JOE BLITMAN'S
FASHION & CELEBRITY DOLLS
2021 HOLIDAY ADVENT CALENDAR
DAY 6




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

 
joeblitman@aol.com





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LERNER & LOEWE



Alan Jay Lerner
1918-1986
Frederick “Fritz” Loewe
1901-1988

  


Lyricist, librettist, and screenwriter Alan Jay Lerner was born rich.




(The nationwide women’s clothing store chain, Lerner Shops, was a family business.)





He attended Choate and Harvard at the same time as JFK (they worked on a school yearbook together)
and he married 8 times.
 


(These aren't his wives.)


We think Lerner is the only screenwriter to have written 3 movies that won the Oscar for Best Picture -- “An American in Paris, “Gigi,” and “My Fair Lady.”


Composer Frederick Loewe (known to all of his friends and co-workers as Fritz) was born in Berlin to Viennese parents. 



His father was a famous musical operetta star, and
Fritz was a child prodigy at the piano.  He performed with the Berlin Philharmonic when he was only 13. 

Fritz came to NYC in 1924 and, by his own account, was so poor that he never had a proper meal until MGM wrote him a $250,000 check in 1945 for the rights to Lerner & Loewe’s third consecutive flop musical, "The Day Before Spring."





Lerner wrote with lots of different composers (including Leonard Bernstein, with whom he also attended Harvard). 

Loewe only wrote with Lerner. 

Lerner’s only hits were written with Loewe. 

And that’s why we know them as Lerner & Loewe.





We, of course, are known as JoesList, and here are the doll-related items from our website that we are featuring today:


FUN 'N GAMES
(1965)
Near Mint & Complete
$109.00

SOLD - SORRY


BARBIE & KEN
POWER COUPLE
(A/A)
OFFICIAL CONVENTION DOLL GIFT SET
(2021)
NRFB
$399.99


LIVE FROM THE RED CARPET
BADGLEY MISCHKA BARBIE
(2007)
$39.00
SOLD - SORRY



NAVIA PHAN
ENIGMATIC REINVENTION
(METEOR)
(2021)
NRFB
$279.99


BLOND TUTTI
(1976)
European Issue
$59.00

SOLD - SORRY


RAINCOAT #7967
TUTTI PROTOTYPE
for EUROPEAN OUTFIT
$125.00



BRIDAL BROCADE
(1971)
NRFB
$399.99


SONNY DOLL by MEGO
(1978)
$55.00

SOLD - SORRY

HOEDOWN
(SONNY OUTFIT by MEGO)
(1978)
Mint, Complete & Loose in Box
$59.00


BRUNETTE HAIR FAIR BARBIE
(1967)
$75.00


GIFT CERTIFICATES
IN ANY AMOUNT YOU WANT



Alan Jay Lerner met Fritz Loewe in 1942 at the Lamb’s Club, a fraternal club for show biz people.





After their three aforementioned flops, Lerner and Loewe’s 4th collaboration, “Brigadoon,” made it to Broadway -- but it took 58 Backers' Auditions to come up with the $175,000 budget.
 





Critics and audiences loved the show.  It ran for 1-1/2 years and was turned into a movie starring Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse.
 




The score yielded a song with perennial appeal -- “Almost Like Being in Love” -- sung here by Natalie Cole:



Four years later, they had a middling success with “Paint Your Wagon.” 




As with "Brigadoon," MGM bought the film rights to "Paint Your Wagon," although, 18 years later, it was Paramount that made a monstrously-bad movie musical of it, starring Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin. 



(You’re not wrong.  Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood can’t sing.) 

Here’s the stellar song from that show -- “They Call the Wind Maria” -- sung by Nathaniel Hackmann:



Alan Jay Lerner and Fritz Loewe had very different working styles. 

Lerner was intense, emotional, and frenzied to the point of often being frantic.  He could take weeks to find just the right words or phrase to finish a lyric. 

Fritz was laid-back.  He didn’t really think of himself as a songwriter, but more as a dramatic composer “that can illustrate any emotion in music.” 

Once they identified the dramatic moment that was in need of a song, Lerner would frequently give Loewe a title, which then sent Loewe on the path to composing the music.

Their contrasting styles meshed miraculously in the magnificent "My Fair Lady."

    



"My Fair Lady" was all about 3rd, 4th, 5th or 6th choices. 

The producer who held the musical stage rights to George Bernard Shaw’s play, “Pygmalion,” upon which "My Fair Lady" is based, had already approached Rodgers & Hammerstein, Cole Porter, Dietz & Schwartz, and E.Y. Harburg -- and had been turned down by all of them.

And all for the same reason that Lerner and Loewe failed to warm to the project at first. 

At that time, the conventions of musical comedy called for the story to have a primary romance between the two leads, as well as a secondary comic romance between two supporting players.

There should also be room for an extended ballet dance sequence and showstoppers with big ensembles. 

There was nothing about “Pygmalion” that fit any of the norms.




That should have been that -- except that Lerner was seriously intrigued by the story and its musical possibilities. 

