Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

Ethel Merman -- All-Brass Voice, All-Gold Talent

Cleveland Press June 26, 1965

On stage Ethel Merman has a voice that could drown out a brass band -- well, a small brass band.

But sitting relaxed in her hotel suite, she speaks quietly and the loudest thing out of her is her hearty laugh, which comes frequently.

Does she mind the way people describe her voice as brassy and big?

"Heck, no," she laughed, "at least you know what I'm singing. I think that I'm really better off with my own built-in microphone."

Ethel Merman was in Cleveland making bright and brassy noises about her movie, "The Art of Love," which opened at the Allen and Severance theaters yesterday.

In it she plays the operator of a Paris night club, sings just one song ("a throw-away song," she calls it) and wears a series of different color wigs with a gown to match each one.

For a performer who has had more than her share of stage hits over the years -- "Girl Crazy," "Annie Get Your Gun," "Call Me Madame," "Anything Goes," "Gypsy" -- Miss Merman insists that she is no longer interested in the legitimate theater. From here on it is movies, TV and night club dates for her.

"I like the way I live. When I do a show, I'm a slave to it. There's no social life. It's OK when you have a family around to come home to. But my kids are grown now.

"New York is still my home. I never gave up my apartment there, even during my short marriage.

(Miss Merman was married for a very short time to Ernest Borgnine a year ago.)

"There are still a lot of spots in the world I haven't seen and maybe I'll take my night club act around to some of them."

"No -- no matter what they offered me, I don't want to do another Broadway show. David Merrick approached me for "Hello, Dolly" in 1963. I didn't even listen to the score.

"I'll do "Call Me Madame" for two weeks at the Valley Theater in California, but no more long runs for me. What I'd like is a good dramatic role in a movie, a real gutsy part.

"Besides, I don't know what's happened to musicals lately. Where are the songs? They're getting awfully arty and you come out of the theater and you can't remember one song.

"There used to be shows in which every number was a hit . . ."