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Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Beauty That Broadway Won't See! (Mata Hari)

During the run up to becoming the female lead in the new musical "Mata Hari", directed by Vincente Minelli, Marisa Mell stayed some time in America. The promotion circus was in full swing in the course of 1967 to promote the unkown Austrian actress in the States. She got photo spreads in magazines like "Vogue" and "McCall's" or was invited to high end functions at state houses, embassies or at private homes of the powers that be, especially in Washington D.C. were the musical was having its try-outs before going to Broadway!

In the newspaper "Toledo Blade" from October 15th, 1967 Marisa Mell gave an interview stating: "I have a higher goal than making one stupid picture after another." She believed that her casting of Mata Hari by Vincente Minelli was to be and would push her career into another direction! In the interview she also told that Minelli selected her for the role after seeing her in the movie "Casanova 70" with Marcello Mastroianni. The audition took place in New York! Although her singing range was not very broad it was enough for what the director Vincente Minelli and producer David Merrick had in mind. 

And so Marisa Mell became the talk of the town or the flavor of the week in Washington D.C. being at the centre of  this gala evening event in the autumn of 1967. Personally I love these pictures of Marisa Mell. Pictures of her can always be catigorized in 3 groups: a) the official publicity photos; b) the photos specially made for magazines or papers, official or unofficial and c) pictures taken by private persons at a function like these ones. They are not staged and show a Marisa Mell in a complete different setting or posture than the first two groups of photos. And they are of course the rarest to be found! What I also like about these pictures is the the theme that Marisa Mell chose for the evening. Her apprearence is very Cleopatra-like, only a few years after the famous and notorious movie with Liz Taylor as Cleopatra. The man holding her fur coat is friend of the moment Bernardo Antonio de Pinho Coutinho Soares de Albergaria Teixeira de Silva or in short "Tony", a diplomat working in the capital. As mentioned in other entries of this blog the American adventure with Mata Hari did not end well for Marisa Mell. The production became a fiasco and never got to Broadway! Marisa Mell was devastated by the failure and took it very hard emotionally. I personally think that one way or the other she did not get over it at all and threw her career and the way she looked at her movies into a complete different direction. Not a good one as time will tell in later years. Thankfully for Marisa Mell in her day and age there was no internet so information, although widespread via television, newspapers and magazines, was still very limited to the countries that they were serving so almost nobody in Europe knew that her stay and musical appearance was a failure. When asked she always told everybody that the musical Mata Hara was a big success in the States and that she made it for several months to Broadway.

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