Many will find it hard to believe that Nancy Walker, the actress who is best remembered for her recurring roles on TV as Ada, Rhoda’s Jewish mother on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”; Rock Hudson’s house-keeper on “Macmillan & Wife”; Rosie, the waitress who demonstrated Bounty paper towels on commercials as the “quicker picker upper”, and as Angela, Sophia’s estranged sister in “The Golden Girls”, had actually made records and was a pretty good singer too.
Born Ann Myrtle Swoyer in 1921 in Philadelphia, Nancy was the daughter of a dancing comedian Dewey Barto. After spending her youth travelling across the country with him, Nancy decided that she would make it on her own singing tragic songs. Her debut appearance as a single act was not a success. Finally, at the age of nineteen, she auditioned for George Abbott who was casting his new Broadway musical, “Best Foot Forward”. Legend has it that Abbott found himself laughing hysterically at Walker’s audition and instructed the playwrights to write a part just for the pint-sized comedienne. Nancy was the only cast member to cut four songs from the score. These rare early recordings – “What Do You Think I Am?”; “Ev’ry Time” and “Shady Lady Bird”; and the poignant “Just A Little Joint With A Juke Box” – reveal a warm, smooth voice that we do not usually associate with the comedienne.
Following appearances in two MGM films, “Girl Crazy” and “Broadway Rhythm” in which she sang “Milk Man, Keep Those Bottles Quiet”, Walker returned to Broadway for a succession of extremely successful musicals including “On The Town”, “Look Ma, I’m Dancin'”, “Phoenix ’55” for which she was nominated a Tony award, and “Do Re Me”. She also released a few solo albums, one being the 1955 “I Can Cook Too”, featured on this CD, as well as a hilarious poke at one of the most popular musicals appearing on Broadway at the time, “My Fair Lady”. The good-natured spoof recording was titled “My Square Laddie”, which also featured the talents of Reginald Gardiner and ZaSu Pitts, had the roles of the Cockney flower girl being “taught” how to speak properly by the upper class gentleman reversed and transported to New York. In the sixties she began appearing on TV on a regular basis and even had her own show for one season.
Although her TV successes have obliterated her previous stage stardom and singing talent, this CD release is a charming reminder of Nancy Walker, an extraordinary performer.
1. Overture – Orchestra 4:02
2. What Makes A Limey Talk So Square – Nancy Walker & Zasu Pitts 2:26
3. Oh, To Be Bohemian! – Reginald Gardiner 2:25
4. It’s De Oily Boid – Reginald Gardiner & Nancy Walker 5:40
5. Reprise: It’s De Oily Boid – Reginald Gardiner & Nancy Walker 0:38
6. The Block Where You Rock – Nancy Walker 3:54
7. I Could Have Boozed All Night – Reginald Gardiner 1:52
8. I Gotta Hand It To You – Zasu Pitts & Nancy Walker 2:23
9. I’m Kinda Partial To His Puss – Nancy Walker 3:32Bonus Tracks Sung By Nancy Walker
10. Who Do You Think I Am? 2:53
11. Just A Little Joint With A Juke Box 2:54
12. Ev’ry Time 3:14
13. Shady Lady Bird 2:21
14. I Can Cook Too 2:22
15. Some Other Time 3:50
16. I’m Tired Of Texas 2:41
17. Get Married, Shirley 3:17
18. Down To The Sea 4:35
19. Irving 4:10
20. Milkman, Keep Those Bottles Quiet 1:47
21. Oh, So Nice 2:39
22. The Charade Of The Marionettes 3:06
23. A Funny Heart 2:41
24. My Cousin In Milwaukee 1:55
25. Long Ago And Far Away 2:11