JOE BLITMAN'S
FASHION & CELEBRITY DOLLS
2021 HOLIDAY ADVENT CALENDAR
DAY 16




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

 
joeblitman@aol.com





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LORENZ "LARRY" HART

1895-1943




Although they grew up around the corner from each other, lyricist Lorenz “Larry” Hart and composer Richard Rodgers did not meet until 1918, when Rodgers was 16 and Hart was 23. 

They quickly became a songwriting team.
 




But they were not an overnight success. 

It took six years of fits, starts, and disappointments before they were hailed as an “overnight success.” 

And then, from 1925 to 1943, they wrote more than two dozen shows (most of them hits) and a half-dozen movies (some of them hits). 






Among the scores were dozens and dozens of songs that are gold-plated standards, with Larry Hart lyrics that are familiar to all.


And here are nearly a dozen doll-related items from our website that we are featuring today (and all of them are definitely hits!):




PLUSH PONY
(1969)
(This is the outfit we used for the photos
on page 98 of our Mod Barbie book)
$75.00

SOLD - SORRY



BIJOU ELYSE
FASHION ROYALTY
NUDE DOLL
(2021)

$129.99


JAPANESE EXCLUSIVE
YELLOW SUIT
WITH ORANGE TRIM
(1960s)
$1,399.00


  DESK/TABLE WITH DRAWERS
(DOLL-SIZED)
2021 BARBIE CONVENTION GIFT
(2021)
NRFB
$14.99

SOLD - SORRY


I LOVE LUCY
"THE AUDITION"
(2007)
NRFB
$59.00


DUTCH BARBIE
(1994)

$11.99


ROLLER-BLADE KEN SKATES
(1992)
$6.00


MIX 'N MATCHERS
(1967)
NRFB
$699.00


BLOND #6 PONYTAIL BARBIE
(1963)
$149.00


BARBIE as SCARLETT O'HARA
"HONEYMOON"
(1994)
$18.00


GIFT CERTIFICATES
IN ANY AMOUNT YOU WANT



Larry Hart was the perfect lyricist for his era (his era being between the two World Wars). 

His lyrics were sophisticated, witty, clever, and urbane.
 





When they needed to be, he could make his lyrics hilarious, or heartfelt, or sad. 

But, as is sometimes the case with outsized talent, there was a catch. 

The catch is that Hart was a tormented man.
 




He was gay, but didn’t want to be. 

He was short (about 4’10”) and didn’t want to be.
 




When he looked in the mirror, he saw “ugly.”
 

The tragedy of this is that

a.) he wasn't ugly




and b.) many who knew him or worked with him adored him.
 




Rodgers and Hart’s “overnight” success came in 1925 with a two-night benefit for The Theatre Guild, called “The Garrick Gaieties.” 

They'd written a song called "Manhattan."
 





It brought the house down at both performances. 

Those two nights turned into 211. 

Rodgers and Hart went from "invisible" to "the toast of the town."


Filmed in 1929, this clip of “Manhattan” is probably just the way it was performed 4 years before:



There was a second edition of “The Garrick Gaieties,” in 1926, from whence comes “Mountain Greenery.”
 




The song was performed in a 1967 TV Special about Rodgers & Hart -- by Bobby Darin!  Petula Clark!!  The Supremes!!!  and Count Basie!!!! 

God, we miss TV variety specials.



For 1927’s “A Connecticut Yankee,” based on Mark Twain’s “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court,”





the gimmick is that the script and lyrics mash-up medieval language with modern slang. 

One of the standout songs is “Thou Swell,” swung here by Natalie Cole.



A lot of the earlier Rodgers and Hart shows were hits, but the silly plot lines have mercifully been long forgotten.  Not so the songs. 

Here, from 1928’s “Present Arms,”





is The Crush’s barbershop quartet version of “You Took Advantage of Me



Another forgettable show was 1930’s “Simple Simon,”
 




from which came the tough-talking “Ten Cents a Dance,” sung here by Doris Day in the movie “Love Me or Leave Me”:

 

The Depression hit Broadway hard.

