Monday, October 7, 2013

Dyan Cannon in KC

 Where do I even begin? Last month for my birthday, my sister and brother in law bought us all tickets to see a play in Kansas City. It wasn't just any play, though. This particular play starred Dyan Cannon.

 Dyan Cannon. A name that is lost on many. 

 Some may think, oh, she is that Lakers lady with great hair. Some may remember how she was the beautiful Judge on Ally McBeal. Some may even recognize her from Heaven can Wait or Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice with Natalie Wood. But, most will remember her from her turbulent marriage with Cary Grant.

Having seen nearly every single Cary Grant film and having read every available Cary Grant biography, this is where I was introduced to Dyan Cannon. She was one of the special ones, one of the lucky ones. She was married to Cary Grant. Not only was she married to him, but also she bore him his only child. I wanted to know more about her. I started watching anything I could fine with her. She was in a few films that I enjoyed, such as Heaven Can Wait and Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, and some that I hate loved 8 Heads in a Duffle Bag and Caddyshack II. She was and is beautiful and extremely talented but did I like her as a person? I was a bit on the fence about her after reading some articles about Cary Grant, where people claimed that he was abusive to her and treated her like a child. Who was this woman to let people think these things about THEE Cary Grant? I admired her for her looks and talent for years but still couldn't get fully on board with her.

Then came, "Dear Cary."

The week her book came out, my sister and I went to Lincoln, and it was the first thing I bought. I was a little scared as I slowly opened it. Would she bash him, or would I finally get an honest picture of their lives together? I took a deep breath and started reading it outside of Barnes and Noble as my sister continued to shop. I couldn't wait another second. I had to know.

I never really understood their paring. For starters, there was a 33-year age difference between them, and he had been married three times before. I didn't "get it." But, Dyan's book wove a tale of love. Real love. They had romance from the start. She fell for his charm (who wouldn't), and he fell for her youthful spunk. For a while, they were great together. Sadly Cary started to change the way she acted and dressed and turned her into someone else. It was a sad deal, and they ended up getting divorced. Soon after their divorce, she had a nervous breakdown. The details of that were heartbreaking. In the end, though, she still loves him and respects him. He later remarried and was an amazing father to their daughter Jennifer. She, too remarried but, again divorced and continued to raise their daughter after Cary passed away in 1986. What I found in this book was exactly what I wanted—a story of love that just didn't last. A sad tale but, there was no cheating, no beating, and no hints that Cary Grant was gay. I came out the other side with respect and a newfound love for Dyan. Since then, I have read a lot about her and followed her career a bit more closely. I also really recommend this book. It is a great read.

 

The New Theatre in Overland Park, KS, played host to this show. "The Fox on the Fairway" is a comedic play written by Ken Ludwig in 2010, set against the backdrop of an annual golf tournament between two rival clubs.

Our night started with an early arrival to the theatre so we could upgrade seats if possible. Our seats were already incredible, but my brother in law still placed our names in for an upgrade if someone didn't show up. Dinner started around 6:00 p.m. with salads, drinks and continued to a fantastic menu of tender BBQ Pork Tenderloin, Garlic mashed potatoes, fresh green beans, baby carrots in a brown sugar glaze, buffalo chicken, and more. Later, we could get dessert during the intermission, and the Crème Brule was the best I have ever had! After dinner and visiting, we were informed we could move to a better seat. It was directly center of the stage and had the best view in the place. I was tickled. Soon the lights went down for our five-minute warning, and we were off….

Jim Korinke played Bingham, the Quail Valley president, who believes this year is his club's year to win. Playing the rival Crouching Squirrel president (Dickie) was Mark Robbins. The two men decide to place a hefty wager on who will win this year's tournament. Dyan Cannon plays (the Bad Guy) Dickie's Ex-Wife, who is willing to help Bingham beat her Ex-husband at all costs. I am not a theatre reviewer and won't be able to do this play any justice but, there are classic mishaps, a parental surprise, and in the end, lots of love. Others in the play were Melinda MacDonald and Mark Robbins, who were also fabulous.

While it was hard to depict a golf tournament on stage, they nailed it for me. I loved the music, the set, the actors, the story, EVERYTHING. I loved it! 

What were the whispers about? Miss Cannon, who at 76 sported some outfits, that on my skinniest day at 30, I couldn't get away with. Her first dress was so tight she had a hard time moving her legs. She followed it up with one where we could see her butt cheeks and another that showed off her toned stomach. Every single outfit complimented her mile-high heels. I was so nervous she would fall. She didn't, though. She was amazing. It was all too easy for me to forget her age. She looked amazing! My lord, if I can even wear heels at 50, I will celebrate, but heels and belly-baring tops deserve an award! She was sexy as ever and so much fun to watch. I don't think my eyes ever left her. I was so in awe of this woman. As soon as she walked out on stage, the atmosphere changed. It was electric.

