“The Last Time I Saw Texas” — 1953/58

by Paula Bosse

neiman-marcus_texas-mapThat “X” is in the wrong spot, y’all…. (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Before I begin, I offer apologies in advance to Oscar Hammerstein II (original lyricist of “The Last Time I Saw Paris”), NeimanMarcus (with or without the hyphen), haters of Texas stereotypes, and, especially, Fort Worth.

In a Dallas item connected with “Independence Day” in only the most tangential way possible, I thought I’d share a little cabaret song I stumbled across today whilst rummaging through the internet. It’s a humorously re-written version of the Academy Award-winning hit song “The Last Time I Saw Paris,” (…um, the one in FRANCE….), written in 1940 by Oscar Hammerstein II (lyrics) and Jerome Kern (music).

Partial lyrics were reported by Earl Wilson in his syndicated gossip/entertainment column, “Broadway Last Night,” twice — first in 1953, after he’d seen Juliana Larson sing it at the Sherry Netherland Hotel, then later, in 1958, after he’d heard Connie Moore sing it at the St. Regis Maisonette. Both women had Texas ties (Constance Moore actually grew up in Dallas), so I’m sure both enjoyed singing the ditty (in what one hopes was in an ever-so-amusing sophisticated style, à la Noël Coward).

At the Neiman-Marcus store
They sell the usual furs
And the cutest children’s Cadillacs
And yachts marked “His” and “Hers.”

The last time I saw Texas
And the oil was in her hills,
The kiddies bought their lunch at school
With hundred-dollar bills.

The last time I saw Texas,
All Dallas was so gay,
We’d burned Fort Worth to the ground
On Independence Day.

Happy Independence Day, Fort Worth!

***

Listen to Noël Coward sing “The Last Time I Saw Paris” (before FW was being burned to the ground), here.

Juliana Larson (aka Juliana Bernhardt) was a former John Powers model who married wealthy Houston oilman Walter Bedford Sharp, Jr. (whose father was a business partner with Howard Hughes’ father). She started in light opera in Texas and moved on to New York nightclubs. She seems to be known mostly as the wife of a Texas oilman and a permanent fixture on Best Dressed lists. She horrified everyone when she showed up to a Metropolitan Opera opening night wearing trousers — see her delighting in the publicity she received from that, in Life magazine (Nov. 24, 1952), here.

Constance Moore was born in Iowa but grew up and began her career in Dallas. More about her here and here; glamour photos here.

The “Texas” lyrics were reported by Earl Wilson to have been written by David Roger (for Juliana Larson, in 1953) and by Earl Brent (for Connie Moore, in 1958). The partial lyrics Wilson quoted in 1953 and 1958 were the same. …So there you go. (I changed the order of one line, because it seems that Wilson got the lines of the first verse in the wrong order.)

I’m not sure where I found that Neiman’s map, but it’s cool. (Why IS the “X “is the hinterlands, anyway?)

Enjoy your 4th of July weekend! And don’t burn anything down!

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Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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