Monday, May 11, 2009
Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered
You may notice a theme here today; obviously, we have Bewitched on the brain. What we love so about this show is that, besides having the splendid Elizabeth Montgomery and Agnes Moorehead heading the cast, the guest- and recurring stars were absolutely stupendous.
Alice Pearce as the meddlesome neighbor, Mrs. Kravitz, is perhaps our favorite. She of the hysterically elastic face was pitch-perfect as the hyper-excited Gladys; but Ms. Pearce also could out-Wickes Mary in the wry, deadpan field. Nowhere was this more evident than in Patrick Dennis's cult classic 1961 parody of movie star memoirs, Little Me; Pearce portrayed the titular heroine's reform school gal pal, Winifred ("Winnie"), in a series of brilliantly staged "vintage" photographs.
Like all great character actors, Alice Pearce could elevate mediocrity soley by her too-often brief appearance: her bits in the decidedly pedestrian How to Be Very, Very Popular (1955) and The Opposite Sex (1956) are arguably those two clunkers' best moments. Conversely, when given the chance to shine in stellar company, Pearce more than held her own: as Betty Garrett's flu-ridden roommate in On the Town (1949), she practically stole the show from Garrett, Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Ann Miller and Vera-Ellen.
Alice Pearce had been diagnosed with terminal cancer before she began filming Bewitched, but kept her condition a secret. She passed away in 1966, after finishing the second season; she was awarded a posthumous Emmy for her work.