Thursday, October 08, 2015

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Donald O'Connor

Artist:Donald O'Connor
Song:Make 'Em Laugh
Album:Singin' In The Rain: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Donald O'Connor was a song and dance man best known for his performance in the 1952 musical Singin' In The Rain with Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds and especially his showstopper Make 'Em Laugh. He grew up in show business. O'Connor was born Aug. 28, 1925 in Chicago. His parents were vaudeville performers who emigrated from Ireland. When his father died on stage from a heart attack, O'Connor and two of his brothers toured the vaudeville circuit with mom. Donald O'Connor was three years old. At age 13, O'Connor appeared in the 1937 film Sing You Sinners with Bing Crosby. Paramount used him in a few films but O'Connor returned to vaudeville. He returned to Hollywood and signed with Universal Pictures in 1941. They used him in B musicals but the 1943 film Mister Big was turned into an A movie. Then O'Connor was drafted into the US Army and served during World War II. Upon his return, O'Connor appeared in a few musicals before he made the 1950 film Francis with a talking mule voiced by Chill Wills. These comedies were very successful. There were six Francis The Talking Mule films. Then he was loaned out to MGM for Singin' In The Rain. His role was based on and originally offered to Oscar Levant. I don't think Levant could have performed Make 'Em Laugh like O'Connor. Of course the film is a classic and so is O'Connor's performance. Make 'Em Laugh was so physical that O'Connor had to rest in bed for three days to recover. And then the take got messed up and O'Connor had to do it again. Singin' In The Rain was one of the first soundtracks released in 1952 by MGM on a 10 inch LP. It's been released on CD several times. This version from Sony Classical has some bonus tracks. Beware of cheap European releases with inferior audio quality. O'Connor hosted NBC's Colgate Comedy Hour and then The Donald O'Connor Show in 1954. So he was more active on TV in the 60s and 70s than in films usually doing guest shots. He also had alcohol issues and would need heart bypass surgery in 1990. He continued to perform until his death on Sept. 27, 2003 at age 78. Here's Donald O'Connor performing Make 'Em Laugh in the 1952 film Singin' In The Rain.

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