During the intermission, I looked around at the people who surrounded us. Here we are, 27, 29, 30 & 37 years old. We were the youngest by about 30 years. These people are sitting around remembering her from TV or seeing Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice when it first came out. Then you have us. I'm sure people were wondering if we even knew who Dyan Cannon was. I wanted to pull her book out of my purse and yell, "yes, I know her; look, I have her book with me right now, do you?!"

What I have learned as a classic film fan is, we all feel entitled. Don't get me wrong! It's not like we feel like we are better than anyone. We feel like Cary Grant, well, he is ours. He is mine. I know him better than anyone because I have read so much and seen so much, you don't even know. Bogart, he is mine for the same reasons. I know deep down I like him better than anyone else ever has.

It was the same with Dyan Cannon. She was mine. I appreciated her more than anyone; I was there because of her and not because of the play. My sister and Bro-lo bought me my ticket because of her. It sounds insane, but we all have something. A band, a football/baseball team or player, whatever. Mine is classic film stars and their "people."

 




Once the play was over, it went from amazing to "IM GOING TO lose MY SHIT!"

 

And I did.

 

The cast bowed, we clapped, and it was over.

 

There she stood alone on stage. What would she say, what would she do?

 

First, she thanked us for being a great audience. (You're so welcome!) Then she said she liked the people in Kansas, and we were all so nice (Yes, I'm taking credit for Kansan's being nice) and how she would be back to KC because it was so great. Then it happened…….

 

A Cary Grant story. As soon as she mentioned Cary Grant, the only sound I heard was myself in my head screaming hysterically. Have I ever mentioned I am a little insane?

She said she accompanied him to Jamaica while he filmed "Father Goose" During one of Cary's afternoons off, they went to the beach to "play" As Cary swam and Dyan sat on the beach, she heard him screaming in pain. She started to go in after him, but he told her not to get in. He screamed in pain all the way to the sand. She asked him what happened and he told her it was a Sea Urchin. His leg was aflame with spines of the Urchin. She was a little startled by his screams. When they got inside, the maid came running in and whispered to Dyan, "Only one cure for that, you got to make water on the sting" "You know, go to the bathroom on it" "I have to pee on his leg" Dyan yelled? She yelled at Cary to go into the bathroom because the maid had told her how to fix it. She told him to put his leg in the tub. After some back and forth, she dropped her pants and straddled his leg. She said she couldn't believe she was about to pee on the leg of the biggest movie star in the world.

After a few tries, she was able to do it, and it worked. She said Cary said, "I never thought Id thank anyone for taking a piss on me, but right now it seems like about the nicest thing anybody's ever done for me, thank you" And that was the story about how she peed on Cary Grant. It was pretty much the most awesome thing ever. She talked a bit longer about her book and Cary and was off.

I grabbed my purse and told Brian we had to go around to the stage door. We were pretty sure there would be no way we could meet her but, if we didn't try, I would regret it. My sister and bro-lo went to the bathroom while Brian and I practically ran outside. We found the stage door and waited. The main male actor walked out, and we chatted with him. He asked if we were waiting for Dyan, and I confessed that we were. He told us to go on inside.

Wha? Seriously?

Brian and I didn't argue; we went on in and stood. The security guard started down the hall for us, and I knew we were cooked. He told us to come on in a bit further to keep warm. Was this seriously happening? Was she going out another door, and they took one look at my crazy eyes and steered me over to someone else's door until she left? Brian seriously thought that is what they had done, and I was also starting to question it. This was too easy! Finally, my sister and brother in law joined us, and we waited.

 

My hands were shaking, my mouth went dry, and I was fighting the nervous farts. To put it bluntly, I was a wreck.

The door opened, and there she was. All 75 lbs of her. She had worn a wig for the play, and now I saw her trademark hair. The next few minutes were a blur. I think I told her I wanted a photo with her. Brian took my phone and started snapping. She put her arm around me. Her hand was on my shoulder. I kept telling myself to calm down. Don't pass out. Stop being "that girl." Try as I might, I was a total moron. The flash on my camera wasn't working, so I had to fix that and apologize. Poor Dyan Cannon was waiting on me. This freak fan that can't get her shit together is holding Ms. Cannon up! I knew she hated me. She had her two dogs, little Chihuahuas. My sister and brother in law were petting and discussing these dogs with Dyan Cannon. What was I doing? Probably a lot of this

 

 She told a story about how when she was a kid, her fantasy was a man coming out of the ocean on a horse and scooping her up and taking her off to live happily ever after. She said when she hosted SNL, they had Chevy Chase (in his sexy years) on a horse to scoop her up and take her off the stage at the end of the show. The hose pooped as they exited. How cool would it be to have stories like that?

 

 

 Crazy eyes, I tell you. 

The entire time this interaction is going on, I am holding her book and a Sharpie. I was so nerdy I didn't ask her to autograph my book. I even held it while we took pictures. What the hell, Nikki? She talked a bit while I fangirl gazed at her, not hearing one thing she said. We said our goodbyes and walked out the door. (I may have to ask my sister, bro-lo, and Brian what all was said and add it later)

 

My sister was scared, backing out that she would run over one of Dyan Cannon's dogs. We laughed about how horrid that would be and headed back to the hotel. On the way, I don't know what they talked about because I had to start sending out our photo: red eyes and all. My face looked so bad! I had the dreaded "Sam Keller Smile."

