She was the hostess with the mostess, the first singer of moonshine lullabies, and the mama who was married and married and married but never got carried away. She was Ethel Merman, one of the greatest of all musical theatre stars. Now her story will be told on the Arts & Entertainment Network's Biography series with a documentary premiering May 27. The show's director told Playbill On-Line, the show features "never-before-seen Merman outtakes, and new interviews with Jerry Orbach, Jack Klugman, Betty Garrett, Donald O'Connor, Mitzi Gaynor and others." As he does with most Biography Series entries, Peter Graves narrates. Kevin Burns executive produced the documentary, a product of Van Ness Films in association with Foxstar Productions and A&E Network.
Merman's theatre credits include Call Me Madam, Annie Get Your Gun and Gypsy. She was legendary for her booming voice that could shake a theatre without a microphone -- and also infamous for "freezing" a role once she knew all her lines.
The Merman biography, titled "Ethel Merman: There's No Business Like Show Business," plays twice on May 27, at 8 PM and midnight (EST). Check local listings for schedules and repeat airings.
-- By David Lefkowitz