Younger than springtime

November 07, 1990|By The New York Times

LITTLE KIDS are lucky. They can see as well as hear her joyous "I'm Flying" in the videotape of "Peter Pan." But we older kids know what they don't, that Mary Martin had a life in the theater before she played the boy who never grew up.

And darn! don't we wish we could watch her again in "One Touch of Venus," as she tells the world "That's Him." Or reminding us, in "Lute Song," to "Speak low -- When you speak love." Above all, wouldn't it be swell to see her wash that man right out of her hair? And name a few of her favorite things?

Somebody else played Nellie Forbush in the film of "South Pacific," and somebody else played Maria von Trapp in the film of "The Sound of Music," and maybe Mary Martin didn't care. She was a Broadway Baby, after all, and disliked making movies. But we care. Because looking at Mary Martin was as delightful as listening to her.

We wish we could stick a cassette in the VCR and see her, all legs and innocence and bunny fur, caroling that her heart belongs to Daddy. In a sailor suit that was thrice too big, singing about a girl named Honey-Bun who was "a hundred and one pounds of fun." In governess garb teaching the von Trapp children their do-re-mi's.

And what we wouldn't give to have a tape of Mary Martin and Ethel Merman, one of the few performers who played in the same league, sitting on tall stools 37 years ago for a TV spectacular and showing the audience what show biz was all about.

Still, some of us have our memories and many of us have her wonderful recordings and all of us can have "Peter Pan." Press a button and there she is: singing and soaring and younger than springtime. For all time.

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