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Christmas Always
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Date Posted:03/22/2013 03:21:16Copy HTML

More sad news in the music industry, Risë Stevens, notable for performing on some of the Firestone Christmas releases.  (She performed on Volume 1 and 2) has passed away at the age of 99.

She was more well known for her performances at Metropolitan Opera House in New York during the 1940's and 1950's.  There is much more she was known for.  But I first became familiar with her through The Firestone releases shown below.

Please click here for one of the many online articles of her passing.

Firestone Volume 1 Cover ArtFirestone Cover Art 2

Here is a video clip from "Carmen"

{EDITED by Christmas Always to add video clip, correct a typo or two and forgot to explain the reason/s why I edited it. Also for those who aren't that familiar with her, her name was pronounced "REE-za"}
Christmas Isn't Just A Day In December, It's A Way Of Life. Susan
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Re:Mezzo-soprano Risë Stevens Passes away at 99

Date Posted:03/22/2013 07:30:46Copy HTML


Another great talent silenced forever.

By the way, though she made only two theatrical films,
Risë was also a very capable actress: first starring in the 1941 M-G-M film The Chocolate Soldier with Nelson Eddy (directed by Roy Del Ruth); and then in the great 1944 Paramount classic Going My Way with Bing Crosby and Barry Fitzgerald (directed by Leo McCarey).

It's a shame she didn't do more theatrical films in Hollywood, but home for her was primarily the Metropolitan Opera House. After her two films in Hollywood, what film work she did do was relegated to television (doing several TV movies).

She died here in New York just 12 weeks from her 100th birthday.



Bing Crosby, Barry Fitzgerald and
Risë Stevens
      (From the 1944 motion picture Going My Way)



Lawrence F. "Chip" Arcuri Owner/Webmaster | The Yule Log.com
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Re:Mezzo-soprano Risë Stevens Passes away at 99

Date Posted:03/22/2013 07:42:22Copy HTML

Chip,

I was editing my post while you were responding, so I hope this doesn't count as "Double Posting"

Sadly, yes another great talent is silenced forever.  I never made the connection with her being in "Going My Way"  Though I don't watch the movie that often.  I usually watch Christmas Classics and Classic TV Shows.

I know people can't live forever, and it's hard to imagine them being as old as they are being I remember them as they were when I was much younger.  I believe I mentioned something about this when Andy Williams passed away.

I know Ed Ames is still alive, and has white hair, but I still think of him as young and having dark hair.  It's the same with the ever decreasing singing legends who are still with us.

It's just so sad to have such a great voice silenced once again.
Christmas Isn't Just A Day In December, It's A Way Of Life. Susan
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Re:Mezzo-soprano Risë Stevens Passes away at 99

Date Posted:03/22/2013 08:48:54Copy HTML


Susan,

It is really too bad that you are not more familiar with the great classic and legendary motion picture Going My Way, because while it's not a Christmas movie per se, it definitely is well worth watching during the holiday season. In fact, in the film Bing sings
Silent Night and both Bing and Risë together sing Ave Maria in the film as well. Posted below is the clip from the movie where Bing and Risë sing Ave Maria.

You should really watch this outstanding movie again, because it is not only an extraordinary film, but it is also the Academy Award winner for the Best Picture of the year 1944. It was actually nominated for a total of 10 Academy Awards and won 7 of them:

Best Picture of 1944
Best Actor (Bing Crosby)
Best Supporting Actor (Barry Fitzgerald)
Best Director (Leo McCarey)
Best Original Song (Swinging On A Star)
Best Original Story
Best Screenplay


This motion picture is a true classic in every sense of the word...








Lawrence F. "Chip" Arcuri Owner/Webmaster | The Yule Log.com
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Re:Mezzo-soprano Risë Stevens Passes away at 99

Date Posted:03/22/2013 08:58:56Copy HTML

Chip,

I do have the movie "Going My Way" and have watched it at least once in the last 3 years, I just never made the connection with Risë Stevens.  I believe I have the movie by itself and on a double DVD with "Holiday Inn"

I sometimes recognize a person, but don't make the connection with other things such as the 2 Firestone Albums.  I know she was also in several TV Movies, but can't remember for sure if I ever watched them, except for "Carmen"  A few that come to mind are "Hansel and Gretel", "Journey Back To Oz" and "Little Woman"
Christmas Isn't Just A Day In December, It's A Way Of Life. Susan
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Re:Mezzo-soprano Risë Stevens Passes away at 99

Date Posted:03/22/2013 10:25:04Copy HTML


The film Journey Back To OZ was not a TV movie, but rather a theatrical-release motion picture; however, in that one
Risë only provided the voice for the character Glinda, the Good Witch.

In addition to those made-for-TV movies you mentioned in your post,
she also starred in a 1955 TV movie version of her 1941 theatrical film The Chocolate Soldier. This time, though, instead of Nelson Eddy, she co-starred with Eddie Albert and the great character actor, Akim Tamiroff.



Lawrence F. "Chip" Arcuri Owner/Webmaster | The Yule Log.com
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Re:Mezzo-soprano Risë Stevens Passes away at 99

Date Posted:03/22/2013 11:35:18Copy HTML

Whoops, my mistake, I knew she did the voice over for Glinda, the Good Witch in the theatrical release "Journey Back To Oz" 1974.

 I also knew about "The Chocolate Soldier", but forgot to mention it.  I probably should have listed the years for each of the movies too, so people would have more information, so I will add what I know here.

I was just trying to mention some of the movies etc, that I remember her from.  She was also in "Der Rosenkavalier" as Octavian in 1949

"Little Woman", she was Margaret March 1958

"Hansel and Gretel" she was Mother 1958

She was in "Carmen" twice, once in 1956 "Producer's Showcase - Festival of Music" and of course "Carmen" in 1952.

