Item #6975 [George Gershwin photo-illustration signed by Ira Gershwin, et al.]. Ira Gershwin.
[George Gershwin photo-illustration signed by Ira Gershwin, et al.].

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[George Gershwin photo-illustration signed by Ira Gershwin, et al.].

[Hollywood, CA?, ca. 1946.]. Loose leaf of sheet music, 11.75” x 9”. Image size, 6” x 4.75”. Verso is the sheet-music title-page for George Gershwin’s Rhapsody In Blue. CONDITION: Glue pull losses to title-side of sheet from mounting in scrapbook, chipping and short tears to margins, toning and light stains.

A sheet music cover inscribed by Ira Gershwin and the stars of the 1945 biopic of George Gershwin to dancer and actress Ann Miller—a prolific performer in the classic Hollywood musical era of the 1940s and ‘50s.

Released eight years after his premature death, the movie Rhapsody in Blue (1945) took the same name as George Gershwin’s famous 1924 composition. One of the eight autographs here is that of George’s brother, Ira Gershwin (1896–1983): “To Ann with all the best, [illustration of a dancer] Ira Gershwin.” Other inscriptions are by those who appeared in Rhapsody in Blue, including Robert Alda (1914–1986), who starred as George; Joan Leslie (1925–2015) and Alexis Smith (1921–1993), both of whom played fictional women in Gershwin's life; Paul Whiteman (1890–1967), who plays himself (and to whom Gershwin’s 1924 Rhapsody in Blue is dedicated); and Oscar Levant (1906–1972), one of George’s real-life acquaintances who played himself and recorded most of the piano-playing in the movie.

One inscription is by Levant’s actress wife, June Gale (1911–1996)—her inscription expressly on behalf of both herself and Oscar (whose signature appears to the left of her inscription). Part of Gale’s note reads: “Loads of luck on ‘our’ next little (65 pages) ‘ditty.’” This note, which is dated 1946, enables us to identify the present addressee as Ann Miller (1923–2004). The ‘next ditty’ Gale refers to is evidently Charles Walters' musical Easter Parade (1948), which both Gale and Miller appeared in, alongside Judy Garland and Fred Astaire. (Evidently the script for the movie was 65 pages long at this point in preproduction?) Easter Parade marked Miller’s major MGM debut. A child dance prodigy, in 1937 Miller played Ginger Rogers’ dancing partner in Stage Door. In 1941, she signed with Columbia Pictures and from 1941 to 1945 she starred in eleven movie musicals. Miller claimed to have invented pantyhose in the ‘40s to solve the problem of tearing stockings during the filming of dance numbers. Miller made her final movie appearance in David Lynch’s cult movie, Mulholland Drive (2001).

An appealing piece of Gershwiniana.

Item #6975


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