Ann-Margret, Ann-Margret, Ann-Margret! This Swedish-born beauty epitomized pow! wowza! and awooga! in the 1950s and 60s.
Why, you ask? Isn't it obvious? She could sing, she could dance and her body was
It's her sincerity that allowed her to remain squeaky-clean, even when she was low-down. She was a good girl determined to please, and for the most part, she succeeded. As for her singing, ever wonder how she might sound without benefit of her jaw-dropping body? Let 2004's "Box Set: Ann-Margret, 1961-1966" end the mystery.
This fabulous (and hard to find) multi-CD set has everything; all her LPs and nearly every single, many of which were never released. There's even two versions of "Littlest Lamb," her famed lullaby performed as "Ann-Margarock" on "The Flintstones." It's almost too-too much - and yet it's not. Give it a whirl while you're puttering about the house. You won't turn it off.
Judy, Judy, Judy! Did you know? The first song two-year-old Judy performed was "Jingle Bells" while on stage during her parents' vaudeville show. She loved the applause so much that she sang it again. And again. And again. Until her father dragged her off stage.
But it wasn't all fun and games for Judy, as we know. She was given daily "diet pills" at age thirteen as soon as she was hired by MGM (three times daily!), which led to her lifelong addiction and eventual death. Her final song at MGM was "Get Happy." After leaving MGM, her addiction only worsened. During one of her several nervous breakdowns, after trying in vain to kick the habit, she locked herself in her bathroom and cut her own throat (luckily, she survived; it was that kind of life).
Yet through it all, she found happiness on stage. Her worldwide tours were legendary events, her need for the audience - and their devotion to her - creating an atmosphere of almost tactile bliss, as if Judy and the audience were passing a cup of whisky back and forth and shouting, "More, more!"
You can sense that bliss between audience and performer in the CD "Judy Garland Live At Carnegie Hall" (of course), in which she singles out songwriter Harold Arlen as her favorite. It's no wonder. His "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" shot her to stardom. But there were many-many more hits he wrote especially for her, and they're all gathered together in this truly must-have CD. Oh, and though Judy's pictured above wielding a plate of home-cooked chicken, I'm pretty sure she ordered out most nights, don't you think? She had time to cook chicken? While entertaining sold-out venues every night? Mmm, don't think so.
Jane, Jane, Jane! No, Jane doesn't sing, but despite all her missteps and foibles over the years (the most alarming to me being her Stepford Wife phase with Ted Turner) I adore Jane. I especially loved her performance as prostitute "Bree Daniels" in "Klute," a knotty little thriller that's well worth watching if you haven't seen it.
Speaking of prostitutes, it's a hard-knock life, as you've probably heard. No health care, no worker's comp, and worst of all, you have to sleep with cretins like this. And if you believe certain sources, a lot of famous people once turned tricks. When you gotta eat, you gotta eat, as they say. Some of the best songs about working gals are in"Street Walker Blues" - a Saucy Seducer Cheerful Exclusive! - which includes the incomparable Ethel Waters performing "Bring Your Greenbacks," "I'm In The Racket" by Billie Pierce," and my favorite, "Down In The Alley" by Memphis Minnie, each of them jaunty, gritty, and, yes, soulful. It doesn't get more real than this.
The Secret Song File has never turned tricks - get your jaw up off the floor, it's true! - but she has experienced hard times. Like the day she was forced to eat plain bread instead of brioche, or the time she was spotted alone at a public movie theatre instead of a red carpet premiere (she still shudders about that one). During rough instances such as these, she seeks solace from her absolute favorite singer who grew up in both America and France. Because why settle for apple pie when you can also have Croquembouche?
Know who it is? You may know her as the gal who once stood on a rooftop carelessly whispering about this half-perfect world - haven't we all? - or maybe you know about her bare-bones blue room. If you've heard her, you know she's sublime. If you don't, catch her on this, her seventh album, which is one of her best.
And, really, impress your friends. Serve Croquembouche. It's easy to make.
Treat me to your own confections in the comments, if you like!