Friday, March 8, 2013

Birthday Girl: A Name Below the Title

Because it's her birthday today (she's 77, and still I'm sure a spritely presence), let's spend a moment thinking about Sue Ane Langdon. Who?  Exactly.  I'm always interested in the kind of performer who can work for years, and steadily, and even in high-profile vehicles (she made two Elvis pictures, which has to be worth something) and yet not really register in any meaningful way.

Sue Ane (Wikipedia claims she's a staple of crosswords because of the unusual spelling of her name; I'm an enthusiast and have no awareness of this) started out in early TV in the late '50s and kept at it until a stint on General Hospital in the earliest '90s.  In between she has a slew of credits, a great many of which are entirely redolent of their era:  from Love, American Style to The Love Boat, not to mention titles as diverse as The Andy Griffith Show, Bonanza, Ironside, The Wide World of Mystery, Three's Company, and Hart to Hart.  On film, in addition to the Elvii, she supported Walter Matthau in A Guide to the Married Man at one end of her career and Weird Al Yankovic in UHF at the other - not exactly the most toothsome brace of leading men.  She deserved better.

Cute and buxom rather than really beautiful, when photographed well she resembles a curvier Doris Day; when badly, an unfortunate combination of Shelley Winters and Micky Rooney.  After her turn as a sexy secretary in A Fine Madness (where she finally got a little eye candy - the star was Sean Connery*), she became an early mainstream name to pose for Playboy. She even did a little stage work, including a Broadway credit (late in the run of The Apple Tree in '67) and as one of the legion of great and good names who popped up in regional theatres as Dolly Levi.  She worked hard, appears to have had a conventional and happy enough private life, and now lives, one hopes contentedly, in retirement.

And that's really about all there is to say, on the face of it.  Still, one can't help but think it might be fascinating to sit down with someone like Miss Langdon, a public name with no real public presence, a kind of blonde Zelig who could probably tell us volumes about what it was like to be there, from Elvis to the soundstages of '70s TV films (that period's counterpart to earlier B-movies) and beyond.  Maybe she'll write a memoir and tell us all...

* In all fairness, she got her first on-screen credit against Tony Curtis in The Great Imposter, so even putting Connery aside, it wasn't all trolls, cinematically speaking...


  1. Elvis was said to have slept with every co-star, save one (MTM herself), so one wonders what Sue Ane would indeed have to say about The King.

    Russell Johnson, from Gilligan's Island may well be her male counterpart (albeit known for one role). His career overlapped him with old Hollywood and television through several eras.

    The silent perennials are a delicious species; as a group, most quietly keeping their stories to themselves. That of course is a pity to the curious sorts of men like us.

    Enjoying your blog, and your man's elbow (a bit more than one should).

  2. I remember her in a slightly less obscure way. When I was a kid I was a fan of the short lived TV series "Arnie" with Herschel Bernardi and she and never missed an episode. Because of that I've always noticed when she's popped up in other things. Other than that show I don't recall her as a regular on anything else but she was busy in small parts. In particular I remember her in a lot of 60's movies in which she had sky high, ultra teased frosted hair and a high pitched oddly accented voice.

    I'm not a big crossword puzzle fan but will attempt simpler ones now and then, including the one in the TV guide and I suppose those are the ones they were referring to because she does come up as a clue there fairly frequently.