Mary Martin Poster

Trivia (43)

Son is actor Larry Hagman.

Daughter, with Richard Halliday, Heller Halliday.

Was offered the role of Miss Ellie on Dallas (1978) when Barbara Bel Geddes left the show due to health problems. She turned it down. Had she accepted, she would have played the mother of JR Ewing, who was played by Martin's son, Larry Hagman.

Broadway stardom came with her support role in the musical "Leave It to Me" wherein she stopped the show with her mock striptease rendering of "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" while posing on top of a large cabin trunk at a Siberian railway station. Paramount saw her in this and immediately signed her up for films.

Her father was a lawyer and her mother a violin instructor.

In 1982, Mary Martin, friend and manager Ben Washer, actress Janet Gaynor and Gaynor's husband, Paul Gregory, were riding in a taxi cab when a drunk driver named Bob Cato sped through a red light and smashed into their vehicle at the corner of Franklin and California Streets. The four were on their way to dinner in downtown San Francisco. Mary and Paul Gregory suffered multiple injuries but recovered. Washer was killed. Ms. Janet Gaynor subsequently died in 1984 from complications of her injuries.

Introduced the song "Speak Low" in her Broadway hit "One Touch of Venus."

Made her final appearance on the London stage in the 1980 Royal Variety Performance when she performed an engaging version of "Honeybun" from one of her biggest musicals "South Pacific."

Won a Peabody Award for her work in the television film Valentine (1979) in 1979.

The play "Kind Sir", in which Mary Martin, starred with Charles Boyer on Broadway, was later made into the Cary Grant-Ingrid Bergman movie Indiscreet (1958).

One of the few stars that legendary costume designer Edith Head disliked, or at least disliked working with. (The others were Paulette Goddard, Hedy Lamarr and Claudette Colbert).

Won four Tony Awards: in 1948, a Special Award for the touring production of "Annie Get Your Gun," cited for "spreading theatre to the country while the original performs in New York;" and three Best Actress (Musical) awards: in 1950, for "South Pacific;" in 1955, for "Peter Pan," a part she recreated in several television versions; and, in 1960, for "The Sound of Music." She was also nominated as Best Actress (Musical) in 1967 for "I Do! I Do!"

Turned down the Broadway hits: "Oklahoma," "Kiss Me Kate," "My Fair Lady," "Funny Girl," and "Mame."

She lived in an apartment building called "Highland Towers" for a while in the late 1930s near the corner of Highland and Franklin Avenues in Hollywood, California. She would walk the 4 blocks to work as a singer at the "Cinegrill", a nightclub in the Roosevelt Hotel on Hollywood Boulevard and walk back home again in the evenings. Both buildings, including the nightclub remain today.

Featured in a song by Canadian indie band The New Pornographers, which song creates a fictional TV program, "The Martin Martin Show," and then makes surreal references to it. Mary Martin in fact never had a TV show called "The Mary Martin Show, although she did host a senior citizens' talk show for a few years in the 1980s.

Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume Two, 1986-1990, pages 610-611. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1999.

Recreated her first Broadway showstopper "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" in the film biography of Cole Porter in Night and Day (1946).

In 1986-1987, while in her 70s, she toured in the play "Legends" with Carol Channing, which is chronicled in an excellent, highly amusing book "Diary of a Mad Playwright: Perilous Adventures on the Road with Mary Martin and Carol Channing" by James Kirkwood Jr. (Pulitzer Prize winning author of the Broadway play and source material for the film A Chorus Line (1985)). The production of "Legends" was a troubled one, largely because Mary had a difficult time remembering her lines. She had to be fitted with a wireless earpiece so that a prompter could feed her lines when necessary. Nevertheless, she was a hard worker and a true professional. The book is an excellent insight into the personalities of both actresses.

Former mother-in-law, from 1962 to 1972, of Tony Weir.

Mother-in-law of Bromley DeMeritt, Jr. and Maj Hagman.

