Sunday, June 21, 2015

Whatever Happened to Finnan Haddie?

Here to celebrate this festive day we have an old familiar number in what I imagine is a rather unfamiliar setting.  As Mr. Cole Porter rolls in his grave, the one and only Miss Violetta Villas and her Double-Knit Dancers give us their interpretation of "My Heart Belongs to Daddy."

I think it's safe to say that Mary Martin has nothing to worry about.  The tempestuous Polish songbird (who always, to me, looks like nothing so much as the result of Dalida, Jayne Mansfield, and Jan Crouch being thrown into a blender) brings to this (as to so much) a certain energy, but the dancers seem to have met only moments before this 1970 broadcast.  It's worth sitting through all of it, though, if only to catch the near-miss wig catch at the end...

I'll be honest:  this isn't my favorite holiday.  Since earliest childhood, my father and I have had at best a sort of nodding relationship. It is one that was not, as you might imagine, enhanced by the memorable moment fifteen years ago when he mentioned to us siblings, in an offhand sort of way, his intention to announce his engagement... at our mother's funeral lunch.  His reasoning, he told us as we entered the restaurant, was that everyone would already be gathered together, and it would save on having to send anything formal by post.  

The whole situation was not significantly improved on being introduced to the blushing bride (who'd been waiting in the cocktail bar, a locale with which she demonstrated a certain familiarity), a person of substantial embonpoint and an unfortunate tendency to sign her name with a heart over the final "i" (hint: it's not a name that should end with an "i" in the first place).  It all came as rather a surprise, and nothing has been quite the same since.  She's no Violetta, I'll grant you that, but given that Mother from a distance might have been mistaken for Mary Martin, it was all very definitely a change.

So, yeah... me and fathers, not so much.  Now daddies, though - that's a different story altogether...

Damn.  It's always dangerous to tread on other people's territory, for on checking I see quite predictably that The Redundant Variety Hour has beat me to the punch, by a good three years.  Well, Thombeau didn't bring any family drama, so I've still got that.  If you're still hungering for a little seasonal Cole Porter, by the bye, the YouTube boasts not one but two iterations by Miss Martin:  the more familiar one from Night and Day, which more or less replicates her stage version, and a distinctly more stylish take from 1940's Love Thy Neighbor, of which I have to admit I've never heard.  There's also a memorable take, from the 1982 Tony Awards, in which Cher gives the whole Eskimo shtick a go, with, to my mind, mixed results.


  1. A beautifully-written reminiscence of a somewhat awkward (to say the least) parental situation. I share your estrangement - I haven't seen sight nor sound of mine own "father" in forty years. And genuinely do not want to...

    Still, thank heavens for Violetta Villas, who makes everything go with a "swing"! Jx

  2. When I call my father, I always announce my name and there is, always, this slight pause like he's trying to place me.

    And dear god that is the draggiest woman I've ever seen. She makes RuPaul look like June Allyson.

  3. A wonderful post, as always!

    No family drama from me, but here is my FAVORITE Cole Porter clip, brought to you by the one and only Raffaella. It must be seen to be believed.

    1. Alway a joy - if something of a disorienting one - to revisit that very special corner of cyber(outer)space.

      I really want a troupe of Hand-Boob Dancers to enliven all my entrances and exits.

  4. This is why chosen families are so vital. Blood doesn't mean stronger, and it sure as hell doesn't mean closer. I am blessed with a loving relationship with my Daddy (I'm his favorite) , my darling Maman and my dearest only Sister. Any "blood" relative outside that sphere is incidental.

  5. I generally try to be more eloquent, but . . . holy shit!

    1. Yeah, it all made for a memorable day. One with lots of whiskey sours and recrimination, as any good WASP funeral should have.

  6. This was all a bit too much for me.

    Peenee is, as ever, quite correct. That creature is surely the draggiest woman ever committed to film or tape.

    As for your father's timing and social grace....that is some straight up daytime drama on a Friday during sweeps week kind of stuff right there. It would make a wonderful opening for a certain genre of movie comedy. You know the type, predictable but enjoyable, often populated by actors of the mid level fame and TV refugee ilk. And, come to think of it, the whole funeral lunch scenario would be an attention-grabbing series opener for one of those family dramedies. The sprawling cast and their various relationships could be efficiently introduced. The stage would then be set for the entire first season of fights, feels, fun, tears, and hugs.

    And daddies, well that certainly is another story. And I know that tale so well.