MGM via Everett Collection
Veteran stage and screen icon Elaine Stritch has died at the age of 89. The actress passed away at her home in Birmingham, Michigan on Thursday (17Jul14).
The star, known for her brash attitude and sharp tongue, began her career with her first stage role in 1944 and made her Broadway debut in Loco just two years later (46).
She went on to become a regular in New York's famous theatre district, featuring in a hit 1952 revival of the musical Pal Joey and landing her first leading Broadway role in Goldilocks in 1958. Her other theatre credits include parts in Noel Coward's Sail Away, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Stephen Sondheim's 1970 musical Company, a role she reprised in 1972 when it opened in London's West End.
She later won high praise for her one-woman show Elaine Stritch at Liberty, for which she won a Tony Award in 2001. During the production, in which she recounted her life story, Stritch revealed she had tried and failed to win the role of Dorothy Zbornak in hit TV series The Golden Girls, a job which went instead to Bea Arthur.
Her early TV appearances came on shows like The Growing Paynes, Studio One and the classic British comedy series Two's Company. In more recent years, she appeared in U.S. soap One Life to Live, 3rd Rock from the Sun and Law & Order, while she earned an Emmy Award playing Alec Baldwin's mother on 30 Rock.
Stritch's filmography included parts in the 1957 remake of A Farewell to Arms, The Perfect Furlough, Providence and Woody Allen films September (1987) and Small Time Crooks (2000). She also portrayed Winona Ryder's grandmother in Autumn in New York and Jane Fonda's acerbic mum in 2005's Monster in Law.
The actress, who was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 1995, bid farewell to fans with her Movin' Over and Out concert series in the Big Apple in April, 2013, before moving to Michigan to spend more time with her family.
Is On the Road the first successful attempt to bring Jack Kerouac's beloved novel to the screen? Depends on who you ask. Fans of the Beat Generation will undoubtedly love this film directed by Walter Salles and adapted by Jose Rivera and those familiar with Kerouac's mythos might be able to play along. But if you've never heard of this group of writers and miscreants you might be eating their dust.
On the Road is occasionally beautiful and entirely too long. Its narrator Sal Paradise Kerouac's alter ego is played by Sam Riley with a sort of muted watchfulness; he's an outsider the writer narrating it all along for the ride but the script doesn't do justice to the tastes of Kerouac's writing (although we get a taste in some small voiceovers). Garrett Hedlund owns this movie from top to bottom as Dean Moriarty with his buoyant earthy sexuality and total irresponsibility. In reality Dean is the sort of user and mooch that would be a total drain of energy and resources but we see him as Sal does: alive free sensual somehow utterly honest in his protestations of love and honesty despite his constant betrayals.
Dean is absolutely the sex and love object of the movie his pansexual groove attracting and scaring Sal and in a way breaking his heart. Dean also breaks the hearts of Marylou his on-again off-again child bride played by Kristen Stewart; Camille the mother of his children played by Kirsten Dunst; and most movingly Carlo Marx the alter ego of Allen Ginsberg who is played by Tom Sturridge. Sturridge is excellent as the lovelorn poet who's alternately suicidal and joyous and his scenes with Hedlund are some of the most erotic and moving. The female characters get short shrift especially Marylou who lacks much of a personality; how much of what she does is egged on by Dean and how much is of her own volition? The ballyhoo over her nude scenes were overblown by half; although they're somewhat sexy they're overshadowed by all of the sexual tension between the leads.
Two of the most interesting characters in On the Road are Old Bull Lee and his wife Jane. Bull is the alter ego of William S. Burroughs and Jane is Joan Vollmer Burroughs's common-law wife and the mother of his children. (Vollmer a writer in her own right was accidentally killed by Burroughs.) Jane played by Amy Adams is bizarre and fascinating a wild-haired lady and drug addict and mother of Bull's children but not much more than that. One could watch an entire movie of Viggo Mortensen playing Bull a sharp-dressed heroin addict who nods off with his child in his arms and strips off his clothes to get in an orgone accumulator he built in his backyard. The movie barely makes a pit stop at their crumbling Louisiana farm and their importance in Sal's life and the Beat generation is never quite explained.
