
$49.99


DECK OF KEN PLAYING CARDS
(POKER SIZE)
(PEOPLE-SIZED)
2021 BARBIE CONVENTION GIFT
(2021)
NRFB
$14.99

ICEBREAKER
(1962)
Run in hose at seat, o/w
Excellent+/Near Mint & Complete

$45.00


SKATING FUN
(SKIPPER OUTFIT)
(1964)
Tiny hole in back of bodysuit,
o/w Near Mint & Complete
$55.00


KEN TOUCHDOWN
(1963)
Near Mint/Mint & Complete
$75.00


ORIENTAL BARBIE
(1981)
$24.99


I LOVE LUCY
"THE DIET"
LUCY & RICKY GIFT SET
(2011)
NRFB
$69.99
SOLD - SORRY




GIFT CERTIFICATES
IN ANY AMOUNT YOU WANT



Born Julius Styne in London in 1905, Jule Styne moved with his family to Chicago when he was 8. 

He started piano lessons and proved to be such a prodigy, he was performing with the Chicago, St. Louis, and Detroit Symphonies before he was 10.
 

In his 20s, he played pop music with name bands in Chicago.




He landed in Hollywood in his 30’s, where he did vocal coaching at 20th Century Fox. 




Alice Faye and Tony Martin were easy to coach.  But not so Shirley Temple. 



8-year-old Shirley preferred playing badminton to working.

Whenever her mother said it was time to rehearse with "Mr. Styne," Shirley would reply: “Look. I earn all the money in this family.  Don’t tell me what to do.” 

Ouch.

Styne finally got around to songwriting in 1940, getting a staff composer job at Republic Studios.  Republic did low-budget films, mostly Roy Rogers and Gene Autry westerns. 




They also had John Wayne under contract. 

In 1941, Republic lent Wayne to Paramount and, in exchange, got the services of lyricist Frank Loesser (see Day 5 of Holiday Advent Calendar) for one picture. 





When Loesser first met with Styne to collaborate, Styne started to play Loesser a tune.

10 seconds into hearing it, Loesser said:

“Shhhh.  Quick!  Put that one away.  It’s too good for here.  We’ll write that song together at Paramount.” 

And, within a year, they did, after Loesser requested that  Paramount borrow Styne. 

The song, from the movie “Sweater Girl,” was “I Don’t Want to Walk Without You."




It became a #1 hit for the Harry James Orchestra and Helen Forrest. 

At the time of the song’s release, Irving Berlin said:  "This is the greatest song I wish I’d written." 

Here’s the James/Forrest version:



Styne soon began what would become an 8-year partnership with lyricist Sammy Cahn (see Day 11 of the Holiday Advent Calendar) that sent their careers into the stratosphere.
 




The way they worked was for Cahn to give Styne a title or a bit of a lyric.  Styne would then compose the music. 

Styne’s son, Stanley, used to listen at the door of his dad’s study when Cahn and Styne worked together.  He says the words and music came very easily to each of them.  And they both liked to work fast.

Among their 1940’s hits still familiar are:


Time After Time
 



It's Magic




I'll Walk Alone
 



The Christmas Waltz




Many of these songs were hits for Frank Sinatra, and Styne and Cahn quickly became Sinatra's go-to songwriters.
 




Styne and Sinatra became very close friends, and, for the rest of his working life, Styne always thought of Sinatra first whenever he wrote potential hit songs.


Like many, if not most, of the Hollywood composers, Styne got the “Broadway Bug.”  He wanted the prestige of writing a Broadway score. 

In 1947, he and Cahn wrote “High Button Shoes,” which had a very healthy two-year run on Broadway.
 




Styne was immediately -- and  permanently -- hooked.

Cahn?  Not so much.

Styne and Cahn were no longer joined at the hip.

They periodically collaborated on songs, and had one more gigantic hit up their sleeves -- “Three Coins in the Fountain” -- which won the Oscar for Best Song in 1954.
 




It was Styne’s ninth nomination, and only Oscar win.