Gave birth to a stillborn baby in May, 1945. Her daughter, Heller Halliday, was bitten badly by a dog, causing Martin to go into shock and be rushed to the hospital. This resulted in the stillbirth of her baby, as well as a blood transfusion.

Her daughter, Heller Halliday, was born on November 4, 1941, in Los Angeles. She insisted her second child was going to be a girl and she was right. Her godmothers were Judith Anderson and Jean Arthur.

Her best friends were Janet Gaynor, Slim Hawks, and Jean Arthur, and Frank Ross.

Her great-granddaughters are Noel Hagman (Noelle), Rebecca Hagman and Tara Hagman (Starla Hagman).

She has six grandchildren: Heidi Hagman (born 17 February 1958), Preston Hagman (born May 2, 1962), Timmy Weir (born in New York sometime between 1962 and 1967), Matthew Ternan Weir (born circa 1967), Mary Devon DeMeritt (born in 1975), and the last one born in 1979 to daughter Heller.

She was awarded 2 Stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Radio at 6609 Hollywood Boulevard and for Recording at 1560 Vine Street in Hollywood, California.

Had a reputation for never missing a performance and for never uttering profanities in public, on or off stage.

Shampooed her hair on stage in over a thousand performances of the song 'I'm going to wash that man right out-a my hair' as Nellie Forbush in 'South Pacific'.

Aged 18, she opened a dance school in her home town Weatherford, Texas. When that burned down, she went on to sing on radio and performing song-and-dance numbers in nightclubs in California. During a talent show at the Trocadero in Los Angeles, she was spotted by the producer Lawrence Schwab, who later took her to New York and arranged her first audition for a Broadway musical.

Famed Hollywood photographer George Hurrell Sr. found her less than photogenic, particularly in profile, and did most of his glamour shots full-face.

In 1938, she dubbed the singing voices for Margaret Sullavan in "The Shopworn Angel" and Gypsy Rose Lee in "The Battle of Broadway".

Was a registered Democrat and supported liberal political causes all her life.

One day when Mary was in New York a workman came out of a manhole saw her and said, "Peter will you Crow for me?" And Mary Crowed as loud as she could right in the middle of Time Square.

After the Broadway closing of the musical "One Touch of Venus", 10 February 1945, Richard Halliday and Mary Martin were in negotiations with Noël Coward for Mary to appear in "Pacific 1860" reopening of the Drury Lane theatre after the war. Noël Coward was author, composer, lyricist and director, the first post-war pleasant and old fashioned lavish musical produced by Noël Coward. The story is set in a fictional Pacific British Colony during the reign of Queen Victoria. The operetta involves a romantic and sentimental story about a visiting Prima Donna and her conflict between love and career. There is also the theme of snobbishness from the island's establishment. In New York, Noël's friend Jack Wilson had done everything to dissuade Mary and Dick Halliday from going to London. "Pacific 1860" was the first show to play at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane after World War II. Noël Coward, who had seen his early highly theatre successful and profitable 1930s "Calvacade" production at the Drury Lane, paid for the ambitious restoration of the theatre after the war ended. Building permits to repair bomb damage at the Lane were remarkably hard to come by and much of his year was spent cutting through several hundred yards of red tape before rehearsals could start in late autumn . In March, Noël had cabled Mary Martin (b. 1913) a Texan singer who had first made her name in such Hollywood musicals as "The Great Victor Herbert" and with the song 'My Heart Belongs To Daddy'. Rehearsals started 4 November 1946. The London production premiered on 19 December 1946, Theatre Royal Drury Lane, starring Mary Martin, opposite actor Graham Payn, lasting in performances for four months. The lead role of Elena Salvador was taken by Mary Martin, and the other principal actors included Coward's lover Graham Payn as Kerry Stirling, Sylvia Cecil as Rosa Cariatanza, and Winifred Ingram as Trudi. Sets and costumes were designed by Coward's friend and regular designer, Gladys Calthrop. The show was not a success and ran for only four months, closing on 12 April 1947. Mary and Dick Halliday departed London April 18, 1947. Noël Coward's initial reaction to Mary Martin's singing was favorable citing Mary's projection technique with stage personality. During rehearsals Mary and Dick Halliday presented temperamental problems. Mary approached the Elena roll with serious earnest, with Noël instructing and directing Mary to lighten her character with more comedy. After the closing of the operetta, Noël came to the sad conclusion that the fundamental problem with "Pacific" is that Mary, sweet and charming as she is, knows nothing about Elena, never has and never will, and that although she has a delicious personality, she cannot sing. She is crammed with talent but she is still top 'little' to play sophisticated parts.

