Monday, October 16, 2006
If this ginky guy at your left is not the face of a true character-- I give up. You won't find another like it! Honest! My all time favorite comedy play (other than Neil Simon's genius) is "The Man Who Came to Dinner" written by two of the funniest guys in the business: George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart. The character in that show was named Sheridan Whiteside. The real life guy for whom that character was created in tribute was a New York Theatre Critic named Alexander Woolcott. If there ever in this life was an honest-to-goodness, one hundred percent pure crumegeon --this is he! He was very famous-- and he was very honest! He was the Walter Kerr of the 1940's. You could count on one his reviews as being dead on correct! He once reviewed a Broadway show with ONE WORD-- yep-- and that play was SO BAD that one word review was "OUCH" --in capital letters! I worked the light board at the San Gabriel Little Theatre in 1966. It was here that I learned to love theatre and this was one of the plays that I grew to adore because it's so damn funny and it's so damn universal-- even today! I saw it many times as our group performed it on weekends for about six weeks! I can still see it in my head. You laugh and laugh! Why? Because it's as honest as hell. And honesty (just act ask Neil Simon) is funny! The plot of the play is simple-- a great critic comes to visit a New York City family who has won a contest to receive his visit to that family. Newspapers and the media cover the wonderful event! But he slips and falls on the icy walk as he is leaving and breaks his leg-- forcing said family to nurse him back to health (by threat of a big lawsuit) and waiting on this crudge hand and foot! I real life, Alexander Woolcott was so crusty and grouchy and mean that he was thrown out of two apartments and moved to the most desolate part of New York City so that he never had to deal with people that were in any way related to show business and theatre. The great syndicated columnist, Dorothy Parker called this awful place "Wits End". The funny thing is that Woolcott was the very best friend of Harpo Marx whom Wolcott had given a smash review to the Marx Brothers first show on Broadway! Harpo named one of his adopted kids after him. Some of the things that he said in his columns and reviews are still be used today. Such as:" All the things I really like to do are either immoral, illegal, or fattening." Or
"I'm tired of hearing it said that democracy doesn't work. Of course it doesn't work. We are supposed to work it."
"Many of us spend half of our time wishing for things we could have if we didn't spend half our time wishing."
There is no such thing in anyone's life as an unimportant day.
"A hick town is one where there is no place to go where you shouldn't go."
"The English have an extraordinary ability for flying into a great calm."
And the best one: . "In Life, you gotta take what you can get! Grab the chances as they come along! But for God's sake, don't mourn the chances or the lifestyle that you lost! They're lost, brother-- forever and ever! And you're grieving for them to come back makes you look like an idiot in scak cloth! So be smart! Live your life! Laugh! Be happy! Be impulsive! Act in hallways! Sing in doorways! Dance in cellars! Shout to the moon! Celebrate the sun of every new day! Because if you don't one day the moon and sun are gonna get mad and they just won't shine for you at all-- and that's because you've chased them away once too often by closing the door on their greeting and hiding yourself under the bed!" Wow-- not bad for an old fart! In truth, he simply was this dead honest guy who hated the arrogant, the selfish, the vain, the pessimist and the bad actor! Hey-- I'm not to fond of those types, myself! Today is also the birthday of Oscar Wilde. Born in 1854 and the first to be bold enough to declare himself bi-sexual. You remember the famous quote "He had the love that dared not speak it's name! Ah yes! The picture on the right of the blog page is his college age picture. Boy, this guy was a hottie! Happy birthday also to Angela Lansbury who turns 81 this day! Today was also opening night for Judy Garland at the Palace Theatre in 1951. She was a smash! Hit that is! On a personal note John's mother is coming to town on the 19th and John and I are taking her for her first visit to Disneyland-- well that should be fun! That's it for now!