Broadway

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Unsung Heroines of Horror: Elaine Stritch

Published October 9, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

She put the BROAD in Broadway, carving out an extraordinary career for herself on the stage. But those blinded by the sheen of her Tony and Emmy wins (and her association with such theatrical legends as Noel Coward and Stephen Sondheim) may not be aware that the magnificent Elaine Stritch has a couple grizzly genre credits to her name.

Significantly, in a time when the world was still afraid of lesbians, Stritch bravely enacted the role of Sapphic minded club owner Marian Freeman in the 1965 psycho-stalker thriller Who Killed Teddy Bear? Interestingly, the presence of the openly gay Sal Mineo as the disturbed busboy that the story focuses upon adds another lavender component to this gritty look at obsession and murder. Granted, Marian’s advances on Juliet Prowse’s Norah, the film’s heroine, are unwanted, affording her preferences the stereotypical ring of the perverse. But Stritch fills the character with as much dignity as she is able to while simultaneously applying her noted and uniquely salty perspective to the mix.

10 years later, Stritch sarcastically zapped her way through the second theatrical remake of The Spiral Staircase, as well. While a mysterious killer hunts down Jacqueline Bissett’s plucky mute adventuress, Stritch’s world weary nurse tends to the needs of Mildred Dunnock’s uncooperative matriarch character. Gravitating to the movie’s theatrical set-up of a winding mansion on a dark and stormy night, she ultimately provides the necessary diva antics while still remaining true to the take no bullshit essence of her character.  

With two appearances in the British genre anthology series Tales of the Unexpected, an arc on the murder-mystery based soap Edge of Night and the effective voicing of the grandmother in the animated favorite ParaNorman among her further credits, the truly singular Elaine Stritch definitely earned her place among the notoriously unsung heroines of horror before her passing at the age of 89 in 2014.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Music to Make Horror Movies By – June Havoc

Published February 9, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

June Havoc

Sporting one of the most unique life resumes for a performer, the unstoppable June Havoc was a vaudevillian, playwright, film actress and the owner-landlord of an entire town during her lifetime. Perhaps best known as the inspiration for the character of Baby June in the classic musical Gypsy, a theatrical offering she always emphasized was a fable not reality, Havoc also gave vampirism a distinguished glow in Larry Cohen’s A Return to Salem’s Lot. June Havoc Salems

Of course, her vampishly dynamic performances in a series of Hollywood musicals left quite an impression on a generation of young men, as well.

Sinful Cindy Lou from Sing Your Worries Away paired her with the rubbery Buddy Ebsen and comic legend Patsy Kelly.

Meanwhile, The Man With the Big Sombrero from Hi Diddle Diddle allowed her to sonically compete with herself.

The maverick Havoc, who died in 2010 at the age of 97, actually has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was nominated for a Tony Award as the director of Marathon ’33, a play that she also wrote.

June Havoc signed

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Edie Adams

Published January 12, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Edie Adams

I often hit upon a performer I want to write about for this feature and then I have to scramble to find if they have any kind of horror connection. Sometimes I luck out and there is a direct link to the genre. Sometimes I only manage to pluck out a tenuous thread. Occasionally, there is no link at all and I have to move along with a slightly heavy heart. Thankfully, the delightful Edie Adams, my latest obsession, was featured in a 1961 television production of The Spiral Staircase, one of several adaptations of the classic Ethel Lina White story about a handicapped woman being pursued by a fetishistic killer. This particular production was also notable for featuring such performers as Elizabeth Montgomery (Bewitched) and Lillian Gish (Night of the Hunter). (Adams played Blanche, the role that Rhonda Fleming had originated in the original screen version.) Spiral Ethel

For those who know about her career, though, it isn’t surprising that Adams has this eclectic entry on her professional resume. Almost chameleon like in her approach to her art, she was known as a comedienne, singer, impressionist, spokesperson and actress. Here’s Edie, her variety show, in which she showed off all those skills in premium, is still considered one of the greats of that particular world of entertainment. Here, her take on More Than You Know provides a nice look at her unique way of handling a classic composition.

