Raquel Welch–stunning at 70…Jane Lynch, the fabulous Emmy hostess with the mostess
“YOU WILL have only one job, as my butler or my lover, as I see fit. Soon, you will be through with your good looks and I will be through with you. And that is the truth, are you ready to face the truth?”
That was Geraldine Page lacing into Paul Newman in the 1962 screen adaptation of Tennessee Williams‘ “Sweet Bird of Youth.”
Miss Paige’s performance, which she had originated on Broadway, has always been the one to beat—and no one ever really has. Not even Irene Worth, who won a Tony Award for the 1975 revival. Not even the great Lauren Bacall, who starred in the first London production, in 1985. (Elizabeth Ashley came pretty close, in a production of the play done some years back in Washington; it never made to Broadway, unfortunately. Of Elizabeth Taylor’s TV version, well…it had its moments. )
Now Nicole Kidman, an actress determined to stretch herself to the limits, has taken on the role of aging screen star Alexandra Del Lago, desperately fleeing her disastrous comeback. She picks up an opportunistic, blackmailing hustler during her journey across the country—with a little hashish and drink on the side. Kidman, who is going to have to act as she’s never acted before, opens in the play later this year, on Broadway. It will be directed by David Cromer and produced by Scott Rudin.
This is the good news. The bad news is that James Franco, who had been announced to co-star opposite Nicole as Chance Wayne, has dropped out. Franco, who conveys many of the qualities so vital to a Tennessee Williams character—sex appeal, a certain ambiguity, tough, tender, coarse and sensitive—would have been perfect.
Oh, well. They say Mr. Franco’s studies at Yale came first. Miss Kidman remains on board. As for re-casting? If he could manage a rougher, more complex vibe, there’s Ryan Reynolds, who has the required good looks, and is the right age. (He is best known for his romantic comedies, such as “The Proposal” with Sandra Bullock, and the recent “Green Lantern.”)
Or, if they want to get adventurous, how about former “Third Rock From the Sun” child star, Joseph Gordon-Levitt? He is not traditionally leading-mannish, but he is a brilliant young actor with an amazing range—“500 Days of Summer,” “Inception”– and many do find him very sexy. (He’s on the thin side, but that’s what trainers are for.)
Whoever is chosen to be used and abused by Tennessee’s raging lady, I am very much looking forward to seeing Miss Kidman in this totally uncharacteristic role.
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SO THERE she is on the cover of AARP—Miss Raquel Welch, age 70. Yes, the girl in the fur bikini, Loana, Queen of the Shell People in “One Million Years B.C.” is 70 years old.
Miss Welch looks like one million bucks on the cover—strong, voluptuous, and still rocking a big mane of shoulder-length hair. (“They” say after a certain age women should not wear their hair so long. Often, especially with women who diet themselves into wraiths, this is true. But Welch has kept her face and body fulsome, nicely balancing her amber waves.)
Inside, Raquel speaks of her struggles in the industry…the oddity (in the 1960’s) of being a young sex-symbol who was also a mother of two children—children her studio preferred she not mention too much…issues of aging and image. Of the latter, she confesses at one point to trying to emulate Mary Tyler Moore: “I flipped my hair and put a bow in it—to make myself look less exotic. But at some point I said, ‘I’m not going to fight it. This is what makes me different.’” She also laughs to recall when she’d try to “go up for lovely romantic parts, and they’d say ‘Oh, no, you look so European. What are you, anyway?’ I’d say ‘Well, my father is from Bolivia.’ ‘Bolivia! Where is that?’”
Of Lindsay Lohan, Raquel observes: “I know she misbehaves terribly, but sometimes it just seems like its open season on her.”
I got my biggest laugh when Raquel recalled the disastrous filming of “Myra Breckenridge.” She says, “I’d go to the bathroom and cry. John Huston knocked one time and said, ‘Now, Raquel what seems to be the problem?’ And I said, ‘John, I’m worried we’re going to make a bad movie!’”
Well, they did a movie that was considered a horror at the time, but “Myra” has been re-evaluated over the years. (Camille Paglia thinks it is a work of genius!) Raquel herself has come around to being rather proud of it, in many ways.
Now, you guys in Hollywood. There have to be roles for gorgeous, sexy seventy-year old Bolivian actresses. (Whose American mother can date her ancestors back to the Mayflower!) Just give it a moment of thought.
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I DON’T know about you or if the charming advertisement for Jane “Glee” Lynch as host of the Emmy Awards has appeared in your publications, but she is a wonder , forming her own chorus line, tap dancing, clutching the Emmy she won last year and exuding good will in all her tuxedoed glory. Nothing like this has happened since Ellen DeGeneres came out. And today the level of intelligence, tolerance and acceptance is so much better in spite of evangelicals and The Tea Party.
You can download your at home ballot for this show on the Emmys website. Jane Lynch will appear dancing and handling the mic in this event which happens on Fox, Sunday, September 18 on Fox.