Friday, December 19, 2008

Nichols & Dames

She had a body that could stop traffic, and a voice that could shatter glass; the brass and sass of a cynical showgirl, and the melancholy and vulnerability of every hard-knocks dame with the proverbial heart o' gold who ever strutted across the screen. She was, of course, Miss Barbara Nichols, who was unique in her niche as Hollywood's only character actress-cum-sex symbol: she could crack wise, spoof the dumb blonde stereotype, or play tough, all while heaving that bodacious bosom.

Miss Nichols passed away, too soon, in 1976. We miss her, and hereby place her among the Patron Saints of Stirred, Straight Up, with a Twist.


  1. Just gorgeous.
    What's her best film?

  2. Oh, gosh, Jason; that's hard to say. She's one of those performers who (seriously) is a joy to watch in ANYTHING; one of those great broads (like Mary Wickes or Eve Arden, only with big bazooms) who, no matter how trivial or inconsequential the film or TV show, brightens it with her all-too-brief appearance.

    Her most "prestigious" film has to be "The Sweet Smell of Success"; but as gripping as that gritty drama is, it's much for fun to see her as "Lola" in "Where the Boys Are" (where she effortlessly steals the film from the lightweight young stars).

    I also have a soft spot for an uneven drama/comedy called "That Kind of Woman," which incogruously cast Sophia Loren as a hooker, and Tab Hunter as the naive soldier who loves her. Sophia and Tab were OK, but Barbara really stood out as Sophia's brassy, wisecracking fellow lady-of-the-night, whose tough gal exterior hid a very plaintive soul. She was quite touching, and I wish I could see the film again.

    Some of Miss Nichols's characters' names: Gaye Swinger, Lisa LaTour, Poopsie, Kitty, Mayme, Candy Ball, Bunny Easter, Chickadee Laverene, Brandy LaFrance. Which gives you some idea of what she specialized in, and why we love her so.

  3. I was going to note "That Kind of Woman" as probably her best (or at the top of the better) showcases. I've seen her in "The Naked and the Dead" and "The King and Four Queens", too (in which she worked with Clark Gable.) Good description of her, TJB!

  4. Your take on Miss Nichols was spot on.
    "The tough exterior hiding a plaintive soul."
    TJB, you are quite the poet today.

  5. A poet? And I didn't even know it!