I have some of this information in a database, but also checked IMDB.com though it isn't 100% accurate, so the dates may not be correct.  If there are any inaccuracies, I apologize, I am not an expert and only going by information I have available to me from my database and online.

She has done other performances over the years, but may not be as well known for.

Chip, you being a Classic Movie Buff and also knowing so much more about music than I, could probably name several other performances she had done.

She was more than just a Mezzo-soprano, but also a gifted actress.

She will be sorely missed.  Maybe TCM, will do a special on her and show her movies.

{EDITED by Christmas Always to add a little more information.}
Christmas Isn't Just A Day In December, It's A Way Of Life. Susan
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Re:Mezzo-soprano Risë Stevens Passes away at 99

Date Posted:03/23/2013 12:50:35Copy HTML


Susan,

Besides what I have already mentioned,
Risë’s other major contribution was on the long-running TV series The Voice Of Firestone, where she was a regular between 1949 and 1963.





Lawrence F. "Chip" Arcuri Owner/Webmaster | The Yule Log.com
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Re:Mezzo-soprano Risë Stevens Passes away at 99

Date Posted:03/23/2013 01:42:03Copy HTML

Thanks for the information Chip,

I would venture to guess that is why she was featured on the first two volumes of the Firestone Records I posted images of in my initial post.  I don't remember ever watching The Voice Of Firestone, but I would've only been 6 when it was last on TV, unless there were reruns, but I doubt there were being you already mentioned where she was a regular on TV from 1949 1963.

I wonder if the film or tapes of this program still exist? or, in the event of tape, they got erased and used over again and again as did may other great Television programs.
{EDITED by Christmas Always to correct a typo}
Christmas Isn't Just A Day In December, It's A Way Of Life. Susan
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Re:Mezzo-soprano Risë Stevens Passes away at 99

Date Posted:03/23/2013 05:18:52Copy HTML


Yes, that is exactly why Firestone chose not only
Risë Stevens, but also Brian Sullivan to do the first two volumes of their Christmas LP series: Volume 1 in 1962 and Volume 2 in 1963.

Though he didn't do near as many episodes as
Risë Stevens, Brian Sullivan appeared on several TV episodes of The Voice Of Firestone. In fact, the two of them appeared together on the most famous episode of the entire series: it was a show from January 20, 1959 for the White House for the occasion of a State Dinner that President Eisenhower was giving for President Arturo Frondizi of Argentina.

As far as tapes of episodes from The Voice Of Firestone television series; yes, they do exist, but unfortunately most of them are kinescope recordings.






Lawrence F. "Chip" Arcuri Owner/Webmaster | The Yule Log.com
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Re:Mezzo-soprano Risë Stevens Passes away at 99

Date Posted:03/23/2013 01:39:41Copy HTML

Thanks again Chip,

It's nice to know that the tapes still exist, but I would venture to guess they would be on the expensive side.  Then being Kinescope, it would be like some of "The Honeymooners" and "Twilight Zone" episodes, among others, which were very grainy but still worth watching.

I sometimes wish I was born earlier than I was, so I could have seen some of the wonderful Televised programs at the time of their broadcast, but then I would be much older and probably not know how to use a computer today.

The image you posted, do you actually have that particular program guide?  If so, I would guess it would be worth a fortune.

{EDITED by Christmas Always to ask a question}

Christmas Isn't Just A Day In December, It's A Way Of Life. Susan
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Re:Mezzo-soprano Risë Stevens Passes away at 99

Date Posted:03/23/2013 06:30:51Copy HTML


No Susan, I don't own it; it's an image of one that was sold by a dealer of presidential memorabilia.



Lawrence F. "Chip" Arcuri Owner/Webmaster | The Yule Log.com
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Re:Mezzo-soprano Risë Stevens Passes away at 99

Date Posted:03/24/2013 12:01:51Copy HTML

Oh OK.

It is a nice piece of History and would be nice to have.  I did see The Voice Of Firestone on Facebook and a few other places, and they have some televues and one site was free to join to watch them online, but they want a credit card number, but I Googled the site and found out that they charge your card even if you cancel and charge you for cancelling.

I did see that there were several different performances by several performers though the years beginning with Radio and then Television.

I hope that these eventually get Digitized and preserved along with all the different things they are in the process of preserving I believe in Washington, DC, I can't think of the name and not sure if it's in Washington, DC or not, but I do remember seeing something on TV a year or so ago that they are trying to preserve all the films and radio broadcast, including newscasts such as The Huntley Brinkely Report among others being if they aren't preserved, they will deteriorate and be lost forever.  I just wish I could remember what it was called.  I want to say "The National Radio and Television Archive" but when I searched  that, it brought up something from the UK.

Oh well, I know the place exists, they are even digitizing newspapers if my memory is correct.

I just noticed that only you and I are discussing this Risë Stevens topic.  I had hoped that more members would have chimed in, but maybe they don't realize what a great performer she was.
Christmas Isn't Just A Day In December, It's A Way Of Life. Susan
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Re:Mezzo-soprano Risë Stevens Passes away at 99

Date Posted:03/24/2013 07:00:20Copy HTML


Susan,

Two of the major organizations for film preservation are the Library of Congress' National Film Registry in Washington D.C and the National Film Preservation Foundation in San Francisco, Ca.


 



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Re:Mezzo-soprano Risë Stevens Passes away at 99

Date Posted:03/24/2013 07:34:58Copy HTML

Thanks Chip,

I knew there was one in Washington, DC, but couldn't think of the correct name.  I glad that there is on in California also, so hopefully all the great films that still exist can be digitized and preserved before they deteriorate.
Christmas Isn't Just A Day In December, It's A Way Of Life. Susan
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