BiographyPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
The reigning musical diva of her time, opulent Broadway star/comedienne Vivienne Segal received surprisingly short shrift when it came to Hollywood offers (she made only five musical films during the 1930s) and is now probably less regarded today due to the snub. Prodded by a typical stage mother who took quick notice of her daughter's budding soprano voice, Vivienne was on stage by age 15 and found her early claim to fame as one of the Big Apple's most popular ingénues. Read more... Little Whopper (1918), The Yankee Princess (1922) and Florida Girl (1925). A scene-stealing role came her way playing "Constance" in Florenz Ziegfeld Jr.'s 1928 production of Rudolf Friml's "The Three Musketeers". Hollywood perked its ears as a result and Warner Bros. signed her on for their early-sound pre-Code musical vehicles in 1930. Song of the West, Bride of the Regiment and Golden Dawn all came out that year and all failed miserably, the last one considered one of Hollywood's biggest musical turkeys of all time. Vivienne fared a bit better in her fourth musical film of that year, the Romberg-Hammerstein operetta Viennese Nights (1930), but, save for supporting Jeanette MacDonald and Ramon Novarro in a vampish role in 1934's The Cat and the Fiddle (1934), she gave up on the cinema, altogether. Ironically, Vivienne's best years were yet to come when she made a triumphant return to Broadway with a fresh cutting-edge image. Rodgers & Hart's "I Married an Angel (1938) in which she sang "Spring Is Here" reopened the doors and her witty interpretation of "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" as socialite "Vera Simpson" in "Pal Joey" relit her star all over. Smart, elegant and devilishly dry, the 1943 revival of Lorenz Hart's "A Connecticut Yankee" allowed Vivienne to play the particularly deadly "Morgan le Fey". She gave a deliciously wicked rendering of the song "To Keep My Love Alive" in which she expounds on her various husbands' unfortunate but necessary demises. Once briefly wed to romantic leading man Robert Ames (1889-1931) in the 1920s, she later married writer/producer/TV executive Hubbell Robinson, Jr. They separated in 1962 but never divorced. He died in 1974. Vivienne spent her remaining years away from the limelight in a modest Hollywood home. She died at age 95 in 1992.