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Mary Martin and Ethel Merman - Their Legendary Appearance on the Ford 50th Anniversary Show (1953)

Oscar Hammerstein II , Jerome Robbins  |  NR |  DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Mary Martin and Ethel Merman - Their Legendary Appearance on the Ford 50th Anniversary Show + Cole Porter - An All-Star Tribute (Bell Telephone Hour January 28, 1964) + Anything Goes
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Product Details

  • Actors: Oscar Hammerstein II
  • Directors: Jerome Robbins
  • Writers: Howard Teichmann
  • Producers: Lawrence White, Leland Hayward
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Video Artists Int'l
  • DVD Release Date: July 27, 2004
  • Run Time: 27 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0002ERWZA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #76,508 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Mary Martin and Ethel Merman - Their Legendary Appearance on the Ford 50th Anniversary Show" on IMDb

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The famed June 15, 1953 television special brought together two of the greatest leading ladies Broadway has ever known. The highlight of the program is Merman and Martin's 13-minute duet medley, where they sing the songs that made them famous, plus much more. On their own, Merman sings two numbers and Martin performs a brilliant comedy routine about changes in fashion over the first half of the 20th century. 27 min.

Amazon.com

The unique record of a historic event, Mary Martin and Ethel Merman's appearance on The Ford 50th Anniversary Show on June 15, 1953, united two of the 20th century's greatest musical stars, both of whom are underrepresented on film. Merman stars things off with "Alexander's Ragtime Band" in front of a combo and sings "Mademoiselle from Armentières" (best known for the line "Hinky dinky parlez-vous") among a line of World War I Doughboys. Martin appears in a fashion-show pantomime comedy sketch, then both together lip-synch to an old Vaudeville number "Your Folks and My Folks." The last line of that song is the first time Martin utters a sound. The pièce de resistance is the closing 13-minute medley with the stars side by side. They begin with solo renditions of two signature numbers ("There's No Business Like Show Business" and "A Wonderful Guy") before trading off snippets of older songs such as "By the Light of the Silvery Moon" and "Wait 'Til the Sun Shines, Nellie." More compelling is their series of "I" songs, which leads to more signature numbers ("I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair" and "I Get a Kick Out of You"). From there, the medley closes in a rush, with the women singing in counterpoint then together on a reprise of "There's No Business Like Show Business." The stars have very different styles, of course, but appear to be enjoying their time together. It would have been nice to have more than 27 minutes of the two-hour show (which included, among others, Marian Anderson, Rudy Vallee, and Kukla, Fran, and Ollie), but Merman and Martin were clearly the most interesting segment, and their duet takes its place among the historic TV musical events such as the duet between Judy Garland and a young Barbra Streisand 11 years later. --David Horiuchi

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
79 of 84 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Where's the rest of the telecast? August 26, 2004
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
The musical excerpts on this DVD of Ethel Merman and Mary Martin are nice. But, for $18, I'd like more than 27 minutes of excerpts from a historic 1953 telecast that likely was one-to-two hours in length. If these musical excerpts survive, I suspect the remainder of the telecast (including other guest stars, dialog, opening and closing credits, etc.) likely survive too, and the entire program is what I assumed I would be getting when I purchased this DVD. In the past, I have purchased other vintage TV variety programs on DVD only to discover that the programs had been edited (in the case of The Milton Berle Collection, the musical numbers performed by guest stars have been deleted from the 10 shows in the collection). I don't understand why. In these times of wanting to restore movies to their original released version and including extra material and/or cut scenes, why should we have to settle for 27 minutes of "highlights" from a historic telecast?
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82 of 93 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "WHY NOT THE WHOLE SHOW"? August 28, 2004
Format:DVD
I JUST WANTED TO COMMENT ON SOME OF THE QUESTIONS POSED IN THE ABOVE REVIEWS. YES, THE WHOLE SHOW IS AVAILABLE. BACK IN 1980 A SECOND RATE COMPANY RELEASED THE WHOLE SHOW ON TAPE (REMEMBER VHS) ALONG WITH "AN EVENING WITH MARY MARTIN AND NOEL COWARD" AND MANY MORE. THEY WERE TOTALY ILLEGAL AND WERE PULLED WITHIN A FEW MONTHS OF RELEASE. I BOUGHT THEM BOTH AND HAVE ENJOYED THEM EVER SINCE. I STILL ORDERED THE DVD AS THE QUALITY OF WHAT THEY RELEASED WAS NOT GREAT. REMEMBER THESE WERE MADE ON KINESCOPE, THIS WAS DONE BY FILMING TV SETS. SO ALL THE LIMITATIONS OF TV BROADCASTING IN THE 1950'S ARE EVIDENT ON THE TAPE. BESIDES THE GREAT PERFORMANCES ON THE SHOW, IT IS INTERESTING TO SEE HOW A BIG LIVE PRODUCTION WAS DONE IN THE 1950'S. THE CAMERA'S WERE HUGH AND DID NOT MOVE VERY EASILY, THIS IS PARTICULARY INTERESTING DURING DANCE NUMBERS WHEN THEY TRIED TO MOVE THE CAMERA'S. A DVD OF THE WHOLE SHOW WOULD BE AN INTERESTING HISTORICAL LOOK AT THE BEGINNING OF TELEVISION. I HAVEN'T SEEN THIS TAPE IN YEARS AND I THINK I'LL TAKE A LOOK AT IT AGAIN. SEE WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE ON MY BIG HDTV SCREEN.

