Mary Martin

The Ford 50th Anniversary Television Show

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On June 15, 1953, the Ford Motor Company sponsored a two-hour television special to celebrate its 50th year of existence that was broadcast live on both CBS and NBC. Guests included Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Rudy Vallée, and Eddie Fisher, but the highlight of the show was a medley performed by Broadway's two leading female stars, Mary Martin and Ethel Merman. The 39-year-old Martin had made her Broadway debut in 1938 in Leave It to Me and since starred in One Touch of Venus and South Pacific; the 44-year-old Merman's Broadway career dated back to Girl Crazy in 1930 and included Anything Goes and Annie Get Your Gun. The two were a study in contrasts, Merman a brassy belter and Martin a warm, understated charmer. But they made a terrific team, beginning separately with signature songs for each, "There's No Business Like Show Business" for Merman and "A Wonderful Guy" for Martin, then trading choruses, or just lines, from a series of old Tin Pan Alley songs, followed by a series of "I" songs, leading into more signature songs ("You're Just in Love" and "I Get a Kick Out of You" for Merman, "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair" and "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" for Martin) and finishing with some old standards. Decca Records quickly rushed out this 10" LP, with an edited version of the medley on side one ("You Made Me Love You" and "My Melancholy Baby" were deleted) and separate songs by Martin ("Mountain High, Valley Low" and "I'll Walk Alone") and Merman ("Eadie Was a Lady") on side two. (These were studio recordings, not from the TV show.) The funniest element of the brief album is the effort to share top billing: the duo's names are in reverse order on the front and back sides of the cover, and on the two sides of the disc.

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