It sent Hart and Rodgers to London to write a hit musical, “Ever Green,” for Jessie Matthews, who was a huge theater and film star in England.





It later became a hit movie as well. 





Here’s the timeless song from that show, “Dancing on the Ceiling”:

 
Hart was able to channel the sadness in his life into brilliantly-sad songs about love.

Here are two. 

From 1935’s “Jumbo,”





here is Karen Carpenter’s interpretation of “Little Girl Blue”:



And, from 1936’s “On Your Toes,”
 




Sammy Davis Jr. tells us why he’s “Glad to be Unhappy”:



In the introduction to this year’s Holiday Advent Calendar, we express thanks to Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald for making it cool to sing oldies. 



Here are the two of them in the mid-1960’s, teaming up on “The Lady Is A Tramp” from 1937’s “Babes in Arms”:






Also from “Babes in Arms” is “Johnny One Note,” sung by Eydie Gorme -- who is wearing a truly amazing gown (judging by the bodice and cinched waist). 

And dig that sustained note.



Wait! -- One more from “Babes in Arms,” recreated here in the 1948 movie "Words & Music."  




"Words and Music" is a mostly-fictionalized biopic about Hart and Rodgers -- and features the last screen duet between Mickey and Judy. 

The song (with some of Hart’s most devilish rhymes) is “I Wish I Were in Love Again


Rodgers & Hart songs turn up in surprising places. 

Here, from the coda to the movie “Bridget Jones’ Diary,”



(and depicting the initial childhood attraction between Renee Zellweger's and Colin Firth's characters) is:



In 1938, Hugh Martin (who later wrote “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” and “The Trolley Song”) was hired to do a vocal arrangement for “Sing For Your Supper” from “The Boys From Syracuse.”
 





The number stopped the show, and the trio performing it had to sing it again…and then again a third time. 

Here’s the original arrangement and orchestration, with singers Christine Ebersole, Rebecca Luker, Debbie Shapiro Gravitte:



From 1940’s "Higher and Higher,"





this is a recording of Julie London singing “It Never Entered My Mind”



Can we just recap one line from that song:  “uneasy in my easy chair.” 

Honestly, can a lyric ever be better than that?


One of the catastrophic through-lines of Hart’s life was his long-term -- and worsening --  alcoholism. 

He would go off on benders for days -- even weeks -- stretching the limits of the partnership with Rodgers to the breaking point.

In 1942, the team was offered the chance to musicalize the stage play “Green Grow the Lilacs.”
 




Hart had no interest in a rural musical and was finding it harder and harder to summon the energy to write.

But Rodgers was intrigued.

As was Oscar Hammerstein, who offered to write the book.

Hart and Hammerstein were exactly the same age; they had been in school together at Columbia; and they were life-long friends.

Hart told Rodgers he should write the show with Hammerstein. 

Hence a new songwriting team was born,



and the show, retitled “Oklahoma,”





became a legendary hit.


But Hart had one more show to write with Rodgers. 

Actually, it was a partial rewrite of “A Connecticut Yankee” (they were adding a half dozen songs).
 




The last song they wrote together was “To Keep My Love Alive,” a hilarious “list” song that is full of vintage Hart rhymes, sung here by the very hilarious Elaine Stritch:



In November 1943, on the opening night of "A Connecticut Yankee," Hart showed up to the theatre drunk. 

Sitting in the audience, he started to sing along with the cast.

His sister walked him out of the theatre and took him to her apartment. 

The next morning, she awoke to find that he had left the apartment. 

Several days went by before he was found -- passed out on the street, drunk, without an overcoat.  He died of pneumonia 3 days later.

But we don’t want to leave you depressed.

Let’s remember Larry Hart as the brilliant lyricist he was.

Here's Lady Gaga, singing a beautiful song from 1940’s “Pal Joey”:








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