INTERESTING TO NOTE THAT THIS SHOW AIRED ON BOTH NBC AND CBS ON THE SAME NIGHT AT THE SAME TIME. I DON'T THINK THAT HAS HAPPENED SINCE. I'M SURE THE MAIN REASON THE WHOLE SHOW WAS NEVER RELEASED WAS DUE TO THE NUMBER OF PERFORMANCES AND THE MUSIC THAT WAS USED. ROGERS AND HAMMERSTEIN WERE HOSTS OF THE SHOW, ALSO ED MURROW AND MANY MORE. MUSIC RIGHTS ARE PROBABLY THE REASON THIS SHOW HAS NEVER BEEN RELEASED. SAME WITH THE MILTON BERLE SHOWS. PUBLISHERS WHO HOLD THE RIGHTS TO THE MUSIC CAN DEMAND ANY FEE THEY SEE FIT TO CHARGE. IF YOU ARE PUTTING TOGETHER A VIDEO WITH LOTS OF MUSIC IT WOULD PROBABLY COST A FORTUNE TO GET ALL THE RIGHTS. REMEMBER THE VERY FUNNY MOVIE "LOVE AT FIRST BITE".
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Lengendary Duet September 9, 2004
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I saw this duet live on television when I was 12 years old. It was the most thrilling thing I had ever seen on television. I bought the record album and wore it out. It is absolutely thrilling that it has finally been released on DVD. Whatever the cost of the DVD, it is priceless.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Opportunity to See Two Legends of Broadway July 12, 2005
Format:DVD
I was so pleased to see excerpts from this legendary programme finally released on DVD. I have shared it with my theatre classes and they have generally been enthused about the performances, especially Mary Martin who is quite funny in the fashion sequence. They were generally not as receptive to Merman. Perhaps Martin knew how to play to the camera to better effect. I wish I coud find some footage to demonstrate Merman's genius but maybe someday there will be a DVD available with her performance from Gypsy.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At least a TEN star program August 1, 2004
By Jim Jr
Format:DVD
A fantastic classic has been released on DVD. It is a magnificent record of one of the most magical nights on televison and in musical theater. There have never been and will never be two such wonderful talents an Mary Martin and Ethel Merman. Although their styles were completely different they compliment each other perfectly. There is an electric feeling that seems to come through the screen as they perform both individually and together. Their duet is MAGNIFICENT.

This is a DVD that any lover of theater, great performances and magical happenings must have for their collection.

The magic that each lady created in a theatre comes through wonderfully in this production even if it is in black and white and not the razor sharp image that would be available today. To have seen either one live was unforgettable and that comes through in this program. They end the duet with both singing "No Business Like Show Business" from "Annie Get Your Gun" which both starred in - Merman on Broadway and Martin on tour and on TV.

I have long cherished the original 10 inch LP that was issued at the time of the original telecast and now I have both the picture and sound.

Unfortunately, both ladies are no longer with us, but they will live forever in this terrific DVD.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps Broadway's Finest Night July 30, 2004
Format:DVD
What female singer would dare agree to a live television 13 minute duet with Ethel Merman in 1953, when Merman was at the very top of her form? Mary Martin, that's who and Mary more than holds her own. The ladies alternate songs, but electic sparks really fly when they sing together (especially when they are each singing different songs -- sounds strange, but they hit a home run every time). This a magical duet that set the style and tone for every television duet that followed. But, you will soon forget that you are watching history in the making and listen and watch these two extraordinary women do what they do better than just about anyone else --- sing and entertain an audience. Some would argue that Broadway's finest night was June 15, 1953 in a NBC studio where this duet was sung, they would not be far wrong!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Enjoyed this item. Came quickly.
Published 1 month ago by Robin Cohen
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Was bought as a gift and the recipient loved it. Says it was the best gift she received.
Published 2 months ago by BILLY
2.0 out of 5 stars POOR SELECTIONS OF GREAT TALENT OFFERINGS
For those who recall the great talents possessed by Martin and Merman, thess selections from the old TV special offer only brief snippets of their old standards. Read more
Published on June 2, 2012 by Paul E Long
4.0 out of 5 stars Length misrepresented
I saw this live when I was a teenager. Two of my idols - I couldn't be happier when I saw this release. Read more
Published on March 28, 2011 by Sumo Gal
4.0 out of 5 stars a LOOK BACK IN IN TV HISTORY
I saw this show origonaly standing on the sidewalk, looking thru the window of a storefront at a TV setup for people walking by. Read more
Published on August 27, 2009 by Paul J. Zettler
5.0 out of 5 stars No Business Like Show Business!
Despite the b/w dated condition of this program, the talent of two such remarkable women is a treasure to keep forever. Read more
Published on October 30, 2008 by Marysia
5.0 out of 5 stars a blast from the past
I remembering seeing this on TV. It was great to see two of the greats in their prime!
Published on July 30, 2006 by Leonardo
5.0 out of 5 stars The happiest 27 minutes you'll ever see
This teaming of Mary Martin and Ethel Merman was just way too short at 27 minutes. When you talk about show business greats, these two WERE Broadway!
Published on April 5, 2006 by Jonathan P. Saltzman
4.0 out of 5 stars A bet, a but, a beware, a better
As a record collector in Canada, I was not the first to fall on the 10 inches 33 rpm record of this show, buying it and listening to it over and over. Did I dream of seeing it? Read more
Published on September 3, 2005 by Ravel
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Duet from Two Legends!
Some may quibble at the short length of this DVD, but as far as I am concerned the second half, with the famous duet between these two divas - that lasts 13 mnutes! Read more
Published on October 9, 2004 by Stage Struck
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