Saturday, May 26, 2012

Happy 105th Birthday, John Wayne!

Today, we want to remember the birthday of one of the "top" classic actors to play on the silver screen: John Wayne. He is one of those actors that almost everybody knows by name and seen at least one of his films. The Hollywood western was taken to "Grade A" thanks to him and his starring role in the film classic, Stagecoach (1939). He played everything from a cowboy to a boxer to an engineer to a pilot --- and he mastered them all!

Thanks to him, we have this fabulous rendition of America: Why I Love Her. Once heard it's unforgettable. In his films he was a "man of few words," but those that he did say endeared him to the whole nation. Happy Birthday, Mr. Wayne!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Silver Bells: The Voice of Carol Richards

 Singing and dancing! The fabulous world of the silver screen musical. If you really pay attention, you will notice that a musical can have singing and no dancing, but I have never seen one that has dancing but no singing. Dancing is practically inseparable from singing in the movie musical. Most dance numbers are performed to a popular tune that is vocalized at some point in the film. Ever wonder how so many talented dancers in Hollywood were great singers as well? To tell the truth . . . not all of them were. Some did there own singing: Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Ann Miller. Others did not. They would simply lip-sync to a song that had been previously recorded by a singer. (At least this was not a painful process. Better than singers who couldn't dance. They never did find a way to dub dancing!) Some of the more famous dancer who did not posses a perfect singing voice were Cyd Charisse, Vera-Ellen, and Eleanor Powell. However, Miss Powell was only dubbed in the first half of her career. From 1940 on, she did her own vocals. Cyd Charisse and Vera-Ellen, however, were practically tone deaf and were always dubbed. If you are really tuned into the on-screen singing voices of these two dancers, you would notice a certain resemblance. . .

Carol Richards (sometimes spelled Carole) was born Carol Vosburgh in 1922 in Illinois. She performed from a young age and was a frequent radio and television show guest performer. Over the years she sang with a couple bands and appeared at nightclubs. She is best remembered for the hit Christmas record, "Silver Bells", which paired her with famed singer Bing Crosby. However, you can hear her voice in several very well-known and popular film musicals when she provided the singing voice for two very famous dancers - Vera-Ellen in Call Me Madam and Cyd Charisse in Brigadoon, Deep In My Heart, It's Always Fair Weather, and Silk Stockings
Once you know that it is the same vocalist, it is obvious when you sit and compare the different numbers and recordings. Happily, there is a chance to see the face behind the voice. Miss Richards appeared in the I Love Lucy episode, "The Indian Show" (1953). She is Desi Arnaz's band singer, Juanita, who sings the hauntingly beautiful "By the Waters of the Minnetonka". So, next time you sit down to watch a classic movie musical, be sure to notice the singing voices of the non-singer stars! It may lead you to a fun and interesting story behind-the-scenes.