Here’s the song, sung by Sinatra (of course):



(Another great thing about looking at that clip?  In less than 4 minutes, you’ve gotten to watch a mini-version of a pretty mushy, soupy movie. (Although the two of us don't quite agree on that assessment.) :)

In 1949, Jule wrote the music (to Leo Robin’s lyrics) for the Broadway show “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," which made a star of Carol Channing. 



Styne was actually responsible for Channing getting the part.

Anita Loos (who wrote the book upon which "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" is based as well as the book for the musical) said of Channing’s performance in an earlier show, “Lend An Ear”:

“I like the satire in her.” 

Styne capitalized on that element of Channing’s stage persona in coaching her through all her numbers.



Here’s Channing doing “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” in the 1950’s:



And here’s Marilyn Monroe’s version from the movie in 1953:






In the 1950s, Styne formed a sturdy partnership with lyricists/librettists Betty Comden & Adolph Green (see Day 4 of the Holiday Advent Calendar)

The three of them did a series of musicals together:

“Two On the Aisle”



“Peter Pan”




“Bells Are Ringing” 




“Say Darling”




“Do Re Mi”






among others, and many of them were quite successful.


Then, in 1959, Styne was signed to write the music for “Gypsy,”





based on the memoir by the celebrated stripper Gypsy Rose Lee. 




The show’s star, Ethel Merman, personally selected Styne for the job.  Stephen Sondheim did the lyrics.
.




Here are three good Styne stories from “Gypsy.”

Story #1:

Jule Styne loved to compose music, but he also loved to write hits. 

And, as we mentioned earlier, he especially loved to write hits for Frank Sinatra to sing. 

Styne had given Sondheim the tune for “Small World,” which Styne was certain had H-I-T written all over it. 

Sondheim went home, carefully crafted his lyric for the characters and the situation, and then played the completed song for Styne. 

When Sondheim got to the lyric:

"Lucky, you’re a man who likes children.
That’s an important sign.
Lucky, I’m a woman with children.
Small world, isn’t it?
Funn——"

Styne went ballistic!

“Woman with Children?!!  Woman with Children?!!"

"How am I ever gonna get Sinatra to sing a song that goes 'woman with children'?”

 



From the movie “Gypsy” with Rosalind Russell, here's the song about the woman with children:



Story #2:

One of the best songs in “Gypsy” is “You’ll Never Get Away From Me,” sung here by Bernadette Peters in a 21st century Broadway revival of the show:


 
Now, every composer has what they call "trunk songs" -- music they’ve written, but which has never been used. 

Styne expanded the definition of “trunk songs” to include music he’d written in the past but would be perfect for the current project EVEN THOUGH IT HAS ALREADY BEEN INCLUDED IN A PRIOR SHOW. 

Such was the case with the music for "You'll Never Get Away from Me." 

Styne had used the music several years before in a TV Special that aired just once -- “Ruggles of Red Gap” -- starring Michael Redgrave, Peter Lawford, and Jane Powell.

In the TV special, the song was titled “I'm In Pursuit of Happiness.” 

Sondheim only found out about it well after “Gypsy” had opened and the original cast album had been recorded and released.

Understandably, he had a fit -- partly because he prided himself on knowing every show tune ever recorded. 



Story #3:

Almost every musical has an overture to preview the songs the audience will be hearing during the course of the evening. 

Up until "Gypsy," the typical overture would consist of short bits of the songs from the score played sequentially, with some incidental music thrown in to connect the songs together. 

Well, Jule Styne wanted to shake the norms up. 

He wrote an overture for "Gypsy" that blended all of the songs into a sort of super-charged suite (we’re sure there’s an exact musical term for this, but that’s beyond our pay grade) that didn't just "preview" the songs from the show, but incorporated the songs into a cohesive musical composition that built the audience up into a frenzy of excitement and anticipation.  When the curtain opened, that audience was primed to have a good time.

So here's the story: 

Styne completes his new-fangled overture and plays it for the show's director Jerry Robbins, the show's librettist Arthur Laurents, and the show's lyricist Stephen Sondheim.

None of them likes it. 

Stunned, Styne makes them promise that the overture can be played at one performance so that they can all see how the audience responds (or doesn’t respond).

