JOE BLITMAN'S
FASHION & CELEBRITY DOLLS
2021 HOLIDAY ADVENT CALENDAR
DAY 9




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

 
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HAROLD ARLEN

1905-1986




Harold Arlen was born Hyman Arluck in Buffalo, New York.

His father was a cantor at a local Jewish temple. (In Judaism, a cantor is the one who sings and leads people in prayer in a religious service.) 



Arlen inherited his father's nice singing voice, and -- like a number of the other songwriters featured on this year’s Holiday Advent Calendar -- he started out making a living as a singer and pianist.  




His composing career began in the 1920’s.





From the beginning, his music -- infused with elements of jazz and the blues -- was unique and, for lack of a better word, adult. 

There was no element of novelty or ticky-tack in his compositions.  His music was disciplined, original, and emotional. 

Our attempt to describe his music in words may not be that informative -- maybe you just have to hear the music to get the genius of Harold Arlen.


But before we get to hear Arlen and his songs for nightclubs, Broadway, and Hollywood, let’s take a look at what we’re featuring today from our website:



LEGENDARY STATUS AGNES
FASHION ROYALTY
(2021)
NRFB
$249.99


KEN UMBRELLA
(DOLL-SIZED)
2021 BARBIE CONVENTION GIFT
(2021)
$24.99
 

 


BLACK & WHITE FOREVER
SILKSTONE BARBIE
  (2019)
NRFB
$124.99





"JACKIE" OVERNIGHT BAG
(MADE BY PONYTAIL)
(1962)
$129.99

SOLD - SORRY


JAPANESE EXCLUSIVE
GLITTERY MULTI-COLOR STRIPE
BARBIE OUTFIT
(1967ish)
$999.99


EVENING SPLENDOR
Coat, Dress, Shoes
(1959)
Excellent+
$42.00

SOLD - SORRY


KEN TUXEDO
(1961)
Mint & Complete
$99.99

SOLD - SORRY


SILVER SCREEN BARBIE
(FAO SCHWARZ EXCLUSIVE)
(1994)
MIB
$39.00

SOLD - SORRY


FUN TIME
SKIPPER OUTFIT
(1965)
NRFB
$225.00


EGYPTIAN QUEEN BARBIE
(1994)
$24.99


GIFT CERTIFICATES
IN ANY AMOUNT YOU WANT



Harold Arlen's first hit was “Get Happy,” written with lyricist Ted Koehler.




The song was introduced in 1930 by Ruth Etting in “The Nine-Fifteen Revue.”




If you’ve seen Doris Day in the movie “Love Me or Leave Me,” that was Ruth Etting she was playing.
 




Twenty years after Etting introduced the song, Judy Garland sang it in the movie “Summer Stock.”
 




It became one of Judy's signature numbers:




Arlen and Koehler wrote a passel of songs for The Cotton Club revues in the early 30’s. 




They had a number of hit songs in these annual revues, but the biggest for them was “Stormy Weather.” 




At the time, everyone thought the definitive version was sung by the song’s originator, Ethel Waters.
 


Until Lena Horne sang it a decade later in a movie called, appropriately enough, “Stormy Weather”:
 



And then, 40 years ago, the two of us went to the first preview of Lena Horne’s one-woman show on Broadway. 



We went to the first preview because these kinds of shows often opened and closed very quickly.  Blink and you could miss it. 

Not this one.  It was a smash!

Horne sang lots of songs we knew, including Stormy Weather, and lots of songs we didn’t know. 

Near the end of the second act, she started a song that seemed unfamiliar.  We -- and much of the audience -- were stunned to hear what the song was. 

Maybe you will be, too:




Arlen’s most famous song by far, written with E.Y. Harburg, is “Over The Rainbow.” 



The rest of the score to “The Wizard of Oz” -- the lemon drop songs, as Arlen called them -- came easily and quickly. 

But it took Arlen forever to come up with the melody for “Over the Rainbow.”

In general, he liked to write the melody first and then hand it over to the lyricist.

Inspiration finally came to him while he was driving at night on Sunset Boulevard. 

However -- once written, the song struggled to stay in the movie.
 




“The Wizard of Oz” was frequently previewed to make sure it was as perfect as it could be. 

Three times, studio executives ordered the song cut:

“It slows down the picture.” 

“It’s too mature a song for Dorothy.”

"#$@!%!!!!!!!!"

And three times, Associate Producer Arthur Freed threw hissy-fits to get the song reinstated.





The rest is musical history.
 




It won an Oscar for Best Song, and is consistently voted the Best Song Ever Written for a Movie. 

Here it is, as honest and affecting as it was 82 years ago:
 





Surprisingly, this was Arlen’s only Oscar (out of 9 nominations). 

Here's a funny story:

In 1947, Harold and one of his best friends, songwriter Harry Warren, were driving with their wives to Palm Springs. 

It was Oscar night and, even though he was nominated for the song “On The Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe," after two wins and 8 nominations, sitting in a ballroom with a hundred nervous nominees was not Harry Warren's idea of fun. 

They listened to the live Oscar show on the radio and were delighted when Warren and Johnny Mercer were announced as the winners -- giving Warren his third Oscar win. 

The Arlens and the Warrens arrived in Palm Springs shortly thereafter and, as they were about to get out of the car, Warren turned to Arlen and said: “Please walk two Oscars behind me.”





Some of the best songs Arlen wrote were with lyricist Johnny Mercer. 



Among them was this song from the 1943 movie “The Sky’s the Limit”:



 


That same year, Harold Arlen wrote a new song with E.Y. Harburg for the film musical “Cabin in the Sky.”
 




Perhaps Ethel Waters found this a consolation prize for Lena Horne usurping her "Stormy Weather." 

(And, as you can imagine, this song is very popular at our house):
 
 


There’s a great story about the song “The Man That Got Away.” 

The song was written by Arlen and Ira Gershwin for Judy Garland’s comeback movie, “A Star is Born.” 



They had pretty much finished the song, and Arlen was going off to Palm Springs for the weekend with Judy and her husband Sid Luft. 



Ira was still insecure about what they had created, and he made Harold promise not to play the song for Judy. 

The next day, the Lufts and Harold were golfing, and Harold was absent-mindedly humming the intro to “The Man That Got Away.” 

Ever-vigilant, Judy stopped and said: “What is that?  Is that for our picture?  What are you humming?"

Cornered, Harold fessed up, found a piano in the clubhouse, and played the song. 

Predictably, Garland went gaga.  

Arlen then fessed up to Gershwin, who was so relieved that Judy loved it, he forgave Harold for breaking his promise.  



If you like musicals, it doesn't get any better than this:
 


 
 

We told you that Harold, early on, earned his living singing. 



Here he is in a 1933 Paramount soundie singing a medley of four of his songs:

 
 


There are dozens of Arlen songs we could insert into this mini-bio, but we know you have a life outside of looking at our website, so we’re going to leave you now with Harold Arlen’s favorite song, performed memorably by Frank Sinatra:

 
 
 







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