Posted by: Jim E | March 13, 2010

Kathryn Grayson…Was She Important???…

It’s okay if you don’t remember Kathryn Grayson…but I hope after reading this, though you still may not remember her next week…but if introduced to one of her movies or songs…you might say, “Oh ya, I remember reading something about her…and I remember that voice.”…

Kathryn Grayson died February 17, 2010…about a month ago at 88…in her heyday with MGM studios, she was “the voice”…classically trained and beautiful as well…she made the screen come alive in the late 40’s and early 50’s…starring roles in “Show Boat”…”Kiss Me Kate”…“Anchors Aweigh”…though classically trained she was warm and had a certain charm in her roles…so she was great in a musical where you need that warmth and charm to pull it off…she didn’t need classical roles to excel…

For young boys growing up…she was what girls were made of…and the boys were happy with that thought…I will send along on YouTube a wonderful standard, “Time After Time:…from “It Happened in Brooklyn”, with Frank Sinatra and Peter Lawford (1947)…enjoy…

But there is something else that is important about the passing of Kathryn Grayson…she represented not simply an era but an attitude toward American audiences…she was a trained soprano at a time when MGM didn’t hesitate to put a trained soprano before the public…and the public loved it…

the audience of the 40’s and 50’s had a far less “formal education” that the American public does today…the average education was perhaps 8th grade or maybe one year of high school…yet they could appreciate and love the finest musical entertainment of the day…Kathryn Grayson sang the songs of Kern and Rogers and Cole Porter…

Radio was no different…Studio 8H at Rockefeller Center in New York…now used by “Saturday Night Live” was built for the NBC Symphony Orchestra…that’s right, NBC had a symphony orchestra…and the audience didn’t protest…they listened…

The lesson is when you respect the audience and maintain high standards, the audience rises to those standards…if not…it sinks to the lowest common denominator…so most of us have never heard of Kathryn Grayson…no fault of our own…and its too bad…

At least we have her movies to remember her by…and remember a time when we could go to the theater and for a small price, see the best…

Kudos to William Katz for most of this remembering…he was there…

And for me…Kathryn Grayson will not be forgotten…and I know some who every year sing the songs of that era…they are in high school and college and on the professional stage…singing songs from “Show Boat”…”Kiss Me Kate”…”Anchor’s Aweigh”…and so many other great musicals of the 40’s and 50’s…and many of the songs from the Great American Songbook…and I know they will sing “Time After Time”…go back and hear it again…and then tell me it is not a wonderful song…sung so well by Kathryn Grayson…she is not one we should forget…

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