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Article

Ronald M. Radano

[Harold George]

(b New York, March 1, 1927). American popular singer and actor. He lived in Kingston, Jamaica, for five years (1935–40), returning to New York in 1940. In 1945 he began a career as an actor, having studied in Erwin Piscator’s drama workshop at the New School of Social Research. He experienced greater commercial success, however, as a popular singer, making his début at the Royal Roost, New York, in 1949. The following year he rejected his popular song repertory and began to sing traditional melodies from Africa, Asia, America and the Caribbean, which he collected in folk music archives. Having secured an RCA recording contract in 1952, Belafonte went on to become the most popular ‘folk’ singer in the USA. His interpretations of Trinidadian calypso music between 1957 and 1959 won him his greatest success and marked the pinnacle of his career. His mass appeal through the 1950s, moreover, enabled him to resume his work as an actor, and he appeared in several films. During the 1960s and 70s his popularity waned, but he continued to record, and to perform in nightclubs and theatres for a predominantly white, middle-class audience. In ...

Article

William A. Everett and Lee Snook

[Leonard]

(b Winnipeg, MB, Sept 30, 1939). Canadian actor and singer. An accomplished actor on stage, film and television, Cariou’s Broadway credits include Bill Sampson in Applause (1970), Frederik in A Little Night Music (1973), and the title character in Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street (1979). He reprised the role of Frederik in the 1977 film version of A Little Night Music; other film credits include The Four Seasons (1981). He has appeared in numerous television movies and has made guest appearances in various television shows, including the recurring role of Michael Hagarty in Murder, She Wrote, the series which featured his co-star from Sweeney Todd, Angela Lansbury. He possesses a wide range, excellent diction and a dramatic masculine sound, and his voice works effectively in both solo and ensemble settings. His true strength is as a character actor, and his voice quality enhances the theatrical effect of the wide variety of roles which he portrays....

Article

Mark Brill

(Auguste)

(b Ménilmontant, Sep 12, 1888; d Paris, Jan 1, 1972). French singer and actor. He left school at 11 to become an electrician and soon thereafter became an acrobat, until an injury forced him to pursue singing and dancing instead. In 1900 he made his début at the Café des Trois Lions as a singer and comedian. His song-and-dance routines made him popular at local cafés and music halls where he was known as ‘Le Petit Chevalier’. Through a three-year contract at the Folies Bergères, where he began a ten-year partnership both on and off stage with the star Mistinguett, he developed the sophisticated and charismatic persona that was to make him popular on stage and in film. He learned English from a fellow POW during WWI, after which he successfully resumed his music-hall career and appeared in silent films and theatrical productions. His trademark straw hat, bow tie and cane complemented the elegant grace and joie de vivre that would come to personify French charm and sophistication. The advent of sound film allowed his charisma and talent to come through, and in ...

Article

Lise Waxer

[Colón Román jr, William Anthony; ‘El malo’]

(b South Bronx, New York, April 28, 1950). American bandleader, composer, arranger, trombonist, popular singer, producer and actor. Dubbed ‘El malo’ (the ‘bad boy’) of salsa, he began playing the trumpet in 1963 with the teenage band the Dandees. Switching to trombone, he made his professional début at 17 with the album El malo (Fania, 1967). Both as a bandleader and a member of the Fania All-Stars, he quickly moved to the fore of the burgeoning New York salsa scene, cementing the raw, trombone-heavy ‘New York sound’ inspired by earlier artists such as Eddie Palmieri and Mon Rivera. Between 1967 and 1973 he made a series of important recordings with vocalist Hector Lavoe, which included the albums Asalto Navideño I and II (Fania, 1972 and 1973) with cuatro virtuoso Yomo Toro, where traditional Puerto Rican Christmas aguinaldos were fused with salsa. During his second period (...

Article

William A. Everett and Lee Snook

[Capurro, Alfredo]

(b New York, Oct 7, 1914; d New York, July 25, 1992). American actor, singer, director and writer. One of the most versatile dramatic performers, Drake garnered numerous accolades for his performances in opera, musical theatre and legitimate stage roles. He began his Broadway career in 1935 in the chorus of several Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. His numerous Broadway roles included Marshall Blackstone and the High Priest in Babes in Arms (1937), Curly McLain in Oklahoma! (1943), Larry Foreman in The Cradle Will Rock (1947 revival), Fred Graham and Petruccio in Kiss Me, Kate (1948), and Hajj in Kismet (1953). He received the Variety New York Drama Critics Poll Award for Oklahoma! the Donaldson award for Kiss Me, Kate, and the Variety New York Drama Critics Poll award, the Donaldson award and a Tony award for Kismet. Drake also starred in numerous American Shakespeare Festival productions and directed several plays. He also appeared on television and made numerous recordings of musical theatre works. He was known for the arresting, dramatic quality of his voice. His wide-ranging baritone and powerful, resonant sound necessitated the portrayal of strong and dominant characters....

