Who's Who in the Comden & Green Song 'Drop That Name'

Special Features   Who's Who in the Comden & Green Song 'Drop That Name'
In the 1956 musical Bells Are Ringing with book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green and music by Jule Styne, Judy Holliday and Sydney Chaplin attend one of those chic Manhattan parties where the guests spend the evening dropping celebrities' names -- sometimes just their first name. Judy is frankly stumped by the identity of the names thus dropped -- except for the one she frequently drops: "Rin Tin Tin." Below is a glossary of all the names dropped in the song, "Drop That Name."

In the 1956 musical Bells Are Ringing with book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green and music by Jule Styne, Judy Holliday and Sydney Chaplin attend one of those chic Manhattan parties where the guests spend the evening dropping celebrities' names -- sometimes just their first name. Judy is frankly stumped by the identity of the names thus dropped -- except for the one she frequently drops: "Rin Tin Tin." Below is a glossary of all the names dropped in the song, "Drop That Name."

Rin Tin Tin (1916-1932) A famous German Shepherd found in a German trench during World War I by American Captain Lee Duncan, who brought him to Los Angeles and trained him for the movies. The wonder dog became a superstar in both silent and talking films.

Ed Murrow (1908-1965) A CBS vice-president, news analyst and host of the successful TV shows, "See It Now" and "Person To Person."

Noel Coward (1899-1973) British actor, playwright, composer, librettist, lyricist and writer, knightod in 1970.

Sammy Davis: The late singer, dancer, actor, comic who began in vaudeville. burlesque and night clubs with the Will Mastin Trio, consisting of his father, his uncle and himself. Starred on Broadway in two musicals: Mr. Wonderful (1956) and Golden Boy(1964); and appeared in many movies, including Porgy and Bess and some with the "Rat Pack"--Sinatra, Dean Martin, etc., of which he was a member. Bennett Cerf: The late publisher, founder of the Modern Library and Random House and a panelist on the popular TV quiz show, "What's My Line".

Humphrey Bogart: (1899-1957) Iconic American actor, best known for playing gangsters and, later, detectives in 1940s films noir. Best known for his starring roles in Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleepand The African Queen.

Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) Acerbic novelist and playwright (Our Betters, The Circle, The Constant Wife, The Letter). One of his sultry short stories was made into the famous play Rain (1921).

Jennifer Jones (l919-still living) Actress discovered by David O. Selznick who starred her in The Song of Burnadette (1943) for which she won an Academy Award. She appeared in many more Selznick films and divorced actor Robert Walker to marry Selznick.

Jose Ferrer (1912-1992) Actor/director who won both a Tony and Academy Award for his portrayal of Cyrano de Bergerac. Also won Tony Awards for acting in and direction The Shrike and and directing The Fourposter and Stalag 17. Among his wives were actress Uta Hagen and singer Rosemary Clooney.

Janet Blair (1921-still living) Movie, TV star and singer. Appeared in films from 1941 to 1968, notably in the title role of My Sister Eileen (1942). She toured for two years in Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific and co-starred with Henry Fonda in the TV series "The Smith Family" (1971-1972).

Fred Astaire (1899-1987) Celebrated dancer, singer, actor and choreographer who achieved fame with his sister Adele in Broadway and London musicals, then became a superstar in films, dancing in ten musicals with Ginger Rogers. He received a special Academy Award in 1949 for his contribution to films.

Vincent Minnelli (1910-1986) Set, costume designer and director of Broadway musicals and revues, then a distinguished director of such films as An American in Paris, The Band Wagon, Gigi, and Meet Me in St. Louis, starring his then wife Judy Garland. Liza Minelli is their daughter.

Daniel Mann He directed both the stage and screen versions of Come Back, Little Sheba and The Rose Tattoo and many other plays and movies.

Lynn Fontanne (1887-1983) Half of the famed husband and wife acting team of Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, who acted on Broadway from the 1920s through the 1950s. They excelled in sophisticad acting in high comedies by S.N. Behrman, Robert E. Sherwood and Noel Coward and have a Manhattan theatre named after them where Titanic is now playing.

Elia Kazan(1909-still living): Famed director, actor, producer, writer who began as an actor with the prestigious Group Theatre. He directed such noteworthy productions as The Skin of Our Teeth, One Touch of Venus, All My Sons, Death of A Salesman, A Streetcar Named Desire, Tea and Sympathy, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof and many more. In 1947, he co-founded the Actors Studio in New York where a Russian acting style called "The Method" was taught. His notable films include Viva Zapata!, On The Waterfront, East of Eden and many more. Among his best selling novels are The Arrangement and America America, both of which were filmed.