One might argue that the loopy timeline of the film mimics the unending road trip of Dean's life but it doesn't serve the final product. Incorporating more of Kerouac's writing as voice-overs or something similar would have given it more life the kind of vivacity Kerouac sought out in spades which is why he tolerated Dean's vagaries for so long. More than most movies it feels like On the Road could have gone in any direction expanding or reducing characters shortening the trips to concentrate on the characters more emphasizing the effects of their missing fathers or not and it's this wishy-washiness that undermines the movie. It feels much longer than it is. It's a loving tribute to its subjects and a movie that acts as a showcase for rising stars Hedlund and Riley but it fizzles when it should burn.
The only people that must enjoy cash cow holidays like Valentine's Day, Halloween and Christmas more than retailers have to be sitcom writers. Not only are their viewers well into the holiday spirit and gobbling up anything and everything holiday-related, but it provides easy plot points and the chance to dress their sexy stars up in costumes. Everybody wins.
Sadly, not everybody was a winner on last night's Halloween-themed episode of New Girl. Not Cece's sad trombone of a boyfriend Ronnie (guest star Nelson Franklin) who is more or less around to be comedy fodder for Schmidt, not Winston who came to a crossroads with his occasionally-seen-on-screen girlfriend Shelby, not Nick who found out the hard way that sometimes crushes are meant to stay crushes, and definitely not Jess who got rejected by Sam (David Walton) and accidentally punched in the face by Nick.
While it would have been easy for New Girl writers to go for a more fun and festive episode last night, I actually appreciated that the whole thing was — as overhyped, high expectations holidays tend to go —a series of depressing disappointments.
First let's talk about Nick, who continued to be a series of depressing disappointments when he finally got to hook up with his college crush Amelia (played by Forgetting Sarah Marshall's Maria Thayer), a woman who ping-ponged between certifiable (she made a pumpkin that resembled her and Nick's likeness) and poetic ("I'm not an idea of a person, I'm an actual person"), only to screw things up with her and then accidentally attack one of his best friends.
Quick sidebar: the only thing that must bring sitcom writers more joy than holiday themes is the opportunity to use college flashbacks. They all use the same comedy crutch that apparently in college, everyone gets terrible facial hair and was lame. See: Nick, Ross in Friends, Ted in How I Met Your Mother. End sidebar.
So did the perpetually effing-up Nick punch poor Jess in the face? Well, he's scared of haunted houses, both literally and metaphorically. Literally, Jess was spending her weekends working at a haunted house and when he braved it to warn her about Sam, she jumped out and scared him (as one does in a haunted house) and as a reflex, he clocked her right in the eye. Metaphorically, haunted houses are like relationships because, according to Nick, "you walk in all confident and then once you get in its not what you thought it was gonna be and its scary."
Since both Nick and Jess are scared to walk through the haunted house of relationships together, they continue to go through them with other people. Nick (who had the best costume of the episode as "Bee Arthur"), temporarily with Amelia, and Jess with Sam. While Jess has been keeping it light and loose with the dopey Sam, things changed on a dime once she discovered that he is a pediatrician. That was the scariest thing in this entire episode, actually, that the same guy who professed his non-ironic love for Creed a few weeks ago, is supposed to be taking care of sick children. Well, that and he did Patch Adams-related humor when he put on a clown nose. If that didn't make Jess run for the hills, nothing would.
Unfortunately, unbeknownst to Jess, she had every right to run for the hills when it was revealed that FWB Sam was sharing his, er, talents with other girls in the Los Angeles area. After Jess had invited Sam to come see her at the haunted house in costume, which he obliged, Jess decided it was time to tell him how she really felt. When Nick's attempts to warn Jess were thwarted, Jess confessed her feelings and was promptly turned down. It wasn't much of a hit for viewers to watch Jess endure this split (we didn't grow as attached to Sam as we did Paul), it did open the door for the show to dangle Nick and Jess in front of us again as Nick, with his arm around her, iced her eye and told her she deserved someone who is crazy about her. Trick or treat? I'm leaning more towards trick on this one.
They did a similar thing with the inevitable reunion of Cece and Schmidt. Cece tried to deny her lingering feelings for her ex as he did everything in his power to show how just how much he wants to be around her. Schmidt, who dressed up as Abe Lincoln (as everyone seems to be doing these days), begrudgingly befriend Cece's future ex-boyfriend and forgettable nice guy Robbie. And while Cece and Robbie are on the road to future Splitsville, Winston and Shelby (yep, they're both still there) arrived during last night's episode. Apparently these two weren't having much sex and were on different wavelengths, but since we rarely saw them on camera together, we'll just have to take their word on it.
"Halloween" episode highlights:
- The gang's exchange about Zombie Woody Allen. ("These brains are terrible and such smawl portions," "On Christmas I like to eat Chinese people's brains, they're the only ones that are open.")
- Winston's line "I have nothing to add to this." If that doesn't perfectly incapsulate Lamorne Morris' character and the actor's place on the show, nothing does.
- Nick's girlish scream. "This is my nightmare!"- Shelby's inspired Halloween costume Reigning Cats and Dogs.
- Schmidt's various brilliant one-liners: "Those costumes are for Purim!", "The guy who shot John Lennon is dressed as a Ninja Turtle," "I witnessed the emancipation of one black guy tonight." And, of course, Schmidt dressed as Matthew McConaughey in Magic Mike. Alright, alright, alright, alright!
Okay, so this wasn't the best episode of New Girl by a long shot. It was mildly amusing, at best. But, isn't that most things around the holidays? What did you think of the Halloween episode of New Girl?
[Photo credit: Greg Gayne/Fox]
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Known for her comedic chops and charming wit on U.S. hit shows like Hot in Cleveland, The Golden Girls and The Mary Tyler Moore Show, White boasts a successful career, which now spans seven decades.
And she doesn't appear to be slowing down with age - on Monday night (16Jan12) bosses at U.S. network NBC paid tribute to the legend's career by airing a star-studded TV special, which featured Hugh Jackman and Carol Burnett, among others, paying tribute to the birthday girl - and she is just about to premiere a new senior citizen hidden camera show, titled Off Their Rockers.
Because the funnywoman has already celebrated her birthday with her best celebrity pals, White tells WENN she plans on spending the day working on crossword puzzles and hanging out with her longtime companion - a Golden Retriever named Pontiac.
And in honour of the spunky star's landmark birthday, we've compiled 10 fascinating facts about the beloved actress to mark the occasion. Happy Birthday, Betty White!
- The actress was born in Illinois during America's Great Depression but her parents moved the family to Los Angeles when she was just two years old.
- She attended the Horace Mann School in Beverly Hills, California - the same middle school as Angelina Jolie, Nicolas Cage and Lenny Kravitz.
- Unlike a number of celebrities, the actress never changed her name before entering the entertainment industry. She was born Betty - not Elizabeth - because her parents didn't want her to be bogged down by nick names.
- White has been married three times - briefly to Army Air Corps pilot Dick Barker in 1945, Hollywood agent Lane Bryant from 1947 to 1949 and TV host Allen Ludden, from 1963 until his death in 1981.
- She has won a total of seven Emmy Awards throughout the course of her career - her first was a 1975 Best Actress honour for her work on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and her most recent was in 2010, for Outstanding Guest Actress on A Comedy Series for her hosting turn on U.S. sketch show Saturday Night Live.
- White has been a life-long animal advocate. She received the American Veterinary Medical Association's Humane Award in 1987 for her charitable work, and the Los Angeles Zoo recognised the comedian with a bronze plaque near the Gorilla Exhibit in 2006, when she was officially named the tourist attraction's Ambassador to the Animals.
- She turned down the chance to play Helen Hunt's mum in the 1997 film As Good As It Gets because she objected to a scene in which Jack Nicholson's character pushes a dog down a trash chute.
- She has already cemented her place in television and movie history - White was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1995 and she was honoured with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame next to her late husband Ludden's in 1998.
- White is the last surviving member of the cast of hit TV show The Golden Girls, which premiered in America in 1985. Estelle Getty died in 2008, Bea Arthur passed away in 2009, and Rue McClanahan followed in 2010. Industry insiders feared White might succumb last year (11) after a mysterious annual pattern of co-star deaths was discovered.
- She is also a highly-successful author - White has written a total of six books. Her last one, If you Ask Me (And Of Course You Won't), is currently a New York Times Bestseller.