Valley of the Dolls

I went out to work, glad that it wasn’t raining anymore.  I returned home and took a nap before watching the Criterion Collection DVD edition of “Valley of the Dolls.”  The cast included Patty Duke, Sharon Tate, Martin Milner, Lee Grant, and Susan Hayward.  Supposedly, the Susan Hayward character was based on Ethel Merman, while Sharon Tate was Marilyn Monroe, and Patty Duke was Judy Garland.  The whole story was trashy, and it seemed this movie was a predecessor to “Showgirls.”  Dionne Warwick sang the theme song.  The movie did make me wonder what Ethel Merman was really like.  I see her sometimes in Match Game episodes from 1978.  Patty Duke would say that she acted badly in the film.  She is the one we want to watch, however.  Some of the dialogue is awkward.  This film doesn’t really show us the nudity and sex, and the language is pretty tame.  One of the dramatic highlights is the fight between Neely and Helen in the restroom.  The one scene with something approaching genuine emotional content is Sharon Tate’s last scene.  It’s a bit chilling to watch, knowing what her real-life fate was.  In a way, it was a shame that Raquel Welch refused the role, because she would have been a perfect fit.  I read in an article that Sharon Tate’s character Jennifer North was based on Jacqueline Susann herself, Carole Landis, and Joyce Mathews.  Tony Polar was supposed to be like Dean Martin, although there was some of Susann’s son Guy in him.  Susann’s wish list for the cast was Ursula Andress as Jennifer, Grace Kelly as Neely, Bette Davis as Helen, and Elvis Presley as Tony.  Susann rated her importance on the level of Andy Warhol and The Beatles.  Reading through some of the facts of her life, I was almost amazed at how much of it made it into “Valley of the Dolls.”  Susann hated the movie, which is now a cult classic of sorts.  I can’t say I want to see it a second time, though.  It’s not quite in the category of being so bad that it’s good.  I read a little bit about Carole Landis.  She was depressed over Rex Harrison’s refusal to divorce his wife, and she would commit suicide.  The notes coming with the disc tell us that “Doctor Dolittle” was released four days after “Valley of the Dolls.”  Some of the people who died on October 18 include Charles Gounod (1893), Walt Kelly (1973), Julie London (2000), Gwen Verdon (2000), and Kam Fong (2002).  Today is a birthday for Wynton Marsalis (55), Erin Moran (56), Pam Dawber (65), Martina Navratilova (60), Mike Dika (77), Dawn Wells (78), and Chuck Berry (90).  According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for October 18, “The Maltese Falcon” premiered in New York in 1941.  In 1956, Elvis Presley was arrested for assault and disorderly conduct after getting into a fight with gas station manager Edd Hopper in Memphis.  In 1968, John Lennon was arrested in Ringo Starr’s apartment for marijuana possession.  In 1969, the Temptations had the Number One single, “I Can’t Get Next to You.”  In 1988, “Roseanne,” the television show starring Roseanne Barr, debuted on ABC.  In 1990, Los Angeles declared the day “Rocky Horror Picture Show Day.”  In 1991, “Other People’s Money,” starring Danny DeVito and Gregory Peck, was released.

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