The former Grace Kelly (1928-1982) Actress who married Prince Rainier of Monaco and became Princess Grace. Her major films included High Noon (1952), Mogombo (1953), Dial 'M' For Murder, Rear Window, and The Country Girl (for which she won an Academy Award)--all in 1954. Her last movie was the musical High Society (1956) before she became the Princess of Monaco.

Louie Shurr: The late actors' agent in New York and Hollywood.

Courtney Burr: (1891-1961) Broadway producer who presented such hits as Sailor, Beware! (1933), An Inspector Calls (1947), Season in the Sun (1950) and The Seven Year Itch (1952).

Irving Lazar: The late literary agent, nicknamed "Swifty" because of his rapidity in concluding million dollar deals for his famous clients.

Anthony Quinn (1915-still living) Started acting in films in 1936, but his career really took off in the 1950s after he succeeded Marlon Brando as Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire on Broadway. He won two Academy Awards as supporting actor in Viva Zapata! (1952) and Lust For Life (1956). Other film highlights: La Strada (1958), Requiem For A Heavyweight, Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and Zorba the Greek (1968), a part he repeated in the Broadway musical version called Zorba.

Doris Day (1924-stil living) Singer and movie actress who first garnered attention as a vocalist with the bands of Bob Crosby and Les Brown, then replaced Betty Hutton in the movie Romance on the High Seas (1948) and immediately registered as an audience favorite. By the early 1950s she was voted the most popular female star in films and by 1960s, one of the highest paid. she appeared in a series of highly popular bedroom farces with Rock Hudson and Cary Grant.

Barry Gray The late radio talk show host and interviewer.

Edna Best (1900-1974) British stage and screen actress married for many years to actor Herbert Marshall. They appeared together in many plays on Broadway and in London. They were later divorced. She also appeared in some Hollywood films.

Arthur Loew: Theatrical producer in the 1950s.

Vaughn Monroe: The late big band leader and singer.

Rebecca West (1892-1983) Dame Rebecca West was a novelist, critic and essayist who had an illegitimate child by H.G. Wells.

Irwin Shaw (1913-still living) Playwright and novelist. His plays include Bury the Dead (1936), Siege (1937), The Gentle People (1939) and others. His novels include The Young Lions (1948),Two Weeks In Another Town (1959) and others.

Evelyn Waugh: The late British novelist, noted for his satiric wit in such classics as A Handful of Dust, Vile Bodies, Black Mischief, The Loved One and Brideshead Revisited.

Errol Flynn (1909-1959) The flamboyant movie star who was involved in a sensational sex scandal involving a teenage girl which gave rise to the saying, "In like Flynn." The Australian actor made an immediate sensation as the swashbuckling hero of the 1935 film Captain Blood. Other excellent films included The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936) The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), Gentleman Jim (1942) and Too Much Too Soon (1958) in which he played John Barrymore.

Rory Calhoun: The late movie actor, discovered by actor Alan Ladd, who specialized in action roles in Westerns.

Mel Ferrer (still living). Actor, director, producer, once married to Audrey Hepburn who appeared with her on Broadway in the fantasy Ondine. He also directed her in the film Green Mansions.

Deborah Kerr (1921--still living) Stage and screen actress born in Scotland. Went from stage actress in London to British films in Major Barbara (1941). First Hollywood movie--The Hucksters with Clark Gable (1947). Other notable films: King Solomon's Mines (1950); Quo Vadis(1951); From Here To Eternity (1953); The King and I (1956). In 1953 she made an impressive Broadway debut in Tea and Sympathy in a role that she repeated in the film version in 1956. She was nominated for an Academy Award six times and received an Oscar for lifetime achievement a few years ago. She now lives in Switzerland.

Edmond Gwenn (1875-1959) Character actor from Wales who appeared on the stage and screen in both Britain, New York and Hollywood. His most notable films were Miracle on 34th Street (in which he played a Macy's Santa Claus--1947); Mister 880 (in which he played a counterfeiter--1950); and Pride and Prejudice(in which he played Mr. Bennet--1940) ! There is an interesting anecdote about Mr. Gwenn. On his deathbead, he reportedly said: "Dying is easy--comedy is hard."

