Call Her Madam
On the eve of her centennial, Ethel Merman stars in two new biographies.
The Life and Legends of Ethel Merman
by Caryl Flinn
$18.95 List Price
It is surprising to learn that until this season, when no less than two biographies of Ethel Merman are being published on her centennial, she has attracted little serious interest. Besides her two memoirs, Who Could Ask for Anything More? (1955) and Merman (1978), the single prior biography is by one Geoffrey Mark, a self-professed “walking encyclopedia of show biz history.” But Mr. Walking Encyclopedia writes with all the sympathy and insight of a twelve-year-old. Here he is, describing Merman’s tumultuous and painful divorce from Robert Six, then chairman of Continental Airlines: “Ethel once again flew to Mexico for a quickie divorce (strike two).” Besides moving up Six’s rank in the husband conga, Mark is too fond of schlocky puns. This is biography as Catskills act.
So as an act 1 closer, here come two
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