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Today I learned, while reading Anything Goes: A History of American Musical Theatre, by Ethan Mordden, that the origin novel of the famous musical Showboat is by the same author as the origin novel of the 1931 Academy Award winner for Best Picture, CIMARRON.

Quite frankly, that explains a lot about both.

Edna Ferber’s stories, apparently, were known for featuring strong women and weak, beautiful men.  In both cases, the woman marries a man (against at least one parent’s wishes) who seems like a dashing hero, and finds herself pretty much having to fend for herself.  In the case of CIMARRON, Sabra and her children are abandoned for years at a time, victims of her husband’s wanderlust.  In Showboat, as I recall, Magnolia marries Ravenal, and after a few years of increasingly difficult circumstances resulting from Ravenal’s addiction to gambling, Ravenal flees because of his sense of shame at not being able to provide for wife and daughter.

In both stories, the woman goes on to make a vast success of herself. Sabra heads up a publishing empire and eventually goes into politics, while Magnolia becomes a wildly successful singer and actress.  In both cases, when the husband resurfaces after an absence of over TWENTY YEARS, the wife joyfully welcomes him back.

I have no real point to make – I just thought it was an interesting bit of trivia and it explained why CIMARRON felt vaguely familiar, as if I’d heard that story before.