Friday, January 23, 2009
blanche, broadway, booth

Still working on the letter "B", which makes me think of the name Blanche.....And of course, as with so very many other words in the English language this word sounds the same as another word---'blanch', and anybody that cooks knows what that word means...
But for me, the name BLANCHE conjures up for me a very strong image....Blanche Dubois in "Streetcar Named Desire".......a Beautiful Beautiful play by the great Tennessee Williams, that was a very important part of my life.....This play is one of the great great works of this gifted writer, and it made Marlon Brando a 'star' on Broadway. His was an incandescent explosive exciting and riveting performance....and I was lucky enough to see him, along with Jessica Tandy as 'Blanche' and Kim Hunter as 'Stella', in that original production! And one of the Producers of that Broadway production...(Another "B" word, for me....) back in 1947, was a very bright talented woman named Irene Selznick----one of the two daughters of Louis B. Mayer and the first wife of the great great film producer, David O. Selznick....("Gone With The Wind", etc....) A little over twenty years later, I got to meet this visionary lady....But that, is another story for another day.....In the summer of 1951, "Streetcar" came back into my life in a very big way.

I was an Apprentice at The Sea Cliff Summer Theatre, and I actually got to "act" on the stage, not just do props or paint sets! I was cast in a real part in a play. And that play was "Streetcar Named Desire", and I played the woman upstairs, Eunice Hubbell. (That's me in the center, with my house dress and my hair clip and my fan....and that is Helen Twelvetrees on the right, playing Blanche....) Those weeks of rehearsal and then playing the play were incredibly memorable in so very many ways----not the least of which was being in such a truly great great play....(I actually did a post about this back in early 2006, and if you are so inclined you can read about it--in detail---there....just click on this paragraph and it should take you there!) That week of performances earned me my Actors Equity Card, which meant I was a bonafide 'professional' legitimate actress.....Just twenty years old and I became certified, sort of. That was a really big thing back then, and honestly, I think it still is probably a very big deal when one earns their Equity Card.....

There is another BLANCHE that comes to mind after Miss Dubois, and that is the 'Blanche' in "Whatever Happened To Baby Jane"....If you have never seen this film, do yourself a huge favor and rent it. It is Betty Davis as 'Baby Jane Hudson', and Joan Crawford as 'Blanche Hudson'. It is really a horror film of sorts, and these two film star-veterans are both magnificent in it----Betty Davis gives such a daring brave performance---brave, because she does not look prettied up, at all....And daring, because she pulls out all the 'stops'.....There is a famous line---I honestly cannot remember exactly what Crawford says to Betty Davis to evoke this response, but it is in regard to her being in a wheelchair.....Betty retorts in the meanest most knowing way...."But you are Blanche, you are in a wheel chair....!"






There was a fantastically brilliant 'actor-female-impersonator', named Charles Pierce...And he used to do both Betty and Joan in that scene---together! He was brilliant because without changing his make-up or almost anything else, he played both Jane and Blanche--while basically talking to himself as each character, and, you bought it, completely. He was hilariously funny and wicked. I've never seen anyone quite like him before or since....He was something to behold!

BROADWAY

Well, this is a word that carries so much history in my life....from the time I was just a tiny tot, my parents took us to The Theatre. We saw just about everything there was to see as the years went on, and I'm sure it was during those early years, even before my teens, that I got bitten by the bug. The Acting Bug, that is.....So, all through the mid to late 1930's, into the glorious 1940's and 1950's....Broadway was at my fingertips in the sense that it was there for my enlightenment and enjoyment......I learned so much from going to the theatre....about life and love and hate and fear and sadness and I was continually moved and exhilarated by all of it---even the things that weren't that great....I Loved All Of It! You know what? BROADWAY is going to have it's own post....there is just so much more to say......!

BOOTHAnother name....but also, another word that has more than one meaning.....When I think of 'booth', I certainly think of things like Voting Booth, or a booth in a Restaurant, and many other kinds of booths, too....And where names are concerned, of course, one cannot help but think of John Wilkes Booth....But the "Booth" I think of first, is "The Booth Theatre", and that theatre is certainly related to John Wilkes, because it was his brother, Edwin Booth, the truly great great actor in the Booth Family, amd this theatre was named for him. He was a great American actor and this wonderful theatre is right there in what is considered the Heart of the Theatre District, just between Broadway and 8th Avenue in the middle of the block, cornering 45th street and Shubert Alley.....I got to see many many plays there for 60 years, and I also got to 'play' the Booth Theatre in 1963, which was absolutely like a dream come true........


