My Dad was a singer. Granted, he didn’t have a great voice. It was sweet, though. His was a happy voice. And he sang all the time. Or whistled. He had an uncanny knack for remember lyrics, poems, stanzas, dialogue. And he would recite, anytime, anywhere.
He had many favorites, but one stood out in particular. He loved the movie and the music of My Fair Lady. He would do all the bits, with all the dialects. From Professor Henry Higgins, to Eliza Doolittle’s father Alfred P. Doolittle.
“Just you wait, ‘enry ‘iggins, just you wait.” (I sure do miss my Dad.)
Anyway, I didn’t make the connection until this morning. The one to George Bernard Shaw. Of course Shaw authored Pygmalion. And then the Broadway play, Pygmalion, eventually went on to be the film. George Bernard Shaw has been he only person to win both a Nobel Prize in Literature (1925) and an Oscar (1938). The first, for his contributions in literature. And the second, for his work on the film Pygmalion.
Here’s another thing I did not know. On the stage version, the stars were Rex Harrison and young Julie Andrews. Warner Brothers were the ones with the contract to make the second film, My Fair Lady, which then did in 1964. They said Julie didn’t have a big enough “screen” presence. They needed more “star power” and that is when they selected Audrey Hepburn to play the role. This really ticked off Julie Andrews. In a big way. Yet. It was probably a good choice by Warner Brothers. I can’t imagine anyone else as Eliza. Although, Hepburn couldn’t sing, so she had to lip sync all her songs (Marni Nixon gets the credit for the voice there).
Just when you’ve had enough, the saga continues. Rex Harrison won Best Actor that year. And Audrey Hepburn didn’t even get nominated, because of the whole lip sync thing. But guess who took home the Academy Award that year for Best Actress? Julie Andrews, who had stared in a little film called Mary Poppins.
I bet that was quite a night at the Oscars.
All of this stirred up, because today is George Bernard Shaw’s birthday. He was born on July 26, 1856, in Dublin, Ireland. And he lived a long time. He died at age 94, on November 2, 1950. And not from old age. He had been out pruning a tree and fell. As a result, he died from renal failure precipitated by his injuries.
I guess there are two things to take away from this whole story.
1. If you are 94, hire someone to prune your trees.
2. Sing like you mean it. Lip syncing should never be an option. It’s only fair, lady.
The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain! — Eliza Doolittle
Come on, Dover, move yer bloomin’ arse! — Eliza Doolittle
“A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.” — Mary Poppins