Sunday, May 25, 2008

Birthday Trifecta

Too much richness to choose from today on the birthday front, so I didn't.

Instead, let's just spend a few minutes thinking about three very different careers. Two of our ladies have moved on to thrill audiences in the great beyond; the last is still on this mortal plane (as much as anyone recently touring in Hello, Dolly! can be).


When I was a child - an Opera Princess, as it were - I was fascinated by Beverly Sills - so American! So Funny! But so... Operatic! I did see her, once, in Philadelphia, in The Barber of Seville. How much yet more sublime it would have been had it been, as here, as Elisabetta in Roberto Devereux.*

Sills joins the inevitable Miss Davis as the only, to me, truly convincing Elizabeths (yes, I'm looking at you, Miss Blanchett; Dame Judi's turn was a camp, and so doesn't really count).


Jeanne Crain may hold a somewhat less superstellar place in the celebrity firmament, but it was a fine enough career, the stuff of Photoplay covers if not all that much more, really.

I was going to write that at least she escaped, unlike many of her contemporaries, making a late-career shocker. Then I discovered she in fact headlined what must be a nifty little picture, one that although forgotten now is, titlewise, right up there with the best of the worst: 1971's The Night God Screamed. One can only imagine.


Finally, a Great Lady of the Stage, still trouping: Miss Leslie Uggams. It was never as big a career as it could have been (she is big; it's the musicals that got small), but she's working, and there's a lesson for us there somewhere, kiddies.

*Remind me someday to tell you my story about Beverly Sills's ring. Total diva heaven.

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