Sunday, April 16, 2017

It's Easter Sunday. Where's Waldo?

Happy Easter.  Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, Don Ameche...and Waldo Lydecker from the classic 1940s murder mystery, LAURA.  What do they have in common?  An Irving Berlin holiday tune that we'll hear a lot today.  The song "Easter Parade" was introduced in the early 1930s in an Irving Berlin Broadway musical.  Who sang it first?  Actor Clifton Webb, Broadway song and dance man.  Yes, the same Clifton Webb who played the vitriolic, influential and obsessed New York City columnist Waldo Lydecker in 1944's LAURA, co-starring the gorgeous Gene Tierney.
Don Ameche sang "Easter Parade" in the 1938 Irving Berlin catalogue musical for Fox, ALEXANDER'S RAGTIME BAND starring Tyrone Power and Alice Faye.  Bing Crosby sang "Easter Parade" in the 1942 Irving Berlin catalogue musical HOLIDAY INN.  Berlin wrote a new song for Bing to introduce in that movie -- "White Christmas."  It would bring Berlin an Oscar for Best Song and be a colossal hit record for Bing.  Judy Garland and Fred Astaire sang "Easter Parade" in 1948's EASTER PARADE, another big musical full of Irving Berlin tunes.
This is one of the best big Technicolor musicals from MGM, the Tiffany of top Hollywood studios when it came to musicals.
But Clifton Webb sang "Easter Parade" first in a Broadway musical comedy revue.
Clifton Webb sang it first -- and he recorded it.  Have a listen.

In that 1933 Broadway show, called AS THOUSANDS CHEER, there was an African-American performer who broke ground because she got equal billing with the white stars.  Ethel Waters was in that musical comedy revue and introduced the song "Heat Wave."  That song would be a Fred Astaire dance number in the 1946 Paramount musical BLUE SKIES and Marilyn Monroe would sing it in another Irving Berlin catalogue musical from Fox, 1954's THERE'S NO BUSINESS LIKE SHOW BUSINESS.

Here's Clifton Webb hitting the dance floor with Marilyn Monroe.

Talk about having a "Heat Wave"!  I wish you a very Happy Easter.



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