In the meantime, the producer died, and it was unclear who controlled the rights. 

Trusting that things would turn out, Lerner and Loewe started to write the show anyway (and just barely got the rights a year later).   



When it came to casting, they wanted Michael Redgrave or Noel Coward or any of a handful of other British leading men for the role of Henry Higgins.  Rex Harrison was waaaaay down on the list. 

And we know how that bit of casting turned out. 




Harrison couldn’t sing a note, but he was very musical in a rhythmic kind of way, and his talk-sing way of performing a number was unique and very winning. 
 



For Eliza, they secretly wanted Mary Martin (who was already 40 years old).  But when they played the score for her, her comment to her husband was this:  “The dear boys have lost their talent.”

It took Lerner & Loewe a while to arrive at Julie Andrews, who’d only done one Broadway show and was only 21.
 



 

Even the title “My Fair Lady” was the very last possible title they came up with -- and it was one for which no one had any enthusiasm whatsoever.  (They only knew that they liked it better than the runner-up - “Fanfaroon.”)  (Not a joke.) 

According to Google, a "fanfaroon" is someone who brags about himself.  That sounds like Henry Higgins to us.



Other things, however, did break their way. 


CBS agreed to be the sole backer of the show (at $400,000) in exchange for the customary producer’s share of profits plus the recording rights to the cast album. 

In the decade after the show premiered in 1956, CBS made over $40,000,000 from their $400,000 investment. 

And the album is the best-selling Original Broadway Cast recording of all time:




Opening Night?  


The critics went wild!  It was hats in the air, and reviews that made everyone wildly famous and successful. 



It had a record-breaking run of almost 7 years and is, arguably, the greatest musical comedy of the 20th Century. 


It seems like every song in the extraordinary score had its moment in the sun as a hit.
 




The biggest hit was a song that Fritz Loewe, for unknown reasons, hated until his dying day. 


Here’s Willie Nelson's version:



Almost as popular was a rollicking music hall style number, performed here by Nat King Cole:




Warner Brothers bought the film rights for $5,500,000 (a record at the time), and spent another $10,000,000 making the movie.



"My Fair Lady" took home 8 Oscars, including Best Picture.




After “My Fair Lady,” Fritz Loewe retired to split his time between the French Riviera:




and Palm Springs:






But then, in 1957, Lerner came to him to musicalize the play "Gigi" for MGM. 

Fritz said "no."  

Then he read Alan’s script -- and said "yes."
 





When filming on “Gigi” finished and the completed film was screened for them, Lerner and Loewe were unhappy with certain sequences. 

Retakes would cost $330,000, and MGM said no. 

Lerner & Loewe offered to pay for the retakes themselves in exchange for 10% of the profits.  MGM said no. 

Alan and Fritz then offered to buy the film for $3,000,000. 

MGM again said no -- but, impressed by Lerner and Loewe putting their money where their mouths were, MGM reversed course and agreed to pay for the retakes. 

The result is a classic movie musical that won all 9 Oscars for which it was nominated (including Alan’s script and Lerner & Loewe’s title song). 

The day after the Oscar telecast, MGM switchboard operators answered the studio phones with “M-Gigi-M.”

By far, the most famous song is Maurice Chevalier’s opening number:





Almost as beloved is "The Night They Invented Champagne," which, we believe, is the only song in the movie that features Leslie Caron’s actual singing voice:




And then came “Camelot.”




The score was gorgeous, but the book of the show was a problem that never really got solved. 

To put it bluntly, the story is a downer. 


And the troubles the show had on the road leading to Broadway are legendary in theater circles. 

Lerner was hospitalized with a bleeding ulcer; the director, Moss Hart, was hospitalized with a heart attack; the show was previewing in a brand-new barn-of-a-Toronto-theater that seated 3200 and had questionable acoustics; and the first performance ran 4-1/2 hours long. 

Plus, it was an expensive show (wags dubbed it “Costalot”). 

It got to NYC with a huge advance sale of tickets, but the reviews were not good.

Then two strokes of good luck: 

First stroke: 3 months after the opening, a recovered Moss Hart came back and finished “directing” the show.  Lots of material was cut, and he shaped “Camelot” into an audience pleaser.

Second stroke: “Camelot” got to do 20 minutes of excerpts on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”   The next day, the line to buy tickets was around the block and, when all was said and done, the show was very profitable and ran for more than 2 years. 

The big hit in "Camelot" was the song “If Ever I Would Leave You.” 

An equally-big hit was the song's hitherto-unknown singer -- Robert Goulet:






In the early 1970’s, Lerner coaxed Loewe to write a half-dozen new songs for a stage version of “Gigi”
 




and persuaded him to write some songs for a movie musical of “The Little Prince.”

  


Both projects were failures. 


Lerner went on to write a string of musical bombs. 

Loewe spent the rest of his life gambling in casinos and gamboling with young ladies.

But, thanks to Lerner & Loewe, we could have danced all night and, yes, we remember them well:









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