Monday, December 20, 2010

Extra! EXTRA!

As Poseidon, Ruler of The Underworld, I rarely have the need to call upon my subjects and other surface dwellers for assistance. However, this time, I am in desperate need of help from someone out there in the know! I am being followed… Haunted! …by a particular woman and I need to know who she is.

In The Sound of Music, the first movie I can ever remember seeing in a theater, there is, of course, the legendary song So Long Farewell, in which the Von Trapp children say goodnight to their father’s guests in their own tuneful way. Amid the array of tuxedoed and gowned guests at the party, there is one particular lady extra who is next to the Captain and who occasionally glances at him when not observing the children’s routine.

Having seen the film countless times, this woman stood out to me because not only does her hair and overall appearance not look like 1965, but it (more importantly!) also doesn’t look like 1939, the period in which the film is set. (Admittedly, there is so little period detail in clothing or hair in this film as to be laughable, but anyway…) She stood out from the other matrons around her and seemed to be special in some way because of her proximity to Christopher Plummer. In the long shot after the song, she turns and makes a remark to him, touching him on the arm before exiting.

When you really love a movie and watch it over and over, eventually your eye starts to shift from the primary focus and main characters to all the background detail. Her face became quite familiar to me. In time, I started to notice this woman popping up in other places. She is one of the restaurant guests in Where the Boys Are when Jim Hutton jumps into the mermaid tank to snare the girl he’s after. She is utilized in countless movies and television shows.

A reasonably tall woman with heavily lidded eyes and a fairly soft chin, her curly, full hairstyle has never, to my witnessing, ever changed much, though it began as salt and pepper and soon became fully white. I’ve seen her in everything from black and white movies to color television shows. She has made my beloved video watching into an unintentional variation on "Where's Waldo?"!!

Now that I “know” her, I see her all the time! She is frequently placed close to the stars or has some sort of moment in which she reacts to something going on. For example, in one of the two-hour pilots for The Love Boat, she is one of Doc Bricker’s patients, exiting his office so that he can see Stella Stevens. He even calls her “Mrs. Richardson,” but she says nothing and is uncredited.

In a regular episode in the latter part of the first season, she is a well-dressed passenger (on what happened to be a Valentine singles cruise, even though she is rather elderly. Go on, girl!) who is coming around the bend just as Gopher is stranded in the hallway in his t-shirt and underwear. This sort of appearance is quite typical. She is “featured” for a brief moment and is then not seen again. I have yet to see her credited in a part.

In the movie Westworld, the one in which James Brolin and Richard Benjamin head off to a large scale fantasy world in which lifelike robots interact with them and make their dreams come to life, there she is!! Dressed in a vivid blue dress, she is seated on the transport vehicle alone (and I do wonder which of the fantasy worlds she went to, there being three to choose from.)

As is so often the case, she is visible over Benjamin’s shoulder during the scene. She is out of focus, but unmistakable to those who know her. Later, as the guests are exiting the transport and getting into an elevator, she is RIGHT NEXT to Benjamin in line! Somehow, somewhere, some way, this woman became a sort of go-to girl for casting directors. It’s like they all knew her and would pick her especially to be in the frame with the stars or in a costume that draws some degree of attention to her. But WHO is she?!?

When I recently purchased a 55” high-definition TV, I began to re-watch some of my favorite films (I am chomping at the bit for New Years Eve to get here, so I can see The Poseidon Adventure in what is closer to its screen glory than I’m used to!) One of the first films I watched was one that is also one of my all-time faves, The Towering Inferno. Unbelievably, as I was watching it, there was this woman AGAIN, sitting in the Promenade Room while Fred Astaire and Jennifer Jones danced the evening away! William Holden makes his announcement about moving the party and there she is, nestled amongst the many other guests!

It is truly getting to be an obsession with me now. She’s EVERYWHERE! Now that I know her face so well, I’ll be innocently watching a movie or TV show and then, BAM!, there she is! It completely takes me out of the moment because I then recognize her and remember that I’m viewing a Hollywood product and that somehow this lady was selected to be in a certain place next to a certain person. It’s epidemic! In an episode of Police Story, one that led to Angie Dickinson's Police Woman, my mystery lady was right there in vibrant red as a casino patron, obviously seated right behind a guest star who was in the foreground.

A few weeks ago, a friend and I were watching Lipstick (which I then did a little feature on) and I’ll be damned if she wasn’t sitting there in court!!!!! More than once! I’m telling you, this woman has been in more movies and TV shows than practically any other actor or actress and has likely met every star imaginable from the 50s through the 80s. I see her now and just stare at the ceiling in amazement that our paths have crossed yet again. But I have NO IDEA WHO SHE IS! What is her name? What was her story? These are but a few of the MANY examples I've seen of her.

This is why I am calling upon you. Please help me ascertain who this hard-working extra was! Does ANYONE out there in cyberland know this chick and can you tell me her name? I used to wonder if she was an old silent star who later made ends meet as an extra or was she someone’s wife? She seemed to do a significant number of Twentieth Century Fox movies. It’s a major puzzlement and I have decided to go public with my obsession to see if anyone can clear it up. Thank you, from the bottom of The Underworld!


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