Saturday, July 22, 2006

Dear Dairy. . .I mean Diary:

I went to visit my family in Charleston, West Virginia fairly recently and saw "Coming - Jane Powell" on the marquee of the Capitol Theater, the very same Capitol where they used to show Powell's musicals when I was mere protoplasm in Buster Brown shoes. There were three big movie houses in town. The Kearse showed TC-Fox "product" along with Buena Vista-Disney; the Virginian exhibited Warner Bros., Paramount and Universal; and the Capitol had a lock on MGM and RKO. One other downtown theater, the Rialto, located in an office bldg., exhibited fare that no one else wanted to show (or see for that matter). It was there that I saw such oddities and major studio castoffs as The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T, and a strange little number about a walking, talking TV set, The Twonky, directed by Arch Oboler, and starring Hans Conreid and Joan Blondell's sister Gloria.

Imagine my frustration when upon closer inspection I was amused/saddened/shocked and annoyed to learn that it was actually "gospel singer Jane L. Powell" and NOT Verve Recording Artist/ MGM Star and Proud Denture Wearer Jane Powell.

Never have I read an autobiography of a performer whose private life was more at odds with their public image than Powell's "The Girl Next Door." I finally had to laugh to keep from crying. Every page full of disfunctionalese, i.e. a childhood victim of an attempt on her life by her mother (Jane thinks, not sure), alienated from her parents (natch), enough marital discord to fill several nighttime soaps, a husband who made sexual moves on one of her children from a former spouse, a drugged-out suicidal son, dislike of nearly every one she worked with, financial woes, temporary loss of her singing voice, all culminating in a thwarted suicide attempt. Eventually, she appears to have found a degree of (perhaps) happiness with her skeenteenth husband, former child star Dickie Moore. But, in the immortal words of Thelma Ritter in All About Eve, "What a story! Everything but the hounds snappin' at her rear end."

No comments: