Wednesday, December 23, 2009


An iconic feature of Ethel Merman was her hair. If you close your eyes you can see it: pulled up in the back with a spiky cascade of curls over her brow. As the droll cabaret chanteuse Klea Blackhurst recounts in EVERYTHING THE TRAFFIC WILL ALLOW, her endearing tribute to Ethel Merman, the Merm reached some kind of apogee when Mainbocher, a much revered fashion dictator of his time, was commissioned in 1950 to do her costumes for CALL ME MADAM. Ms. Blackhurst reports that Mainbocher was delighted with his assignment and thought Merman had the perfect figure, go figure. There was only one area he was uneasy about and so uneasily he asked "Uhh...Miss Merman, what do you intend to do about your hair?" Merman probably put her hands on her hips and shot straight back at him: "Honey, I'm just gonna wash it!"

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