Husband Richard Halliday acted as Mary Martin's agent. The original "One Touch of Venus" Broadway musical production premiered at the Imperial Theatre on 7 October 1943, closed on 10 February 1945 after 567 performances. "One Touch of Venus" with music by Kurt Weill, lyrics by Ogden Nash, directed by Ilia Kazan, featured choreography by Agnes de Mille, starring Mary Martin, Kenny Baker and Paula Laurence. The original featured cast role of Venus was to have starred Marlene Dietrich. Dietrich backed out of the title role during rehearsals, calling it "too sexy and profane," which gave Mary Martin the opportunity to justifiably establish herself as a Broadway star. The show satirizes contemporary American suburban values, artistic fads and romantic and sexual mores. Weill had been in America for eight years by the time he wrote this musical, and his music, though retaining his early haunting power, had evolved into a very different Broadway style. The book musical by S.J. Perelman and Ogden Nash was based on the novella "The Tinted Venus" by Thomas Amstey Guthrie, and very loosely spoofing the Pygmalion myth.

Mary Martin, in the role of Peter Pan, received a Tony for Best Performance by a leading Actress in a Musical in the 1955 Tony Awards. Cyril Ritchard won a Tony for Best Performance by a leading Actor in a Musical for his dual role as Mr. Darling and Captain James Hook. Technical Director Richard Rodda received a 1955 Tony Award for Best Stage Technician. The Los Angeles and San Francisco Civic Light Opera founder and producer Edwin Lester acquired the American rights to adapt the J. M. Barrie's 1904 play "Peter Pan" and Barrie's own novelization of "Peter and Wendy" as a stage musical for Mary Martin. The music is by Mark Charlap, with additional music by Jule Styne, most of the lyrics written by Carolyn Leigh, with additional lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green. Incidental music by Elmer Bernstein and Trude Rittman. Musical orchestrated by Albert Sendrey. Directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins. Scenic Design by Peter Larkin, Costume Design by Motley, Lighting Design by Peggy Clark. Flying Supervisor Peter Foy and Flying Effect by Joseph Kirby. Prior to opening in San Francisco's Geary Street theatre district's Curran Theatre, the production was rehearsed at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium. During the San Francisco performance schedule, additional musical material was ordered by Jerome Robbins and Edwin Lester, revisions continued when the expensive musical transferred to Los Angeles in August, 1954. The show opened in a busy Broadway season, competing with such notable shows as The Boy Friend, Fanny, Silk Stockings, and Damn Yankees. However, while still in Los Angeles, a deal was made for the musical to be broadcast on the NBC's Color Television network 90 minute anthology series "Producers' Showcase," that aired every fourth Monday, on March 7, 1955. "Peter Pan" opened on Broadway's Winter Garden Theatre on 20 October 1954, with a limited run of 152 performances, closing 26 February 1955, closed so that it could be broadcast on television, although box office continued to be strong throughout the Broadway run. The aim of the "Producers' Showcase" was to broadcast expensive color spectaculars to promote the new color television system developed by NBC's parent company RCA. On Marh 7, 1955, NBC presented "Peter Pan" live as part of "Producer's Showcase" as the first full-length Broadway production on color TV. The television show attracted a then-record viewing audience of 65 million viewers, the highest ever up to that time for a single television broadcast program. Marry Martin won an EMMY Award for the television production. So well received that the musical was re-staged live for television on 9 January 1956. Both of these broadcasts were produced live and in color, but only black-and-white kine-scope recordings survive.The telecast special followed with rebroadcasts in 1956, and in 1960 with the same stars, production costumes and scenery. The re-staged 1960 telecast had new children in the cast because the original kids had grown to old for their parts. The musical has enjoyed several revivals onstage in 1979, 1990, 1998. Following the successful 1955/56 "Peter Pan" telecast, the NBC Color network mounted a television production of Irving Berlin's Broadway stage musical "Annie Get Your Gun," directed by Vincent J. Donehue, starring Mary Martin as Annie Oakley and John Raitt as Frank Butler, William O'Neal as William Frederick 'Buffalo Bill' Cody. Telecast live as part of the "Producer's Showcase," in color from the NBC Burbank Studios #2 and #4, with an audience, on 27 November 1957.

