My Wild Irish Rose

Photo of Andrea King surrounded by a group of chorus girls in "My Wild Irish Rose." Warner Bros., 1947.

Andrea King surrounded by a group of chorus girls in “My Wild Irish Rose.” Warner Bros., 1947.

“My Wild Irish Rose” (Warner Bros., 1947) was an unusual project for Andrea King in many respects. It was her first Technicolor film, it was also the first time she would sing and dance in a motion picture musical, and it was her first movie at Warner Bros. after having just been released from her studio contract. To top it off, Andrea was rushed into it as a last-minute replacement for another actress who had already begun work on the film.

Andrea played turn-of-the-20th-century Broadway legend Lillian Russell in this period picture, a bio-musical inspired by the life of famed Irish tenor Chauncy Olcott. Rehearsals began immediately, and they were long and intense, particularly for the opening number, “Come Down, Ma Evenin’ Star,” featuring a stage full of chorus men and women all whirling and swirling around a bejeweled Andrea. Fortunately for them, Andrea had extensive dance training as a child and surprised the film’s choreographer LeRoy Prinz with her ability. He immediately began restaging the number to feature her newly discovered talent. The singing for Lillian’s numbers had been pre-recorded by a “ghost singer” for the previous actress connected to the film. And although Andrea was herself enough of a singer to have pulled it off, there was no time to re-record any of the songs. As it turned out, the dubbed singing voice was a perfect match for Andrea’s own speaking voice, so further recording sessions were deemed unnecessary.

Andrea was teamed once again with Dennis Morgan, who played Chauncy Olcott. This wasn’t the first time the two had appeared opposite each other in a biographical picture. They were seen as husband and wife in the World War II drama based on the then-recent heroic experiences of Lt. Robert L. Scott, entitled “God Is My Co-Pilot,” a huge hit for Warners in 1945.

“My Wild Irish Rose” also introduced the lovely Arlene Dahl to audiences as its leading lady Rose. And there was terrific support from a stable of character actors, such as Ben Blue, William (“Fred Mertz”) Frawley, Alan Hale, George O’Brien, Don McGuire, George Tobias, and the incomparable Sara Allgood (“How Green Was My Valley”) as Chauncy’s mother.

The film was honored with a 1947 Academy Award nomination for its delightful song-filled score, adapted by Max Steiner and Ray Heindorf.


Watch the trailer for “My Wild Irish Rose” on YouTube now:

 

Watch the the opening scene of “My Wild Irish Rose,” featuring Andrea King as Lillian Russell, on YouTube now: