Ethel Merman Bibliography
Compiled by John Kenrick
Almost every book that discusses the American musical theater in the 20th Century involves Merman's name. However, several noteworthy books offer a detailed look at her life and career.
Bryan, George B. Ethel Merman: A Bio-Bibliography. New York: Greenwood Press, 1992. A detailed catalog of Merman's stage, film and TV careers, plus a discography. The format of the extensive bibliography can be confusing, but is a great resource if you can get used to it.
Flynn, Caryl. Brass Diva: The Life and Legends of Ethel Merman. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 2009. The most comprehensive and scholarly Merman bio is packed with information, as well as insights into the show business trends reflected in Ethel's long career.
Kellow, Brian. Ethel Merman: A Life. New York: Viking Penguin, 2007. I wish this handsome and thoroughly readable biography backed up some of its more interesting claims with sources, but overall a very enjoyable and fair-minded review of Merman's life.
Mark, Goeffrey. Ethel Merman: The Biggest Star on Broadway. Fort Lee, NJ: Barricade Books, 2005. Unsubstantiated claims and factual innacuracies make this the most unreliable Merman biography.
Merman, Ethel with George Eells. Merman: An Autobiography. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1978. Co-authored by Merman, this entertaining book is skewered to "The Merm's" point of view, offering plenty of candid opinions. The blank page chapter on her marriage to Ernest Borgnine speaks volumes.
Merman, Ethel (with Pete Martin). Who Could Ask for Anything More? Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Co., 1955. A series of magazine articles formed the basis for this early Merman autobiography. Breezy, entertaining and almost completely free of insight into the star's actual life or personality.
Thomas, Bob. I Got Rhythm: The Ethel Merman Story. New York: G.P. Putman's Sons, 1985. Honest without being cruel, this is the sort of quality showbiz bio Thomas specialized in.