Nicely, www.edieadams.com and https://www.facebook.com/realedieadams/ keep all the many aspects of this valuable performer, who died at the age of 81 in 2008, thoroughly alive and kicking!

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Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Hopelessly Devoted to: Randall Edwards

Published January 10, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

RandallGorilla.jpgA mad man was threatening to freeze frame the world. Fair ingénues were being buried alive. And over at Ryan’s Hope, the comically conniving Delia was kidnapped by a gorilla in a daytime television take on King Kong’s love struck antics. Such was the world of the early ‘80s soaps and the game and lovely Randall Edwards was a huge part of that zany atmosphere.

Taking over the role of Delia from the incredibly popular Ilene Kirsten, Edwards eventually made the role her own while simultaneously thrilling old school horror lovers with her best Fay Wray impression. Purposely grabbing a lion’s share of publicity, this attention seeking storyline surely prepared Edwards for some theatrical scrutiny that was soon to follow.RandallPeople

After a successful showing in Neil Simon’s critically acclaimed Biloxi Blues, Edwards was cast as sassy showgirl Kiki Roberts in the 1988 Broadway production of Legs Diamond. The show, nicely, gave her an ample chance to show off her singing and dancing talents in numbers such as I Was Made for Champagne and Only Steal From Thieves. Expensively produced and starring popular singer-songwriter Peter Allen, this production eventually went down in history as being one of show business’ most notorious flops, causing the permanent closing of the theater in which it debuted.

RandallLegsOf course, time has thankfully brought out kinder reactions to the project. Allen’ score has been favorably reexamined and several of the songs were included in The Boy From Oz, the popular retelling of his life starring Hugh Jackman. Nicely, a 30th anniversary concert recreation of the show even featured a still beautiful, dizzily potent Edwards.

Reportedly now a psychologist, it would definitely make her many fans “go ape” if this talented woman would continue to make occasional appearances in creative situations.

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Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Review: BETTE Xmas at the Continental Baths

Published December 15, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

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Bette Midler is many things. Her repertoire of songs alone includes rock and roll, MOR pop ballads, girl group classics and new wave energizers. Her role as the hysterically vengeful Winifred in Hocus Pocus also imbues her with a strong horror pedigree, allowing generations of outsiders to delightfully engage in their inner wicked witches.

In BETTE Xmas at the Continental Baths, Chicago theater goddess Caitlin Jackson invokes many of those Midler personalities while also remaining uniquely herself. Based upon the Divine One’s ‘70s showcase at a NYC men’s club, this production is full of goofy energy and go-for-broke silliness, making it not only a seasonal delight, but one of the year’s best stage offerings as a whole, as well.

Jackson’s desire to make this a sort of performing arts fever dream is perfectly realized. For example, the corny jokes in Jackson and David Cerda’s fun script are often so obvious that they don’t land with the audience…at first. But the performer’s skilled reactions to the theater’s radio silence are truly hysterical, making the presentation as a whole an unmitigated delight from start to finish.

Of course, Jackson’s softly anguished takes on songs such as Superstar, River and I Shall Be Released are the evening’s master points. This go-for-broke yet subtle emotionality is her forte as a performer, making one pity those who will never experience this kind of brilliance in their lifetimes.

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Nicely, Jackson is ably assisted here by Terry McCarthy as Mr. Gerard, Midler’s game hairdresser, and Sydney Genco and Allison Petrillo as Laverne and Trixie, Midler’s backup singers. Genco and Petrillo get a chance to shine on their own during the show’s intermission/costume change. Their pert energy and spot on timing ultimately prove that they deserve a show of their own one of these days. Hmm…maybe next season!!!

