Friday, March 8, 2013
Birthday Girl: A Name Below the Title
Because it's her birthday today (she's 77, and still I'm sure a spritely presence), let's spend a moment thinking about Sue Ane Langdon. Who? Exactly. I'm always interested in the kind of performer who can work for years, and steadily, and even in high-profile vehicles (she made two Elvis pictures, which has to be worth something) and yet not really register in any meaningful way.
Sue Ane (Wikipedia claims she's a staple of crosswords because of the unusual spelling of her name; I'm an enthusiast and have no awareness of this) started out in early TV in the late '50s and kept at it until a stint on General Hospital in the earliest '90s. In between she has a slew of credits, a great many of which are entirely redolent of their era: from Love, American Style to The Love Boat, not to mention titles as diverse as The Andy Griffith Show, Bonanza, Ironside, The Wide World of Mystery, Three's Company, and Hart to Hart. On film, in addition to the Elvii, she supported Walter Matthau in A Guide to the Married Man at one end of her career and Weird Al Yankovic in UHF at the other - not exactly the most toothsome brace of leading men. She deserved better.
Cute and buxom rather than really beautiful, when photographed well she resembles a curvier Doris Day; when badly, an unfortunate combination of Shelley Winters and Micky Rooney. After her turn as a sexy secretary in A Fine Madness (where she finally got a little eye candy - the star was Sean Connery*), she became an early mainstream name to pose for Playboy. She even did a little stage work, including a Broadway credit (late in the run of The Apple Tree in '67) and as one of the legion of great and good names who popped up in regional theatres as Dolly Levi. She worked hard, appears to have had a conventional and happy enough private life, and now lives, one hopes contentedly, in retirement.
And that's really about all there is to say, on the face of it. Still, one can't help but think it might be fascinating to sit down with someone like Miss Langdon, a public name with no real public presence, a kind of blonde Zelig who could probably tell us volumes about what it was like to be there, from Elvis to the soundstages of '70s TV films (that period's counterpart to earlier B-movies) and beyond. Maybe she'll write a memoir and tell us all...
* In all fairness, she got her first on-screen credit against Tony Curtis in The Great Imposter, so even putting Connery aside, it wasn't all trolls, cinematically speaking...