Mary Martin and Jean Arthur, close friends, discussed between them selves their individual interest in performing the role of Peter Pan in James M. Barrie's play "Peter Pan." Jean Arthur beat Mary Martin in performing the role. The Shubert Organization, Producers Peter Lawreunce and R. L. Stevens produced the James M. Barrie play revival with music and lyrics by Leonard Bernstein, at the Imperial Theatre (4/24/1950-9/30/1950), St. James Theatre (10/02/1950-1/27/1951) with total performances of 321. The music arranged by Trude Rittman; Music orchestrated by Hershy Kay. The production was staged by John Burrell; Associate Director by Wendy Toye; Scenic Design and lighting design by Ralph Alswang; Costume design by Motley. Flying supervisor Peter Foy. Hollywood's Universal Studios feature film horror picture movie star, also a stage actor, Boris Karloff starred as Mr. Darling and Captain James Hook. After the success of Jean Arthur's appearance in the play revival with music, Mary Martin asked close friend and impresario of the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera Association, Edwin Lester, to develop and produce a musical of the "Peter Pan" property. Edwin Lester assembled a creative team in 1953 to develop the musical for the Broadway stage with Mary Martin featured as Peter Pan.

While working on their "Crazy Lady" project, Kenward Elmslie suggested Truman Capote's novella, not his play, "The Grass Harp" to composer Claibe Richardson as a possible musical. The team tackled some songs, playing them for Mr. Capote. Capote loved what they had come up with, counseled them to "make it your own," and gave them the go-ahead. Kermit Bloomgarten, a prestigious Broadway producer, optioned their musical for Broadway. Bloomgarten, to raise the huge sum of $250,000, needed a star. Claibe on piano, Kenward Elmslie sharing vocals, auditioned their musical "The Grass Harp" for Gwen Verdon, Julie Harris, and Shirley Booth, singly. Delectably responsive, each turned them down. Kenward and Claibe flew to Brazil, to nab a star, tracking down Mary Martin at her isolated frontier fin-ca. Showbiz shrewd, Mary Martin knew she needed to play both Dollyheart and Babylove to fulfill her fans' expectations. She demurred charmingly.

The initial success of Mary Martin's performance of the 1955 Broadway musical "Peter Pan," with Cyril Ritchard in his dual role as Mr. Darling and Captain James Hook, telecast on NBC's "Producer's Showcase," airing on 7 March 1955, repeated 9 January 1956 as a NBC "Producer's Showcase" Color broadcast special event, was the basis for NBC Events Division's production of the Irving Berlin musical "Annie Get Your Gun." The aim of the "Producers' Showcase" was to broadcast expensive color spectaculars to promote the new color television system developed by NBC's parent company RCA. "Peter Pan" was the first major telecast of a Broadway musical for any network broadcasting company. The NBC Network's "Producer's Showcase" Color special "Mary Martin starring in Irving Berlin's Broadway musical 'Annie Get Your Gun' " was telecast live to New York from the NBC Burbank television facility, from color studio #2 and adjacent studio #4, a live studio audience seated on both stages . The production was expanded to incorporate actual horses on stage, with the studio's central hall stage access corridor floors covered in a cushion of dirt, the hallway corridor dressed with trees, and shrubs, the walls hung with landscape and mountain scenic backings. The corridor ceilings were rigged with pipes enabling stage lighting rigged to focus on the live action of performers, on horseback, staged in the 100 foot long access stage hall corridor. The television studios #2 and #4 each had an audience, who could watch overhead monitors of the staging when performers were on either stage and in the studio corridor located at the back-end of the adjacent stages. The large elephant stage doors on both adjacent studio-stages were open for the corridor access. The 1957 NBC color telecast of the Broadway musical "Annie Get Your Gun" was the second Broadway stage musical production for an NBC Color Special event.

