Mary Martin was one of the greatest stars of her day. Growing up in Texas, she was married early to Benjamin Hagman and gave birth to her first child, Larry Hagman. She was divorced even more quickly. Martin left little Larry with her parents and took off for Hollywood. She didn't make a dent in the movie industry and was lured to New York, where she found herself auditioning for Cole Porter and his new show Leave It to Me! After she sang the bawdy "My Heart Belongs to Daddy", she ended up on the cover of Life magazine. Six years later, she became the toast of Broadway when she starred in South Pacific. After that, she flew as Peter Pan, yodeled in The Sound of Music, took Hello, Dolly! on the road, and shared a four-poster with Robert Preston in I Do! I Do!
Her personal life was just as interesting: in NYC, she met and married Richard Halliday, a closeted upper-class homosexual who adored her, Broadway, and interior decorating (though probably not in that order). They were a powerful twosome. There were rumors about Martin, too, being in a lesbian relationship with both Janet Gaynor and Jean Arthur. Peopled with legends like Ethel Merman, Ezio Pinza, Noël Coward, and a starry cast of thousands, David Kaufman's Some Enchanted Evenings is the delectable story of the one and only Mary Martin, a self-described chicken farmer from Texas who became Peter Pan and captured America's heart.
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Mary Was Not Who I Thought She Was
A great read.
Angelica Houston's memoir. The craft of acting and the work of celebrity are illuminated in both books.
Witty impersonations of famous voices.
Mary's turning down the lead role in Hello, Dolly. Whoops. She was great in the road company and had the humility and the canniness to turn her version into yet another feather in her cap.
I didn't know she was lesbian and her husband was gay. Their marital life wasn't entirely a sham, though. They were each other's biggest fans.
- K. Scott