Thursday, March 23, 2017

On a role

It counts as exposure to real high culture when I walk through the family room and the classier 1/2 of the family is in the room watching some English drama on the PBS. At the time this takes place, I'm usually upstairs listening to old radio shows online, but the other night I needed something from the garage and walked past the TV and saw a lovely young English lady on one of those shows.  I skillfully interrogated Peggy and found that the show was called "Victoria," and it was about Queen Victoria, the 5-foot mighty mite who ruled Britain from 1837 until 1901.

Now, it's none of my business to say how good a queen old Vicky was. (I'm in the iron and steel business: waffle iron and steely looks.) But I have seen pictures of the old girl, and she was quite different in appearance from the stunning young lady who portrays her on the television.
This is Jenna Coleman, the actress charged with the daunting role of playing Queen Victoria.

 And this is Queen Victoria. Again, she might have been the greatest monarch in the mercurial history of monarchs, but she did not look like the woman who now plays her any more than they could hire John Stamos to play the lead in a movie about me.

And so I got to thinking about other people who had a lot to live up to, name-wise.  Like the bank robber at left. Born Lester Gillis, he somehow wound up being called Baby Face Nelson, and since his death in 1934 due to being shot 17 times by FBI agents (his final words: "I'm done for"), I have often wondered what baby ever born looked like him.

Or take Charles Arthur "Pretty Boy" Floyd.  The FBI did, that's for sure, and the death of this fleeing crook also took place in 1934. "Pretty Boy" was more voluble with his final words: "I'm done for. You've hit me twice." But would you call him "Pretty Boy," I ask you? I think "29078" is a better nickname for him.

There was a movie called "Knock On Any Door" fifteen years after those two unstable Americans were dispatched, and it was not the best movie Humphrey Bogart ever made. For one thing, his false teeth must have bothered him during the courtroom scene, leading to an unfortunate sibilance in his diction. But the focus of the movie is on the murderer that attorney Bogey is defending: Nick "Pretty Boy" Romano, played by John Derek, a man who grew to be chiefly famous for being handsome.

I'm never going to be either famous for being handsome or handsome for being famous, but who needs stardom? It so bored John Derek that he gave up movies and married a succession of beautiful women (Pati Behrs, Ursula Andress, Linda Evans and Bo Derek) who didn't mind making movies at all, and they all lived happily ever after, just like in the movies. 

1 comment:

Jean Leigh said...

good morning. very interesting blog.