Irving Berlin's Broadway musical "Annie Get Your Gun," produced by Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II, starring Ethel Merman opened 16 May 1946. Mary Martin, as Annie, starred in the U. S. National road show musical tour, which started from Dallas, Texas on 3 October 1947. The National Tour played Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, with Mary Martin staying with the tour until mid-1948. The 1948 Tony Awards awarded Mary Martin a "Special Tony Award," cited for the National touring production of "Annie Get Your Gun" spreading theatre to the country while the original cast performed in New York City.

Between December 1954 through March 1955, CBS Television negotiated to inaugurate a new "spectacular color television special" program and series to counter NBC Color Television's "Producers' Showcase"; NBC had inaugurated 18 October 1954, a dramatic color broadcast production of "Tonight at 8:30" electronically transmitted from NBC Television's New York City studio. Both NBC and CBS networks scheduled these 90 minute color specials once a month. During this time period, not all of NBC's television product was broadcast in color, becoming a full color network in the late 1950s. CBS approached Noël Coward about starring in three of these CBS Spectacular Specials for $600,000.00, scheduled after his Las Vegas Desert Inn (3 June-4 July, 1955) cabaret concert appearance. Noël's first CBS commitment would coincide with the CBS inaugural new "Ford Star Jubilee" series. Noël Coward had also been approached by Chrysler and General Motors offering him more money to perform on television. Noël, hesitant, decided on the lesser fee since he was more comfortable with the CBS staff. CBS insisted that Noël's first special be based upon his London Café de Paris and Las Vegas Desert Inn Hotel and Casino concert act material. Noël agreed proposing his close friend Mary Martin would appear in the 90 minute musical special with him. Mary was delighted with the proposition, agreeing to share the stage. After Las Vegas, Noël returned to Jamaica with Peter Matz arriving later, followed by Mary Martin and Richard Halliday, to develop, write, compose, arrange and orchestrate the concert act's material. The first "Ford Star Jubilee" special featured (#1.#1) "The Judy Garland Show" broadcast 24 September 1955 from CBS Television City, Studio 43, Hollywood, California. (#1.#2)"Together with Music" starring Noël Coward, Mary Martin and Peter Matz on the Steinway Concert Grand piano was broadcast the next month on 22 October 1955 from CBS New York City-Studio 72, Broadway and 81st Street. This color television program broadcast was the first color show transmitted for the CBS network. This telecast copied during the electronic transmission process in black and white kine-scope is the only example of Noël Coward and Mary Martin together performing his famous cabaret concert material on film.

Mary Martin's friend Arthur Godfrey taught her to play "Maria's" songs in the musical "The Sound of Music" on a ukulele the summer before the show went into rehearsal. A ukulele is a small type of guitar of Portuguese origin popularized in Hawaii in the 1880s and strung typically with four strings; opposed to a guitar, a flat-bodied stringed instrument with a long fretted neck and usually six strings plucked with a pick or with fingers. On stage, the producers had one of those expensive beautiful guitars strung for a ukulele because that is how Mary had learned the material. The guitarist in the theatre orchestra pit nearly cried. Mary's understudy Renee Guerin, for several weeks, took lessons from the orchestra's guitarist in order to perform "Maria's musical material" on the guitar.