Anna May Wong (1907-1961). An exotic, oriental actress who was born in Chinatown, Los Angeles and began acting in silent films in 1919 at age 13. She first attracted attention in 1924 in The Thief of Bagdad, starring Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. In the 1920s she starred in British and German films and appeared on the London stage with Laurence Olivier in Circle of Chalk. In Hollywood talkies, she appeared in Shanghai Express with Marlene Dietrich, the musical Chu Chin Chow, Limehouse Blues and many thrillers in which she played sinister parts.

Barney Baruch (1870-1965) Bernard Mannes Baruch--American businessman and statesman.

King Farouk (1920-1965) King of Egypt from 1936 to 1952. Abdicated and became a citizen of Monaco 1959-1965.

Alistair Cooke (1908-still living) Distinguished essayist, journalist and TV commentator.

Debbie and Eddie (Both still living) Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, the actress and the singer who were married from 1955 to 1959. Fisher left her to wed Elizabeth Taylor. After a successful movie career, Reynolds made her Broadway debut in a hit revival of the musical Irene. Fisher made one movie with Taylor--Butterfield 8 (1960) but his greater success was as a teen idol crooner.

Lucille Ball: The late comedienne who appeared in many films, ended up buying RKO, the studio where she worked, and made an incredible success with her husband Desi Arnaz in the classic TV sit-com -- "I Love Lucy."

Lauren Bacall: (1924--still living) Stage and screen actress who made her celebrated movie debut in To Have and Have Not with Humphery Bogart in 1944 and married him soon after. She appeared in several films with Bogart and many other well-known stars. She scored a hit on Broadway in 1965, in her first musical Applause in 1970 and in another musical Woman of the Year (1981).

Hedy Lamarr (Still living) Exotic star who made a notorious nude appearance in the foreign film Ecstasy and was brought to Hollywood where she became a glamorous star in such films as Algiers (1938), Comrade X (1940), Ziegfeld Girl (1941), Samson and Delilah(1949) and many others.

Roz Russell and Freddie (both deceased). Roz Russell started on the New York stage in The Garrick Gaieties (1930), then went on to Hollywood where she became a scintillating, wisecracking, fast talking star in such films as The Women (1939) His Girl Friday (1940) and My Sister Eileen (1942), which was turned into a Broadway musical--Wonderful Town--by Leonard Bernstein, Comden and Green starring Russell, who won a Tony for her brilliant performance (1953). In 1956 she scored another Broadway triumph in the title role of Auntie Mama. Her one and only husband was the producer Freddie Brisson, who presented such Broadway hits as The Pajama Game (1954), Damn Yankees(1955) and New Girl in Town(1957).

Carol Reed (1906-1976). Sir Carol Reed was a famous British director who reached his peak in the late 40s and early 50s with such hits as Odd Man Out (1947), The Fallen Idol (1948), The Third Man (1949) and others.

Sammy Snead (Still living) One of the all-time greatest golfers.

Mary Martin and Ethel Merman--the late, great musical comedy stars of Broadway.

Mary Pickford(1893-1979). The great silent screen star known as "America's Sweetheart." For many years she was married to another great silent screen star--Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. Later, they divorced and she married another actor, Charles Buddy Rogers. With Charlie Chaplin and others, she founded the movie studio of United Artists.

Ethel Barrymore (1879-1959). With her brothers John and Lionel, Ethel formed the famed acting trio known as "The Royal Family." All three began their illustrious careers on the Broadway stage. Later, they appeared in films. The three only made on film together- Rasputin and the Empress (1933). Ethel scored one of her greatest Broadway successes in The Corn Is Green (1940).

Jean(this name is given a French pronunciation on the recording of "Drop That Name." We have reason to believe it's the late Jean Cocteau, poet, painter, novelist, essayist, playwright, director, screenwriter, set designer and actor. In the movie version of Bells are Ringing, the lyrics of "Drop That Name" were revised and Jean Cocteau was mentioned.

Christian Dior, Balenciaga, Jacques Fath: European high fashion designers.

Valentina: The late great New York fashion designer who created dazzling gowns for Hepburn, Katharine Cornell, Lynn Fontanne and other great stars for their Broadway plays.

Mary Schwartz and Ethel Hotchkiss: Two names that Judy Holliday Holliday drops at the end of "Drop That Name" -- fictional friends of hers.

Raymond Massey: The late Canadian actor who excelled on stage and on screen. His most famous role was that of Abraham Lincoln in both the stage and screen productions of Robert E. Sherwood's Abe Lincoln In Illinois. In the early 1960s he played Dr. Gillespie in the "Dr. Kildare" TV series.

Lassie: Canine collie star of many films. He was so successful that four different descendants of his continued playing the part.

-- By Louis Botto

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