Call Me Madam: Walter Wang’s Oscar-Winning Musical, with Ethel Merman Recreating her Stage Role

In Walter Wang’s musical movie, Call Me Madam, the great personality actress Ethel Merman recreates her famous stage role.

She plays a wealthy Washington socialite who is appointed an ambassador in a small European country, as a reward for her philanthropic activities. Upon arrival, she sets in motion all kinds of romantic and political intrigues, some by intention, others not.

Merman always resented the fact that her great Broadway parts, “Annie Get Your Gun” and “Gypsy” went to other, more famous actresses, Betty Hutton and Rosalind Russell, respectively, when they were made into Hollywood movies, presumably because she was not a bankable star.
The musical, with a book by Irving Berlin, is loosely based on the life of Perle Mesta, the Washington socialite who served as U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg under president Truman.
The musical’s most memorable song, “You’re Just in Love,” is well sung by Merman and Donald O’Connor.
The cast also includes George Sanders, who sings in his own voice, and Vera Allen, who is dubbed by Carole Richard.
Oscar Nominations: 2
Costume (Color): Irene Sharaff
Scoring of a Musical Picture: Alfred Newman
Sound Recording: William A. Mueller
Oscar Awards: 1
Scoring
Oscar Context:
Surprisingly, the Scoring Oscar went to Alfred Newman for “Call Me Madame,” as most predicted that ” Minnelli’s musical, “The Band Wagon” would win.
The Costume Oscar went to Charles LeMaire and Emile Santiago for the historical epic, “The Robe.”