The 1956 West German film "The Trapp Family" - about the von Trapp family, and its 1958 sequel "Die Trapp-Familie in America" became the most successful films in West Germany during the post-war years. The two films popularity extended throughout Europe and South America. In 1956, Paramount Pictures purchased the United States film rights, intending to produce an English language version with Audrey Hepburn as Maria. The studio eventually dropped their option; but one of the Paramount film studio's directors involved in preliminary development of the film, Vincent J. Donehue, proposed the story as a stage musical for his friend Mary Martin. Broadway producers Leland Hayward and Richard Halliday (Mary Martin's husband) agreed and secured the rights. Originally envisioned as a non-musical play, they hired playwrights Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, who had won the Pulitzer Prize for "State of the Union," with the play featuring songs from the repertoire of the Trapp Family Singers. Developing the property, Mary Martin agreed with the production team to ask Richard Rogers to add an original song or two by Rogers and Hammerstein. Soon, agreed with the composers Rogers and Hammerstein, the two styles of traditional Austrian folk songs and their two song compositions would not work together. Rogers and Hammerstein offered to write a complete new score for the entire production if the producers were willing to wait while they completed work on "Flower Drum Song." Rogers and Hammerstein based their fictionalized musical on the memoir of Maria Augusta von Trapp, "The Story of the Trapp Family Singers" - published in 1949 by J.B. Lippincott Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The original multiple Tony Award-winning Broadway musical by Richard Rogers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II and a book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse - "The Sound of Music" - starring Mary Martin (at age 46) and Theodore Bikel (at age 35), opened on Broadway at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on November 16, 1959, moved to the Mark Hellinger Theatre on November 6, 1962 and closed on June 15, 1963 after 1,433 performances. The director was Vincent J. Donehue, and the choreographer was Joe Layton. The original cast included Mary Martin as Maria, Theodore Bikel as Captain Georg von Trapp, (Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote the song "Edelweiss" specifically for him to perform), Patricia Neway as Mother Abbess, Kurt Kaszner as Max Detweiler, Marion Marlowe as Elsa Schrader, Brian Davies as Rolf and Lauri Peters as Liesl. Sopranos Patricia Brooks and June Card were ensemble members in the original production. The show tied for the Tony Award for Best Musical with "Fiorello!." Other awards included Martin for Best Actress in a Musical, Neway for Best featured Actress, Best Scenic Design (Oliver Smith) and Best Musical Direction (Frederick Dvonch). Bikel and Kasznar were nominated for Tony acting awards, and Donehue was nominated for his direction. The entire children's cast was nominated for Best Featured Actress category as a Tony single nominee, even though two children were boys. Mary's understudy Renee Guerin performed the 'Maria' role with Theodore Bikel during the Broadway run when Mary vacationed from the show. Martha Wright replaced Martin in the role of Maria on Broadway in October 1961, followed by Karen Gantz in July 1962, Jeannie Carson in August 1962 and Nancy Dussault in September 1962. Jon Voight, who eventually married co-star Lauri Peters, was a replacement for Rolf. The national tour starred Florence Henderson as Maria and Beatrice Krebs as Mother Abbess. It opened at the Grand Riviera Theater, Detroit, on February 27, 1961 and closed November 23, 1963 at the O'Keefe Centre, Toronto. Henderson was succeeded by Barbara Meister in June 1962. Theodore Bikel was not satisfied playing the role of the Captain because of the role's limited singing; Bikel did not like to play the same role over and over again. In his autobiography, he writes: "I promised myself then that if I could afford it, I would never do a run as long as that again." The original Broadway cast album sold three million copies. The musical premiered in London's West End at the Palace Theatre on May 18, 1961, and ran for 2,385 performances. It was directed by Jerome Whyte and used the original New York choreography, supervised by Joe Layton, and the original sets designed by Oliver Smith. The cast included Jean Bayless as Maria, followed by Sonia Rees, Roger Dann as Captain von Trapp, Constance Shacklock as Mother Abbess, Eunice Gayson as Elsa Schrader, Harold Kasket as Max Detweiler, Barbara Brown as Liesl, Nicholas Bennett as Rolf and Olive Gilbert as Sister Margaretta. "The Sound of Music" was the final musical written by Rodgers and Hammerstein. Oscar Hammerstein II died of cancer nine months after the Broadway premiere (b: July 12, 1895-to-d: August 23, 1960, at age 65).