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Subject: Re: Lily Pons
From: Bob Rideout <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Bob Rideout <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Fri, 9 Nov 2018 19:37:19 -0500

text/plain (175 lines)

He despises who he sounds like ;-)

My "favorite" comparison was Deanna Durbin and Judy Garland.
"Meet me in St Louis, Louis" was more famous than the accumulated
total of Durbin's career. Is there a more famous piece of movie music
than "Over the Rainbow". Come to think of it, remove the word "movie"
and the question remains.

In my life ;-)


On Fri, Nov 9, 2018 at 19:17 Rich Lowenthal <[log in to unmask]>

> Again, your approach to what were once known as "facts" forces me to
> question anything you say. "Prestige" is a nebulous concept; what we
> were discussing were popularity and sales. You may not want to "believe"
> that Bing Crosby was ever the top movie star, but in the reality in
> which many of us are based he was--he was the top movie star from
> 1944-48, and a 2000 study based on ticket sales estimated he was the
> third most popular star ever, after only Clark Gable and John Wayne. His
> record sales are estimated to have topped 1 billion--probably even more
> than Lily Pons.
> Rodgers and Hammerstein did not create "South Pacific" for Pinza--the
> show was announced months before his signing. Pinza wanted to appear on
> Broadway and contracted with the producer Edwin Lester to find him a
> show; just a week before signing the contract for South Pacific he was
> prepared to appear in a different show. It's true that they wrote
> Pinza's songs with his voice in mind, but then they did the same with
> Mary Martin's songs--it was how musicals worked.  (Incidentally, the NY
> Times article announcing Pinza's contract suggests that people might
> have heard of him--because he had sung duets on the radio with Bing
> Crosby).
> And since you seem obsessed with the Hollywood Bowl figures for Pons,
> they are not particularly meaningful--like many in Hollywood, the Bowl
> has had work done over the years and its capacity has varied. For
> instance, during the war it was limited to 5000, to avoid overly large
> crowds. (And the largest attendance at the Bowl was actually a 1956 Jazz
> at the Philharmonic concert with Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald.)
> Or did you somehow think that the Beatles failed to sell out their
> shows?
> If you have data to support your beliefs about Pons or the others you
> suggest were bigger stars than Crosby, let's have it, but as has been
> said, you have a right to your opinion but not to your own facts. I hate
> to say who you sound like.
> ------ Original Message ------
> From: "James Camner" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: [log in to unmask]; "Rich Lowenthal"
> <[log in to unmask]>
> Cc: "James Camner" <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: 11/9/2018 6:34:06 PM
> Subject: Re: Lily Pons
> >I finally read this (I'm just now decompressing after the election -
> >yes we got our
> >candidate Katie Hill into the Congress!!).
> >
> >What you write shows that you have scant understanding of how
> >prestigious an
> >opera singer was in Pons's time.  Opera singers occupied a higher plane
> >of prestige
> >than any pop singer including Crosby. That of course is no longer true,
> >but it was in
> >the 1930s up through Pons's heyday although it ended just after. This
> >is partly the
> >reason why Pons drew more people to the Hollywood Bowl than even the
> >Beatles
> >would. But the main reason she drew so many people is that she was Lily
> >Pons and
> >in her heyday, she was at the pinnacle.
> >
> >In her time, Pons's name was synonymous in the United States with opera
> >just as
> >Caruso's had been in his time and as Callas was in hers and Netrebko's
> >is today.
> >
> >For someone like Lily Pons, or Lawrence Tibbett, or Beniamino Gigli
> >making movies
> >was a lark, something to do when they weren't at their main business of
> >opera. The
> >same went for an operatic supernova like Geraldine Farrar who did have
> >an
> >important movie career.
> >
> >Regarding the earlier diva, one can read in John Barrymore's
> >autobiography
> >"Confessions of An Actor" how he approached Geraldine Farrar nervously
> >in order to
> >ask for her autograph. At the time Barrymore himself, a member of an
> >illustrious
> >theatrical family was already a Broadway star. But opera singers had
> >their own
> >special divinity (although even the expression "Diva" now applies more
> >correctly to
> >pop singers today) None of us born after WWII can conceive of just how
> >opera
> >singers were worshiped by the public, even the parts of a public who
> >had little
> >interest in opera per se.
> >
> >Here's another example of how opera stars were in a class by
> >themselves, when
> >Rodgers and Hammerstein heard that Ezio Pinza might be available, they
> >created
> >South Pacific for him. It was Pinza, not Mary Martin who was the
> >catalyst for this
> >masterpiece even though he barely sang more than 15 minutes of the
> >music.
> >
> >Undoubtedly Crosby was the most ubiquitous and probably richest pop
> >singer after
> >Gene Autry (through his breath of activity), but I don't believe he was
> >ever the
> >number one box office movie star. That honor went to such as Shirley
> >Temple, Will
> >Rogers,  Rin Tin Tin (the dog), Deanna Durbin (in her prime far bigger
> >than Judy
> >Garland) and Ronald Reagan.
> >
> >The revisionist trashing of Pons's posthumous reputation was
> >accomplished mainly
> >(but not exclusively) through British writers who were jealous (and
> >still are) of the
> >United States's hegemony in cultural matters. Of course it wasn't just
> >Pons. For
> >example, the noted record collector Richard Bebb told me that Harold
> >Rosenthal
> >called Rosa Ponselle a "cow" (after she sang Norma at Covent Garden). I
> >could also
> >reference Scott's "Record of Singing" which also IMHO, endlessly
> >distorts and skews
> >the history of what he is supposedly chronicling. And so it goes.
> >
> >Here's a question: has any singer ever "dined out" more successfully on
> >the basis of
> >one (admittedly excellent) 78 RPM recording than Eva Turner?
> >
> >James Camner
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> **********************************************
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