Suicide, circus and Martha Raye

I used to watch Bold and the Beautiful. It was a soap opera about a rich incest infested fashion designing family and the people they loved. There was one scene in a french bistro where the owner Pierre sang The Most Beautiful Girl in the World. I have scoured youtube to no avail but did get to see a scene dubbed in Italian. When I added Rodgers and Hart to the search I got this:

I was skeptical until I saw a caged Martha Raye roaring wearing a lion’s mane. Maybe it’s her involvement with the Bugaloos but I love Martha Raye. I still can remember her appearance on Alice where she and Linda Lavin wore hot pants and sang D’ya Think I’m Sexy? She also sings the most gorgeous version of Body and Soul that is my favorite rendition of the song. When I saw deleted scene from Four Jills in a Jeep I read that the tragic Carole Landis wrote the book and was an accomplished author.

Of course suicide has its allure and when the person who surrenders to despair is young and beautiful with everything anyone could hope to have you find yourself researching details. I saw her death scene photo years ago . It is one that shocks in a different way that something as grizzly and horrific as Sharon Tate or iconic as Che Guevara. It’s because she doesn’t look dead. The contrast of her body in its stillness and the investigator genuflecting next to her that makes you  know something is very wrong.

Rex Harrison found her body and it is thought she wrote a second suicide note to him he destroyed and later denied having. He attended her funeral with the wife he refuse to leave her for and his career in America was destroyed for a time. But was it this new failed romance that made her do it? A fading career? Maybe it was the depression she had fought so long. She had tried to kill herself at least twice before. Whatever the reason these stories break your heart. And I marvel that I was was reminded of her on New Year’s day by following a song.


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