Wednesday, October 1, 2014

What's My Wednesdays? #12: Fair Lady

This delightful (if, as captured in the screen cap above, rather intent-looking) creature brightened up a dreary February Sunday evening for television watchers nationwide - 54 years ago.  Today, Dame Julie Andrews turns a still-sprightly 79.

Things I particularly adore about this segment:  Julie's unabashed girlishness - and her gloves.  And her portrait neckline.  The audience's gleeful cheer as she enters.  John Daly's oh-so-pleased expression when at last her name is guessed.  And, not least, Miss Arlene's remarkable necklace.  Even Dorothy's all-wrong coiffure (one of so many for that poor dear) can't offset the overall charm.

A little digging around reveals that this episode (which at full-length also includes a horse-blanket maker and a lady professional skindiver) was the beloved series 500th.  The (to me at least) real mystery is who exactly was guest panelist Martyn Green; it turns out that he was a distinguished Savoyard and a sort of ambassador of all things Gilbert-and-Sullivan to the U.S. from the mid-'50s to the mid-'60s America's pet high-cult TV Brit.  It doesn't come into play here, but he also had only one leg, courtesy of a rather gruesome elevator accident and an on-the-spot improvised amputation, all in the year before he guested on What's My Line?

But that seems quite far away here, just another night in perhaps the most civilized program ever.  As one of the most endearing - and enduring - of stars, Dame Julie seems right at home.  And is there anyone on earth today who can say "enchanting!" quite like Miss Arlene?


  1. Mr Green certainly was made of stern stuff: "An ambulance intern from India, Dr. P. Shamsuddin, borrowed a pocket knife from a police officer to perform the operation without anaesthesia. Green sued the garage company, but the case was dismissed. According to Time Magazine, he was operating the [vehicle] elevator himself because he didn't trust the garage attendants to park his M.G. sports car. Eight months later, using a prosthetic limb, he appeared as W. S. Gilbert in the musical 'Knights of Song' in St. Louis."


    PS Happy birthday, Dame Julie!

  2. I was a big fan of Julie's while growing up and right up through Victor/Victoria in the early 80's. I loved her movies and adored the TV specials with Carol Burnett and everyone else.

    And then somewhere in the 90's (as also seemed to happen with Ms. Burnett) the years of accolades seemed to go to her head. I refer to her now rather sarcastically as Queen Julie. I think I'm in the minority with my feelings on this, but she just seems a bit too full of herself. A touch too regal. Too Grande Dame-ish for me.

    1. It's hard to disagree - of late she's gotten distinctly more enduring than endearing.

      It's not helping that after decades of being almost entireless changeless, she's getting that slightly desperate-feeling look of "agelessness" that recalls unfortunate earlier examples like latest-period Marlene Dietrich, with a helping of Crawford's iron-edged graciousness thrown in for good measure...