Cinderella, Barbara Seagull and a Mama

Once upon a time, I wrote about my celebrity crushes that I had before I was 18. My buddy Greg, being the irascible sort, criticized me for being some sort of age fascist. It wasn’t that; it was that there were just so many of them that I was mildly embarrassed to go further.

Worse, I left off at least three:
Lesley Ann Warren – star of a production on CBS of Rogers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella in 1965, which would have made me 12. I’m pretty sure it was repeated at least once and that I watched it each time. It’s the earliest item that shows up on her IMDB TV or movie resume when she was 19.

I must say, though, that she was no Barbara Bain (and Leonard Nimoy no Martin Landau) when there were cast changes on the CBS television show Mission: Impossible in 1969 and 1970. Nevertheless, I watched.

Still, I have a soft spot for her Cinderella version, having purchased the soundtrack only in the last couple years, even though her predecessor, Julie Andrews and her successor, Brandy, are both more professional singers.
Here’s a segment of the program; Lesley’s entrance in this scene is at about 2:30, and she sings “In My Own Little Corner” – I do love that song – at about 4:30.

The first time I knew saw Barbara Hershey was in a disturbing little 1969 movie called Last Summer, also starring Richard Thomas, Bruce Davison and the Oscar-nominated Catherine Burns; haven’t seen it since. Leonard Maltin gave it three and a half stars; Roger Ebert gave it four stars. An event on the set was so traumatizing to Barbara, that for a time, she changed her name to Barbara Seagull. Just yesterday, I discovered it on YouTube, but haven’t watched. The compiler called Last Summer “a small twisted film…not easy to find. It’s quite sexual and very controversial for its time.”
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10
Part 11
Subsequently, I saw her in The Right Stuff (1983), The Natural (1984), Hoosiers (1986), Lantana (2001) and most notably in Hannah and Her Sisters (1986- very fond) and Beaches (1988 – treacle). Oddly, I didn’t see her in The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) as Mary Magdalene, and I don’t remember why, since the controversy made me want to watch it all the more. She’s also known as a partner of Lost’s Naveen Andrews, who’s two decades her junior, which is cool.

Above: 30 seconds from 1968’s With Six You Get Eggroll, which I must have seen on TV

From the outset, I was a huge Mamas and the Papas fan. I loved the tight harmonies especially, and bought all their albums, starting with the first one; still have most of them on vinyl. While John Phillips was the primary writer of the group, Michelle Phillips (nee Gilliam) has co-writer credits on songs such as California Dreamin’ and Creeque Alley. Most of the lead vocals fell to Denny Doherty or Cass Elliot, but every once in a while Michele got a bit to show her ethereal pipes, such as on Dedicated to the One I Love or the beginning of Got A Feeling.

Michele’s personal life, it became clear, was a mess. She was married to John but sleeping with Denny. She was friends with some of the victims of the Charles Manson murders. She was once married to Dennis Hopper for eight days.

But in that American second act tradition, she began to act in movies and on TV. Her IMDB record shows her on multiple episodes of Love Boat, Fantasy Island, and Hotel before her six-year stint on Knots Landing. I don’t recall seeing any of them.

She sings from time to time, including at tributes to her musical colleagues. Cass died in 1974, John in 2001, and Denny in 2007, making Michelle the sole survivor of the group. I believe today is her 65th birthday (I’ve seen references to both 6/4/44 and 4/6/44.)

I Might As Well Have Been Speaking Greek

Just about every year in mid-May, our family goes to the Greek festival at St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Church in Albany. This year we went on Saturday evening and in spite of the sometimes inclement weather, we had a pretty decent time. There’s lots of food and even more music and dancing. there was a point when I had no idea where my wife and daughter were, but I just hung out, knowing they had to cross a particular intersection eventually.

However, there was one incident that hangs in my mind. Lydia and I went into the playground area of the church, along with several other children and their parents. I noticed that one child of about eight whacked her head on a wooden crossbeam of the slide/climbing contraption. Immediately I went to see if she was okay. She was not – it looked as though she somehow didn’t even see the beam based on the force of the collision. She ran to her mother, wailing, and I followed; I figured if my child suddenly began crying I’D like to know why. Immediately her mother asked, “What happened – what happened – what happened?” I tried to explain to her what had taken place, but she apparently was suffering from hysterical deafness, for she couldn’t understand a single word I was saying. Her demeanor, though, had that “What did YOU do to my child?” feel. Fortunately, her friend was able to translate for me. Talking about shooting the messenger.
Finally got through the Tony Awards; it takes a while when you watch int in 20-minute increments. Someone I know was complaining how unfamiliar he was with Broadway shows; I thought that was odd, since the nominees featured everything from the 39 Steps to Little Mermaid and Xanadu to Young Frankenstein. He specifically mentioned August: Osage County, Boeing-Boeing, Passing Strange and South Pacific. South Pacific? Really? It was only a major Rogers and Hammerstein collaboration, based on the James Michener book, made into a long-running musical as well as a movie. Something I didn’t know: the song You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught was, in 1949, quite controversial, considered to be contrary to American values because of the miscegenation it seemed to accept.
Here’s one of Fred Hembeck’s favorite singers performing it:


The Lydster, Part 16 "In My Own Little Corner"

I was a big fan of the 1966 television production of “Rogers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella”. It starred Lesley Ann Warren and Stuart Damon. I loved the songs, even the goofy ones like “The Prince is Giving a Ball.”
Herald: His royal highness Christopher Rupert Vwindemier Vlandamier Carl Alexander Francois Reginald Lancelot Herman
Herald: Herman.. Gregory James is giving a ball.

I think I liked the production in large part because I had a great big crush on Lesley Ann Warren.

(There was a 1957 version with Julie Andrews and Jon Cypher, which I don’t remember, although it may have been seen by more people than the M*A*S*H finale.)

Both versions features Cinderella singing “In My Own Little Corner”:
In my own little corner in my own little chair
I can be whatever I want to be.
On the wings of my fancy I can fly anywhere
and the world will open its arms to me.

There were times when I was a teenager, and even a few times as an adult, when I’d be at a party and feel suddenly overwhelmed- by too many people, or by some uncomfortable situation, or for no discernable reason at all. I’d go off to an unoccupied room, even the attic or cellar, or an unused stairwell, just to get away for a while, my version of “my own little corner.”

Daughter Lydia likes hanging out in corners, between the CD cases, in the bathroom, under the sink (which no longer has anything under it.) Sometimes she gets into hiding in the smallest spaces, then gets trapped, like cat stuck in a tree, and needs to be rescued.

I want for her to be whatever she wants to be. I want her to be able to fly anywhere. I desparately want the world to open its arms to her, though I know that won’t always happen, and that she’ll want to climb back into her own little corner.

I need to learn how to make her safe enough to venture out again, if I can. Like last week, when she went into a swimming pool for the very first time, and liked it…at least the top two steps.

Happy year and a third, Lydia.