Article

Leon Berger

(b London, Dec 9, 1847; d Folkestone, March 1, 1912). English actor, singer, composer and writer, father of George Grossmith. He was a courtroom reporter and comic recitalist, like his father of the same name, before becoming a drawing-room entertainer: he was sometimes called ‘G.G. II’, to distinguish him from his father, or ‘G.G.’. He began a 12-year association with the Gilbert and Sullivan Savoy operas when he made his stage début in the title role of The Sorcerer in 1877. Of slight stature, with excellent diction, dapper footwork and a light comic touch, he created what became known as the patter parts or the ‘Grossmith roles’. In 1889 he resumed his lucrative Humorous and Musical Recitals, touring in England and America.

According to contemporary accounts he was not much of a singer, but his own songs display a wider tessitura than the Gilbert and Sullivan repertory suggests. He was the author of and often a performer in eight operettas, nearly 100 musical sketches and some 400 songs and piano pieces. This prolific song output was mostly in a patter style, with an infectious melody and a syllabic setting for fast delivery: a third of them were published and survive, but his manuscripts along with his performing librettos from the Savoy operas were destroyed in World War II. His songs are couched in quotidian detail: London streets and their surly cab drivers and bus conductors, seedy lodging houses, obstreperous babies, and fashionable dances as in ...

Article

William A. Everett and Lee Snook

[Leek, Harold Clifford]

(b Gillespie, IL, April 13, 1917; d Palm Desert, CA, Nov 7, 2004). American singer and actor. Known primarily for his starring roles in MGM musicals from the 1950s, Keel began his career as a singer on Broadway and in the West End. His Broadway début was as Billy Bigelow in Carousel, succeeding John Raitt in the role. He subsequently played Curly McLain in Oklahoma! in both New York and London. Other stage roles included Clint Maroon in Saratoga and David Jordan in No Strings. His film début was in the English motion picture The Small Voice (1948), and it was his performance in Annie Get Your Gun (1950) which established his career in Hollywood. Subsequent credits included Pagan Love Song (1950), Show Boat (1951), Lovely to Look At (1952), Calamity Jane (1953), Kiss Me, Kate...

Article

William A. Everett and Lee Snook

(b East Orange, NJ, Mar 12, 1921; d Lincoln, NE, Jan 24, 1986). American actor and singer . Known for his good looks, pleasant smile and smooth baritone voice, he is best remembered for his work in film adaptations of Broadway musicals during the 1950s. His two most important roles were Curly McLain in Oklahoma! (1955) and Billy Bigelow in Carousel (1956). Other notable films include Look for the Silver Lining (1949), Tea for Two (1950), By the Light of the Silvery Moon (1953), The Desert Song (1953), and The Best Things in Life Are Free (1956). Prior to his move to Hollywood, MacRae was a band singer and nightclub performer. His career was blighted by the decline of the movie musical and he returned to the stage and nightclub circuit in the 1960s. Two of his daughters, Meridith and Heather, became actresses....

Article

William A. Everett

(Warren )

(b Bluffton, IN; d Long Branch, NJ, Aug 7, 1969). American singer and actor . One of Broadway’s most popular leading men of the 1920s, Marsh is best remembered for creating the roles of Prince Karl Franz in The Student Prince (1924) and Gaylord Ravenal in Show Boat (1927). After studying law and finance he became a banker in Indianapolis, but eschewed his career to study music in New York. He made his New York début as Count de Cluny in The Grass Widow (1917). Subsequent Broadway credits included Greenwich Village Follies (1920), Baron Schober in Blossom Time (1921), Ned Hamilton in Cherry Blossoms (1927), the poet in The Well of Romance (1930), and leading roles in Gilbert and Sullivan revivals in 1931 and 1935. Although regarded as a quintessential operetta singer, he later sang in nightclubs and hotels in New York and Miami....

Article

William A. Everett and Lee Snook

[Mandel ]

(b Chicago, Nov 30, 1952). American actor and singer . He is the most versatile of performers, known for his work on Broadway, film and television. For Broadway he created the roles of Che Guevara in Lloyd Webber’s Evita (1979), George Seurat in Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George (1986), and Archibald Craven in Simon’s The Secret Garden (1991), all of which received critical praise. He won a Tony award for his performance in Evita. He has released a number of solo albums, including Mandy Patinkin (1989), Dress Casual (1990), Oscar and Steve (1995) and the entirely Yiddish Mamaloshen (1998). In addition to his singing activities, Patinkin has appeared in a number of dramatic roles on both film and television. Film credits include Ragtime (1981), Yentl (1983), The Princess Bride...

