Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Fabulous Fanny

Day 348 of the "What are you reading, and why?" project, and now, of course, I want to be reading The Fabulous Fanny, by Norman Katkov, because it is a real book.

I was afraid to Google it, but, evidently, there are a number shops in New York (one for eyeglasses?!), as well as some special services, with this name.  Plus the book, first published in 1953, and indeed available, currently, at Amazon via the Marketplace.  And here is a fabulous review (from the All About Jewish Theatre website)!!

As you might guess, if you have been watching me watch old musicals, last night I watched (part of) Funny Girl, with the fabulous Barbra Streisand.  (I generally see quite a bit of the beginning and the end, snoozing in the middle, but I see enough to determine that the CD is intact, undamaged, and to be saved for posterior, er, posterity.)

The fabulous Wikipedia told me about The Fabulous Fanny--is it actually this one?!--an authorized biography of the real Fanny Brice, without naming the author and in the context of stopping its publication.  The musical was to be based on the book, and the musical itself went through the usual ups and downs of writing, cutting, and changes of personnel.

The fabulous Mary Martin was the first to suggest it for Broadway, and Anne Bancroft, Eydie Gormet, and Carol Burnett were considered along the way, but clear thinkers (including Carol herself) insisted on "a Jewish girl" for the role, and Barbra Streisand had to be Fanny, especially after she recorded the song "People" and it became a major hit even before the show opened!

I was awake for the return of Nicky Arnstein in the film last night, and the finale of "My Man," which is a real song outside the show, that Fanny Brice herself made famous in her lifetime, along with other fabulous singers of it, including Edith Piaf ("Mon Homme"), Billie Holiday, and Peggy Lee.

Now I am going to have to check and see if we have a copy of The Fabulous Fanny at Babbitt's, on our Star Bio or Entertainment or Theatre History shelves.

And while "fanny" is a fine euphemism for "bottom" in American slang, be careful saying it in Great Britain.  Or Little Britain, for that matter.

9 comments:

Nancy Devine said...

i clicked on little britain. whew! i thought for a moment i was at the people of walmart blog. ;)

Kathleen said...

I know, it looks awful, Nancy! But the show is clever and hilarious, and awful, and well-acted.

Julie Kistler said...

I would love to read that. I don't mind it as a name no matter what the Brits think of it. It's all over my family tree! I had an Aunt Fanny (who died several years ago) and a great-grandmother from the Old Country who was called Fannie by her relatives here. My Aunt Fanny was called Florence at some point, although I don't know why. Not sure whether Florence or Fanny was on her birth certificate. Each of the original Fannie's daughters named their first girl Fanny or Florence in tribute to the mother they left behind when they came to the US.

Plus I'm currently eating a box of Fannie May candies. And there's the Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA) commonly called Fannie Mae.

And there's a musical called "Fanny," not about Fanny Brice. My friend Jon and I saw "Fanny" at Musicals in Mufti in New York, with an excellent cast. The movie version starred Leslie Caron as Fanny, with the beautiful Horst Buchholtz as the boy who loves her but also dreams of going to sea.

I should also loan you the cd for a show called "Ziegfeld Follies of 1936." Fanny Brice was in the original, and her songs were given a spirited revival by Mary Testa for this revival.

Kathleen said...

I would love to borrow that, Julie! And I love Leslie Caron, who was delightful in the bit of Gigi I got to see before the CD froze in a digital collage...

Julie Kistler said...

That should be a "spirited performance by Mary Testa." I don't need two revivals within seven words!

I loved "Gigi" when I was little. Its sexual politics (rearing your child to be a courtesan) are a little weird when you get older.

Kathleen said...

The film fell apart before I got to the end, but it looked to me like it was aiming for marriage...

Collagemama said...

Totally enjoying your trip through the musical dvds.

Kathleen said...

Thanks! Oh, that's right, they are DVDs. I have been calling them CDs because they are round, and I am wacky!

Kim said...

I'm enjoying all the fanny fanfare!

Related Posts with Thumbnails