Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Baby, It's Cold Outside.

I woke up early to look out my window, onto the street outside. Looks like about a foot of show. The streets look relatively passable, at least here in midtown. But, at 6am, not many cars are on the street.

But, baby, it's cold outside. This is the one recording of Margaret Whiting I have in my list of all-time favorites. With Johnny Mercer's easy southern grouchiness against her softly purring "what I could do to you in that warm bed up there" voice, it's a perfect marriage of singers and song.



Margaret Whiting died yesterday. She was a cabaret and big band singer. I met her a few times, but knew only her name, at the time, not Who She Was.


The first interaction was not really with her. It was with her husband, Jack Wrangler. Jack had conceived a big Broadway show called Dream. All I remembered was hating it. Absolutely hating it. It was just boring. A bunch of songs, lined up and performed with no rhyme or reason. Like a check-list. 

And, to make matters worse, they advertised it as a "musical" rather than the "revue" that it was. I took haughty umbrage.

Puffed up and full of myself, stood out front at intermission, in the noisy crowd, describing my hatred for it, moment my moment, when I looked over and saw that Jack Wrangler was standing right next to me. 

I was humiliated. If you stand out in front and talk about a movie with your friend, there's very little chance that Steven Spielberg will be standing next to you. But, here in New York, Billy Joe Armstrong is actually on the stage at "American Idiot" doing the show. 

And Bono is in the audience of "Spider-Man, The Musical." Or, at least, I think he is.

So, a lesson in humility. Theater is little. The community is little. Keep your mouth shut unless you have something nice to say. And that might also be a lesson in life, but who knows. 

My more vivid memory of meeting Margaret Whiting, whose bio says she was a favorite of the USO, was the night Ruth Warrick asked Jim and me to come to her cabaret show and tape it with our little home video camera. (She chose the angle, yelling at me, at one moment, when I caught her from the wrong side. First and only time, I saw her snap and turn fierce except as Phoebe Tyler on All My Children.


She sang "Do, Do, Do, What You Done, Done, Done, Langley," referring to her on-air husband. Her album, "The Confessions of Phoebe Tyler" was a fun curiosity for fans of the soap, but hadn't really punched a hole in the charts.

Ruth wasn't really good. Whatever singing talent she might have had at one time was long faded.

Margaret was in the house. With Sheila MacRae, probably. I kinda knew her name, but wouldn't have known her voice in a blind listening.

I remember her being very kind to Ruth, staying after the show, and posing for photos. As if they were all from the same fraternity of sisters. And I thought, this is a classy dame. I could probably learn a few things from her.
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