Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Her Partner In Crime

Helene Hanff is one of my three favorite authors. Jane Austen, Agatha Christie and Helene Hanff are all on my short list. Other authors float on and off my top list now and again, but these three remain at the top of the pile.

I love Jane's wit. I love Agatha's cunning and as for Helene, I love her style. And her joie de vivre. She loved her life. Even when she was being challenged while trying to crash Broadway during the 1930s and 1940s. In the 1950s she started working as a reader for a movie studio in New York City. One  weekend, they gave her the epic JRR Tolkein three-book series to read in 48 hours. She charged them extra for cruelty. It's no wonder that the movies weren't brought to the screen until recently. The movie studio probably kept pulling out her coverage and saying -- I don't think so.

Her best friend and partner in crime in crashing the theatre was an actress named Maxine Stuart. Maxine had all kinds of unorthodox acting and beauty methods. She used to practice her speech by screaming in her parent's bathroom. And she baked her hair in the over. She matched Helene's character step by delicate step.They went to opening night of hit Broadway shows using the "Just Go" method. Everyone should try that method at least once.

Maxine died recently. Her death marks the end of an era. A wonderful era. You should read all about it in "Underfoot in Show Business." I promise, you'll thank me later.