|This article needs additional citations for verification. (March 2010)|
February 25, 1925
Charleroi, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Died||November 11, 1990
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Robert Wells (1949-1990; her death)|
Born as Elsie Kirk in Brownsville, Pennsylvania, she was raised in Roscoe, PA. Her Roscoe home later became the Hotel Roscoe. She enrolled as a law student at the University of Pittsburgh but abandoned her studies when she was offered a spot in the chorus line at the Versailles nightclub in Manhattan.
She made her Broadway debut in Allegro in 1947, and the following year gained critical acclaim for her performance as Lois Lane/Bianca in Kiss Me, Kate. In Mack and Mabel (1974), she played an older actress who becomes a star tap dancer, and was noted by Clive Barnes to be "particularly fine". Additional Broadway credits include Here's Love (1963), Me Jack, You Jill (closed during previews in 1976), and a 1984 revival of Noël Coward's Design for Living.
Lisa Kirk's only feature film work was done behind-the-scenes, dubbing all of Rosalind Russell's singing in Gypsy (except for ""Mr. Goldstone" and the first half of "Rose's Turn"). It was rumored that she had also dubbed Lucille Ball's singing voice in Mame, but Ball denied this on The Merv Griffin Show, saying "[S]he's not dubbing my voice because no one can."
Kirk was active in the early days of television, appearing in such anthology series as Studio One, Kraft Television Theatre, The Colgate Comedy Hour, and General Electric Theater. In later years she guested on Bewitched and The Courtship of Eddie's Father, as well as variety series like The Ed Sullivan Show, The Hollywood Palace, and The Dean Martin Show.
Kirk frequently appeared at the Persian Room in the Plaza Hotel. She also appeared at the Rainbow and Stars, New York, nightclub. In a review of her act at Rainbow and Stars in April 1989, the New York Times critic John S. Wilson opined that Kirk's "long career has given her polish, presence and a solid foundation of songs by Rodgers and Hammerstein, Cole Porter and Jerry Herman with which she is associated. She has maintained such a trim structure that she can do justice to a song called Is That Really Her Figure?" And although her voice may not be as full-bodied as it once was, she has a warm, easy projection that gives sensitivity and color to her songs."
In addition to her appearances on original cast albums and compilations of Broadway performances, she recorded a number of solo recordings, including I Feel A Song Comin' On and Lisa Kirk Sings At The Plaza.
Kirk will likely be best known for her role in the original Broadway production of Cole Porter's long-running musical, Kiss Me, Kate. Bloom and Vlastnik wrote in their compendium entitled Broadway Musicals: the 101 Greatest Shows of All Time that Kirk "hit the jackpot again", introducing "Why Can't You Behave" and "Always True to You (in My Fashion)". Another popular number was the upbeat "Tom, Dick or Harry", performed with Harold Lang as Lucentio, Edwin Clay as Gremio and Charles Wood as Hortensio (suitors to Kirk's "Bianca"). Lewis Nichols writes: "Having startled the town last season by singing 'The Gentleman is a Dope' as though she meant it, Miss Kirk is captivating ... this year as a fully accredited hoyden with a sense of humor."
She was married to sketch artist and famed songwriter Robert Wells (1922–1998) from 1949 until her death in 1990. They had no children. Wells co-wrote "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)" with Mel Torme.
- Bloom, Ken and Vlastnik, Frank. Broadway Musicals: the 101 Greatest Shows of All Time. Black Dog Publishing, 2004, ISBN 1-57912-390-2, p. 173
- Lisa Kirk biography bigbandsandbignames.com, retrieved March 18, 2010
- Blau, Eleanor.ObituaryThe New York Times, November 13, 1990
- Barnes, Clive. "Mack & Mabel and Silent Film Era", The New York Times, October 7, 1974, p. 54
- Producer Adela Holzer closed "'Me Jack, You Jill' Sunday, after 16 preview performances, in the aftermath of her dismissal of the show's director..Co-stars Silvia Sidney, Lisa Kirk, Barbara Baxley and Rusty Thacker." Johnston, Laurie. "Notes on People", The New York Times, March 12, 1976, p. 37
- Broadway ibdb.com, retrieved March 18, 2010
- Gypsy cduniverse.com, retrieved March 18, 2010
- Gypsy sondheimguide.com, retrieved March 18, 2010
- American Film Institute. The American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures. University of California Press, 1997, ISBN 0-520-20970-2, p.444
- Karol, Michael.Lucy A to Z: The Lucille Ball Encyclopedia. iUniverse, 2004, ISBN 0-595-29761-7, p. 295
- Kirk television imdb.com, retrieved March 18, 2010
- Wilson, John S.Review/Cabaret; Lisa Kirk Sings and JokesThe New York Times, April 21, 1989
- Lisa Kirk I Feel A Song Comin' On CD cduniverse.com, retrieved March 18, 2010
- Lisa Kirk Sings At The Plaza barnesandnoble.com, retrieved March 18, 2010
- Bloom and Vlastnik, p. 173
- White, David M. Popular Culture, "Music in the Air" (chapter), Ayer Publishing, 1975, ISBN 0-405-06649-X, p. 116
- Vosburgh, Dick.Obituary: Robert WellsThe Independent, October 27, 1998
- Lisa Kirk at the Internet Broadway Database
- Lisa Kirk at the Internet Movie Database
- Remembering Lisa Kirk