MARTHA RAYE BIO

Books and articles about Doris Day.
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anita
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MARTHA RAYE BIO

Unread post by anita » 02 Dec 2011, 23:14

Hi all -

I don't know if Martha Raye's bio is authorized or not. I only read the excerpts where it talks about Doris, but here's what it had to say:

"Always crazy about animals, Maggie loved the female elephant, Jumbo, much more than she loved Doris Day, whom she and Nick had never forgiven for converting their beautiful crystal bar to a milk and soda bar after Doris had bought their Toluca Lake home. Now Doris was having her own problems on the set because she could not cry on demand. The director, Chuck alters, had to deal not only with assorted animals but with a star who could not spout tears when required. Walters became so upset at Doris when her eyes remained dry that instead of spritzing her with movie tears, he raised his hand and slapped her. The actress started to cry. But they were not appealing tears."

Does anyone know if there's any truth to this? Breaks my heart a little.

Thanks!
Anita

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howard
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Re: MARTHA RAYE BIO

Unread post by howard » 03 Dec 2011, 12:12

I find that hard to believe because I've read in magazines, and I've heard it from Doris herself that she has no problem in letting go with the water works! Who knows what's true or not. There are many misfacts in books, and particularly on the internet. I choose to believe the words of DD. I've also read in books that Raye enjoyed working with Doris, and that "Jumbo" was her favorite film role.
Like Irene Dunne done.

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Re: MARTHA RAYE BIO

Unread post by anita » 03 Dec 2011, 12:40

I'm inclined to agree with you, Howard.

I read other little excerpts and the whole thing seems to paint Raye in this horrible light. Hmm.. anyway, just thought I'd share anyway.

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Re: MARTHA RAYE BIO

Unread post by webmaster » 06 Dec 2011, 11:41

Things get distorted - like Chinese whispers. Re: Doris was never forgiven for converting Martha's crystal bar to a milk and soda bar - If there was any truth in that, it was probably a jokey comment that Marta made. When you sell a house you expect people to change it to their own taste,

And I can't see any director - or man (apart from Cagney that one time, who was required to do it in the script) daring to slap Doris Day, one of the biggest stars in Hollywood at the time. She was experienced enough to 'fake it' if she couldn't cry real tears (and has several times in my experience!). So I don't believe that story.

I think that you can tell that Doris and Martha enjoyed working together - just watch them duet on "Why Can't I?" People trying to sell books syndrome...
What a difference a Day makes...

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paul
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Re: MARTHA RAYE BIO

Unread post by paul » 06 Dec 2011, 12:39

I was good friends with Sydney Guilaroff, who did Miss Day's hair on this film as well as most of her MGM films. I also interviewed director Charles (Chuck) Walters many years ago, several years before his passing.

Sydney told me, and this is supported by stories in the various trade publications at the time, that "Jumbo" was a joyous set to work on. The picture came in under budget and under schedule, which was unheard of for a musical production.

Sydney loved working with Jimmy Durante, with whom he'd worked on many MGM musicals in the 1940's, and enjoyed Stephen Boyd's humor. Doris was just about his favorite actress and he would sing her praises frequently. When the subject came around to Martha Raye he would blanch. Although she professed to the press that she had overcome her drinking problems, Sydney said that each morning when she showed up for hair and make-up, she "reeked to high heaven". William Tuttle who did the make-up for the film supported this comment when I met him at a Hollywood dinner.

Charles Walters could not have been more complimentary about anyone he worked with than about Doris. His initial trepidation prior to starting "Please Don't Eat the Daisies" was erased once they started working together and when he found out they'd be working together again in "Jumbo", he was thrilled. He was a true gentleman in the business and everyone who worked with him would attest to that fact. He would never have struck any actor or actress and to imply or state that is to do a serious disservice to a gifted director who worked with some of the greats over his career.

It was during the filming of "Jumbo" that MGM acquired the rights to "Molly Brown" and the headlines noted they had purchased it for Doris Day. Walter was signed to direct and relished the idea of working with Doris a third time. It was not to be but years later he told me that it would have been one of the all-time classic movie musicals if Doris Day had played the lead role.

It's troubling that this book would indicate Martha being upset with Doris making changing in a house that she purchased from Martha. I believe that once you sell your home, the buyer can do whatever they want.

I'd take it with more than a grain of salt and note that many directors who worked with Miss Day, including Walters, noted that she could "tear up" on cue without the need of any assistance. This seems, sadly enough, another case of playing loose with the facts.

