Search Manic Mark's Blog

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Souvenir Album - Gertrude Niesen



Souvenir Album
Gerturde Niesen
Decca Records DL 5138 (10 inch LP)

From the back cover: First of all, she comes from Brooklyn... which may explain everything. For, just as the Dodgers are the unpredictable of the sports world, Gertrude Niesen is one of the most deceptive personalities in show business. Her career has been marked by as many old twists and turns as the base path antics of the Beloved Bums.

Even her initial debut came unexpectedly: Gertrude was born on the high seas while her parents were returning from a trip to England. As a youngster she displayed an unusual flair for mimicry which earned for her the nickname of "Monkey," Later, the beautiful blond, who was to win fame for her Broadway impersonation of a burlesque queen, was educated at Brooklyn Heights Seminary, a genteel finishing school for young ladies. Still more surprising, is the fact that Gertrude once considered a career in grand opera. It was during her third year at Brooklyn Seminary that her soprano voice attracted the attention of Romano Romani, the famous operatic voice coach. Signor Romani urged the young girl to study for a future with the Met, but before Gertrude could make up her mind, her high voice changed to a lush contralto.

The sudden change was a blessing in disguise, for Gertrude discovered that her new voice was perfect for impressions and popular songs. At the insistence of her schoolmates, she canvassed the Manhattan theatrical agencies and was immediately booked into the 300 Club. Other engagements followed, and before long she made her radio debut on the Rudy Vallee program caused a nationwide furor and Gertrude was signed on as a regular member of the cast.

Gertrude followed her first Broadway stage role in "You Said It" with starring performances in such hits as "Calling All Stars" and the "Ziegfeld Follies," Then came a movie career in Hollywood, with La Niesen appearing in "Top Of The Town," "Start Cheering," "Rookies On Parade," and "Harem Nights." Despite her cinema successes, Miss Niesen decided that the restrictions and stereotyped roles of movieland were not for her. In short, she wanted to get away – far away. So she left America and went to London, where she was featured at the plush Cafe de Paris. Here she worked leisurely in a familiar medium before appreciative audiences. In London she was given an opportunity to try out the things she had only dared thing about in Hollywood and to develop her own distinctive flair for comedy blossomed forth in England and Gertrude returned to the United States a seasoned and successful international performer.

It was in the role of Bubbles LaMarr, in "Follow The Girls," however, that Gertrude enjoyed her greatest success. Sensation of the show was her long-to-be-remembered singing of the strip-teaser's lament "I Wanna Get Married," which, incidentally, is included on this Decca Long Play Record. The show ran on Broadway for more than two years and toured the nation to packed houses for another year, definitely establishing its star as a top-flight musical comedienne.

Frankly, when La Niesen comes out on the stage and starts rolling her eyes and swaying her hips, she seems more than mischievous – she looks downright wicked. But away from the spotlight she is earnest almost to the point of being demure. Gertrude more than anyone else, enjoys the joke of being able to carry on under the spotlight in a fashion that has nothing to do with her real personality. Her flamboyant dress and combed blonde bangs are misleading cues. One would hardly suspect from her stage appearance that behind the outer facade lies a keen business mind. For example, Gertrude picked up a 50-room $2,000,000 Newport, R.I. mansion for $21,000 a few years ago. They laughed even more when the water pipes froze and burst. But Miss Niesen had the last laugh when she sold the estate a short time later for considerably more than she had paid for it.

At present, she owns large estates in California, an island off Greenwich, Connecticut, and a little place in New York's fashionable East Sixties. Gertrude, who is also a talented interior decorator,  and fills them with her collections of Chinese antique and English Sheffield silver. Just as her homes are the showcase of Gertrude Niesen's vocal ability. These eight songs are typical of the colorful Niesen repertoire... and she sings them like nobody else. But nobody!

I Wanna Get Married
Twelve O'Clock And All Is Well
I'm A Big Girl Now
Legalize My Name
Sooner Of Later
That's Good Enough For Me
Body And Soul


Howdy! Thanks for leaving your thoughts!