JOE BLITMAN'S
FASHION & CELEBRITY DOLLS
2021 HOLIDAY ADVENT CALENDAR
DAY 4




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

 
joeblitman@aol.com





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COMDEN & GREEN
Betty Comden
1917-2006
Adolph Green
1914-2002

  



Betty Comden and Adolph Green wrote the book and/or the lyrics for a number of hit Broadway shows, among them:

"On the Town"



“Bells Are Ringing”



and "Peter Pan.”




They also wrote the book and/or the lyrics for several hit movies, including:

"Singin' in the Rain"



“The Bandwagon”



and “Auntie Mame.”




Their creative partnership lasted 64 years.

That’s not a typo. 

Six Four -- 64. 






Comden & Green were celebrities throughout their active years, and much of the public assumed they were married to each other.  Which they weren't.

Comden once said of this misconception:  “It doesn’t matter if others think we’re married; the important thing is that we know we’re not.”

Betty was married for 37 years to a man who was "not in the business."
  And Adolph was married for 40 years to the actress Phyllis Newman:



But before we get to talking about how wonderful Comden & Green are, let's take a look at today's 10 featured items from our website -- they're pretty wonderful, too.


PLATINUM BLOND T'N'T BARBIE
(1967)

$295.00


BEACH BABE POPPY
(2021)
NRFB
$159.00


SHOW 'N RIDE BARBIE
(1988)
$19.99


GAUCHO GEAR
(1971)
NRFB
$349.99

CUSTOM-MADE DECK OF
MOD BARBIE PLAYING CARDS
$9.99


BARBIE-Q
(1959)
Excellent+ & Complete
$79.00

SOLD - SORRY


DARIA SHOPPING QUEEN
MODEL OF THE MOMENT
(2005)
$59.00


BEST BUY #2555
(1977)
NRFB
$29.00

SNOWMAN TOMMY
NRFB
$9.99


WEGNER SKALSTOL
3-LEGGED CHAIR
VITRA MINIATURE
BARBIE & INTEGRITY DOLL-SIZE
$199.00
SOLD - SORRY


GIFT CERTIFICATES
IN ANY AMOUNT YOU WANT






Comden & Green started out, in the late 1930's, as nightclub performers. 




They were too poor to pay professionals for comic material, so they wrote their own satirical musical numbers. 

They formed a group called The Revuers,






which included comic actress Judy Holliday:






and a very young accompanist on the piano - Leonard Bernstein:




In 1944, Comden & Green wrote the book and, along with Bernstein’s music, the lyrics to “On The Town.” (They also played two of the lead roles.)




"On The Town"
was a big fat hit and provided them with their first standard, “New York, New York”:


In 1953, they again teamed up with Bernstein for “Wonderful Town,” a musicalization of the play “My Sister Eileen” and starring Rosalind Russell.




As with almost all of Comden & Green's shows, the songs were designed to propel the story and develop the characters, not necessarily to be stand-alone hits. 

But one song in "Wonderful Town" did stand out and it became popular way beyond the theater where the show was playing:
 



For the better part of the 1950’s and 60’s, Comden & Green collaborated with composer Jule Styne. 




Songs that propelled the story and developed the characters were fine and all that, but Jule Styne liked to write HITS! 

(We'll have more about Styne on an upcoming day of the Holiday Advent Calendar.)

The first standard the three of them wrote was for the Mary Martin musical “Peter Pan.” 




They had been brought in to augment an already-written partial score.  What they came up with has become a timeless ballad -- particularly among Baby Boomers, who embraced the song from multiple showings of the musical on television in the 1950s:



A year or so later, desperately searching for subject matter for a new musical, Green found himself staring at a full page ad for an answering service on the back cover of the NYC Yellow Pages.



Long before text messages and email, before cellphones and pagers, even before answering machines for landline telephones,
those who could afford it paid an Answering Service to take messages for them. 

Curious as to what an Answering Service office looked like, Comden & Green went to take a look at theirs. 

It turned out to be a threadbare basement apartment in a run-down brownstone. 

Seated at the switchboard was a woman in a housedress, with a can of coke and an open box of chocolates on one side of her, and an ashtray heaped with cigarette butts on the other. 

As they walked in, they overheard the woman -- in a very posh-sounding voice -- say into her headset:  “Good Day.  Gloria Vanderbilt residence.” 

They immediately knew they had their next show.

They tailored “Bells Are Ringing” especially to the talents of their old Revuers pal, Judy Holliday. 



The plot concerned an Answering Service operator who good-heartedly meddles in her customers' lives -- and finds love along the way. 



The show ran more than two years (a very long time in the 1950’s), and spawned not one, but two, first-class standards --  (Jule Styne was VERY happy) -- and went on to became a hit movie, starring Judy Holliday and Dean Martin.






Here's the first hit, performed by Judy Garland:




And here's the second, sung by Sammy Davis Jr.:
 




 

The next Comden & Green standard (again with Styne) was "Make Someone Happy" from the score of “Do Re Mi,” a musical comedy that starred Phil Silvers as a conman and Nancy Walker as his long-suffering wife. 



(Phil Silvers was in a lot of shows and movies, and found early TV stardom as "Sergeant Bilko."  Nancy Walker also did a bunch of shows and movies, but is probably best-known today as Rhoda's mom on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and "Rhoda.")

"Make Someone Happy" was sent to Perry Como in advance of the show’s opening, and he jumped at the chance to record it.




Over the next 30 years, there were lots of new Comden & Green shows for which they were showered with Tony Awards, including:
 
“Hallelujah Baby”





“On the Twentieth Century”





and “The Will Rogers Follies,”





but none of those shows had songs with a life beyond the footlights. 

However, we’ve gotta include a link to an extraordinarily-choreographed number from “The Will Rogers Follies.” 

Skip ahead to the 3 minute mark in the clip -- and try to keep your jaw from dropping to the floor: 


From the beginning of their careers, Comden & Green’s paramount concern when writing the lyrics for a Broadway score was to serve the best interests of the show.  It is astonishing how often they succeeded.  They had oodles of wit and sophistication and never lost their desire or ability to satirize those things that desperately needed to be satirized.


Drop That Name
from "Bells Are Ringing"


And this is how they worked for 64 years: 

Adolph would come to wherever Betty was living. 

Betty would sit at the typewriter and record all of their work, quietly contributing her ideas, while Adolph would fly around the room spewing what was often streams of wackiness and crazyness.

Clearly, the process worked.




Having started out as performers, Comden & Green never lost their desire to get up on stage. 

In the late 1950’s, they created a two-person Broadway show called “A Party with Comden & Green,” which had them telling stories and performing the best of their material from the previous 20 years. 



Like many of their book shows, it was a smash hit, and they revised it 20 years later for another Broadway run. 

Luckily for all of us, PBS taped the show.  So, if you want to see Comden & Green live and in person, here’s the link:



A Party with Comden & Green






And here's one of our favorite Comden & Green songs:

Some Other Time




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