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Re: MARTHA RAYE BIO

Unread post by paul » 06 Dec 2011, 13:06

As an afterthought....here is a listing of the films directed by Charles Walters during his career. He worked with everyone from Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers to Judy Garland, Joan Crawford, Esther Williams, Debbie Reynolds, Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra and directed Cary Grant in his final film. You'll not find anything written about him that would indicate he would strike someone and he sometimes worked under very stressful and difficult situations including "Summer Stock", Judy's farewell film at MGM.

Filmography as director
Ziegfeld Follies (1946)
Good News (1947)
Easter Parade (1948)
The Barkleys of Broadway (1949)
Annie Get Your Gun (1950), uncredited
Summer Stock (1950)
Three Guys Named Mike (1951)
Texas Carnival (1951)
The Belle of New York (1952)
Lili (1953)
Dangerous When Wet (1953)
Torch Song (1953)
Easy to Love (1953)
The Glass Slipper (1955)
The Tender Trap (1955)
High Society (1956)
Don't Go Near the Water (1957)
Gigi (1958), uncredited
Ask Any Girl (1959)
Please Don't Eat the Daisies (1960)
Cimarron (1960), uncredited
Go Naked in the World (1961), uncredited
Two Loves (1961)
Billy Rose's Jumbo (1962)
The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964)
Walk Don't Run (1966)

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Re: MARTHA RAYE BIO

Unread post by Jas1 » 06 Dec 2011, 18:08

Paul, thanks (as always) for the absolute wealth of information: love reading it.

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Re: MARTHA RAYE BIO

Unread post by webmaster » 06 Dec 2011, 18:45

I still like Marta - no one's perfect! :wink:
What a difference a Day makes...

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Re: MARTHA RAYE BIO

Unread post by anita » 06 Dec 2011, 19:39

I also love Martha. I think she was hilarious.

And sort of like I said before, I just can't understand why the author would ever write a book on her because there seemed to be not one kind word about her.

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Re: MARTHA RAYE BIO

Unread post by Jas1 » 07 Dec 2011, 17:12

Anita- Kind words do not sell books - [unfortunately]!

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Re: MARTHA RAYE BIO

Unread post by anita » 07 Dec 2011, 19:43

Too right you are. Luckily, I did not purchase this book, but rather cheated and looked it up on Amazon :) That author is not getting any money from me!

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Re: MARTHA RAYE BIO

Unread post by DannyProctor » 28 Dec 2011, 14:30

According to her authorized biographer Noonie Fortin, Martha Raye enjoyed making Jumbo and working with Doris Day. In her 1995 book Memories of Maggie, Noonie says, "When I was at her home in 1990, Martha told me that she really enjoyed making the film and working with Doris and Jimmy [Durante]. Movie posters from this film hung in her guest bathroom."

I'm a lifelong fan of both Martha Raye and Doris Day and I became friends with Noonie Fortin after her first book was published. She's visited in my home and we correspond frequently. I do know from her and also comedian Jack Carter, with whom I performed in an original musical in Nashville several years ago, that Martha's husband Nick Condos could be very unpleasant and explosive. If anyone was unhappy about Doris turning their bar into a soda fountain, it was more likely Nick than Martha. Although, Martha was known to be unpredictable and may have made a comment but it was probably said as a joke, if at all. It also smacks of a press release item, poking fun at the wholesome personna of Doris who would probably never allow a bar in her home unless it was a soda fountain. I doubt the validity of the story to begin with.

As to Martha's drinking habits, she did love her vodka, according to several sources. But I question whether she ever showed up for work drunk or "reeking." She never stopped working from the age of 3 until she became disabled by diabetes in the late 1980s and could not have kept up that pace if she was an alcoholic. These old show biz characters love to embroider their reminiscences and they grow more colorful year by year. Lord knows Martha did the same thing. On the new Laurel & Hardy DVD set, Jerry Lewis completely fabricates a long story about how Laurel discovered Hardy who was working on the Hal Roach lot as a carpenter. Why he decided to rewrite history simply baffles me. So sometimes these old timers either don't remember so they make it up or they prefer telling their own version of history because it's more fun. Who knows?

Noonie's website about Martha "Col. Maggie" Raye can be found here: http://www.colonelmaggie.com
Noonie's biography of Martha Raye is available on the website and she'll even autograph it for you.

Thanks for reading.

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Re: MARTHA RAYE BIO

Unread post by howard » 28 Dec 2011, 14:43

Thanks for that bit of information. Much appreciated. I've also read somewhere, a long time ago, that "Billy Rose's Jumbo," was Martha's favorite film.
Like Irene Dunne done.

