Brass Diva: The Life and Legends of Ethel Merman

Brass Diva: The Life and Legends of Ethel Merman

by Caryl Flinn
     
 

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"A thought-provoking and absorbing read, Caryl Flinn's Brass Diva brings a fresh perspective to the legend of Ethel Merman. While she was easily dismissed as an exceedingly simple broad, Ms. Flinn's research into the nuances of her life reveal the complicated person that was my grandmother. More than once I was moved to reconsider the reasons for herSee more details below

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"A thought-provoking and absorbing read, Caryl Flinn's Brass Diva brings a fresh perspective to the legend of Ethel Merman. While she was easily dismissed as an exceedingly simple broad, Ms. Flinn's research into the nuances of her life reveal the complicated person that was my grandmother. More than once I was moved to reconsider the reasons for her enduring as a source of inspiration as well as notions about her life and career that I had taken for granted. I highly recommend it."—Barbara Geary

"This book is long overdue. We've been told that Merman's reviews were glowing, but now we can read them for ourselves. Beautifully researched, this book will undoubtedly find its way into every musical theatre library. Merman has been at the center of so many apocryphal tales, it's thrilling to enter an era of serious exploration and analysis. Brass Diva starts to pull the myths apart and to put Ethel Merman in her proper historical perspective."—Klea Blackhurst, creator of Everything The Traffic Will Allow: The Songs and Sass of Ethel Merman

"It is a pleasure to read Caryl Flinn's scrupulously researched and elegantly constructed biography. Brass Diva puts all other Merman books to shame. With her exhaustive knowledge of her subject, Flinn explores the meanings of Merman's life, her shows, her songs, her fans, and most intriguingly, her subtexts."—Krin Gabbard, author of Black Magic: White Hollywood and African American Culture

"Brass Diva is a wonderful and important study of Ethel Merman's life and work, as well as a sophisticated reading of Merman herself. The scholarship is excellent, the writing is lively and engaging, and the research is detailed and absolutely new. Brass Diva will likely become the key primary resource for future Merman scholarship."—Stacy Wolf, author of A Problem Like Maria: Gender and Sexuality in the American Musical

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

This comprehensive biography of the Broadway legend (1908-1984) may lack some of the vitality of Brian Kellow's Ethel Merman: A Life (which boasts more than 100 new interviews with Merman's contemporaries offering backstage anecdotes; see review below), but is better written and researched. Flinn offers a more psychologically complex portrait of the fiercely talented and competitive Merman (deftly sorting through and debunking rumors of her being a bigot, anti-Semite and homophobe). She also clears up speculation about Merman having a lesbian affair with Jacqueline Susann, which turns out to have been a one-sided obsession on the part of Susann (who later exacted revenge for her spurned affections by giving her Valley of the Dollsvillainess, Helen Lawson, many of Merman's traits). Flinn's extensive use of Merman's 50+ scrapbooks (covering the early 1930s to 1970s) enables her to cover Merman's professional career with microscopic precision. But this is not just a recitation of Merman's long string of Broadway successes (beginning with 1930's Girl Crazyand stretching to 1970's Hello, Dolly!), Flinn (The New German Cinema) masterfully analyzes Merman's work on stage, screen and TV with a sophisticated eye for detail that will delight theater buffs. Photos not seen by PW. (Nov.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
The Advocate

“This well-written and psychologically astute portrait will satisfy musical theater fans and anyone who loves a snappy comeback.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780520229426
Publisher:
University of California Press
Publication date:
11/30/2007
Pages:
556
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.50(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"This well-written and psychologically astute portrait will satisfy musical theater fans and anyone who loves a snappy comeback."—The Advocate

"Masterfully analyzes Merman's work on stage, screen and TV with a sophisticated eye for detail that will delight theater buffs."—Publishers Weekly

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