Article

John Koegel

(b Hamburg, Jan 29, 1864; d New York, July 30, 1936). German composer, librettist, singer, actor and theatre manager, active in the United States. He began a career as a tenor with operetta companies in Germany and Austria. In 1890 Gustav Amberg brought him to New York to sing operetta roles, though he also sang in opera, most notably in the role of Turridu in Cavalleria rusticana (November 1891). In 1893 Philipp opened the Germania Theater (formerly Aberle’s Theatre), where he produced musical comedies modelled after Harrigan’s stage works, until 1902. He composed, wrote the librettos for, and appeared in such portrayals of German-American immigrant life on New York’s East Side as Der Corner Grocer aus der Avenue A (1893), Arme Maedchen (1893), Ein New Yorker Brauer (1894) and New York bei Nacht (1897). Ein New Yorker Brauer...

Article

William A. Everett and Lee Snook

[Powell, Richard Ewing ]

(b Mountain View, AR, Nov 14, 1904; d Los Angeles, Jan 2, 1963). American actor and singer . A popular singer and bandleader, he became known as the perennial boyish and energetic star of numerous backstage musical films for Warner Brothers during the 1930s. He made his film début playing a band-leading singer in Blessed Event (1932). He established himself playing the juvenile lead opposite dancer Ruby Keeler in a string of films which included 42nd Street, Footlight Parade and Gold Diggers of 1933 (all 1933). Other films included Dames (1934), Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935), Thanks a Million (1935), Gold Diggers of 1937 (1936), On the Avenue (1937), Varsity Show (1937), Hollywood Hotel (1938) and Star Spangled Rhythm (1942). He married fellow singing actor June Allyson in 1945. Powell later eschewed his clean-cut image and began to aspire to non-singing dramatic roles such as those he played in ...

Article

William A. Everett and Lee Snook

[Meservey, Robert Preston ]

(b Newton Highlands, MA, June 8, 1918; d Montecito, CA, Mar 21, 1987). American actor and singer . He grew up in Los Angeles and was a trained instrumental musician before joining the Pasadena Community Players. He was discovered by a talent scout from Paramount Pictures and signed a contract with the studio, appearing in numerous minor roles. He eventually moved to New York and made his Broadway début succeeding José Ferrer as Oscar Jaffe in Twentieth Century (1950). In 1957 he created the character of Harold Hill in The Music Man, his most famous role, for which he won a Tony award and subsequently reprised in the 1962 film. Further Broadway roles included Michael in I Do! I Do! (1966), a two-person show which co-starred Mary Martin and for which Preston won his second Tony award, and Mack in Mack and Mabel (1974...

Article

William A. Everett and Lee Snook

(Emmett )

(b Santa Ana, CA, Jan 29, 1917; d Los Angeles, Feb 20, 2005). American actor and singer . His background and training in opera prepared him for his career in Broadway, having sung Figaro in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Count Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro, and Escamillo in Carmen. He played Curly McLain in the national tour of Oklahoma!, which opened in Chicago in 1944, before being cast as the first Billy Bigelow in Carousel (1945), and hence the first singer to perform that show’s ‘Soliloquy’. Raitt also created the part of Sid Sorokin in The Pajama Game (1954) and reprised the role in the 1957 Warner Brothers film. Although he played many parts in numerous revivals, it is for the two Rodgers and Hammerstein characters of Curly McLain and Billy Bigelow, especially the latter, that he is remembered. He possessed a well-produced high baritone voice and was known and respected for his vocal endurance and consistency. He was able to avoid excessive operatic mannerisms, thus giving an authentic American sound to his stage personas, and establishing high standards for musical theatre baritones. The natural quality of his voice appealed to a broad spectrum of the American people. His daughter, Bonnie, is a successful country singer....

Article

Deane L. Root

[Hubert Prior]

(b Island Pond, VT, July 28, 1901; d North Hollywood, CA, July 3, 1986). American bandleader, singer, saxophonist, actor and publisher. From 1918 he learnt the saxophone and played in a theatre orchestra in Portland, Maine, then attended the University of Maine (1921) and Yale University (to 1927). In 1928 he formed his own band, the Connecticut Yankees; he made his début as a singer in George White’s Scandals (1931), and appeared in Broadway musicals, television and over 20 films, mostly as a musician or comic actor. During the 1930s and 1940s, with his salutation ‘Heigh-ho, everybody!’, he was one of the most successful American bandleaders and singers, among the first crooners to inspire mass hysteria in his audience. With his thin, nasal voice and using a megaphone – later a microphone – he popularized the Maine Stein Song, the Yale Whiffenpoof Song, his own ...