More To Come.......










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28 Comments:
had this to say:

How could YOU not love the letter B? The letter B seems right up your alley.

Friday, January 23, 2009 at 10:05:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

Very good job with "B" Naomi, but I loved your prior post about your friend very much!!!!

I need to watch Whatever Happened to Baby Jane - never seen it but I did watch Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte when I was a kid and the head-rolling scene scared the bejeebers out of me!

Friday, January 23, 2009 at 11:17:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

Naomi, great post as always! AND What Ever Happedned to baby jane I remember SOOOO well, and the you tube clip you added really sparked my attention to rent the DVD and see it again! It was a classic, along with Streetcar ... I can not begin to tell you how often I saw this movie!! Absolutly LOVED the pic of you as the upstairs neighbor, how exciting!! Long Island really offered so much to us LI girls, and we were only a stones throw from NYC!! I remember taking the train into NYC when I was 14 with my girlfriends and going to Tiffanys!! I thought I was the coolest person on the LIRR coming home HOLDING A BAG FROM TIFFANYS!! It was a wine class I got for my mothers birthday, and until she died last March at 85 it was still her favorite glass!! OH and by the way my grandmother was BLANCHE!!

Friday, January 23, 2009 at 4:10:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Naomi...I am really enjoying your B posts....the stories and pictures are fascinating.

I remember watching Baby Jane years ago on a Sunday afternoon with my Mom. It has stayed with me since. What a rivetting and powerful movie. It's one of those movies that should never be remade.

Blanche....it will always be connected to Ms. Dubois in my mind. WE actually considered naming Gracie our puppy Blanche Dubois. :)

Friday, January 23, 2009 at 6:47:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

I do think that when you have completed this B series, we may have to give you another letter to help carry on with these great stories.

Friday, January 23, 2009 at 6:48:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

B makes me think of the name Blanche, too, for an entirely different reason. My best friend growing up lived with her grandparents, who lived 2 doors down from us. "Blance", the grandma, had a dog "Buffy", the cocker spaniel. She had this cackly, old, crabby voice and she'd holler "BUUUUU-Faayyyyy....come here BUUFFF-Errrrs" all up and down the neighborhood. How funny what you just made me remember!! =)

Friday, January 23, 2009 at 7:39:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

So many memories evoked with those two great classic movies, Naomi !

Without Broadway and the wonderful talent it lured, our theatrical world would have never been a s glorious !

Friday, January 23, 2009 at 8:41:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

You are doing a magnificent job on the letter B, Naomi. I remember your former post on the play, too. Helen Twelvetrees was real??? I thought she was made up by the writers for Johnny Carson's skits on the Tonight Show.....LOL

Friday, January 23, 2009 at 10:17:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

I love your posts, Naomi...I can live through your memories and see it all....I did like "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane"...It was a scary movie and it showed just how talented Joan Crawford and Betty Davis were....

Friday, January 23, 2009 at 10:24:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

I just watched Whatever happened to Baby Jane ( again lol) 2 weeks ago.
I always get "I've written a letter to Daddy" stuck in my head afterwards lol.
You forgot to mention Blanche from The Golden Girls ;)

Saturday, January 24, 2009 at 1:50:00 AM PST 

Blogger PI
had this to say:

You lucky, lucky girl to have that brilliant experience with Street Car at around the age of 20. It's a play I would have loved to have been a part of. I loved Marlon and Vivien in the film - i don't think there will ever be anyone like the young Marlon and then I saw Claire Bloom in London.
I really enjoyed 'Baby Jane'. Those two icons relishing every moment - a delight:)
'But you are Blanche - you are still in that chair!'
They don't make 'em like that anymore:)

Saturday, January 24, 2009 at 1:53:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

B has evoked so many fascinating memories and I am really enjoying reading all about them. I've always wanted to go to a real Broadway show in NYC, but never had the chance.... but I go to local productions as much as I can. How exciting for you to be part of "Streetcar" when you were so young. What an interesting life you have led!

