Thursday, October 10, 2013

Birthday Girl(s): The Thespic Spectrum

Miss Helen Hayes, First Lady of the American Theatre (seen here as HIM Maria Feodorovna, Dowager Empress of Russia) turns a spry 113 today.  That is not in itself remarkable.

No, what's remarkable is that this woman, long considered the brightest light on Broadway and no mean slouch, for that matter, in movieland (She nabbed her Oscar early on and was for decades a prestige fixture in Hollywood, the first of the Very Special Guest Stars) shares her birthday with someone who for a while looked set to shoot to the very far opposite extreme - the volatile, ridiculous, and deeply, deeply untalented Miss Bai Ling.  She's calmed down lately, but her name on a cast list is still a signal mark of crapulence.

As if that didn't drag the cosmos off its axis far enough, Guess who they share the day with?  Why someone who looked almost as good in a tight sweater as ol' Bai - unlikely posthumous cult favorite Ed Wood.  If only he'd had the chance to work with Hayes instead of so many of his era's Bai Lings, imagine what might have been.

On the other hand, maybe we're all just better off admiring Helen's way with a sash...


  1. The winds of chance do lead to odd match ups come birthday time. To use an upcoming example on the 16th of this month we have literary giants Oscar Wilde & Eugene O'Neill, great ladies of entertainment Linda Darnell & Angela Lansbury and along with all that awesomeness they are joined by that towering thespian and proponent of the thighmaster Suzanne Somers!! God laughs.

    Sorry I never saw Miss Hayes on stage for while I enjoyed her later film work I have to honestly say she was not ideally suited to the screen when young. I've seen Sin of Madelon Claudet, there are moments where she is transcendent and achingly real however there are also times where she's playing to a none existent third balcony. That held true in the few other early films of hers that I've viewed. However around the time of Anastasia she seems to have picked up the less is more knack of film acting.

    1. Her role in Anastasia, of course, allows for some of the Great Lady moments that were her forte - I still, after countless viewings, find the ending thrilling...

  2. I adored her in "The Snoop Sisters" with Mildred Natwick... Jx