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Ethel Merman

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating details ·  91 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
A biography equal to the outsized personality of one of Broadway’s best-loved stars

From her breakout rendition of George Gershwin’s “I Got Rhythm” in 1930 to her triumphant performance as Gypsy’s Mama Rose in 1959, Ethel Merman defined Broadway stardom for two generations of music lovers. Merman’s singing voice—brassy, penetrating, and undeniably American—has transcended
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published November 1st 2007 by Viking Adult
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I am a gay man who happens to be a die-hard "show queen" so it comes as no surprise that I gobbled this great book up in less than a week! Ethel Merman to me has always been the "diva par excellence" against whom all other divas MUST be measured. I have seen revivals of three of her best-known works - Annie Get Your Gun, Call Me Madam, and Gypsy, respectively and I always thought to myself "my God what would it have been like to see Ethel actually do this role live?"

Ethel Merman, as the author p
Jul 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful read for anyone who likes Broadway, showbiz and biography! As a child growing I went to the used record store in 6th grade and bought the original Broadway cast album of GYPSY, and from that moment on I was hooked on Merman and used to imagine what this woman with the big brassy voice was really like. Brian Kellow has written an honest portrait of a Broadway diva unlike any other. Though, seemingly angry - she was a broken woman because of the pain she suffered throughout her life. U ...more
Aug 03, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading this biography was like taking a course in the history of the American musical theater (pre-Sondheim). For me, Merman was always this brassy voice my father and I tried to imitate (duelling Ethel Mermans at the dinner table is probably not a part of most people's childhoods). Although a bit gushy as times, Kellow does an admirable of job of presenting a balanced portrait of a woman who all but embodied New York City and Broadway from early days into the 1950s. By the time I finished the ...more
Jun 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
I was just faintly familiar with Merman,knowing that she had some great success in the musical theatre ages ago but didn't know much about her.
Author Brian Kellow did some great research and explained circumstances in which Merman grew up,why she became who she became and how important it is to understand she was product of particular time & place,for example that she continued the line of classic musical theatre performers who burned on the stage but could not cross over to the movies (wher
Aug 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
With dueling Merman biographies being released just prior to her birth centennial in 2008 (the other is Caryl Flinn's "Brass Diva"), Kellow's slimmer tome is the livelier of the two with new interviews with friends, family and co-workers bringing vibrant life and clarity to even familiar anecdotes.

Kellow (The Bennetts: An Acting Family) is less interested in digging for psychological insights and bluntly paints a more temperamental portrait of the Broadway belter, but readers will be swept up i
David Freeland
Dec 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
Breezy and engaging biography of the stage giant, rendered in a conversational style that never fails to be enjoyable. In truth, Merman may not have been the most interesting person - she was all show-biz, all the time, and had few other interests - and to his credit Kellow fills in the personality gaps with rich characterizations of the 20th century theater and the world in which it thrived. Quite a nice book, and well worth reading.
Nov 13, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
Until I read this book, I had a somewhat rosy view of the old days in terms of Hollywood and Broadway. If language bothers you, you would probably do well to pick another book. But if you want to get a real view of all that goes in to putting on a show, and the life of this particular entertainer, give it a look. Just be warned: Ms. Merman had much more than a big voice...she could swear like a sailor and lived large.
May 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good book.


The book is enjoyable. I wish I had had a chance to see Ethel Merman in person. Great stories about her life and Broadway.

The lack of photos in the Kindle version is just so frustrating--no warning. That's not right.

Rachel Swords
Jul 24, 2011 rated it liked it
Anyone who's interested in Broadway whatsoever needs to read this excellent look at one of musical theatre's legends. The book is written in a friendly and comfortable manner, something that is sometimes lacking in biographies, and is perfect for diehard fans of ""The Merm"" as well as new ones.
Feb 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Fabulous! Miss Merman was a true DIVA in every aspect. It's a must read for every fan!
Steve Shilstone
Dec 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Broadway history must-read. Her un-miked voice easily reached the last row of the balcony with a clarity of diction adored by composers and lyricists everywhere.
Jul 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
What a gal!
Melinda Elizabeth
Sep 09, 2013 rated it liked it
I found it a little dry in parts, took me forever to finish :(
Dec 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
Very well researched and readable biography of Ethel Merman.
Jan 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
Great, straightforward story of an essentially great, straightforward talent.
Jan 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
I love the Merm. there's no way I could not love this so well documented book
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