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Re: MARTHA RAYE BIO

Unread post by DannyProctor » 28 Dec 2011, 14:50

Jean Maddern Pitrone's Martha Raye biography, Take it From the Big Mouth, is unauthorized. The only book about Raye that is endorsed is Memories of Maggie by Noonie Fortin, who knew Raye and her daughter Melodye Condos personally. When A&E did their Biography segment on Martha Raye, Fortin is interviewed on camera as Raye's biographer. She also appears in the DVD extras for Raye's film Four Jills in a Jeep. Noonie definitely knew Martha Raye, warts and all. She was certainly not without her demons. But every word in her book is true and accurate and not fabricated, as much of Pitrone's book seems to be, even down to conversations that allegedly took place for which there are no written records. Noonie's book focuses mainly on Raye's history with the military and her many trips to entertain the troops from WWII through the Vietnam war. She does mention all of Raye's movie and TV appearances as they occur in the biography.

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Re: MARTHA RAYE BIO

Unread post by DannyProctor » 28 Dec 2011, 15:03

howard wrote:Thanks for that bit of information. Much appreciated. I've also read somewhere, a long time ago, that "Billy Rose's Jumbo," was Martha's favorite film.
According to Noonie, Martha did love Jumbo and I think it shows. Her scenes with Doris are wonderful, especially their duet "Why Can't I." However, I would say Martha's favorite of her films was Monsieur Verdoux with Charlie Chaplin. She was very proud to have been chosen by Chaplin because of her broad comedy style, which is exactly what the role demanded. No other Chaplin co-star was ever given the opportunity to play slapstick at his level, except possibly Buster Keaton in Limelight. Martha played clubs and the stage and toured extensively after Verdoux (1947) but she didn't make any movies until Jumbo in 1962. She was grateful for the role and loved the star billing as an equal with Day, Boyd and Durante (who was a longtime friend of Martha's) and the MGM star treatment.

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Re: MARTHA RAYE BIO

Unread post by Jas1 » 28 Dec 2011, 17:56

Thanks for all the great Martha Raye info- I love her in Jumbo and the duet 'Why can't I' with Doris shows what a magnificent vocalist Martha was - she was certainly in Miss Day's league and Miss Day was/is in the league of the all time greats!

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Re: MARTHA RAYE BIO

Unread post by howard » 28 Dec 2011, 20:18

That "Why Can't I?" number gets me every time. So beautifully performed and directed. It's almost like a dream sequence ... love it!
Like Irene Dunne done.

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Re: MARTHA RAYE BIO

Unread post by DannyProctor » 29 Dec 2011, 16:05

One of the most popular topics seems to be the amazing leading men that Doris Day had ... the cream of the Hollywood crop. Because it is acceptable onscreen for a younger leading actress to be paired with a much older male lead, Doris was able to work with the best actors and true legends.

But my favorite relationships in any Doris Day movie/TV show are her female sidekicks, also some of the best and funniest women in entertainment history ... Eve Arden (My Dream Is Yours, Tea for Two), Patsy Kelly (Please Don't Eat the Daisies), Spring Byington (who was perfection as Doris' mother in Daisies), Nancy Walker (Lucky Me), Mary Wickes (On Moonlight Bay, By the Light of the Silvery Moon, I'll See You in My Dreams), Reta Shaw (Pajama Game), Thelma Ritter (Pillow Talk, Move Over Darling), Ann B. Davis (Lover Come Back), Audrey Meadows (That Touch of Mink), Zasu Pitts (The Thrill of it All), Hermione Baddeley (Do Not Disturb), Audrey Christie (The Ballad of Josie), Elizabeth Fraser (Young at Heart, The Tunnel of Love, The Glass Bottom Boat), Rose Marie, Jackie Joseph and Kaye Ballard (The DD Show), and my favorite, Martha Raye, who got to sing a duet with Doris in Billy Rose's Jumbo.

I love how Doris gives nicknames to these "best pal" characters. Thelma Ritter's character "Alma" becomes "Alm." Martha Raye's "Lulu" becomes simply "Lu." It's what we do with our best friends. It's a sweet Doris thing that I feel certain was not scripted. Doris was blessed with the best Hollywood could offer as supporting actors and gives her movies yet another reason to watch and enjoy.

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Re: MARTHA RAYE BIO

Unread post by Toby_Martin » 31 Dec 2011, 21:00

I agree Danny.

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