Helen Hayes was one of the most respected actresses of her generation, winning an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and a Tony. The rarity of being bestowed with such honors earned her the distinction of being referred to as the First Lady of American Theatre. Despite these accolades, she was decidedly not a snob, consigning herself to only strictly highbrow fare. Case in point: In the early ‘70s, she and the equally respected Mildred Natwick starred as The Snoop Sisters in a series of mystery-thriller television films. A good decade before Murder, She Wrote first aired, these veterans attacked the scenarios written for them, as accidental crime solving authoresses, with gusto and heart. Plotlines often found them in various forms of danger – being dragged across rooms, climbing atop moving vehicles and being caught on runaway boats – and these veteran performers proved to be strikingly adept at handling every situation that the writers threw at them – including tangling with certain horror legends.
In The Devil Made Me Do It! teleplay, the two get embroiled in the shenanigans of a Satanic cult. This offering, ultimately, finds Hayes witnessing the musical conjuring of Alice Cooper’s Prince, in a serious fish out of water moment. Meanwhile, in the final film, A Black Day for Bluebeard, the two attend a festival of comically bad fright flicks starring Vincent Price’s vocally robust Michael Bastion. Playing on Price’s real life culinary skills, Natwick’s Gwendoline nearly steals the show during a drunken dinner sequence with him. Counterbalancing this, Hayes’ most frequent scene partner here is Roddy McDowall, the youthful, classic Hollywood star who found continued fame for his latter-day work on such projects as the original Fright Night & Planet of the Apes films and such other lesser-known genre-fare as Pretty Maids All in a Row, Laser Blast, Mirror, Mirror 2 and Dead of Winter.
Of course, Hayes’ appearance on an episode of Circle of Fear, a short-lived anthology series, and Natwick’s multiple guest shots on Alfred Hitchcock Presents surely prepared them for all the deadly mayhem that their alter egos faced here. With age, these two legends seem to acknowledge by their participation in these projects, the chills just tingle the spine a little more, ultimately leaving lasting memories for audiences, worldwide.
Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!