Saturday, January 24, 2009 at 5:54:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

great post today Naomi, I really enjoyed this one. I always liked "Baby Jane" such a great movie.

Saturday, January 24, 2009 at 8:01:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

we certainly do hope that there is more to come. How are your rain drenched hills today?

Saturday, January 24, 2009 at 10:27:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

You have such a full life to review. I was visiting a blogger today who talked about seeing the original play HAIR in San Fransisco and then seeing it a few years later when the actors had to wear wigs! I saw the original in Boston. Very memorable but I wasn't in it!

Saturday, January 24, 2009 at 10:48:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

You've picked some great 'B' topics. Both Streetcar and Baby Jane are iconic selections and I can well understand that you'll reserve another post (or 3?) for Broadway.

Streetcar is also a great play to earn your Equity Card on. Here today via NetChick's!

rashbre

Saturday, January 24, 2009 at 10:58:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

Hi dear Naomi,
Just dropping by to say hello and wishing you a nice weekend.

I will come back soon to read all those great post you did! All them looks amazing!
Many hugs!

Saturday, January 24, 2009 at 1:26:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

I've loving your B posts Naomi!! It's all so interesting and all this has got to bring back so many great memories for you!!

Hugs to you and Sweetie!!!

Saturday, January 24, 2009 at 2:06:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Hi there. I have finally come to stop and visit after seeing you around blogland for the last two years.. LOL.. Anyway great post. You are an actress then?? Its great. I love seeing and meeting new people. Stop by anytime. nbrsspot.blogspot.com

Saturday, January 24, 2009 at 2:41:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

I am so, so envious of your amazing Broadway experience--not your own appearance on Broadway which is fantastic but all those incredible shows you got to see! I wish I could go back in time and accompany you to every single one of them. I've always wondered how Jessica Tandy compared to Vivien Leigh as Blanche. Was it a very different interpretation? And Helen Twelvetrees..wow! She must have died shortly after that production, no?

Saturday, January 24, 2009 at 2:48:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

I always feel so much more educated when I leave your blog after a post like this. :) Heh. Hey, there's another B -- Blog. :)

Saturday, January 24, 2009 at 4:26:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

What a wonderful post Naomi. Letter B suits you since you're Beautiful! If Odd and I will visit my aunt in NY i'll definitely visit Broadway since I love theatre especially musicals. At school before I even tried to audition as Eponine and even sang On My Own. But oh well too bad I wasnt a girl hahahahaha

Sunday, January 25, 2009 at 6:14:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

I'll have you know I couldn't get Streetcar out of my head yeasterday and had to watch it last night!

Sunday, January 25, 2009 at 7:54:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

Great post as usual. I love all the photos you spoil us with always! I personally love the letter B, because my last name starts with it lol.

Sunday, January 25, 2009 at 12:40:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

We talked about this post and that movie last night.
:-)
Of COURSE Broadway needs its own post. That's an awfully big topic.
The word Broadway makes me focus on the word broad which makes me think of a slang for woman and also how many women (like me) have BROAD bohunkuses.
I'm loving all these Bs.
We found out last night that we both like to sit in booths at restaurants. I've always preferred them to a table. Red leather booths... those old style restaurants are wonderful. Jason and I decided that we MUST try that restaurant you suggested. I may even order the pot pie and creamed spinach.

Sunday, January 25, 2009 at 5:30:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Oh, Naomi, I love reading the stories you tell. Thanks
xox

Sunday, January 25, 2009 at 6:36:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

You are a living encyclopedia.
I'm immensly impressed by your knowledge and memories

Monday, January 26, 2009 at 12:13:00 PM PST 

Anonymous Anonymous
had this to say:

Imagine...getting your own Equity card at only twenty years old. That's really something to be proud of! You were so fortunate to be exposed to all of it when movies and plays were at their height and the very best.
My first visit to Broadway was when I was 27 to see Grease and it was an instant love affair, to be followed by many years of attending. Rent was the last play I saw on Broadway.
Terri
http://www.islandwriter.net

Tuesday, February 3, 2009 at 9:54:00 AM PST 

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