What is that? Well, a few years ago, I met one of my favorite Husker football players. He was an okay player, but he was funny and super sexy. Brian took our photo together. Have you seen that one floating around Facebook or Twitter? Nope. Why? Because I looked like a freak. I swear I get bloated, red, and sweaty when I meet someone even a tiny bit famous. I nerd out. So, yet again, I had the "Sam Keller smile" this time, it was a bit more under control. I didn't have a rogue tooth sticking out of my closed mouth smile, I was wearing a dress, and my wandering eye was mostly in check. I didn't care, though; it was Dyan Freaking Cannon. If you are ever with me when I meet someone famous, point a camera at me. I can go from ordinary to freak in a hot second. Then tell me not to "Sam Keller Smile" and keep my shit together. Brian has promised next time; he will remind me. He'd better!

We made our way down to Power and Light for some drinks, dancing, and people-watching. I know Brian, Cori, and Heath needed it. Me? I was on a natural high. No amount of liquor, music, or dancing was required. My night was made. I can't thank my sister and brother in law enough to take us, go with us, and let me geek out. It was one of the best weekends EVER! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!!

I know I will talk about it for years, and I'm so glad they were a part of this new favorite story.

I still had a few beers downtown and a wonderful time, but I was on cloud nine.

I will let you know when I return to earth.

Thanks, Nerds. I Love you. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

31 Days of Oscar and Mr. Skeffington

For me, there are three actors who were robbed of very deserved Oscars, robbed I tell you!

Cary Grant (for nearly any film he was in), Humphrey Bogart (For Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The Petrified Forest or Casablanca), and Mr. Claude Rains for Mr. Skeffington.

I came upon this film late one night, and being a larger than life Claude Rains fan, I decided to stay up till nearly 3 a.m. on a work night to watch it. This film left me in tears. Claude Rains' performance was perfect in every single way.

Film review

Mr. Skeffington takes place in New York City at the beginning of 1914. Bette Davis plays "Fanny" Trellis, a beautiful, highly self-absorbed woman who is always surrounded by men willing and wanting to court her. She "plays" them and toys with them, never really interested in them. Claude Rains plays Job Skeffington, a wealthy NY stockbroker who falls madly in love with Fanny.

When Fanny finds out that her brother Trippy stole a great deal of money from his employer and lost it at the race track, she starts to court his employer, Mr. Skeffington. Fanny and her brother are living on no income and are near bankrupt, and have no way to pay the money back, thus leading to her actions towards Mr. Skeffington. Soon they are married, and her brother Trippy is highly upset with the marriage. Trippy ends up leaving for the army in France and soon dies in combat. Fanny blames her marriage to Mr. Skeffington as the reason her brother has died. Fanny finds out she is pregnant, and her reaction is, "Soon, I will be swollen, puffy and ugly." She leaves for California to have her baby away from the people who know her in NY Society. 

Soon after these series of events, she starts to go out nightly with a gangster who sets up a date so she can find her husband in the company of another woman. This leads to her divorcing Mr. Skeffington. He moves with their daughter to Europe during the World War. Years later, her daughter returns home and beautiful young lady. The same day Fanny goes on a sailing trip with a younger beau and is diagnosed with diphtheria. This leaves her looking haggard and old. A cold punishment for a woman who has been obsessed with her own looks her entire life. Her daughter runs off to marry her mother's younger beau, and Mr. Skeffington returns to NY after surviving a concentration camp. She refuses to see him, but he is now blind and penniless. He needs and still loves her. Finally, Fanny realizes that looks are not everything in life.


What is it about this performance I regard so highly? It is Claude Rains' ability to be stepped on and still show such grace and strength. His heart was constantly toyed with. You can see the pain in his eyes get more constant and deeper throughout the film. I admit I cry during many films, and this one always gets me. He is such a devoted husband and father, putting up with Fanny's constant need for male attention. He still loves her throughout this film. In the end, when he is broken, and blind his emotion is intense and heartbreaking. I am so reminded of Lon Chaney's performance in The Unknown. The raw emotion, hurt eyes, powerful performance just sticks with me every time. He so deserved an Oscar for his performance. Hearing Robert Osborne tell of others considered for this part, such as Paul Henreid, makes me scratch my head. I could easily imagine others in the role of Fanny, but not Job. I feel it was one of the roles that Rains was born to play.

1945 Best Supporting Actor Category

WINNER: Barry Fitzgerald for Going My Way

Nominees: Claude Rains, Clifton Webb for Laura, Monty Woolley for Since You Went Away.

While I have not seen any of these other films, I have my forever favorite with Claude Rains. His performance in Mr. Skeffington will forever be one of my favorites, and I hope, one of yours as well.

I wrote this blog for the 31 Days of Oscar Blog-A-Thon. Thanks, Ladies, for hosting! Sorry, It isn't as long as I would have hoped but, with the impending snowtacular, I've been piled under work all week.




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