Anne Marie has been chronicling Judy Garland's career chronologically through musical numbers...
Sometimes, surprises happen. And sometimes those surprises are planted. I'm referring in this case to both the reappearance of Episode 9 on this series, and the "unplanned" appearance of Ethel Merman on the already-iconic show guest-starring Barbra Streisand. Though Merman's big reveal was first suggested as a way to placate both the surprise guest and her not-so-gracious host. Judy may have originally balked at the idea of her Tea for Two guest skipping the tea for some titanic trilling, but when the producers roped Barbra into the skit as well, it went from a battle of egos to a mammoth moment in musical history.
The Show: The Judy Garland Show Episode 9
The Songwriters: Various, arranged by Mel Torme
The Cast: Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand, The Smothers Brothers, surprise guest Ethel Merman directed by Norman Jewison
The Story: So, here's the thing. I've never been a great lover of Ethel Merman. I understand her importance in the musical canon, and some of the shows written for her rank in my Top 5 Favorite Musicals, but the Hostess with the Mostest tends to leave me cold. But even I am swayed by the sheer power of seeing the three greatest American Belting Broads belting out a song together. It's not even a passing of the torch as the Judy/Liza sketch had been. Instead, this feels very much like three old pros - well, two old pros and one new pro - sizing each other up, celebrating what they see, and cooperating. Though Merman would return later for a proper guest spot, nothing would capture the weird wonder of this trio scene. It's improvised, it's lively, and it's unlike anything else on The Judy Garland Show.