But until then… give proper kudos to Jackson and co-director Marc Lewallen, by checking out this year’s festivities before closing night on December 31st.

https://www.facebook.com/events/570448403729627/

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Unsung Heroines of Horror: Cecil Cunningham

Published December 12, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

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A product of the Broadway and vaudeville stages, the distinguished Cecil Cunningham was a character actress who, for decades, supported such cinema queens as Hedy LaMarr, Greta Garbo, Mary Astor, Carole Lombard (pictured below) and Barbara Stanwyck. Of course, smart cinema enthusiasts know that she was a presence in her own right, making a strong impression in smaller roles that often weren’t even credited onscreen.

thZJV2T4DG.jpgThankfully for horror fans, Cunningham was given one of her most prestigious undertakings in the fun Warner Brothers’ genre fest The Hidden Hand. Released in 1942, this gem found this regal celluloid queen in fine form as Lorinda Channing, the head of a family of greedy, mentally unbalanced socialites. Pretending to be near her death, Channing invites her nearest and dearest to her estate. Surmising that they all want her cold for her cash, this devious diva enlists the help of her brother, a deranged killer who has just escaped an asylum, to assist her in her plotting against her avaricious kinfolk.

Filled with weird humor and old dark house theatrics, this project also gave Cunningham plenty of room to utilize many of her acting tools. She brings a proud and strange presence to Channing, reveling in a role that would have normally been filled by a Boris Karloff or Laird Cregar type. Her work here is definitely the precursor to contemporary artists like Deanna Dunagan and Lin Shaye, fine actresses, who have embellished and empowered such films as The Visit and Insidious with their distinguished essences.

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Cunningham, who also appeared in 1934’s hard to find Return of The Terror and Ladies They Talk About, an early WIP effort, died at the age of 70 in 1959. Sixty years later, her filmography (and her genre credits, in particular) seems truly ripe for rediscovery.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Dietz and Schwartz

Published August 18, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

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Composed for the 1931 Broadway show The Bandwagon, Howard Dietz and Arthur Schwartz’s classic tune Dancing in the Dark has found its way into many films, including a self titled offering in 1949 starring William Powell. Of course, many of these movies feature the song with an emphasis on its classic, moody jazz tones – much like this live version by the irreplaceable Sarah Vaughan.

The gloomier implications of its title, though, have helped this distinguished number find a home in a number of horror projects including 1988’s Twice Dead and 1995’s Lord of Illusions. Nicely, the version in the latter film was dominated, ominously, by avant garde singing sensation Diamanda Galas.

Meanwhile, Dietz and Schwartz, whose other well known compositions include That’s Entertainment and I Guess I’ll Have to Change My Plans, are given a nice career overview at https://masterworksbroadway.com/artist/howard-dietz-and-arthur-schwartz/.

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Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Duo

Music to Make Horror Movies By: Barbara Cook

Published July 7, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

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She was one of the queens of the Broadway stage and the cabaret circuit. But the multi-talented Barbara Cook also took a turn towards the gothic as one of Hitchcock’s famously conflicted blondes in the A Little Sleep episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

Long considered to possess one of the sweetest, nuanced soprano voices, Cook was a 2011 Kennedy Center Honoree and, appropriately, received many other honors (including a Tony Award) before her death in 2017 at the age of 89.

Barbara Cook Kennedy

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Robert Goulet

Published June 30, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

Robert Goulet Beefcake

Best known for his exquisite musical performances, the handsome Robert Goulet enlivened Tim Burton’s horror fueled comedy Beetlejuice with his majestic smoothness.

Thus, as Pride Month jogs healthily to a close, a melody of Cole Porter tunes done in Goulet’s impressive style seems like the perfect way to lower the curtain on June’s rainbow fueled activities.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

Robertgoulet beetlejuice

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Lena Horne

Published June 9, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

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She is the essence of smooth cool… a proud performer whose reign at MGM in the ‘40s was compromised by racism. She held her head high, though, and after tiring of being used predominantly in specialty numbers (that were often cut out of the pictures in the southern states), she triumphantly returned to concert halls and cabarets to make her living.

 

Simply stated, Lena Horne is a goddess and while her connection to horror films is limited to the use of her music in an episode of American Horror Story, her uncompromising stance in the face of adversity is something that every genre lover can admire.lena motion

 

 

Her take on The Beatles’ Rocky Raccoon also points out the fact that no style was immune to her charms. She most definitely would have made a sophisticated yet sassy rock n roller!

She would have punked out with a humanitarian edge, though. In one of her final interviews before her death in 2010 at the age of 92, Horne kept on insisting that the way to true success was to “Just be nice to people”…”Just be nice to people!” Let’s take her advice and keep her magnetic spirit alive for decades to come!

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Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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