The Outrageous Sophie Tucker

DATELINE: Red Hot Mama!

Sophie & Tallulahwith Tallulah!

Without Sophie Tucker, you would never have her descendants in music and entertainment. She was the originator of the styles of Bette Midler, Barbra Streisand, Lady Gaga, and Mae West too.

She preceded them by decades. She first burst on the scene in 1903, and the loving documentary on her called The Outrageous Sophie Tucker was directed and written by people who never knew her personally. Yet, she left many people thunderstruck—and she knew them all in show biz from Jolson, Cantor, to Garland and Sinatra.

Sophie was the first and last of the Red Hot Mamas. She could do jazz renditions like Bessie Smith, leaving many black people to think she had soul. She was a Jewish girl from Hartford, daughter of immigrants who ran a kosher restaurant.

She ran through three husbands in short order, but also dominated three media—radio, television, and music recordings. Movies were a cameo away.

A full-figured girl, she made her size of zaftig a marketing bonanza. She could do self-deprecating humor with Berle, Durante, or Bob Hope. Sophie also believed that simply being friendly to fans was the best marketing gimmick in the world: she spent hours sending off notes and going out to dinner with local dignitaries on all her tours.

She told soldiers during World War II to write to her—like a mother figure she was, and she answered.

She was friends with Al Capone—and J. Edgar Hoover. Indeed, Hoover and Clyde Tolson came out to her. He asked for one of her sequin dresses—and she joked with him “You’ll never get into it.” She later swore off men—and had a series of female companions; perhaps platonic, perhaps not.

If you don’t know Sophie Tucker (she died in 1966) after a career spanning seven decades, you might want to spend 90 minutes reprising her life in this wonderful documentary.

 

 

 

 

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Reel History: When Bette Met Mae

DATELINE:  What Becomes a Legend Most

 Bette & Mae The Reel McCoys!

Yes, a young fan at an intimate dinner party made an audio tape of a conversation with Bette Davis and Mae West when they met in November of 1973. And, now that young man has produced and directed a marvelous documentary that re-enacts that meeting with lip-synch lookalikes.

What a treat for those who love the old Hollywood legends—and it’s the actual voices of the stars, played to the hilt of re-enacting.

Their pre-dinner conversation is dotted and interrupted with annotations about their lives and celebrity that comprise a little gem that lasts over an hour.

You might expect fireworks, but Mae only plays her famous Diamond Lil for money—not for social laughs. And, Bette does her Margo Channing with an endless punch of hard drinks galore.

In some ways Davis dominates—and takes on the other two guests who came with Mae West.  But, the two legends have a love-fest as they run down the old Hollywood studio system, imitators, and worthless men in their lives.

All this is enhanced with two marvelous doppleganger actresses in the roles of Mae and Bette—looking so realistic that you feel like you really are there.

Wes Wheadon was a young friend of Bette and decided to put the chat on an old cassette tape from that long-ago night–and direct it as he recalls. Now he shares that wonderful evening with a new generation. With Victoria Mills as Mae and Karen Teliha as Bette, Sally Kellerman narrates this delicious night of stars.

 

 

 

 

Mae West Redux in Roger Goodell

DATELINE: She Done Him Wrong

Featured imageRoger & Tom in Secret Meeting?

Not since the inimitable Mae West told Cary Grant to: “Come up and see me,” has there been quite an offer.

Now Mae/Goodell is asking Tom/Cary to come up and see him, preferably alone. The night will be satin smooth, drinks may be optional, and dirty dancing is always a possibility.

Look out, Tom. This could be a DuPont moment for Roger.

Oh, that Roger.

Yes, Roger wants a tete-a-tete with Tom. It could be private, with candlelit mood and soft music. The only stipulation is that Tom must bring his smartphone to their assignation.

Roger wants info and will use all the wiles developed by Mae West in her movies to achieve the result.

If Tom has more than an ‘aw, shucks,’ in him, he will forego this rendezvous with trouble.

Roger is looking forward to his quiet time with Tom to peel the onion layers of Deflategate off the proverbial hot pepper.

Oh, that Roger!

The biggest football story for six months has been Deflategate, but he never raised it at the owners’ meeting over two days.

Now that stretches credulity. He never invited any owners to come up and see him sometime. No, wait! Apparently Robert Kraft succumbed to the romantic request.

Of course, we always return to the infamous Robert Kraft quote about Aaron Hernandez: he was “duped.”

Perhaps all these billionaires reached their exalted positions in life by being duped more often than not.