March 30, 2010

"If she had drive and ambition, what's wrong with that?"

That's how June Havoc — dead now at 97 — defended her mother, who was portrayed — unsympathetically, for those not given to excessive sympathy — in the musical "Gypsy." The musical was based on the memoir written by her sister Gypsy Rose Lee. How would you like the world to know the story of your childhood through the eyes of your jealous older sister?

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But "Gypsy" is such a great musical. It transcends whatever may have been true about the 2 sisters and their mother.  Wouldn't you take great satisfaction to have played a part in the generation of sublime work of art, even if it meant that the real you would forever be submerged under someone else's fictionalized version of you?

16 comments:

M said...

In answer to the last question, if I'm portrayed in someone's memoir, even though it's a subjective genre, I would want to be described as the person I am would be realistically perceived. Had the writer labeled her work as a piece of fiction rather than a memoir then some leniency could be tolerated with the characters; but she didn't. Don't you think?

John Hawks said...

I'm sure that's how Salieri would feel....

John Burgess said...

Agree with M. I'm rather proud of the identity I've forged. It wasn't easy and was sometimes painful.

I would indeed be resentful to find myself reduced to some animé octopus or paper doll awaiting someone else's idea of proper clothing.

Oligonicella said...

"Wouldn't you take great satisfaction to have played a part in the generation of sublime work of art, even if it meant that the real you would forever be submerged under someone else's fictionalized version of you?"

No, why would I?

ricpic said...

Unsympathetically? Didn't Roz Russell play the mother and didn't she stop the show with Everything's Coming Up Roses? The mother is the heart and soul of Gypsy.

Fred4Pres said...

Robert Leckie went to a performance of South Pacific and walked out half way through it. It prompted him to write Helmet for My Pillow, of his WWII service in the Marine Corps in Guadalcanal, Pelilu, and Australia (which is now part of the dramatization of HBO's The Pacific).

South Pacific is a fine musical with a anti racism message that was a little bit edgy for it day. But I can understand why a Marine might find that portrayal of his service offensive.

LarsPorsena said...

Fred:

Maybe it's my foggy memory but wasn't South Pacific about the Navy?

I remember lots of squids but no marines.

campy said...

I remember lots of squids but no marines.

Lt. Joe Cable was a marine.

William said...

Poor Richard III will live in infamy longer than Hitler, and he was, according to a mock trial held by Breyer, Ginsburg, and Rehnquist, not guilty of the crimes ascribed to him by Shakespeare. He probably didn't even have a hunchback or withered arm. In England, there is a Society of the Friends of Richard III that works steadfastly to restore his reputation. If they can find a dramatist of Shakespeare's talent to write a play that sets the record straight, their battle will be won.....Perhaps infamy is a better fate than obscurity. If we didn't know Richard as a villain, we would not know him at all......June Havoc made peace with her mother and, not coincidentally, lived to be 97.

Fred4Pres said...

LarsPorensa--yeah it was about the Navy (technically the Marines are part of the Navy too, but yes there is a big distinction). However, as the Sullivan brothers or the crew of this ship could tell you, it was not exactly a cakewalk in WWII for those in the Navy either. Even this fictional story kept the tragic reality of the war there for you.

edutcher said...

Gypsy was the one who was pushed. Gypsy was also the stripper. Presumably, that meant a lot of humiliation and degradation.

Being an actress didn't carry that kind of a sting. June could afford to be a little more charitable.

If Mom had drive and ambition, that's fine for Mom, but the daughters may have had their own ideas.

Fred4Pres said...

South Pacific is a fine musical with a anti racism message that was a little bit edgy for it day. But I can understand why a Marine might find that portrayal of his service offensive.

So might a lot of Army guys who went through the Aleutians, Solomons, New Guinea, and the Philippines.

Fred4Pres said...

This guy saw some action too.

Fred4Pres said...

edutcher, yeah the Army too. Like the Navy, they gave the Marine Corps some support in getting the hard jobs done in the Pacific.

edutcher said...

Not picking a fight, Fred, but the Philippines, Aleutians, and New Guinea were all Army and the Solomons about 50%. The finish on Guadalcanal was under the Army's XIV Corps.

Until mid-44, most of the island chains were assigned to what were called Amphibious Corps, composed of Army and Marine divisions. This was the pattern through the Marianas and the Palaus. The Army didn't "support" the Marines, it was a partnership, although Nimitz and "Howlin' Mad" Smith were more interested in headlines, and the Marines got the lion's share of the press.

Read a little about how Halsey used Marine and Army forces in the Solomons. You'll be surprised.

LarsPorsena said...

Fred:

Why did Leckie walk out of "South Pacific"?

weserei said...

My mother nearly sold the story of her divorce (which took place when I was in high school) to a fairly well-known chick lit author. I think I probably would have come off poorly in it. The author in question died before the deal was finalized. I have never been happier about someone's death.