Featuring birthday girl Miss Charlotte Rae!
La Rae may be familiar to most these days primarily from her long sitcom stints in the '80s, but she's been running around in show biz since the glory days of Manhattan nightlife, sharing bills back then at places like the Blue Angel with the likes of Nichols and May and that slip of a girl from Brooklyn with the big nose. Cabaret took her into theatre, usually of an eccentric sort, and television gave her a place in the movies (I'm particularly fond of her too-brief appearance in Hair).
James Gavin, in his Intimate Nights: The Golden Age of New York Cabaret (as close a thing as there is to an authoritative tome on the subject), admires Rae's professionalism, saying "she could handle a wider variety of material than any other comedienne" of the era. At the same time, he doesn't soft-soap the fact that, personally, she was a far cry from the plump maternal figure she later played on TV. He quotes a producer who told him "She was hard as nails. She told me once, 'I don't have any friends, and I don't want any.' She hated other women performers, and they hated her."
Watching her here, those other ladies must have hoped this commercial would go all Janet Leigh on her all of a sudden. There they'd be disappointed, but to those of us with a less jaundiced view, she seems pretty delightful, here and any other place she pops up - even if there isn't gold enough in the world to induce me to watch The Facts of Life.