Career Woman-Housewife of the Year: Arlene Francis
We recently stumbled across a pristine edition of the inaugural issue (February 1955) of Chic, a diminutive publication touted as “the Purse Size Magazine for Women.” We usually think of 1955 as just a bit outside our era of focus, but this cute little pub has a number of fun stories in it, so we’ll be sharing them with you sporadically in the coming days and weeks. First up, a small tribute to one of our favorite gals, Miss Arlene Francis…
Full-time career woman, Arlene Francis, star of NBC-TV’s daily show Home, is the wife of producer-actor Martin Gabel and mother of 7-year-old Peter Gabel. Arlene’s two men demand a good deal of her time and what’s more, they get it in spite of her heavy schedule. It takes some doing to be both a full-time career woman and housewife, but she does it by careful planning. For, she maintains, “I find that the more I have to do, the more I am able to do. By properly organizing my time, I can accomplish more than I otherwise would if I had plenty of it. The more free time we have, the more, I think, we all tend to procrastinate and put off till tomorrow what we really could do today more efficiently.”
Here is Arlene’s daily stint:
7:00 to 7:45—Breakfast with Peter, who reads her the latest sports news. he attends classes around the corner at New York City’s Hunter School for Advanced Children. Orders food for the day and plan dinner menu.
8:00—Arrives at studio for Home rehearsal.
11:00—On the air.
12:00—Takes a break for lunch and for interviews with the press, sponsors, photographers.
1:30—Goes into rehearsal for next day’s show.
5:00—Leaves studio for home and dinner preparations.
5:30—Dinner with Peter and Martin
7:00—Martin leaves for his job in Broadway play Reclining Figure. Arlene and Peter play together and watch TV or red aloud.
Friday is a special evening. She meets Martin after the show for a midnight movie.
Saturday she shops, plans menus, catches up with household chores and goes to the park with Peter. Sunday is the family’s day together until 6:00 p.m. when she leaves to rehearse for Soldier’s Parade on ABC-TV, on the air at 9:30 (EST). Then she dashes to the CBS-TV studio for What’s My Line? which goes on at 10:30 (EST).
Tempted by a “Kept Girl”
You know how when you’re in the middle of one book that you’re enjoying well enough, but then you buy another book dirt cheap for the Kindle, and you read one chapter of it, just to get a taste of it, and it makes you want to put aside the book you’re reading, but you’ve already done that once with this book and there’s no way you want to have to start all over with it again?
That happened to us.
The Kept Girl by Kim Cooper, an L.A. historian and author, is a mystery novel set in 1929, the protagonist of which is the mystery author Raymond Chandler, back before he was an author, when he was a young(ish) executive for an oil company. The book involves other historical figures and actual events and the first chapter was engaging enough to make us want to keep reading. But we’ll stick it out with the entertaining-in-its-own-right-but-still… Carter Beats the Devil, dang it, as much as we’re tempted to switch.
Eighty-Four Years of Carrying a Torch for “Body and Soul”
We enjoyed this morning’s Fishko Files look at the history and impact of the classic torch song “Body and Soul,” and we suspect you might enjoy it, too.
What’s your favorite recording of Johnny Green’s 1930 composition (with lyrics by Edward Heyman, Robert Sour and Frank Eyton)? Tell us below, and you just might hear it on Cladrite Radio in the coming weeks.
In Their Words: Preston Sturges
The great Preston Sturges would have been 116 today; alas, he made it not much past halfway to that age, dying at 60 in 1959.
But the mark he left of cinematic comedy is indelible and undeniable. He was a much-in-demand screen writer for many years before he ever sat in the director’s chair (among the classic movies he wrote but didn’t direct: The Good Fairy, Easy Living, Remember the Night), and when he finally did began to direct, he upped his game to heights rarely, if ever, equaled.
In a perfect world, you and I could meet for a beer and go see a Sturges comedy tonight. In a theatre with an appreciative audience is the best way to experience his work (as it is, let’s face it, with all funny movies), but since that’s not going to happen, we urge you to cancel your plans and rent any of the aforementioned titles, or any of those below: Sullivan’s Travels, Christmas in July, The Lady Eve, The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek, Unfaithfully Yours, The Palm Beach Story…
You might also pick up his memoir, Preston Sturges by Preston Sturges. His was a life as entertaining and as unlikely as the most outlandish of his pictures, and he tells his story with characteristic panache.
Happy birthday, Mr. Sturges, wherever you may be, and thanks for the laughs.
The Many Facets of Dick Powell
Dick Powell is the featured star on Monday, August 25, during Turner Classic Movies‘ Summer Under the Stars festival that happens every August. There are any number of pictures airing that day that might be enjoyed, but we noted three particular pictures that feature an appealing diversity of style and genre and demonstrate Powell’s versatility, and so we commend them to you as a collective 4.5 hours well worth watching.
The triple feature kicks off at 8 p.m. ET with the great Preston Sturges comedy Christmas in July (1940), which finds Powell portraying an office clerk who mistakenly believes his entry has been named the winner in a coffee company’s slogan contest. Hilarity, as one might expect, ensues. Next up, at 9:15 p.m., Powell takes a noir turn as Raymond Chandler‘s shamus, Phillip Marlowe, in Murder, My Sweet (1944). Finally, at 11:00 p.m., Powell takes center stage in one of Busby Berkeley‘s more over-the-top musical efforts, Dames (1934).
We say, record the Emmys and watch these three movies on Monday night, but at the very least, fire up the DVR and record this trio of motion pictures for later viewing; you won’t regret it.
Give me a night in June
Give me a Summer moon
Give me hammock built for two
Gee, it's mighty cozy
Side by side with you
Rockin' up in the air
Rockin' away our care
Rockin' until our hopes come through
Everything looks rosy
How can we be blue?
Swingin' in a hammock
Underneath a tree
Just you and I together
Swayin' in the breeze
—Swingin' in a Hammock
Lyrics by Tot Seymour & Chas. O'Flynn; music by Pete Wendling, 1930