Ethel Merman

  1. Ann Sothern,  Panama Hattie, 1941.     She made 41 screen roles (mostly TV) but Hollywood rarely liked Ethel Merman’s looks, age or booming voice.  She was not chosen (or not allowed?) to repeat her Broadway creation. Also missing from the show were  Betty Hutton and (among the dancers) June Allyson, Betsy Blair and Doris Dowling. (Rags Ragland, alone, repeated his stage role). Although looking older, Merman was 33 at the time. She then showed ’em how – like pow! – in a TVersion at age 46!
  2. Lucille Ball, Du Barry Was A Lady, 1942.       In fact, as  part of the deal  for  the  Panama Hattie rights  (when RKO tried to win the show for Ginger Rogers) MGM won by the simple expedient of  by buying both  Ethel  Merman  shows, Du Barry and Hattie. And using Merman in neither. Howzat for a grapefruit  in  the kisser!
  3. Betty Hutton, Annie Get Your Gun, 1950.     “I bought it [for an unprecedented $700,000] to give Judy a kick,” said producer Arthur Freed. “That’s when she  got sick… I had to take her out. The girl just couldn’t function.”  Freed thought of Ethel, Broadway’s original Annie in 1946, but she was not keen on movies. (And vice-versa; she sang – boomed! – louder than life).Judy Canova, Doris Day, Bettys Garrett and Grable and Ginger Rogers were.  MGM, however, waited forHutton to complete Let’s Dance, 1949.
  4. Rosalind Russell, Gypsy, 1962.       Head Brother Jack Warner refused Merman (too old (not to menion, too loud), Judy Garland and Judy Holliday for Gypsy Rose Lee’s showbiz mama. Most of Russell’s singing had to be dubbed. By Lisa Kirk.

 Birth year: 1908Death year: 1984Other name: Casting Calls:  4