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Wednesday, October 12, 2016


Soon after I awaken I watch a bit of Classic Arts Showcase (CAS), which plays weekdays on Oceanic 55 from 6-8AM, and on the UH education channels 354/355 (odd times).  If you're reading this from some isolated Pacific island or Europe or the Orient, well, tough.  But CAS is on all the time in many continental USA outlets.  

The other morning on came versions of Smoke Gets in Your Eye and All the Things You Are, and I thought I'd someday post on these songs because they are so endearing.  Well the someday became today, and the focus segued into Irene Dunne, kind of the story of my life.

To my surprise, Jerome Kern composed both, Smoke lyrics by Otto Hardback for the 1933 musical Roberta (with Bob Hope, George Murphy, Fred MacMurray, etc--also included another memorable song, Yesterdays) and All lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II for the 1939 Very Warm for May (with June Allyson, Eve Arden and Vera-Ellen).
In Roberta Irene Dunne's Smoke Gets in Your Eyes could well be my favorite movie performance ever. Also in this cast were Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers and Randolph Scott.  Dunne also sang Yesterdays.  There was a movie remake in 1952 entitled Lovely to Look At, where these songs were performed by Kathryn Grayson.  In 1958 the song became a hit for the Platters, and Jerome Kern's widow disliked the recording so much she considered taking legal action.

Incidentally, regarding Irene Dunne, she also might be my very favorite actress.  How many of you remember that she was Magnolia in the 1936 version Showboat (where she got the role by accidentally bumping into Florenz Ziegfeld in an elevator)?  In that film were Allan Jones as Gaylord Ravenal and Paul Robeson as Joe (he performed the ultimate Ol' Man River).  She might never have been in the movie if the original Gaylord, Russ Columbo, was not killed two years earlier in a shotgun accident just before the film went into production.  In 1931 he released the original Prisoner of Love.   Many of you relate this song to the 1945/6 Perry Como copy.

Dunne, if that's possible, lived a normal life:
  • born in Kentucky in 1898
  • when  her riverboat captain father died, was eleven, and was partially brought up in a convent
  • went to Mass EVERY DAY
  • she failed in her Metropolitan Opera audition at 22
  • that's her to the right at the age of 33
  • she married a dentist twelve years her senior, and now and then had to live separately because of her movie obligations, but had one of the only successful Hollywood marriages, for he died in his sixties, still married to her.
  • In  1957 she was appointed by President Eisenhower as one of the U.S. delegates to the United Nations
  • her Foundation has donated $20 million, mostly to religious programs
  • she has been described as the best actress never to win an Academy Award
About All the Things You Are, I don't know why I like this song.  Irene Dunne had a recording in 1947, but that's not why.  The original was Helen Forest with the Artie Shaw Orchestra (left) in 1938, but I don't even remember that version.  Maybe it was Django Reinhardt in 1949.  Or Margaret Whiting in 1960, but, nah, this song is ingrained in my earlier memory.  Perhaps Jo Stafford in 1946.  Frank Sinatra recorded this song in 1945, but I relate to some female styling.  There are things in our life we just feel, and All the Things You Are could well be one of them.


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