Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Housewife Superstar

Oh, dear - time in its flight; Edith Bunker is 87 years old today. Rather, of course, the great lady who played her, Jean Stapleton, has reached that great age.

All in the Family and being Edith may have been what made Stapleton a household name, but real Jeanketeers love her best as another memorable New Yorker: Sue, proprietrix of Susanswerphone, in the treasurable musical (stage and film) Bells are Ringing. She plays the voice of reason - never an easy thing in a musical comedy - and does so in a way that only sets off sweetly, wildly anarchic Judy Holliday to even better advantage.

Once upon a time (and you will forgive me if I stroll down Memory Lane, won't you?), back when I was doing my Birdie Coogan impression and being amanuensis to a Personage of the Theatre, I was on dressing-room door duty. My Personage was not the fastest of changers, and so quite a group would sometimes form to say good evening and (a vanishing phenomenon, I think, however familiar from the pictures) have a drink or two. I had just put my head out and been encouraging to the dozen or so people waiting, when what felt like just seconds later there was a firm rap at the door.

I was busy, dammit, and it was with rather too much force that I threw the door open with something likely along the lines of "What?" Collecting myself, I looked...up. Standing there was a very tall and, briefly, very apologetic lady. Briefly, because within nanoseconds I was falling over to (a) frantically apologize and (b) not make a total fool of myself in front of Sue. She was far nicer than I deserved - what with her having known my Personage for significantly longer than, at that point, I had been alive and all - and the evening went uphill from there.

I think some of the other people who'd been waiting felt quite put out that I wasn't nearly as flustered by them. What can I say? They never spent any time on the same switchboard as Our Lady of the Bonjour Tristesse Brassiere Company...


  1. mrs. putch is a lovely lady.

    wv: "dipsiven"......possibly a 21st century dingbat?

  2. She was indeed lovely, that evening and several times thereafter, although it always seemed surprising that she was so worldly, intelligent, and at times sharp-tongued. I mean, one knew she wasn't Edith, but still...