Styne himself oversaw the rehearsals of the orchestra.

He talked to a trumpeter in the pit - Dick Perry - and told him that when it came time for his trumpet solo, he should stand up, let go, and blow the roof off the theater. 

Styne next went to the lighting booth and instructed the lighting technician to put a spotlight on Dick Perry when he did his trumpet solo.

After all of this prep, the overture was played at the next performance.

At the end of the overture, the audience went N-U-T-S. 

Up in the balcony, Arthur Laurents said to Sondheim: 

“Look!  They’re applauding the overture.” 

A sour Sondheim replied:

“They’re applauding the trumpet.” 

Here’s the overture, just as it was played that first time.  (Listen for the trumpet solo at about the 3:45 mark).



In the summer of 2020, at the height of the pandemic, a Zoom orchestra got together virtually to perform this overture.  Remember.  They are not in the same room.  Stunning.



Four years after "Gypsy," Styne had another gargantuan hit with “Funny Girl,” the musical comedy version of Ziegfeld Follies star Fanny Brice’s early career and romance with Nick Arnstein.
 




One of the show’s producers was Ray Stark, who was married to Fran Arnstein Stark, the daughter of Fanny and Nick. 

The producers' first choice for Fanny was … Mary Martin.
 




Mary was pushing 50 and wasn’t in the slightest bit “ethnic.” 

But she was still a huge ticket seller. 

Martin was interested, but then quickly backed out. 

The next choice was Anne Bancroft:
 





Fran Stark was firmly in favor of Bancroft.

But Bancroft had a limited vocal range and wanted to hear the songs first before committing to the role. 

In the meantime, Styne had seen Barbra Streisand at the Bon Soir nightclub in Greenwich Village and was convinced she was perfect for the role.


 

He took director Jerry Robbins and Ray and Fran Stark to the nightclub to see Streisand perform.
 




The men liked her, but Mrs. Stark said: “That girl is not playing my mother!”

Shortly thereafter, Styne ran into the accomplished lyricist Bob Merrill, who had written the lyrics for “Carnival,” “Take Me Along,” and “New Girl in Town.”





Styne asked Merrill if he’d be interested in writing the lyrics for “Funny Girl” starring Anne Bancroft. 

Merrill was interested, but mentioned that he had dated Bancroft for a while and it hadn’t ended well. 

Styne said not to worry about it.

Styne gave Merrill the tunes he had written so far, and Merrill quickly lyricized them.

A meeting was set up with Bancroft, who came to the theater, said hello to Styne at the piano, and then spotted Merrill -- and froze. 

She listened to the songs (which were mostly outside her limited range), stood up and said:  “I want nothing to do with this show,” then walked out of the theater.

We'll never know if that was Styne's clever way to get Bancroft out of the show, just as we’ll never know what the pillow talk was between the Starks, but Mrs. Stark came around to the idea of Streisand, and Jule Styne got Barbra Streisand cast in the role.




Fanny Brice's daughter, Fran Stark, with Barbra Streisand

For this show, Styne had picked “People” to be the hit, but the producers and the director wanted to cut it because it really didn’t belong in the scene where it was placed (or in any other scene, to their way of thinking). 

But Styne and Merrill dug in their heels and insisted the song stay. 

“Why?” they were asked. 

Merrill replied: 

“It has to be in the show because it’s the greatest thing Barbra’s ever done.   She’s just made a single of it that none of you have heard.  It’s going to be a solid hit.  When you put the spotlight on her opening night and she sings this song, she’ll bring the house down.”

And she did:



The other standard to emerge from “Funny Girl” is “Don’t Rain on My Parade.” 

There is no better version of it than the first act finale in the 1968 movie.






After 1964, Styne worked on Broadway continually, although with diminishing returns. 

High points were 1967’s “Hallelujah Baby”





and 1972’s “Sugar” (the musical version of “Some Like It Hot”),





but the low points eventually became the norm.

We want to leave you on a high point. 

Here’s the overture to “Funny Girl” -- again with Dick Perry on the trumpet. 



 






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