character actress

All posts tagged character actress

Unsung Heroines of Horror: Lucy Lee Flippin

Published May 19, 2023 by biggayhorrorfan

For old school cinema buffs who revel in the stern antics of such character actresses as Fern Emmett and Margaret Hamilton, the divine Lucy Lee Flippin, nicely, offers up a contemporary answer to her predecessors’ judgmental, high-strung activities. Best known as Alonzo’s strait-laced schoolmarm sister in Little House on the Prairie, Flippin is highly recognizable to students of ‘70s and ‘80s television and film.

Her roles in such films as Summer School, Flashdance and Earth Girls Are Easy, often in administrative or secretarial roles, gained her widespread recognition. But much like Emmett, who played cameo bits in many of the Universal horror features, Flippin also appeared in such projects as zombie-comedy Surf II and the Chuck Norris slasher Hero and the Terror in blink & you’ll miss her performances.

Significantly, unlike Emmett and Hamilton who were stuck performing characters without an ounce of sexuality, Flippin got to indulge in earthier aspects with her characterizations. As the slightly vengeful Natasha Jones on The Munsters Today, she gave full essence to the lustful nature of the part, ending that experience as part of a May-December pairing the likes of which Miss Gulch never would have seen. Nancy, her arched eyed hotel worker on a popular episode of The Golden Girls, also rang with the heart of a manipulative grifter, a criminality that the citizens portrayed by her cinematic forebears never would have approached.

Even more impactively, Helen, the desperate character she essayed on the second season of (the original) Charmed would have caused Martha Steele, Babe in Arms’ show business folk disapproving miser, smartly played by Hamilton, much alarm. There Flippen essayed a woman willing to murder and conjure skin shredding demons, all for the hoped for pleasure of eternal youth.

Certainly, the distinctive actions of roles like that emphatically earn Flippin a place in the Unsung Horror Hall Of Fame.

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

Unsung Heroines of Horror: Cecil Cunningham

Published December 12, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

Hidden Hand Cecil and Brother.jpg

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.

Cecil Swing High.jpg

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!