Monday, April 08, 2013

A to Z Challenge - G is for Gordon

Today I thought I would feature a woman playwright and found an interesting one indeed. Like so many other writers, she, too, worked on both sides of the script, and won honors and recognition for both.

Ruth Gordon Jones was born in 1896 in Massachusetts and died in 1985, and I love this old picture of her. Doesn't she look the part?
Ruth Gordon in 1919
Professionally, she was known as Ruth Gordon, and she worked well into her 70s and 80s. Some of the interesting things I discovered about her was the roles she played in films I've seen. She played Minnie Castevet, Rosemary's overly solicitous neighbor in Rosemary's Baby, Maude in Harold and Maude, and Ma Boggs, the mother of Orville Boggs, in Every Which Way but Loose.

When not performing, Gordon was busy writing, and she wrote a number of plays, film scripts and books. In 1953 she adapted her autobiographical play, Years Ago, for film as The Actress, which starred Jean Simmons in the title role. Gordon would go on to write three volumes of memoirs in the 1970s: My Side, Myself Among Others and An Open Book. Gordon won an Academy Award, an Emmy and two Golden Globe awards for her acting, as well as receiving three Academy Award nominations for her writing.

In addition to her work on stage and in film, Gordon made many television appearances through her seventies and eighties. In the sitcom Rhoda, she played Carlton the invisible doorman's mother and was nominated for an Emmy nomination.  She also once hosted hosting Saturday Night Live in 1977. In 1978, Gordon won an Emmy for a guest appearance on the sitcom Taxi, In that episode, she played a character who tries to hire Alex Reigera, the taxi driver played by Judd Hirsch, as a male escort.

As I read up on these playwrights I'm surprised at how much of their work was unknown to me, or, as int he case of Ruth Gordon's acting, overlooked. I do remember some of those memorable characters she played, but I never remembered her professional name.

How about you? Are you as forgetful?

9 comments:

Sandy Campbell said...

Hi, I remember many of the shows and films you mentioned in your post, but I don't remember her. What a shame! Very talented and important woman to the creative industry. I enjoyed your informative post very much!! www.sandysanderellasmusings.blogspot.com

Jeremy [Retro] said...

she was a wonderful and talented lady... i did not know a lot of her prior work, thank you... 712

D.G. Hudson said...

I love learning about women who had the talent and the chutzpah to test that talent. Hubs remembered the name of Ruth Gordon, and he likes watching old movies. I'll remember the name now, thanks to you!

I saw Rosemary's Baby, too, creepy.

Maryann Miller said...

Rosemary's Baby was a creepy movie D.G. I think the subtle suspense was scarier than the graphic violence in horror movies today.

Thanks for stopping by Jeremy and Sandy.

Jeremy is 712 my number?

S. L. Hennessy said...

Rosemary's Baby is one of my favorite movies! Awesome choice.

Happy A through Z blogging!
http://pensuasion.blogspot.com/

Maryann Miller said...

Thanks, S.L. I enjoyed your ghosts today, too. (smile)

Tigermouse said...

Very informative post, thank you. The name Ruth gordon is very familiar to me but I didn't realise she had been in so many things - I've learned something new today!

Since the age of 14 I've spent many happy hours in the theatre, both onstage and backstage at various local productions so your blog is of great interest - I look forward to reading more.

Happy A - Z!

LD Masterson said...

I remember Ruth's acting work but didn't know about her writing. Thanks for enlightening me.

Maryann Miller said...

Glad I could educate you, LD. (smile)

Tigermouse, you wouldn't happen to live in East Texas, would you? I sure could use another actress in my troupe of players. I could not get anyone to take the role of Mrs. Gibbs in our production of "Our Town" and I had to play that part and direct. I would really never like to do that again. (smile)