It was sad news this morning when I awoke to hear Rue McClanahan had passed away very early in the morning hours today. Rue is best known for her role as Blanche Devereaux on the television series Golden Girls. Hard to believe now, but at the time the show was very controversial for its depicting an older generation of women as being sexually active, and the character Blanche was the most hot-to-trot of the four women in the cast.
Rue started appearing in film and television roles in the early 1960’s and had become a staple on television since the 1970s where she joined Bea Arthur on Maude as Vivian Harmon. She later became a regular for first season of Mama’s Family which was spun off of the Carol Burnett Show before Rue landed the role she would most be recognized for. Initially the producers of the show wanted Rue for the role of Rose as the character was similar to the one she played in Maude. Betty White was originally courted for the role of Blanche as it was very similar to her role as Sue Ann Nivans in the legendary Mary Tyler Moore Show. Fortunately, Rue and Betty weren’t interested in retreading characters similar to what they’ve done in the past and swapped the roles and the show and the show became legendary reaching audiences well outside of just the older crowd.
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Last night I attended an “Ugly Sweater Party” at the home of a local friend, Mike Kurtz. The premise of the party is that you’re suppose to find an ugly sweater or sweatshirt to wear to the party. You have the option of buying something new that’s hideous or comb the racks of the local thrift stores to find something ugly. It’s just a fun excuse to have a great theme party.
The party is also a pot luck of sorts and I brought some cookies. I didn’t have time to make some sugar free ones so I just bought some pre-made cookie dough packages from the supermarket and baked those up for the party. Pretty quick and easy. Some people did some creative things, such as one person brought a whole plate of olives that were creatively stacked and stuffed with some carrots and cream to look like penguins. Mike and his partner Ian had wonderful meatballs for the party.
To compliment the theme of ugly sweaters, one of the worst television holiday specials ever was screened. It’s the 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special. It’s so bad that George Lucas has said if he had the time and a hammer he would track down every bootleg recording of it and smash it. And yes, it was horrible. I’m amazed they got the original actors to consent to making this steaming pile of crap holiday special. The sets looked terrible. The costumes were pretty bad, especially the Wookies that made up the rest of Chewbacca’s family. Even the animation for the cartoon segment introducing Boba Fett was bad too.
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Last week when I was introduced to Rosalind Russell’s “Auntie Mame” film from 1958, one of the hosts of the screening referred to the Lucille Ball lead musical version simply called “Mame” from 1974 as an abomination. Naturally, I felt obligated to see for myself how allegedly terrible this version is. And I didn’t find it horrible at all, in fact I quite enjoyed it.
To preface seeing both films, I should admit, I was actually introduced to the Original Broadway Cast recording by my Australian friend, Graeme Read, who is a big fan of the song “Open A New Window” and as a result of his introducing me to the song, I’ve actually had the cast album for a number of years now. I knew of Angela Landsbury through the “Murder She Wrote” series and Bea Arthur through both “Maude” and “The Golden Girls.” Also my grandmother looked a lot like Bea Arthur, I’ve always felt like anything Bea did was a larger than life version of my grandma. So anytime I see Bea Arthur on “The Golden Girls” or play a song from “Mame” I am always reminded of my grandma.
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Last night I attended another “Economy DVD Night” get together at the apartment shared by my friends Mike Yada and Jeffrey “J.P.” Pohlmann. About 15 of us or so showed up for the get together. The movie of the evening was “Auntie Mame” starring Rosalind Russell, the 1958 film based the original stage play, not the 1974 movie musical version entitled “Mame.”
I’ve not seen either film before, but apparently the musical version on film is referred to as an abomination by one of our hosts of the evening and the movie was not allowed to be mentioned. Apparently that’s due to Lucille Ball in the title role. Despite the ban on the subject, following the movie we viewed the trailers for both films as they were both on the DVD as extras. It was discussed that the musical version definitely had some good songs and of course, Bea Arthur. Maybe if they had gotten Angela Landsbury from the Original Broadway cast of the musical version it wouldn’t have been so derided. I have the Original Broadway cast album for it, and I quite like the banter between Angela and Bea. Might just have to give it a rent to see how bad it really is.
Continue reading Introduced To Film Classic Auntie Mame
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