Monday, March 29, 2010

Belatedly...


...our last Mystery Guest was, indeed, the formidable Joan Shawlee, pictured above as the aptly-named "Amazon Annie" from Irma La Douce (1963). That was the third and last in a series of Billy Wilder films which finally showcased, to a broader audience, the comedic talents of a remarkable performer who'd been knocking around Hollywood for years in mostly undistinguished films. True, Shawlee had appeared in such major productions as From Here to Eternity (1953) and the Garland version of A Star is Born (1954 - that's Joan, introducing "Lola Lavery" at the opening scene's premiere: "She's a darling girl..."); but they were minor, bit parts, at best. Her "meatier" roles came in the form of such programmers as the immortal Prehistoric Women (1950).


Shawlee's star began to rise incrementally in 1956, when she scored the lead in a British sitcom called The Adventures of Aggie (broadcast simply as Aggie in the US, a year later). Portraying an American living in London, Shawlee's role was that of a fashion buyer who somehow found herself embroiled (weekly) with various nefarious underground agents and spies.

THE ADVENTURES OF AGGIE (1956-57)

The scenarios were far-fetched, but this rise in visibility no doubt led to Shawlee's casting in the role of a lifetime: Sweet Sue, bandleader of the Society Syncopaters, in Billy Wilder's legendary Some Like it Hot (1959). In a film crammed with comic geniuses, all giving their full throttle to the pithy writing of Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond, Shawlee more than held her own.

SOME LIKE IT HOT (1959) - Shawlee is on the far right.

Shawlee's success as Sweet Sue led to further roles in Wilder's The Apartment (1960) and the aforementioned Irma La Douce. She also won a memorable recurring role on The Dick Van Dyke Show as Buddy's ex-showgirl wife, Pickles. From there on, Shawlee was never short of work, racking up an impressive number of television and film credits right up through 1985. Then, cancer felled what seemed to be an indomitable performer; Joan Shawlee left us on March 22, 1987. It seems only fitting that we remember her, fondly, in a month that is the anniversary of both her birth and passing. StewieG was the first to guess correctly, for which we present him with Sweet Sue's baton, to place wherever he pleases. Thanks for playing, darlings!


JOAN SHAWLEE
March 5, 1926 - March 22, 1987

2 comments:

  1. I love Joan Shawlee!!! I'm so glad to know others out there appreciate her. I first fell in love with her as Pickles. My favorite episode is the one where Buddy wants a divorce and poor Rob has to help patch things up.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Though more referenced than shown, Pickles remains etched in my memory too.

    ReplyDelete

There was an error in this gadget