She'd show up the damnedest places - as, for example, in a TV movie, played by Mrs. Dick Cavett.
Or as part of the one-man repertory company that is the legendary Jim Bailey.
The essentials of the impersonation are consistent: the sweep of hair and slash of lipstick; cigarette of course; frequently a mink, for clutching and throwing off the shoulders; most generally a cocktail...
She can be played younger, with a dose of the glamour that dominated her life in the '20s and '30s (Miss Kathleen Turner seems altogether too gamine for the part, but the setting is suitably deco)...
Or older, dire and in her cups - although here, Miss Valerie Harper looks less Talluvian than like Mayor Rudi Giuliani on a bad night.
She's been played by the great - as here, by illusionist supreme Mr. Charles Pierce (we saw him do Tallu, darlings, yonks ago, and were greatly
And she's been played by the simply inevitable - is there a one-woman show that Tovah Feldshuh hasn't done? I'd look it up to make sure, but frankly I don't want my suspicions that this was a musical confirmed.
She's most recently been taken up as the subject for their ongoing cabaret/drag/performance art act by the duo who give this post its title. They venture pretty far afield from the source material, but the fundamentals - liquor, lipstick, excess, and a knack for the outrageous - are true to life.
What makes it work - whether for a roadshow turn like Harper's or Feldshuh's or for the alchemy of Pierce - is that the lady herself rose above the persona, or rather inhabited it so fully and unstintingly, with a talent and a kind of greatness of spirit that shine through, on some level, even the broadest burlesque, even the ones (and they were many, too many for the good of her reputation as an artist) she inflicted on herself.
Ah, but on a good night - I have been assured by Ones Who Were There - ah, then the angels sang. I've heard it on good authority that on some nights, during her too-short run in a revival of The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore, she could by sheer force of personality and utter fabulosity, strike gay not only the entire audience, but passers-by of the Brooks Atkinson Theatre for a distance of up to two blocks.
She's a kind they just don't make these days, but at least we can enjoy, to varying extents, the ways that others bring bits of her to life...