Saturday, November 9, 2013

Show magazine, 1964

From Kwei-lin Lum's display of paper doll oddities: Show magazine, Jan. 1964. A large- size magazine with luscious photography, now gone. Great cover of Richard Burton, just as his fame skyrocketed after "Cleopatra" and his great love affair with Elizabeth Taylor.

Inside, an article about Jackie Gleason, accompanied by a paper doll illustration of the comedian. This is a fun riff on the earliest paper dolls, which had one head to insert in multiple costumes, some with elaborate background scenery. Here, multiple heads, one costume.

"The Hollow Clown" -- apparently Gleason was considered vulgar by some.

Little did they know what was coming down the pike.

How was he considered vulgar? Without reading the article, I can't say what the writer's take was. But here are my thoughts: Gleason's stage persona was an outsized, blustery figure, loud -- and angry at times. Thinking about the figure he struck on TV, especially on "The Honeymooners" -- working stiff, blue collar, the violence close to the surface  -- made me think of Tony Soprano, who was loud, outsized, vulgar, over-the-top violent, scary -- one of the great TV characters. (In a couple of episodes, Steve Buscemi, as Soprano's cousin, does a wicked Gleason imitation.)

In 1964, Gleason's kind of comedy might have turned off a number of people. Lenny Bruce was not mainstream but was playing small clubs back then. Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Danny Kaye were the kind of comics people were comfortable with -- slapstick, funny but gentle at heart. Bill Cosby and Carol Burnett continued that tradition.

1 comment:

  1. I love this. So much history...I appreciate all the time you have taken to gather it all together to present here. Wonderful. I just love history.